Can you eat cold rice without reheating it?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat cold rice without reheating it?”, along with ways to reheat cold rice, how to tell if cold rice is spoiled, and delicious recipes to make with leftover cold rice.

Can you eat cold rice without reheating it?

Yes, cold rice can be eaten without reheating it, as long as it has been cooked and stored in the fridge properly. 

It should be eaten within 24 to 28 hours after cooking, and shouldn’t be stored unrefrigerated, as food poisoning bacteria such as Bacillus cereus can grow. Spores of this bacteria survive the cooking process and lead to food-borne illnesses. 

Can I refrigerate cold rice right after cooking?

Yes, once the rice is cooked, refrigerate it within 4 hours after cooking it, and never let the rice cool down in the rice cooker or pot. 

Cooling rice at room temperature will lead to the Bacillus spores germinating and multiplying. This leads to food poisoning once the rice is consumed.

How can you tell if cold rice is spoiled?

You can tell if the cold rice is spoiled by checking its texture and smell. If a foul rancid odor comes from the rice and contains a slimy discolored texture, it is spoiled. It may also have mold growing on its surface. If these signs are visible, discard the rice immediately to avoid the risk of food-borne disease.

What happens if you eat spoiled cold rice?

If spoiled cold rice is eaten, food poisoning can occur due to the bacteria known as Bacillus cereus present in rice, which colonizes the small intestine and releases complex enterotoxins. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea will be seen in patients who experience food poisoning. Seek medical care immediately if you suspect a case of food poisoning.

How do I reheat cold rice?

Reheat cold rice by placing it in a pan, distributing it evenly, and adding a splash of water. Cover the pan with a lid, and use a spoon to mix the rice from time to time to spread the heat. 

This will ensure the rice is cooked properly, reducing any pathogens from surviving. However, Bacillus spores, if present, will not be destroyed by heat, and can cause illnesses.

Can you reheat cold rice in a microwave?

Yes, cold rice can be reheated in the microwave. Grab your rice, place it on a microwave-safe plate or bowl, and make sure to spread the rice evenly to ensure heat distribution. Cover the rice with a damp towel, and heat at 20-second intervals. Make sure to stir the rice between intervals, and serve when the rice is piping hot.

Why does cold rice get hard in the fridge?

Cooked rice hardens in the fridge due to the chemical composition of the rice. The starch present in the rice undergoes retrogradation, which is the process of the amylose and amylopectin molecules realigning themselves. This can be corrected by heating it up, which hydrates the molecules to form a viscous solution due to gelatinization.

How do you store leftover cold rice?

Leftover cold rice can be stored safely in the fridge as soon as possible. Once the rice has cooked, spread it evenly on a tray to cool rapidly. After cooling, place in a container with a lid, and refrigerate. Consume the rice within 2 days, and only reheat it once, to avoid food-borne illnesses caused by bacteria.

What can be made with leftover cold rice?

Leftover cold rice can be used to make many dishes:

  • Wraps: Delicious wraps can be made which serve as a satisfying and filling lunch. Mix cold rice with a meat of your choice, along with fillings such as beans, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers. Add the mixture to a tortilla wrap or a lettuce leaf and enjoy this simple crunchy snack.
  • Fried rice: Fried rice is a simple way to reuse leftover rice. Add some oil into a wok and crack two eggs. Once they are cooked, add any vegetables of your choice, such as carrots and leaks. Meat such as chicken and ham can also be added as a source of protein. Once the ingredients are cooked, add the rice, and cook until fully heated.
  • Sushi: Although sushi rice is normally used to make sushi, cold rice can be a substitute. You can add cold rice onto the nori, along with salmon, tuna, or any fish of your choice. Top with some avocado slices or carrots to make healthy sushi wraps which are a perfect lunchtime snack. 


In this article, we have answered the question “Can you eat cold rice without reheating it?”, along with ways to reheat rice,  how to tell if cold rice is spoiled, and delicious recipes to make with leftover cold rice.


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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.