Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

Q. I made a large pot of rice and have a lot left over.  I want to freeze it but I’m not sure if I can. Can you freeze cooked rice?

A. Rice is an inexpensive staple food that can take a long time to prepare.  It is easily prepared in large batches, and for convenience, can also be frozen.  Cooked rice freezes well. Having a batch of frozen rice on hand can cut down on meal preparation time considerably, and can add life to stir fries, soups and casseroles. All types of rice can be frozen, including white, brown, and wild.  Rice can also be frozen seasoned or with vegetables such as peas mixed in, for quick one pot meals.

Cook rice according to package instructions. Rice can be frozen as soon as it is cool enough to handle and is no longer letting off steam. If you do not plan on freezing rice immediately after cooking, cooked and cooled rice should be stored in the refrigerator to avoid the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.  When you are ready to freeze the rice, freeze it either in rigid plastic freezer containers with moisture proof lids, or in freezer bags.  It’s a good idea to freeze the rice in one meal serving sizes, so that you only have to defrost what you need to make one meal. A good rule of thumb is to freeze rice in one cup batches.

To freeze rice in a plastic container, scoop rice into the container, allowing about an inch clearance between the rice and the lid to allow for expansion.  Secure the lid and label the container with the name and date the rice was frozen.  If freezing rice in plastic freezer bags, fill bags with rice, then flatten, removing excess air before sealing completely.  Label and date bags using a permanent marker, and store in the freezer stacked flat, one bag piled on top of the other to save space.

Frozen rice should keep in the freezer for at least six months if stored properly.

To reheat frozen rice, remove rice from freezer and thaw in the refrigerator several hours or overnight.  Frozen rice can also be steamed in the microwave from frozen by slightly opening the freezer bag and reheating according to microwave directions.  The freezer bag acts as a steamer, using the liquid from the frozen rice to help reheat it.  If rice is being added to a stir fry or other dry dish, a tablespoon or two of water added to the rice while cooking may help keep the grains soft and moist.

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