Can You Freeze Rice?

Spoiler: you can. Here's a step-by-step guide how to do it.

March 23, 2023
Cooked Brown Rice side view


Cooked Brown Rice side view

Photo by: vm2002/Getty Images

vm2002/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Can You Freeze Rice?

Yep, you can buy frozen rice, and that's convenient. But you can also freeze the rice you make at home with wonderful results. There are so many varieties of rice now: you can have your pick of color, flavor, length of grain or texture, and every single one of them can be frozen. Consider making a double batch of rice the next time you’re making your favorite variety so you always have cooked rice at a minute's notice. Or, freeze any leftover rice you have so it doesn't go to waste (don't forget the leftover rice you have from that takeout meal--it freezes beautifully too).

A bag of frozen white rice on a wooden kitchen work top


A bag of frozen white rice on a wooden kitchen work top

Photo by: Duncan Cuthbertson/Getty Images

Duncan Cuthbertson/Getty Images

How to Freeze Rice, Step-By-Step

Follow these simple steps for freezing rice to ensure it's at its best when you thaw it and use it.

  1. Cook the Rice: Cook the rice according to the directions for the specific type of rice you are using. For instructions on how to cook all kinds of rice check out How to Cook Rice: A Step-by-Step Guide. Steaming a big batch in the Instant Pot makes it quick and easy. Our recipe for Instant Pot Steamed Rice goes through all the steps for perfect rice.
  2. Cool the Rice: Spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet in an even layer. Cool the rice in the refrigerator until it's completely cool.
  3. Package the Rice: Spoon the cooled rice into zip-top bags. Label the bags with the contents, date and number of cups of rice. One serving of rice is 1/2 cup; most recipes that call for cooked rice (think: casseroles and stir-fries) call for 2 or 3 cups. Gently flatten the rice and push as much air out of the bag as possible. Stacking flat bags saves room in the freezer.

Freezing Prepared Rice Dishes

Freezing rice casseroles and other rice dishes is as easy as freezing plain cooked rice. Baked rice casseroles with meat, vegetables or cheese can easily be frozen. Just like with plain, cooked rice, be sure the rice dish is cooled before putting it in an airtight container or zip-top bag. We like to chill casseroles to make them easier to cut, then divide them into individual portions for freezing.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Rice In the Freezer?

Frozen rice can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months and still be tasty. After that it loses flavor and dries out but won’t be unsafe to eat. An airtight container is your best defense against losing quality so vacuum sealing is great if you have that tool in your kitchen. Rice casseroles will last for up to 3 months in the freezer, according to the USDA.

White boiled rice in a wooden bowl. Rustic style.


White boiled rice in a wooden bowl. Rustic style.

Photo by: derketta/Getty Images

derketta/Getty Images

How to Reheat Frozen Rice

The Microwave Method

While freezing rice in plastic zip-top bags is convenient, we prefer reheating in glass or ceramic. Transfer frozen rice to a bowl, add a few teaspoons of water and cover bowl with a loose-fitting lid: a plate that covers the top is best. Microwave on high for 1 to 3 minutes, until hot. For leftover rice casseroles with other ingredients, sprinkle with water and microwave at 50 percent power to gently reheat, especially if meat is one of the ingredients in the leftovers.

The Oven Method

You can also place frozen rice in a covered casserole with a sprinkle of water and thaw it in the oven at 300 degrees F for 30 to 40 minutes.

Can You Freeze Uncooked Rice?

Uncooked white rice can be frozen for years. Keeping brown rice in the freezer as a matter of course will keep it fresher longer: it keeps the oils in brown rice from turning rancid and giving the rice an off flavor. Brown rice will last for up to 18 months in the freezer.

Ideas for Leftover Rice

When you’re making stir-fried rice you need to start with cold, very firm rice: anything else would turn to mush in your skillet or wok. Therefore, these dishes are a perfect way to use frozen leftover rice. Stirring thawed, leftover rice into a bowl of chicken soup with veggies is comfort in a bowl. Head over to our stories Leftover Rice 5 Ways and How to Use Leftover Rice for more ideas.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

A stash of frozen brown rice makes this dish a breeze for a weeknight meal.

A roasted chicken from the market and leftover rice give you dinner in a snap. Freezing the leftovers makes another dinner even faster.

Baked Cheese Chile Rice in a White Baking Dish

Cheesy Chile Rice

Baked Cheese Chile Rice in a White Baking Dish

©Food: Jaime Kimm Prop: Marina Malchin

Food: Jaime Kimm Prop: Marina Malchin

Frozen rice makes Cheesy Chile Rice an easy side for any dinner. Add a bowl of beans and it’s a great vegetarian meal.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Gingery Tofu and Shiitake Fried Rice combines a satisfying umami-packed array of flavors and textures. We like to use the recipe and add other proteins occasionally.


Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

This recipe makes enough for a crowd or for one dinner and plenty of leftovers for freezing in individual portions.

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