Why You Really Shouldn't Freeze Cooked Rice

Some things are just better fresh rather than frozen. Certain foods, such as chili or cookie dough, do well in the freezer even for extended periods, but this is not always the case for all foods. Some simply lose their luster upon freezing and are best served as close to fresh as possible. Rice is one of those foods. Though on the surface the tasty grain may seem like a perfect candidate for freezing — it is easy to cook in large batches and serves as the perfect base for many recipes — you'd be better served cooking your rice as you go or keeping leftovers in the fridge for short periods.

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While it is perfectly safe to freeze your cooked rice, the food does not hold up upon reheating. This is because the cell walls of rice break down upon thawing, causing your perfectly cooked, fluffy rice to take on an unpleasant mushy texture. The thawed rice will also lack flavor. It's a dish that is best served immediately after cooking.

The best ways to reheat your rice

Of course, this is not to say that you can't save and use leftover rice. You shouldn't freeze it, but even refrigerating your rice can change its texture. And reheating rice is more complex than simply plopping it in the microwave. If you're hoping to reheat your rice and maintain its taste and texture, you might consider implementing a few of these reheating methods.

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If you're in a pinch for time, one method you might want to try is microwaving your rice with an ice cube. Doing so will help your reheated rice retain moisture, and the ice cube when placed in the microwave, will produce steam that helps to perk up your rice rather than dry it out. However, this method does not perfectly retain your rice's texture, and your resulting rice might still end up being a bit chewy.

If you have a bit more time on your hands, you might try reheating your rice in the oven. For this method, you will want to put your rice in an oven-safe dish and add a few tablespoons of water. Then, you should cover your rice in foil and put it in an oven preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. This method will help to steam the rice and help to maintain its texture. However, nothing will ever beat fresh rice.

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Be careful with leftover rice

While you can create some tasty results from reheating your rice, it's important to consider safety when consuming leftovers, especially when it comes to rice. Leftover rice can play host to the incredibly dangerous Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. This is particularly important to note for cooked rice kept at room temperature for extended periods, as the bacteria can thrive and cause severe illness. Refrigerated rice can become hazardous to eat after only one day.

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For this reason, it might be best to eat your leftover rice as soon as possible to avoid contamination. And even though it is impossible to maintain that fresh rice flavor and texture when reheating, you can still make the most of your leftover rice by playing to its strengths. Day-old rice might make a better base for fried rice than fresh rice does thanks to its slightly drier texture. So rather than freezing your leftover rice, you might want to plan on cooking it in a dish of fried rice, in which you can incorporate other leftover ingredients to create a delicious, somewhat eclectic meal.

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