Have leftover rice but not sure what to do? Simply freeze rice in airtight containers and enjoy them later on. It’s the best method.
I often get questions from readers about how I store cooked rice. I usually make extra rice so that we always have some extra cooked rice ready at hand. What’s the best way to store cooked rice?
4 Ways To Store Cooked Rice
When you end up with extra rice in your rice cooker after a meal, you have several options to store it.
Option A: Keep in your rice cooker with “keep warm” function on.
Option B: Keep at room temperature.
Option C: Store in your refrigerator.
Option D: Store in your freezer.
Which option do you normally use? From my experience, freezing the rice is the best way to store cooked rice, and I freeze cooked rice even if I plan to use it the next day. Here’s why.
3 Reasons Why You Freeze Rice
1. Stay Moist, Fresh, and Delicious
There are many Japanese articles online that prove frozen then reheated rice tastes the best (by testing different storage methods). You might have tried to refrigerate rice, but the texture becomes hard and dry. Unless you have plans to make fried rice next few days, refrigerated leftover rice doesn’t taste good, even on the next day!
With the freezing method, pack up the freshly cooked rice with steam (moist) in an airtight container and close the lid immediately. So when you reheat the frozen rice, it’s moist, fresh, and delicious just like freshly cooked rice!
2. Store Up To 1 Month
The freezing method allows you to store the cooked rice up to 1 month, so you don’t feel obligated to use it immediately or 2-3 days. Here’s the comparison with other methods.
Option A (rice cooker): Up to 3 hours (best quality) to 1 day.
Option B (room temperature): Up to 6 hours (summer) to 1 day (winter).
Option C (refrigerator): 3 days.
Option D (freezer): Up to 1 month.
3. Save Money & Time
If you eat rice almost every day like my family and you cook for just 1 or 2 person, cooking rice every day may not make sense. It’s great that you can eat the freshly cooked rice, but it does not save your money and time.
Therefore, I highly recommend making extra rice and freeze it. That way, you can just cook rice when you are running out of the frozen rice.
How To Freeze Rice
1.Get Airtight Containers with a Steam Vent
First thing first, you will need airtight containers. You’ll need a glass container with a vented lid that allows you to microwave with the lid on to keep the moisture. Pyrex sells the glass containers with regular lid, but you can purchase lids with a built-in steam vent separately.
I have 1 cup Pyrex glass containers which are perfect for a small Japanese rice bowl. For adults, 2 cup containers work better.
- Buy Pyrex 1-cup glass container and 1-cup vented lid cover (green) separately (more economical), OR buy 1-cup glass container with vented lid (more expensive option)
- Buy Pyrex 2-cup glass container and 2-cup vented lid cover (blue) separately (more economical), OR buy 2-cup glass container with vented lid (more expensive option)
The vented lids are BPA-free plastic and dishwasher safe.
In Japanese grocery stores, you might find these plastic containers that are specifically made for freezing and then microwaving rice. I used to use these, but I changed to use the glass container above because I do not remember if these plastic containers are BPA-free. If you happen to see these containers at the store, please let me know if they are BPA-free. 🙂
2. Pack Freshly Cooked Rice in the Containers
The best time to store the cooked rice is when it’s just finished cooking. Make sure to pack the rice with steam and cover the lid immediately to trap the steam and moisture.
When the rice has cooled, store in your freezer. The quality will stay well up to 1 month.
3. Defrost in Microwave
When you need rice, take out the rice from the freezer, open the vent and microwave while it’s frozen. For this particular size, it requires to microwave for 2 ½ minutes (with 1100 w) and 3-4 minutes (with 600 w). You might want to experiment with your microwave to see how long it takes to defrost properly.
Serve and enjoy!
Freeze Rice without Containers
If you don’t have microwave-safe containers or glass containers, you can use microwave-safe plastic wrap. For convenience, use a rice bowl for measurement. Place the plastic wrap on top of the rice bowl and put cooled* rice on top.
*The direct contact between plastic wrap and hot food is not recommended. Due to this, you will lose some moisture content inside the rice.
Remove the rice bowl and wrap tightly. I usually shape the rice into squares so that I can organize these packets easily in the freezer.
Put it in a freezer bag and close tightly. Write down the date you pack.
When you need rice, defrost until the plastic wrap comes off. Then transfer to a bowl, sprinkle a little bit of water (to add some moist the rice lost before packing*), loosely cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Here are quick rice recipes you can make after defrosting the frozen rice.
Editor’s Note: The original post was published on June 10, 2013. New post has been updated with new pictures and more detailed content.