Can you keep cooked rice in the fridge?

Quick Answer

Yes, you can keep cooked rice in the fridge safely for 4-6 days if stored properly. The keys are cooking the rice correctly, cooling it quickly, storing it in an airtight container, and keeping the fridge below 40°F. Storing rice this way prevents bacterial growth that could make you sick.

How Long Does Cooked Rice Last in the Fridge?

Cooked rice will keep fresh in the refrigerator for 4-6 days if stored properly. After that time, the risk of food poisoning bacteria grows.

Here is a summary of how long cooked rice lasts in the fridge:

  • Cooked white rice: 4-6 days
  • Cooked brown rice: 3-5 days
  • Cooked wild rice: 3-5 days
  • Cooked rice dishes with meat or vegetables: 3-4 days
  • Cooked rice left at room temperature more than 2 hours: 1-2 days

The timeline depends on a few factors:

Type of Rice

Brown and wild rice have higher oil content than white rice. The oils can go rancid faster, causing spoilage. Brown and wild rice last 3-5 days, while white rice keeps 4-6 days.


Plain cooked rice lasts longer than rice dishes containing vegetables, meat, poultry, or seafood. Cooked rice with other ingredients only lasts 3-4 days as the quickest expiring foods determine shelf life.

Storage Method

Properly stored rice lasts longer. Keeping rice in an airtight container in a cold fridge (under 40°F) gives you the full 4-6 days. Storing rice at room temperature cuts the timeline in half.

How to Store Cooked Rice

Follow these steps to properly store leftover cooked rice:

  1. Let rice cool completely after cooking, about 1-2 hours.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container and press plastic wrap directly on top of the rice to prevent oxygen exposure.
  3. Refrigerate rice immediately, ideally within 2 hours of cooking.
  4. Store rice in the back of the fridge furthest from the door.
  5. Use rice within 4-6 days.

Sealing out air is crucial, as oxygen enables bacterial growth. An airtight storage container blocks oxygen. Refrigerating rice right after cooking also prevents the growth of bacteria, mold, and other organisms.

Storage Containers for Cooked Rice

Any airtight food storage container will work for rice. Here are some good options:

  • Plastic food storage container with tight fitting lid
  • Glass food storage container with lid
  • Ziploc freezer bag with air pressed out before sealing
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap directly on surface of rice

Avoid non-airtight containers like bowls covered with plastic wrap. They let air and moisture in, causing soggy rice and potential bacterial growth.

Reheating Stored Rice

It’s best to reheat refrigerated rice like fried rice within 2 days for optimal quality. You can reheat rice up to 4-6 days after cooking if needed.

Bring rice to a boil on the stovetop or heat through in the microwave. Discard rice with an off smell or signs of spoilage like visible mold.

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Yes, cooked rice can be frozen to extend its shelf life past 4-6 days. Here’s how long frozen rice lasts:

  • Cooked white rice: 6-12 months
  • Cooked brown rice: 6-12 months
  • Cooked wild rice: 6-12 months
  • Cooked rice dishes: 2-3 months

To freeze rice:

  1. Cool cooked rice completely, about 2 hours.
  2. Portion rice into freezer-safe bags or containers, removing as much air as possible.
  3. Lay bags flat in single layer on freezer shelf.
  4. Freeze rice immediately, ideally within 2 hours of cooking.
  5. Once frozen, bags can be stacked.
  6. Label rice with date and use within recommended timeframe.

Thaw frozen rice overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Bring rice to a boil on the stovetop or microwave until heated through, about 5 minutes.

What Happens If You Eat Bad Rice?

Eating spoiled, bacteria-ridden rice can cause food poisoning, making you sick. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Food poisoning from rice develops within 1-3 days of eating contaminated rice. The illness usually resolves on its own within 1 week. See a doctor right away if symptoms don’t improve or worsen.

Rice left at room temperature for too long can grow bacteria that produce toxins. These toxins are not destroyed through cooking and cause vomiting if ingested.

How to Tell if Rice Has Gone Bad

Look for these signs that cooked rice has spoiled and is unsafe to eat:

  • Mold visible on rice
  • Odd odor not like fresh rice
  • Rice looks too dry and crumbly
  • Cook rice texture is mushy
  • Discoloration of rice
  • Slimy texture
  • Rice has been left out over 2 hours at room temperature

Tips to Keep Rice Fresh Longer

Follow these tips to maximize the shelf life of cooked rice:

Cook rice properly:

  • Rinse rice before cooking to remove excess starch.
  • Use a rice cooker or the stove absorption method.
  • Season rice while it’s hot and fluff with a fork.

Properly cooked rice has the right moisture content to prevent spoilage bacteria.

Cool rice quickly:

  • Spread rice on a baking sheet to cool in a thin layer.
  • Put rice bowl in an ice bath.
  • Use a fan to speed up cooling.
  • Freeze rice in smaller portions.

Getting rice in the fridge or freezer below 40°F stops bacteria growth.

Store in air-tight containers:

  • Use food storage containers with tight lids.
  • Double wrap rice in plastic wrap.
  • Push out air from bags before sealing.

Blocking oxygen exposure keeps rice fresher longer.

Refrigerate ASAP:

  • Get rice in the fridge within 1-2 hours of cooking.
  • Make sure fridge is 40°F or below.
  • Store rice towards the back of the fridge.

The colder the temperature, the slower bacteria grows.

Use rice quicker:

  • Plan dishes that use up leftover rice like fried rice.
  • Make smaller batches of rice to begin with.
  • Label rice containers with dates to track usage.

Eating rice within the 4-6 day window prevents spoilage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get sick from eating old rice?

Yes, eating rice stored out at room temperature or in the fridge past the recommended time can make you sick. Rice kept too long can grow dangerous bacteria that cause vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.

Why does my leftover rice smell bad?

A foul, off putting odor in cooked rice is a sign it has spoiled. Bacteria growth causes rancid smells. Do not eat rice with an odd or bad smell.

Is leftover rice safe to eat?

Yes, as long as rice was promptly refrigerated and stored properly in an airtight container, leftover rice is safe to eat for 4-6 days. Discard rice left out over 2 hours at room temperature.

Can I reheat refrigerated rice?

Yes, you can safely reheat cooked rice stored in the fridge using the stove, microwave, or oven within 4-6 days. Bring rice leftovers to a boil before serving. Do not reheat rice that smells bad or looks moldy.

How can you tell if cooked rice has gone bad?

Signs that indicate spoiled, unsafe rice include mold, dry crumbly texture, foul odor, mushy consistency, or being left out at room temperature over 2 hours. When in doubt, throw it out.


Cooked rice can be kept in the fridge safely for 4-6 days when stored properly. Be sure to seal rice in an airtight container, refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking, and keep the fridge below 40°F. Cooked rice that has gone bad can cause food poisoning. Signs of spoilage include mold, bad smell, mushy texture, and being left out at room temperature too long. Following the storage guidelines and reheating rice leftovers within the recommended timeframe will keep rice fresh and prevent illness.

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