Rice is easy to cook, delicious, and goes with most cuisines and flavors. Even better, it usually results in plenty of leftovers, making it a staple for meal prep and busy weeknight dinners. But if you're cooking up a big batch of rice to enjoy later (or are ordering takeaway to enjoy during the week), it's important that you store it correctly. Did you know that leftover rice can make you supersick if stored the wrong way? Not to worry — we've got all the info you need right here to make sure you can safely enjoy your leftovers!
The reason rice is more dangerous than other foods is because a particular kind of bacteria associated with rice, called Bacillus cereus, can potentially survive the cooking process and then grow on improperly cooled/reheated rice. In order to safely store and eat leftover rice, it's all about the temperature processes. Specifically, it's about making sure that the rice is cooled properly and reheated correctly.
Once rice has been cooked, it needs to be cooled as quickly as possible to the USDA-recommended safe fridge storage temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. To do this most effectively, separate the rice into multiple shallow, sealed containers instead of one large bowl to increase the amount of surface area that the heat can dissipate through. Place the food directly into the fridge; do not let it sit out in the counter for more than an hour.
The reheating process is just as important. While some foods are OK to eat cold, it's safer to reheat rice when you're ready to eat your leftovers. When you reheat, whether you do it on the stove or in the microwave, make sure that the internal temperature of the rice hits 165 degrees Fahrenheit. And once you've reheated the rice once, you absolutely cannot recool and re-reheat the rice — so if you have enough leftovers for more than one meal, reheat just enough rice at each individual meal. As long as you follow these simple guidelines, enjoying leftover rice is simple, easy, and safe!