How to Reheat Rice

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We’ve covered a lot of foods that are tricky to reheat, but rice may be one of the toughest. The second you put leftover rice in the fridge, it tends to dry out or lump together. Once you apply heat to it, things get even worse.

But that doesn’t mean you should throw away that giant container of leftover rice in your refrigerator. With the right technique, it is possible to reheat leftover rice to return it to its former fluffy glory.

So, how do you reheat rice? The best way to reheat rice is to put it in a pot with a dash of water and a tight-fitting lid. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

Looking for a quicker method to reheat small portions of rice or a less labor-intensive one for family portions? We’ve got you covered! Below, you’ll find the best ways to reheat rice for any occasion.

The Best Ways to Reheat Rice

The key to reheating rice, no matter what method you choose, is to add a little extra water to help steam the grains as they warm. This will help replace the water lost during storage and during the heating process.

How to Reheat Rice on the Stovetop

This is our favorite method because it’s relatively quick, easy, and produces the best results for small to medium-sized portions.

You can use a pot or pan for reheating rice on the stovetop, just make sure whatever you choose is size appropriate and has a tight-fitting lid.

To reheat rice using the stovetop:

  1. Put your rice into your pot or pan.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice you’re reheating.
  3. Stir well and turn the burner to low heat and put the lid on.
  4. Stir occasionally.
  5. Heat for about 5 minutes or until warmed through.

The only downside to this process is it does require a little babysitting if you want fluffy rice. Just be careful not to stir too often, because you’ll lose moisture each time you take off the lid. Once or twice during the five minutes should be plenty.

How to Reheat Rice in the Microwave

If you’re only reheating enough rice for a single serving, or you’re in a bit of a hurry, the microwave is a great option. But you do have to follow a few key instructions if you want your rice to turn out soft and fluffy instead of dry and clumpy.

First, you’ll need to splash a little water over the rice as we mentioned above. Second, you’ll want to cover your bowl with a wet cloth or damp paper towel. This cover will allow air to move in and out of the container but keep moisture trapped inside to help steam the rice.

To reheat rice using the microwave:

  1. Put your rice in a microwave-safe container.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice you’re reheating.
  3. Cover the container with a wet paper towel or a wet cloth.
  4. Heat in intervals of 30 seconds, fluffing after each.
  5. Heat for about 2 minutes total or until rice is heated through.

This is by far the quickest and most energy-efficient method, but it does require a little extra care. As long as you’re good about cooking in short bursts and stirring in between, your final results should be nearly as good as our stovetop method.

How to Reheat Rice in the Oven

If you’re reheating large portions of rice, such as for a family dinner, then the oven can be a great choice. It takes longer and requires more energy, but actually requires the least from you. This is a great option if you already have a heated oven from previous meal prep or if you’re busy preparing other food while the rice is heating.

To reheat rice in the oven:

  1. Place your rice in an appropriately-sized baking dish.
  2. Add about 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice you’re reheating.
  3. Cover with foil and cinch tightly along the edges.
  4. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

Be sure your aluminum foil is sealed tightly around all edges of the baking dish. The key is to keep the extra moisture inside so the rice can be steamed rather than baked. If too much moisture escapes or you don’t use enough water in the beginning, your rice will crisp up around the edges.

This method also works well for frozen rice. But, when reheating frozen rice, you won’t need to add extra water and will need to increase the cooking time by about 10 to 20 minutes.

How to Store Rice Leftover Rice for Optimum Reheat Potential

If you know you will have a lot of leftover cooked rice soon after making it, there are a few steps you can take to assure that the rice reheats well later on.

First, as soon as the rice is done cooking, you’ll want to start cooling it down. When rice is left in a warm pot after it’s done cooking, it tends to get mushy and clumpy. By removing the rice and letting it cool quickly, you can keep that optimal texture, which translates to tastier leftovers.

We recommend using a baking tray lined with parchment paper to quickly cool your rice. Spoon your extra rice out of the pot and flatten it on the tray as soon as it is ready to serve. Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer the rice to an airtight container and put it in the fridge. 

If needed, you can portion the rice out into separate containers for grab-and-go meals the rest of the week.

How Long Does It Last?

Like most cooked foods, leftover cooked rice is good for about 5 days in the fridge. Make sure to store it in an airtight container to help keep it from drying out and to extend its shelf life. 

And make sure you only reheat leftover rice once. If you end up with uneaten rice after reheating it, throw the remainder out.

Can You Make It in Advance?

While the above methods for reheating rice work fairly well, you typically don’t want to make rice in advance. This temperamental grain simply tastes best when it is fresh out of the pot. The one exception to this rule is when you’re making fried rice.

To make the perfect fried rice, you need rice that is a little on the dry side. Intentionally cooking rice so it’s a bit dry is tricky, though. One simple workaround is to cook the rice ahead of time and let it naturally dry out in the fridge overnight.

Once you’re ready to make the fried rice, simply add the rice to the pan as is and let it soak up the flavors of your sauce.

Final Thoughts on Reheating Rice

Reheating rice can be tricky, but can be done so long as you add a little extra liquid and use a tight-fitting lid while cooking in the oven or on the stove, or a wet cloth in the microwave. These two key factors will help steam the rice back to life without making it mushy or clumpy and while preventing it from drying out.

White rice reheating in a pot on the stove, with a wooden spoon stiring.

How to Reheat Rice

Rice is one of the toughest leftovers to reheat, but it can be done. Here's our favorite (stovetop) method to reheat rice that's fluffy and delicious instead of clumpy, mushy, or dry.
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Keyword: leftover rice, reheat rice
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Author: John Schmidt


  • Leftover rice


  • Put your rice into your pot or pan.
  • Add about 2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice you're reheating.
  • Stir well and turn the burner to low heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • Heat for about 5 minutes or until warmed through.


Be careful not to stir too often, because you’ll lose moisture each time you take off the lid. Once or twice during the five minutes should be plenty.

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1 medium size stove top pot
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Sara Seitz