How long can you leave cooked rice out?

In this article, we will answer the question “How long can you leave cooked rice out?”, and how to minimize the risk of sickness from cooked rice?

How long can you leave cooked rice out?

Any type of cooked rice should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. If the cooked rice sits out for more than 2 hours at temperatures between 40℉-140℉, they are deemed unfit for consumption. 

Tips to minimize the risk of sickness from cooked rice

Let it cool: Let the cooked rice cool after cooking. The steam should be allowed to escape or it will get trapped inside the storage container and lead to spoilage. 

Cool and refrigerate the rice within preferably 1 hour of cooking. Spread the rice in a single layer to accelerate the cooling process. Use a shallow container for storing rice.

Do not store for long: Ideally, do not keep the rice stored for more than 2 days in the fridge. Discard them after the 2nd day even if the rice looks alright. 

Reheat only once: Reheat the cooked rice only once. This is important because the repeated temperature fluctuations will make room for bacterial growth. 

Freeze for long-term storage: If you cooked rice in bulk, freeze them for later. Similarly, if you refrigerated the rice but now there’s a change of plan and you won’t be eating them, say in a week or two, freeze the rice before its refrigeration time is elapsed. 

You cannot avoid food poisoning by cooking 

Uncooked rice is commonly contaminated by the spores of a bacterium called, Bacillus cereus. These spores grow to unacceptable levels producing toxins if the rice is handled, cooled, stored ore reheated properly. 

So, even if it does not look like it, but the toxins of this bacteria may be present in the expired or old cooked rice, and they are not destroyed by the cooking temperatures. 

How long can you store rice?

The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of different varieties of rice under different storage conditions.

In the pantry In the fridge In the freezer 
Past Printed Date Past printed Date Past Printed Date 
White Rice4-5 Years
Oxygen-Free White Rice25-30 years 30 years 
Brown rice 6-8 Months8-12 months 
Wild Rice6-8 Months
Minute rice 4-5 Years
(Cooked)In the pantry In the fridge In the freezer 
White Rice—-5-7 days 6-8 months 
Brown rice —-4-5 days 6-8 months
White rice —-5-7 days 6-8 months

For long-term storage of rice, use Food-safe plastics (PETE) containers, glass jars, #10 cans (commercial size) lined with a food-grade enamel lining, and Mylar®-type bags.

How to tell if the cooked rice has gone bad?

Freshly cooked rice has a very pleasant or neutral odor. Contrary to that, expired cooked rice will give off a strange smell that is a telltale of its spoilage or bad quality. 

Unlike the fluffy and airy texture of freshly cooked rice, expired rice will have a sticky or gooey and slimy texture. 

You may also notice mold growing on the surface of the cooked rice in the form of blue, black, or green colored fuzzy patches or spots. If you notice any of the aforementioned signs of spoilage, you should get rid of the cooked rice. 

What happens if you eat expired rice?

Expired rice contaminated with mold contains mycotoxins that lead to food poisoning upon ingestion which is reflected in stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. Convulsions, coma, and impaired immunity result in severe cases. 

In addition to compromising safety, expired rice has a poor nutritional profile. Bacillus cereus is a common bacteria that contaminate rice. Make sure you refrigerate or freeze your cooked rice within 2 hours of cooking to prevent contamination. 

Storage conditions 

Ideally, all the grains including rice should be stored at a temperature of 40℉ or below. Despite that, you can get a shelf-life of 10 years out of white dry rice if you store it at a steady temperature of 70℉ with oxygen absorbers

If the storage area is cooler (below 70℉), rice stored in oxygen-free or air-tight containers lasts about 30 years. 

In most cases under proper storage, polished and parboiled rice was able to preserve the nutrients and flavor for 1-30 years. 

Nutrition and allergies

Rice is a rich source of starch and fiber with no known common allergies associated with it. Ir provides sodium scarcely and remains a good source of protein. White rice is often enriched with the nutrients and minerals like niacin, thiamin, and folic acid.


In this article, we answered the question “How long can you leave cooked rice out?”, and how to minimize the risk of sickness from cooked rice?


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.