How to Freeze and Reheat Rice

Freezer-friendlyMake-ahead

Frozen rice is so convenient for weeknight meals, but there's no need to buy it at the store! It's easy to do yourself at home. Here are instructions for freezing, reheating, and using homemade rice.

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Photography Credit: Coco Morante

In the last few years, I’ve started seeing boxes of pre-cooked rice in the freezer aisle at my local grocery stores. They’re super convenient, but way pricier than just cooking up some rice at home. I wondered if it’d be possible to make my own version at home.

After some trial and error, I found that, yep, it works great! And it’s much more economical, too—as you would expect.

It’s also easy to incorporate this prep step into your routine—if you find yourself making rice for a meal, just make twice as much, so you’ll have some to freeze for next time. Of course, you can also have a dedicated prep day where you freeze some rice for future meals.

I often make a big batch of rice in my Instant Pot and freeze half of it.

HOW TO FREEZE RICE

This method works with any kind of rice, brown or white. I find that the rice still has great texture when reheated, but it does have a tendency to dry out quickly after reheating. Make sure to serve it straight away to avoid this issue. Cook your rice as you would normally, on the stove or in a pressure cooker, then freeze it by following the instructions here.

1. Spread your just-cooked rice on a cookie sheet, fluffing it a bit as you spread it out in an even layer.

2. Once the rice is cool (this takes about 20 minutes), scoop it into freezer-safe plastic bags. Label the bags with the type of rice, the date, and the amount of rice in the bag. It’s really important to label the bags, since different kinds of rice pair well with different meals, and it’s pretty hard to tell varieties apart when frozen!

Reheat Rice scoop into plastic bagsEasy Rice to Freeze and Reheat label the bag

3. Pop the bags in the freezer, stacked nice and flat. They’ll keep well this way for up to 2 months. After that, it gets dry and the texture suffers.

Reheat Rice freeze the bag

HOW TO REHEAT FROZEN RICE IN THE MICROWAVE

When it’s time to reheat the rice, just follow a few easy steps:

1. The rice will have frozen into a solid block. Break this into chunks (you can do this while it’s still in the bag for less mess), and place it in a bowl.

Freeze Rice frozen block of rice break into chunks

2. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, or with a reusable, microwave-safe lid or bowl.

Place the covered bowl in the microwave and cook the rice on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. The timing will depend on the wattage of your microwave, so you want to check on it after a couple minutes. Mine is pretty powerful, so I find that 2 minutes is plenty.

Reheat Rice cover with plastic wrap

3. Carefully remove the lid from the bowl (it will be very hot and steam quite a bit!), then fluff the rice with a fork and serve it right away.

Easy Rice to Freeze and Reheat

HOW TO ADD FROZEN RICE DIRECTLY TO DISHES

Alternatively, you can use the rice straight from the freezer, in its still-frozen state.

This method works best when you’re adding it to a soup or a chili, since it will defrost evenly when fully submerged in liquid. I often break up frozen rice into chunks, then add it to a pot of simmering chicken soup. Once it comes back up to a simmer, it’s ready to go.

And that’s it, really! I hope this helps you save some bucks and speed up your weeknight dinner routine, too.

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Coco Morante

Author of The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook. A self-taught cook and classically-trained soprano, Coco Morante writes and sings in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and their beagle. For more recipes, visit her blog, Lefty Spoon.

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7 Comments

No ImageHow to Freeze and Reheat Rice

  1. Lola

    Would this work with basmati rice?

  2. Heide

    Great info. Can you address how you would this rice to make fried rice? Thaw first or straight to the pan in the frozen state? Thank you!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Heidi! My inclination would be to thaw the rice before adding it to the pan. If you added the frozen rice, I think it would lower the heat of the pan too much and slow down cooking. The frozen rice also might not absorb the seasonings quite the same. Enjoy!

  3. Julia

    This looks like a great idea!! How would you re-heat the frozen rice if you didn’t have a microwave?

    Thanks,
    Julia

    • Sidney

      My grandmother used a metal colander over a pot of boiling water fluffing the rice with forks as it heats. Bonus with this method it doesn’t get dried out!

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Julia! I like Sidney’s idea! I’ve also done it on the stovetop in a small saucepan over low heat. Let it warm for a minute or two, then stir, then repeat until the rice is warmed. If it starts to stick to the pan or if it seems like it’s drying out, sprinkle a few tablespoons of water over the top. Enjoy!

Freeze RiceHow to Freeze and Reheat Rice