How Long Can You Refrigerate Rice Without Risking Your Health?

Rice is a staple food all over the world and it is prepared in various ways. One of the most popular methods of preparing rice is by boiling or steaming it. Once prepared, you can store your rice in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for a later use. However, there is a commonly asked question about how long you can refrigerate rice without risking your health. This article will provide you with all the necessary information you need to know about refrigerating rice and how to do it safely.

What Is Rice?

Rice is the seed of the grass species Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima. It is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s population, especially in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. Rice can be prepared in many ways, including boiling, steaming, frying, baking, and roasting, making it a versatile grain that can be consumed by all ages.

Why Should Rice Be Refrigerated?

Storing rice in the refrigerator is important to prevent bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning. The growth and multiplication of bacteria can occur quickly in cooked rice that is kept at room temperature for an extended period of time. When rice is cooled, the growth of bacteria slows down, which makes refrigeration the best option to keep it safe for consumption.

How Long Can You Refrigerate Cooked Rice?

You can refrigerate cooked rice for up to four days. Any longer than that, and the risk of bacterial growth increases. By day four, it is recommended that you either consume or freeze your cooked rice.

The Best Way to Store Rice in the Refrigerator

The best way to store cooked rice in the refrigerator is to transfer it to a shallow, airtight container. This will help to cool the rice down quickly and prevent bacterial growth. Once the rice has cooled, cover it with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap before placing it in the refrigerator. It is also essential to label your container with the date and time that you cooked the rice so you can keep track of how long it has been in the refrigerator.

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

If you are not going to consume your rice within four days, it is recommended that you freeze it instead. Cooked rice is safe to freeze for up to six months. Freezing rice does not affect its overall texture and flavor, but you should make sure to package the rice securely in an airtight container or plastic bag to prevent freezer burn.

The Best Way to Reheat Frozen Rice

When reheating frozen rice, it is essential to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight before heating it. This will allow the rice to thaw evenly and avoid any cold spots in the middle. Reheat the rice in the microwave, on the stovetop or even in the oven at a temperature of 165°F (75°C). You should stir the rice occasionally to ensure it is heated through evenly.

What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Rice?

Eating spoilt rice can cause food poisoning. When cooked rice is left at room temperature, bacteria can multiply rapidly and produce a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even life-threatening reactions. Symptoms of food poisoning can appear within a few hours to a few days after eating the rice. It is essential to always practice safe food storage and preparation techniques to avoid food-borne illnesses.

When Should You Discard Cooked Rice?

If you have cooked rice that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours, it is recommended that you discard the rice. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly at a temperature between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 60 degrees Celsius), so it is essential to store cooked rice quickly in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent bacterial growth.

Signs that Your Rice Has Spoiled

It is relatively easy to tell if cooked rice has gone bad. It will have a sour, pungent odor and may also have a slimy texture. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the rice to avoid bacterial infection.


Refrigerating cooked rice is an essential step in keeping it safe for consumption. Rice can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for up to six months. It is also essential to practice safe storage and preparation techniques to avoid bacterial growth and food poisoning. By understanding how to store and prepare rice safely, you can enjoy this versatile grain without risking your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. Can you refrigerate uncooked rice?

    A. Yes, uncooked rice can be refrigerated, but it is not necessary. Uncooked rice can be stored in a cool, dry place for a long time.

  • Q. Can you store rice in the freezer?
  • A. Yes, uncooked and cooked rice can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

  • Q. How long can you keep rice in the refrigerator before it goes bad?

    A. Cooked rice can be kept in the refrigerator for up to four days before it goes bad.

  • Q. What should I do if I’ve eaten spoiled rice?

    A. If you have eaten spoiled rice, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms of food poisoning may take a few hours to appear, but they can be life-threatening if left untreated.


American Heart Association. (2019). How to Cook Brown Rice.

Food and Drug Administration. (2019). Food Safety Guidelines.

United States Department of Agriculture. (2012). Safe Handling of Leftovers.

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