Make-Ahead Lunch Tip: Quickly Cool Rice & Beans on a Baking Sheet

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I don’t know about you, but my evenings often involve a last-minute scramble to get the next day’s lunches prepped and portioned before bedtime. The last thing I want to do is wait around for a pot of rice or a batch of beans to cool down. That’s when I pull out my baking sheet.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Grains, beans, and legumes left in the pot can take a long time to cool to room temperature. Both the pot and whatever is inside it tend to hold that heat in rather than letting it go.

To help move things along, I transfer the rice, beans, or whatever we’re cooking onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread the food out into a thin layer. This lets the heat disperse quickly and evenly. I also sometimes cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap to prevent the food from drying out and poke a few holes to allow ventilation.

This little trick has saved me from long waits countless times (or just chucking the whole pot in the fridge, which isn’t always the best thing to do).

Do you do this, too? Or do you have another way of quickly cooling your grains?

This post has been updated — originally published April 11, 2011.

(Images: Danielle Tsi)