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How To Store Cooked Rice

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    What’s the best method to store cooked rice? Simply freeze the rice in airtight containers and reheat to enjoy later on! This is by far the best approach to keep your rice fresh and moist.

    Glass airtight containers with steamed rice in them.

    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?

    What’s the Best Way 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 1 – Keep in your rice cooker with “keep warm” function on
    • Option 2 – Keep at room temperature
    • Option 3 – Store in your refrigerator
    • Option 4 – 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.

    Glass airtight containers with steamed rice in them.

    3 Reasons Why You Should 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 the next few days, refrigerated leftover rice doesn’t taste good, even the next day!

    With the freezing method, pack up the freshly cooked rice with steam (moisture) in an airtight container and close the lid immediately. So when you reheat the frozen rice, the rice is 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 how long the cooked rice last, comparing with other storing options.

    • Option 1 (rice cooker) – Up to 3 hours (best quality) to 1 day
    • Option 2 (room temperature) – Up to 6 hours (summer) to 1 day (winter)
    • Option 3 (refrigerator) – 3 days
    • Option 4 (freezer) – Up to 1 month

    3. Save Money & Time

    If you need to cook rice for just 1 to 2 servings every day, cooking rice every day might not make sense. It’s great that you can eat freshly cooked rice, but it does not save your money and time. And rice tastes better when you cook (at least) 2 cups of rice.

    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.

    Glass airtight containers with steamed rice in them.

    How To Freeze Cooked Rice

    1. Pack Immediately

    Ideally, as soon as the rice is finished cooking, pack away the amount of rice you do not need or plan to keep. Make sure to pack the rice with steam and cover the lid immediately to trap the steam and moisture.

    Sometimes, you didn’t plan to leave any leftover rice. In that case, just pack the leftover (you can add some water when you’re reheating).

    2. Let cool completely

    You do not want to spoil your food in the freezer with your hot/warm rice. So make sure to cool the rice containers first before storing it in the freezer.

    3. Put in the Freezer

    The rice quality will stay well for up to 1 month!

    Glass airtight containers with steamed rice in them.

    Best Container for Freezing Cooked Rice

    1. Glass Container with a Lid

    Pyrex glass containers with lids.

    I recommend a glass container with a lid such as Pyrex 4-Cup Round Dish Storage Container with Cover. The 4 cup container fits 2 servings of cooked rice, which is perfect for my children’s lunchbox (2 lunch boxes). Pyrex 2 -Cup Round Dish Storage Container with Cover works great for a single rice bowl portion.

    Japanese Rice Container with Air Vent

    Japanese rice storage container with air vent.

    In Japanese grocery stores, you might find these plastic containers that are specifically made for freezing and then microwaving rice.

    Microwave-safe Plastic Wrap or Freezer Bag

    This may not be the most environmentally-friendly method with so much plastic usage. However, if your freezer is tiny and cannot fit the glass containers (I used to live in a dormitory with a tiny freezer space), this might be your only option.

    Here’s how you prepare the “frozen rice package”. You can use the same method when you use a freezer bag.

    Store cooked rice in plastic wrap and freeze it.
    Step 1: Place the plastic wrap on top of the rice bowl (a good way to measure!) and put cooled rice on top.
    Store cooked rice in plastic wrap and freeze it.
    Step 2: 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.
    Store cooked rice in plastic wrap and freeze it.
    Step 3: Put it in a freezer bag and close tightly. Write down the date you pack.

    How to Reheat the Frozen Rice in Microwave

    When you need rice, here’s what you need to do.

    >> Reheat Frozen Rice in the Airtight Containers

    1. Take out the frozen rice container from the freezer.
    2. Open the lid and loosely cover it with a paper towel.
    3. Microwave until the rice is hot all the way through.

    Microwave Rice

    For this particular 4-cup container, it requires to microwave for 4 minutes (1100 w). You might want to experiment with your microwave to see how long it takes to defrost properly.

    >> Reheat Frozen Rice in the Plastic Wrap/Bag

    1. Defrost the rice package in the refrigerator or on the counter until the plastic wrap comes off.
    2. Transfer to a bowl/plate.
    3. Sprinkle a little bit of water to add some moisture.
    4. Loosely cover it with a paper towel.
    5. Microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, or until hot all the way through.

    Perfectly cooked rice served in a rice bowl along with miso soup.

    How to Reheat the Frozen Rice in Steamer

    When you need rice, here’s what you need to do:

    1. Take out the rice from the freezer and open the lid.
    2. Prepare the steamer using a large pot (See the pictures below).
    3. Bring the water to a boil and steam the frozen rice in the glass container until the rice is defrosted and warm.
    DIY Steamer | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    DIY Steamer Step 1: Make small balls with aluminum foil. Fill the pot with 1-inch water.
    DIY Steamer | Easy Japanese Recipes at
    DIY Steamer Step 2: Cover the lid with a clean cloth so the condensation won’t drop onto the rice.


    Here are quick rice recipes you can make after defrosting the frozen rice.

    Make this classic Onigiri (Japanese Rice Balls) for your school lunch and potluck! #onigiri #riceball | Easy Japanese Recipes at

    Onigiri (Japanese Rice Ball)

    Japanese tea is poured on top of steamed rice and flaky baked salmon in a rice bowl.


    Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on June 10, 2013. The post has been updated with new pictures and more detailed content in January 2020.

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