Meal prep lunch box with rice, broccoli and carrots

How to Keep Rice Fresh for Meal Prep

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Rice is a staple in my household. I serve it at least three times a week with various side dishes. It’s healthy, filling, and delicious, plus it keeps you energized and satisfied throughout the day! 

I don’t always have time to make rice from scratch, so I often store it in the fridge for quick meal preps. The problem is, the rice wouldn’t always taste as fresh as I wanted it to. It’ll either be too mushy or crumbly. 

But after countless tests, I’ve finally learned how to keep rice fresh for meal preps—and I’m here to show you how! 

To keep rice fresh for meal prep, store it in an air-tight container or Ziplock bag as soon as the rice is fully cooled. Rice kept in the fridge will remain fresh for two to three days, while rice kept in the freezer can last as long as two months. 

How to Keep Rice Fresh for Meal Prep In 3 Easy Steps 

Here’s how to keep rice fresh for your next meal: 

Step 1: Spread the Rice On a Baking Sheet 

Spread freshly cooked rice onto a non-stick baking sheet so it cools rapidly for storage. 

If you pack it in an air-tight container while still hot, the excess moisture can turn rice mushy and potentially introduce bacteria and air-borne illnesses into the food. 

It’ll take no more than 15 to 30 minutes for the rice to cool down. If you don’t have that time, you can place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling process. 

Don’t leave your rice sitting out for more than an hour as this can introduce bacteria to the rice.  

Step 2: Transfer in an Air-Tight Container 

Once the rice is fully cooled, transfer the rice to an air-tight food container or Tupperware. You can also use a ziplock plastic bag, but make sure you remove as much air in the bag before sealing. 

To retain the rice’s “fluffy” texture, don’t press it down the container. Transfer the rice with a spoon. 

Step 3: Store in the Refrigerator 

In the refrigerator, store your rice for three to four days maximum. 

If you made more than you can finish within that time frame, store half of it in the freezer. It’ll stay “fresh” in the freezer for one to two months as long as it’s stored properly. 

How to Reheat Rice for Meal Prep 

When reheating rice for meal prep, it should be sufficiently moist and heated throughout for it to taste fresh. Here’s how: 

Reheating Rice in the Microwave 

Transfer your rice to a microwave-safe container and add about half a tablespoon of water per half a cup of rice. 

Cover with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe lid to introduce steam into the rice and nuke for about a minute. 

Take the rice out of the microwave and stir. Then, place it back into the microwave and heat for another two to four minutes, or until piping hot throughout. 

The rice’s internal temperature should be 165°F or higher. Serve immediately with your side dish. 

Reheating Rice On the Stovetop

Take the rice out of the refrigerator and transfer the rice to a shallow pot or skillet with a lid. Make sure the pot is non-stick to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.

Sprinkle in some water to reintroduce moisture into the grains. For every cup of rice, use about two tablespoons of water. You can also use broth to add a bit of extra flavor to the dish. 

Cover with the lid and heat on low for three to five minutes. If you see some clumps, break them up with a wooden spoon and stir but be careful not to mash the rice. 

Once thoroughly steamed and heated through, turn off the stove and serve the rice immediately. 

Reheating Rice In a Rice Cooker 

Most rice cookers come with “reheat” or keep warm” settings, allowing you to reheat leftover rice with ease. 

Transfer the rice to the rice cooker container and add a few tablespoons of water. Press the dedicated reheat button and wait for it to fully warm through. 

Reheating rice with a rice cooker takes longer than the microwave or the stove, so if you’re in a rush, you might want to use the former two options instead. 

Should Frozen Rice Be Thawed Before Heating? 

You don’t have to thaw rice before reheating them. You can use frozen rice straight from the freezer. If you thaw the rice in the fridge first, the grains might turn overly mushy or gummy. As such, you should reheat it while it’s cold. 

The best and easiest way to thaw frozen rice is to use a microwave. 

Transfer the rice to a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle about a tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl and microwave in one-minute bursts until warmed through, occasionally stirring and breaking up the clumps to defrost faster. 

If you’re defrosting large amounts of rice, increase the intervals to no longer than two minutes to prevent the rice from drying out. 

When reheating on the stovetop, add a tablespoon or two of water and warm in one-minute increments, stirring in between to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. Add another teaspoon of water as needed to keep the grains from burning on the bottom. 

If you’re adding frozen rice to dishes like chicken rice soup or rice casserole, increase the cooking time by a few minutes to allow the rice to fully warm through. Occasionally stir the rice into the dish to evenly incorporate the flavor and break up clumps. 


When storing freshly cooked rice, you must first let it fully cool down to prevent the development of bacteria. 

Spread the rice onto a baking sheet to let it cool evenly and transfer to an air-tight container or Ziplock bag. 

In the fridge, properly stored rice will remain fresh for two to three days. In the freezer, it can be kept for up to two months. 

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