How to Store Rice So It's Always Fresh

It’s time to freshen up your food storage container collection.


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The pantry organization trend isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but it’s so much more than just having a beautiful Pinterest-worthy space. When certain foods, spices, and seasonings are stored correctly, it can prevent any contaminants from spoiling your food, and extend the shelf life by months or even years. It also allows you to seamlessly take inventory of your pantry so you don’t buy items you might not need.

An ingredient that almost everyone has in their pantry or cupboard is rice—but are you preserving it properly? Believe it or not, most types of rice should be stored differently depending on a few factors. For instance, uncooked white rice and brown rice shouldn’t necessarily be stored the same exact way because they’re made up of different grains, with unique qualities. Here’s the right way to store your rice so it’s fresh and readily available whenever you need it:

 How to Store Uncooked White Rice

White rice, also known as milled rice, is a pantry staple because it almost never expires. Yes, that’s right—if you’ve had a jar of white rice in your pantry for several years, chances are it’s still perfectly fine to consume. And while you don’t necessarily need to keep white rice in an airtight food storage container, it should always be stored in a cool, dark, dry place. A mason jar or a plastic jar with a lid are great options for storing your white rice.

To freeze uncooked white rice, pour it into a labeled freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. Frozen white rice will stay fresh indefinitely, and you can cook directly from frozen once you're ready to enjoy it.

How to Store Uncooked Brown Rice

Brown rice—the typical whole grain rice—contains oils from the bran layer, so the shelf life is drastically different than that of white rice. Brown rice can also be put into a glass or plastic container, but it’s best consumed within six months for optimal freshness and quality. You can also place your brown rice in the refrigerator or freezer to extend its shelf life by a few more months.

Brown rice can be frozen by following the steps above, but should be consumed within 12 to 18 months for optimal freshness.

How to Store Cooked Rice

There are always leftovers after cooking rice. And since it’s such a versatile side dish, you can transform the leftovers into a completely different meal. Cooked rice will stay good for up to three to five days in the refrigerator, but you can also store it in the freezer for up to six months.

If you’re reheating some cooked rice after it’s been in the fridge, add two tablespoons of water or broth for each cup of rice. You can either cook it covered on the stovetop for about five minutes, or pop it in the microwave to enjoy it instantly.

How to Store Rice Long Term

If you’re buying rice in bulk, it’s important to know how to store it for the long term. Most grains are best preserved when they’re stored at a temperature of 40 degrees or lower. Since rice is typically stored in the pantry and isn’t temperature regulated, make sure to keep it in an airtight container where oxygen can’t seep in. This will help your rice stay fresh for up to 10 years. 

Can You Freeze Cooked Rice?

As mentioned above, you can freeze cooked rice in order to help preserve it for a longer period of time. To freeze rice, all you need to do is arrange it in a single layer on a baking sheet and pop it in the refrigerator to cool. Once the rice has cooled completely, carefully transfer it to a labeled plastic bag or airtight storage container and place that in the freezer. Stored this way, rice will stay fresh for about six months.

If you're making a big pot of rice with the intention of freezing some for another night, just make sure to freeze it shortly after it's been cooked. This will help prevent certain bacteria that thrive at room temperature from ruining your rice and potentially making you sick.

When you're ready to eat your leftover rice, simply take it out of the freezer and put it directly into the microwave until it's completely heated through. Try to avoid reheating frozen rice more than once, as that can allow harmful bacteria to grow. Instead of saving any additional leftovers, just toss them in the trash once you're finished.

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