Tips on Reheating Rice

By Megan Koos

Reheated rice can become dry and hard, so you need to add moisture when you reheat it. How you plan to reheat the rice will dictate what you need to do to increase moisture. There is some concern over the safety of reheating rice, but generally problem bacteria grow if cooked rice is improperly cooled and stored -- not during the reheating process.

Thai Food
credit: Paduk/iStock/Getty Images
Mixed rice dishes tend to reheat more successfully than plain rice.

Zap It

The fastest way to reheat rice is in the microwave. Cover the rice with a wet paper towel and cook for 60 seconds. Check the temperature of the rice and cook longer if necessary. If the paper towel has dried out, moisten it again before restarting the microwave. You can also sprinkle the cooked rice with water and cover with a microwave-safe lid or something else that will hold in moisture.

Getting Steamy

Steaming rice will give it a moist, fluffy texture that more closely resembles fresh rice. You can steam your leftover rice in a steamer. If you don't have one, put the rice in a colander and place the colander over a pot of boiling water. Stir the rice occasionally so it heats evenly.

The Whole Dish

Reheating a dish that contains rice is easier than reheating plain rice. The extra ingredients will give the rice moisture. That said, you'll still want to add some liquid. If you are reheating the dish in the microwave, you can use the same technique of placing a wet paper towel over the bowl of leftovers. If you're reheating on the stove, add water or broth to the food to give it needed moisture while reheating.

Keeping It Safe

Rice can carry the Bacillus cereus bacteria, a known cause of food poisoning. Unlike many foodborne bacteria, Bacillus cereus can withstand high temperatures, so reheating the rice alone will not kill the bacteria. The best way to avoid food poisoning with rice is to store it properly. After cooking, cool the rice quickly and thoroughly before refrigerating. Never leave rice sitting out for more than 90 minutes. Do not keep cooked rice for more than a few days.