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What To Do with Old Rice

Have you ever faced the conundrum of what to do with old rice? If you’re anything like me, you’ve had that moment where you open the fridge and notice a forgotten bowl of rice from last week’s dinner. Fear not!

What To Do with Old Rice

There are actually quite a few delightful ways to give that rice a second lease on life.

TL;DR: Don’t toss that old rice! Repurpose it into delicious dishes, natural cleaning agents, or even craft projects. But always make sure it’s safe to consume.

Scroll down to get a detailed answer

Ensuring Safety Before Consumption

Before we dive into those tantalizingly creative ideas, let’s address an essential aspect.

Is it Safe to Eat Old Rice?

Rice, especially cooked rice, can be a breeding ground for Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that leads to food poisoning. This bacterium can survive even after the rice has been cooked.

Note: Always check for a sour smell, mold, or any slimy texture. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the rice.

Tip for Safety: Store cooked rice in the fridge within an hour of cooking and consume it within 3 days. Always reheat it to at least 165°F (73.9°C) before eating.

Delectable Dishes to Make with Old Rice

Here comes the fun part! If your old rice has passed the safety test, there are numerous dishes you can create. And trust me; they are downright mouth-watering.

Fried Rice: A Quick Delight

There’s a reason many chefs recommend day-old rice for fried rice – it’s drier and less sticky, ensuring a more delightful, grain-separated texture.

Toss it with some veggies, a protein of choice, and your favorite sauce. A splash of soy and a dash of sesame oil, and you’re golden.

Rice Pudding: A Sweet Retreat

Transforming old rice into a creamy dessert is an age-old tradition. Simmer it with milk, sugar, and a hint of vanilla or cinnamon. I recommend adding a sprinkle of nutmeg or some raisins for that extra zing.

Rice Pancakes: Because, Why Not?

Mix rice with a batter and pan-fry for some out-of-the-world pancakes. They offer a delightful texture and taste amazing with maple syrup.

Beyond Food: Unconventional Uses of Old Rice

Eating isn’t the only option. Rice has various uses that can genuinely be termed ‘out of the box.’

A Natural Cleaning Agent

Did you know rice can be a cleaning hero? Use it to clean the insides of vases or narrow bottles. Just put a handful of rice, add a bit of soapy water, and shake! The abrasive nature of rice helps scrub away the grime.

Crafts and DIY Projects

From making DIY heating pads to crafting rice-filled toys for kids, the possibilities are endless.

The Science Behind Rice Preservation

A study published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology highlighted the risk associated with improper storage of rice. The study revealed that rice stored at room temperature has a higher chance of bacterial growth than rice kept in a refrigerator.

Note: Always store rice at temperatures below 40°F (4.4°C) for optimal safety.

Continued Exploration: More Ideas for Old Rice

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive deeper into the fascinating realm of rice rejuvenation.

For the Love of Breakfast

Rice Porridge: A Comfort Classic

Perhaps one of the most comforting dishes, rice porridge or congee, is a staple in many Asian cultures. Slow-cook the old rice with plenty of water or broth until it breaks down into a creamy consistency.

Top it off with spring onions, a drizzle of soy sauce, or even some shredded meat. For many, including myself, it’s the perfect comfort food for cold mornings or when feeling under the weather.

Rice Smoothie Bowl: Trust Me on This!

Blend cold rice with almond or coconut milk until smooth, add in your favorite fruits, a dollop of yogurt, and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup. It’s a unique breakfast twist, and the rice provides an added fullness factor!

Rice as a Savior in the Kitchen

Thickening Soups and Stews

Rice has natural starches which can act as wonderful thickening agents. If you have a soup or stew that’s a little too watery, blend in some old rice. It’ll not only thicken your dish but also add a delightful texture.

Rice Water: Not Just for Drinking

Rice water, the starchy liquid left behind after rinsing or boiling rice, is rich in minerals and vitamins. While it’s often consumed as a beverage in many cultures, you can also use rice water as a base for soups, to steam vegetables, or even as a broth substitute in various recipes.

Crafting and Household Hacks with Rice

A DIY Desiccant

Rice’s natural ability to absorb moisture makes it an excellent desiccant. Place some rice in a small cloth bag and store it with your tools, in shoe boxes, or even with silver jewelry to prevent tarnishing.

Scented Sachets

Mix rice with your favorite dried herbs or essential oils, like lavender or eucalyptus. Place this mixture in small cloth pouches, and you’ve got yourself homemade scented sachets.

These are fantastic for drawers, closets, or as a pleasant touch to your car.

Decorative Art

From crafting beautiful rice mosaics to making colored rice jars, there’s so much you can do in the realm of art and decoration with old rice. Using some food coloring, you can even dye rice to use in vases or as part of a centerpiece during festive occasions.

Environmental Aspect: Can Old Rice Go Green?

Note: Before tossing out any old rice that’s unfit for consumption, think green!

Composting Rice

Rice is organic matter, which means it’s compostable. Add it to your compost pile or green bin. Over time, it’ll break down and contribute to a nutrient-rich compost for your plants.

Feed for Birds and Animals

While it’s a common misconception that birds can’t eat rice, the truth is that both uncooked and cooked rice can be a nutritious food for birds. Just ensure it’s free from salt or other additives. Scatter some in your backyard and watch the birds enjoy a feast!

Intriguing Facts about Rice Storage

It’s fascinating how rice, when stored under specific conditions, can undergo chemical changes. For instance, a study from the International Journal of Food Microbiology suggests that when rice is left at room temperature, it undergoes a process called retrogradation.

This not only changes its texture but also makes it more resistant to digestion.

Note: This explains why day-old rice, when reheated, can sometimes feel harder or grainier compared to freshly cooked rice.

Rice, with its multifaceted applications and versatility, proves time and time again why it’s a staple in so many households across the globe.

Whether it’s reviving it for a delicious meal, reimagining its role in household hacks, or even leveraging its artistic potential, there’s always something novel to do with old rice. Don’t let it languish at the back of your fridge or pantry; embrace its potential and get innovating!


When it comes to old rice, it’s not just about reheating and consuming. Whether you’re looking to whip up a gastronomical delight or seeking ways to repurpose rice, there’s always a way to make use of this versatile grain.

The key? Always prioritize safety, and don’t be afraid to get a tad creative.


1. How long can I store cooked rice in the refrigerator?

I recommend storing cooked rice in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days for safety and optimal taste.

2. Can I freeze old rice?

Yes, you can freeze rice. Just ensure it’s cooled quickly after cooking and stored in airtight containers or freezer bags.

3. How can I tell if my old rice is unsafe to eat?

Look for signs like a sour smell, mold, or a slimy texture. When in doubt, it’s always best to discard.

Remember, with a bit of creativity and caution, that old rice can be turned into something wonderful. Enjoy your rice renaissance!

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