The Best Ways to Reheat Leftover Rice

published May 12, 2015
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(Image credit: NOBUHIRO ASADA)

Whether it’s from ordering take-out or when I make it at home, I always count myself lucky when I have leftover rice. Unless you plan to repurpose it for fried rice or a quick pudding, the key to enjoying soft, fluffy rice a second time around is knowing the right way to reheat it.

After sitting in the fridge overnight, rice loses some of its moisture — it becomes dried out, tough, chewy, and clumps together. Let’s just say it needs a little help. It’s not a lost cause, though — there are three easy ways to bring this staple back to life.

Whatever method you use, reheating your leftover rice for another meal serves two purposes: Not only are you warming the rice, but reheating is a chance to add moisture back in to make it as fluffy as the first time you cooked it. Some people also like to add a small drizzle of oil or a pat of butter to help soften the rice and prevent sticking — this all depends on personal preference, so it’s totally your call.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

3 Easy Ways to Reheat Leftover Rice

1. For the fastest results, use the microwave

This is, of course, the fastest method for reheating rice, and takes no more than a few minutes. Combine the rice and a small splash of water in a microwave-safe dish. If you’re only reheating a small amount of rice, a plate works best. Use a fork to break up any large clumps of rice, then cover the dish or plate with a wet paper towel. Make sure the towel is laid directly on top of the rice. Cook on high heat until the rice is heated through.

2. Steam it on the stovetop

Add the rice to a saucepan, along with a splash of water, and use a fork to break up any large clumps of rice. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is heated through.

3. Bake it in the oven

Combine the rice, along with a small splash of water, in an oven-safe baking dish. Use a fork to break up any large clumps of rice, then top with a tight-fitting lid or cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 300°F for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is heated through.

Recipes to use up your leftover rice

How do you reheat leftover rice?