Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Rice is a healthy staple in many meals. It is commonly used in Asian dishes such as curry instead of potatoes and it is also common in Caribbean food. Think of rice and peas for example. 

However, is it possible to freeze it so that you can have a quick meal after a hard day at work? The answer is yes but you do have to be careful as rice can spoil easily and bacteria can form.

Only freeze rice if you know where and how the rice was cooked. Don’t freeze takeaway rice as you don’t know whether or not it has been reheated. In this article, we will tell you how to freeze rice and how to defrost it.

How To Freeze Cooked Rice

1. Cook the rice.

You can cook and freeze any type of rice, not just plain white rice. Brown rice freezes well (see also Freezing Brown Rice) as does jasmine rice and basmati.

2. Cool down the rice.

It is important to cool down the rice quickly. If you keep it at room temperature for longer than two hours, bacteria can start to form. To cool it down quickly, the best thing to do is to spread the rice on a baking tray. Alternatively, put it in a cold glass bowl.

3. Put the rice in freezer bags.

Portion the rice into meal-size servings and put them in freezer bags. It is best to freeze as much as you need for each meal in separate bags so that you don’t end up throwing some away. You need to use the frozen rice immediately and not keep it in the fridge. Put a label on each bag with the date frozen and the type of rice. You may not be able to tell what rice it is by just looking at the bag. Make sure that you squeeze as much air out of the bags as possible otherwise, freezer burn might occur. The rice will still be safe to eat but it will lose taste and texture. 

4. Put the bags in the freezer.

Lay the bags flat so that the rice doesn’t freeze in clumps. 

You can add vegetables to the rice if you like and freeze them together. Good choices are peas and sweetcorn.

Can You Freeze Rice Dishes?

Yes, you can freeze rice dishes such as risotto, arancini balls, egg fried rice, and Mexican rice. Follow the same instructions we have given you for freezing plain rice. 

Can You Freeze Takeaway Rice?

The answer to this is a resounding no! This is because you won’t know how the rice has been handled. It’s highly likely that the rice has been reheated. The takeaway service has probably made a big batch of rice and then reheated portions when needed. We recommend that you only reheat rice once otherwise, it will encourage bacteria to grow. You should only freeze cooked rice that you have made yourself. If you get takeaway rice you will need to eat it all or throw away what you don’t eat.

Tips For Freezing Cooked Rice

  1. Freeze the rice in meal-size portions so that you only defrost the amount you need. This helps to avoid waste. 
  2. Squeeze out the air from the freezer bags to avoid freezer burn.
  3. Don’t freeze takeaway rice as it may already have been reheated.
  4. Freeze rice dishes so that all you have to do is defrost one item. Try making lemon asparagus risotto, roasted chicken with rice and caramelized onions, Louisiana red beans and rice, or pork fried rice. Spanish paella is also a good choice.
  5. You can freeze any type of rice.

For How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

To ensure that the rice retains taste, texture, and nutrients, rice can be frozen for up to three months. After this time, the rice will deteriorate so you should get rid of it. There is even a chance that bacteria may start to form. This is why it is important to label the bags with the date you put them in the freezer.

How Do You Defrost Cooked Rice?

You don’t have to defrost cooked rice. Instead, you can heat it up from frozen. If you are using it in a soup such as chicken and rice soup or spicy pepper and rice soup, or a stew such as beef, celery, and rice casserole, you can just add it straight to the dish. Heat it on a warm setting so that it warms all the way through and breaks apart. You don’t want to put it on a high heat as it may burn. 

If you intend to use the rice as a side dish to something like curry or stroganoff, put the rice in a pan with a little water and warm it through. Don’t use a high heat as again it could burn. With a fork, gently break the rice apart.

Can You Refreeze Cooked Rice?

No, you really shouldn’t refreeze cooked rice. This is because cooked rice can start to develop bacteria very quickly especially if you don’t freeze it correctly. The best thing to do is to freeze the rice in meal-size portions so that you only defrost what you need and therefore have no reason to refreeze it. If you do have any left over, throw it away. 

Is It a Good Idea To Freeze Rice?

Yes, it is, as long as you follow our instructions.  It will save you a lot of time in the future if you make a big batch of rice and freeze it in meal-size portions. If you have had a hard day at work, what is better than just taking a rice dish out of the freezer and heating it up from frozen? You could easily have a risotto or paella in a matter of minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing rice, but in case you want to know more about freezing rice or rice in general, we have answered a few questions here.

What rice should I use with an Indian curry?

The best rice to have with an Indian curry is basmati rice, which is long-grained and has a light, delicate, fragrance.

Can I freeze seafood paella?

Yes, you can. However, don’t freeze seafood in their shells. If you have used frozen fish, it’s probably better that you don’t freeze it. Fish can be refrozen once but if you do decide to refreeze it in the paella, cool it down as quickly as possible and put it in the freezer.

Can I freeze chicken and chorizo paella?

Yes, both chicken and chorizo can be frozen successfully (see also How To Freeze Chorizo). 

Why should I reheat rice slowly?

If you reheat the rice too quickly, it can cause bacteria to form and you could become ill.

Can I freeze egg fried rice?

Yes, you can freeze egg fried rice. Use the same method as freezing any other type of rice. However, the egg pieces may become a bit rubbery. It is better to mix in the egg when you are reheating the rice. The egg will then retain its texture.

Can I freeze mushroom risotto?

Yes, you can freeze mushroom risotto for up to three months. However, it is best that you defrost it in the fridge first.

Can I freeze boiled rice?

Yes, you can. It doesn’t matter how you have cooked the rice, it all can be frozen.

Can I freeze rice with defrosted meat?

We would recommend that you don’t as it’s not a good idea to refreeze meat in most cases. 

What is the safest way to cool down my cooked rice?

It is best, in most cases, to add the frozen rice to a pan or to a dish. Leaving it to defrost at room temperature is not a good idea as bacteria will easily develop and if you eat the rice, you will probably get sick. Remember to reheat the rice over a low heat, stirring gently every so often so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. There’s nothing worse than burned rice.

Can you freeze cooked rice and chicken?

Yes, you can freeze cooked rice and chicken as long as the chicken hasn’t been frozen before.

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