You must have heard that you shouldn’t reheat your rice. People believe that reheating rice isn’t possible which many experts tend to differ. You can reheat your rice but ensure that it’s safe for consumption. Leftovers tend to be problematic when it comes to reheating especially for food like rice. Rice also poses some issues since it contains a bacteria called Bacillus cereus which can survive through the cooking processes. These bacteria may cause food poisoning from reheated or cooked rice. Following food safety guidelines correctly can help avoid bacteria growth on leftovers.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Chills and fever
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

How to Safely Reheat Rice

On the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website, you will find guidelines on how to safely cook, store and reheat food, including rice. The steps below will ensure that your reheated rice is good for eating.

1. Wash Your Hands Well

This should be your first step when preparing or reheating any food. Also, ensure that the utensils which have touched raw animal products are separated. This includes the items that will be used to store meat in the fridge. They should be kept far away from your cooked rice.

2. Cook Rice Properly

When your rice is well cooked, reheating it will not lead to food poisoning. The problem begins with cooking then it goes down to reheating. Allow the rice to boil to a high temperature. Bacteria breed freely between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F thus you should keep your rice out of this danger zone. Then ensure to serve the rice immediately after cooking or reheating.

3. Store The Leftover Rice Properly

You should store the leftovers for a set of periods within which is recommended by the USDA. Leaving your rice to sit in the fridge for a week can increase the risk of food poisoning even if you reheat it properly. Dispose of any leftovers in your fridge after three to four days while that on the freezer should be disposed of after three to four months. As mentioned above, bacteria grow rapidly at a temperature between 40 degrees F and 14o degrees F. Therefore, you should store your rice at a safe temperature which should be at 40 degrees F and below. The room temperature is about 90 degrees F which isn’t good for any leftovers. In case your leftovers are stored at room temperature, consider throwing them away after two hours.

4. Reheating

Your reheated rice should be piping hot throughout. Reheating over the microwave:

  • Take your leftover rice from the fridge and remove the lid. Add three to seven tablespoons of water depending on the quantity of your rice. Place the lid lightly back to allow the rice to re-steam.
  • Place it in the microwave and heat for three to four minutes or until super-hot.
  • Check to ensure that the internal temperature of rice is at 165 degrees F or higher. If unsure, use a food thermometer.
  • Serve immediately and eat while hot. Reheating over stir fry:
  1. Add your oil of choice to a saucepan and then place your rice.
  2. Put on medium heat and stir your rice continuously. Break down the clumps for easy heat penetration.
  3. Measure the temperature of your rice using a thermometer which should be 165 degrees F and higher.
  4. Serve while hot.


Food poisoning as a result of reheating starts from the cooking to the cooling then reheating. It’s important you cool your food quickly if you’re going to store it to reduce bacteria growth. This is how you should cool your rice:

  • If you have a large quantity of rice left, divide it into shallow containers and seal them so that it can cool faster.
  • Immediately after you finish cooking and serving, place the leftover food in the fridge or freezer.
  • Avoid leaving your rice sitting out for more than one hour. Reheating food doesn’t cause food poisoning if done correctly.

Always practice food safety and hygiene whenever cooking, storing and reheating rice or any other food. Remember it’s not advisable to reheat your food more than once. You should reheat the amount you’re eating and leave the rest in the fridge or freezer. However, in case you get food poisoning from any other food, it can be treated at home. In fact, the symptoms should go away within a week. But for serious food poisoning side effects, you should see your doctor immediately. Otherwise, drink plenty of water, rest properly and eat whenever you can to ensure quick recovery from food poisoning. Plus, you don’t necessarily have to avoid any type of food in case you have food poisoning provided it’s safe for eating.

All images by Pixabay


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