How to: Freeze Rice

by Beth - Budget Bytes
Step by Step

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Rice is a poor man’s best friend. It’s inexpensive, filling, a blank slate for flavor, and can be added to almost any meal to bulk it out. But guess what? When I come home after a long day at work and I’m hungry, like now, I don’t always want to take the time to make rice.

That’s where a having a freezer stash of cooked rice comes in handy. Frozen cooked rice reheats quickly in the microwave and makes getting dinner on the table (or just into your belly) twice as fast. Plus, if you live alone and often want just one serving of rice at a time, this trick solves that problem. Use your frozen rice for a quick stir fry or fried rice, to soak up the sauce from a yummy stew, or as a bed for some beans, salsa, and cheese. The possibilities for fast meals are endless.

There isn’t much to freezing rice, so this is more of a “Why to: Freeze Rice” rather than “How to: Freeze Rice,” but, you know, consistency. I’m also going to provide some resources below for help with cooking rice for those who haven’t mastered it yet (and you definitely should master it at some point).

So, let’s go.

How to: Freeze Rice

Rice in zip lock baggies to freeze  

Step 1: Cook the Rice

The next time you cook rice for a recipe, cook double with the intent of freezing half. Or, cook a big pot on the weekend and freeze it for use later in the week (or weeks to come).

Step 2: Cool the Rice

It’s important to let the rice cool quickly and completely in the refrigerator before freezing. This will help keep the grains separate instead of freezing in one sticky clump. Properly cooling your rice is also an important step to maintain food safety. Either divide the rice into smaller portions, or spread it out onto something like a baking sheet so that it has more surface area and cools faster. Always cool the rice in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, which will increase the risk of food poisoning (for more information about leftover rice and food safety, click here).

Step 3: Portion and Freeze

It’s a good idea to freeze the rice in portions that you would normally use for one or two meals. I freeze my rice in two cup portions, which will supply me with two meals worth of rice. If you have a family of four, you may consider freezing in 4-6 cup portions, so that you can just thaw the amount needed for one dinner.

I like to freeze in quart-sized freezer bags, and gallon-sized for larger portions. I find that their minimal shape helps me fit more in the freezer. Resealable plastic containers (like this) are also great because they’re reusable and many are BPA free.

Step 4: Reheat the Rice

To reheat the rice, I simply tear away the freezer bag and dump the rice in a bowl, or open up the resealable plastic container and microwave until it’s heated through. I like to place a lid loosely over top of whatever container I’m using while reheating to help keep moisture in. And, as always with microwaving, it’s a good idea to stir a couple times in the middle of reheating to make sure everything heats evenly.

I know some people don’t like to use microwaves, but I haven’t experimented with other methods of reheating frozen rice yet. If you routinely freeze and reheat your rice using another method, please share with the rest of us in the comments below!

Help with Cooking Rice

I thought about doing a step by step rice cooking tutorial, but so many others have already done so and done such a good job of it. There are two main methods of cooking rice on a stovetop. The immersion method (let the water boil before adding the rice) and the steaming method (add rice and water to pot, then bring to a boil). I prefer the steam method, but they both work great.

I’ve found that the single most important factor when cooking rice is using a good pot with a thick bottom. When I use my thinner pots it sticks or burns to the bottom every time. When I use my heavy pots I get perfect, fluffy rice. The thicker pots distribute the heat better and will simply give you better results. I’ve had a set like this for the past ten years, and they’re fantastic.

Rice Cookers

And, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a rice cooker. They make perfect rice every time, aren’t very expensive, and you’ll definitely get a lot of use out of it! So, if you haven’t been able to master cooking rice on the stove, give some thought to investing in a rice cooker. Check out how inexpensive these small, medium, and extra large rice cookers are!

Plus, according to thekitchn.com, you can do a LOT more than just cook rice in one of those things… Sounds like a small apartment dweller’s best friend!

So there you have it! Rice! What’s not to love! :D

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  1. Your link to the pot you use (Target?) doesn’t work…could you tell me the name/brand so we can look elsewhere for it? Thanks 

  2. I would put it in my steamer basket that fits in the top of a pot. Put water in pot and cover steam basket. It will be just liked when it was cooked. I use a steamer basket to reheat lots of leftovers Worth the money to invest in.

  3. I take cold rice sprinkle a little water on it — like only a sprinkle with fingertips. And then heat in microwave. Stir gale way through. Nice s fluffy like a fresh batch 

    1. Yes, but just be aware that if the rice cooks for a while in the soup or sits for a long time it can break down and get mushy.

  4.  6 cups of rice and 9 cups of water in a 10 quart pressure cooker cooks in six minutes, after the pressure has built In the cooker. I have been using this method for several years and I’ve clean and th in the cooker. I have been using this method for several years and I am pleased with the results.

  5. A great way to re-heat left over (or frozen) rice is to place it in steamer basket/pot over simmering water. It takes longer than micro-waving, but produces perfectly hot, moist rice.

  6. I just read that you can boil a Ziploc Freezer bag. Not sure how long it will take precooked frozen rice to thaw and heat, but I’m going to try it!

  7. Thank you for your help. I’m on a limited budget and I’m disabled. I have a PCA but she can’t be here all the time so, I’m learning how to make the food last by freezing it for the future.

    1. Nice job being so proactive with your health! I hope you and your PCA enjoyed some good rice together!

  8. If you don’t have a microwave then place your frozen rice in a sieve, put it over a pot of boiling water, lid on top and it will defrost in no time.

  9. Steam it. Put a little water in a pot, place a heat safe colander, strainer, or some aluminum foil, slightly lowered into bowl shape, with a few fork holes punched in it, put the lid on and boil. Once the water is at rolling boil, it shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes. Tastes like it just came out of the rice cooker! And clean up is a sinch! REMEMBER…Leave the lid on so as not to let the steam escape. Dig in!

  10. For things like this, I often freeze them in a thin sheet in freezer bags and then crack off as much as I want. The bags stack in the freezer. Another way, which I often do with hamburger, is to put them in a freezer bag and then squeeze the bag so that there are thin lines that will break if the bag is banged on the counter.

  11. I Like the rice so much I eat every day but I no like cook the rice every day This good idea freeze the rice I try this today
    Dave Hughes
    Chatham Illinois

  12. I throw my rice in a metal colander over a pot of boiling water with the lid from the pot on top. 5-7 minutes is usually good.

    1. This is genius!! I’m not really a fan of microwaved food so I was wondering about the reheating aspect. Thank you for this :)

  13. I use freezer pouches and reheat rice in the microwave by slitting the pouch or boiling water by putting it in the pot of water until it’s hot.

  14. NEVER reheat any food in a plastic container/bag as the endorcrine disrupting chemicals leach into your food. If you must use microwave then use glass. Better to reheat in a safe pot on the stove (not teflon!!). Microwaves alster the chemistry of your food, too, so not really a great idea. Leanr about it at mercola.com.

      1. Actually, the comment by Anna is not anti-science, it is based on science. Plastic does leach out endocrine-disrupting chemicals when heated up (some plastic more than others — e.g., #5 and #7 plastics are the worst). Freezing the rice in plastic is ok, but best to transfer to glass or ceramic containers for heating up in a microwave.