20 Ways to Give New Life to Leftover Rice

October 18, 2017

Leftover rice is a burden. A small one, I'll grant you, but one that weighs on me nonetheless. As someone who regularly measures out rice in whatever vessel is closest to my arm (juice glass, coffee cup, ramekin, etc.), and then simply adds in double the amount of water, I rarely make the exact amount that I'll need for a given recipe. As a result, I am often left with excess rice, which I shuttle into a tupperware, stick in the fridge, and promptly forget about until it is a hard, dry lump that I toss in shame.

This nags at me. Well-cooked rice is a beautiful, versatile gift; one that has just as much potential on day two (or three) as it does freshly cooked from the pot. Thankfully, these 20 recipes are here to give new life to leftover rice, whether it's with a cardamom-infused rice pudding, a spicy burrito, or a pseudo-quiche. And let's not forget fried rice of all stripes (psst—you don't even need a recipe!).

There's a whole leftover rice world out there, and baby, it's way bigger than just dousing those grains in soy sauce and calling it a day. In fact, these recipes just might give you reason to make extra rice on purpose in the future.

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Note: Some of these recipes have to be tweaked a bit to accommodate already-cooked rice; skip the rice-cooking step and reduce the liquid to make them leftover-friendly.

What's your favorite way to use up leftover rice? Or you of the "drown it in soy sauce and microwave" preference? Tell us below!

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  • Candice
  • Annada Rathi
    Annada Rathi
  • HalfPint
  • Catherine Lamb
    Catherine Lamb
A kitchen scientist and dog-lover. Someday I want to have you over for dinner.


Candice October 22, 2017
All great ideas for reducing food waste in the kitchen! Thank-you!
Annada R. October 18, 2017
A very popular breakfast item made from leftover white rice in western India is "fodnicha bhaat". It's nothing but leftover rice treated with tempered oil with minimal spices like red chile powder, lime juice and salt. You can saute some raw peanuts in the oil for some pizzazz. This rice is so delicious that sometimes rice is made extra the previous night.
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Catherine L. October 18, 2017
I will DEFINITELY be trying that. Love the idea of frying raw peanuts in the oil with the rice for texture.
HalfPint October 18, 2017
Leftover rice freezes and thaws very well. I freeze single serving sizes and then nuke it for ~2 mins. Hot comforting rice in no time at all.

Another use for leftover rice: rice buns. There's a Korean/Japanese fusion restaurant called Koja Kitchen in my area that makes these burgers. They mold rice into patties (using something similar to a burger patty mold), fry each side until crispy and slightly golden, then fill it with beef bulgogi, coconut-braised pork, or teriyaki chicken. It's tasty and filling meal.
HalfPint October 18, 2017
Here's what it looks like:
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Catherine L. October 18, 2017
Yum! So sort of like the ramen burger but with rice? I'm in.

Also, great tip about freezing rice! I never thought to do that (does the texture suffer?) but I will try it ASAP.
HalfPint October 18, 2017
Freezing rice: no detriment to texture as far as I can tell. I do tend to consume the frozen rice within a month.