After dinner, you hate to throw out the extra rice, so you put it in a storage container and stick it in the fridge. It’s great to reduce food waste, right? But at the end of the week, it’s still hanging out in the fridge, so you eventually throw it out. Ugh.
We’ve been there, friend. There’s the guilt of trashing the extra rice, but on the other hand, what the heck do you do with it? The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reuse it, starting with fried rice. For the most authentic version, day-old grains are key, Chinese-Malaysian chef Bee Yinn Low tells us.
Not ready to pull out the wok tonight? No problem. Soups and salads can also use cold cooked rice as either as a focal point (hello, wild rice salad) or a filling base (ooh, hearty tomato bisque).
If you simply want to warm up the rice, it’s surprisingly easy once you know the trick. The first step is to reheat it without overcooking it. Here’s how: Put the rice in a covered container such as a casserole dish or lidded glass bowl. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons water and put the lid on top. Microwave for 3 to 4 minutes, until the rice is warm and steaming. Put on oven mitts to remove the dish from the microwave and be careful of the steam when you open the lid. Fluff with a fork and your rice has officially been revived.
Hot or cold, it couldn’t be easier to incorporate leftover rice into a brand-new recipe. Here, 29 leftover rice recipes to clean out your fridge.
1. Avocado Rice
Did you know that reviving old rice can be as simple as adding avocado? It was news to us too. Spice it up with cumin, garlic, cayenne, salt and pepper, then stir it all into some leftover brown rice. We’re never going back to boring dry rice again.
2. Spam Fried Rice
No time to buy groceries? That’s what leftovers and pantry staples are for. Grab a can of Spam, cooked rice, frozen veggies and sriracha. (If you have eggs, add those too—but they’re optional.) We’ll have to admit, we like this more than the dinners we plan.
3. Firecracker Chicken with Rice
One perk of leftover rice: You can spend tonight’s prep time dedicated to the toppings without worrying about burning your starch. Focus your energy on pan-frying the boneless skinless chicken breasts and layering the flavors of the spicy sauce, complete with red-pepper flakes, green onions and garlic.
4. Kale and Wild Rice Salad
Maria Lichty of Two Peas & Their Pod knows a thing or two about leftovers. Any mom knows that kids, after all, are known for suddenly not wanting to eat their dinner. Toss that uneaten rice into a kale salad, add a drizzle of homemade Dijon vinaigrette and you’ve got lunch for the week.
5. Salmon Sushi Bowl
With leftover rice, you can throw together your own salmon “sushi” bowl faster than you can order a California roll and a sashimi platter. Spoon room-temperature rice into a bowl and top it with seared salmon, cucumber, avocado, sesame seeds and nori. Crack open an Asahi, hit “play” on Netflix and your night is officially set.
6. Veggie Banh Mi Bowls with Crispy Tofu
The banh mi sandwich is served all over Vietnam—and rest of the world—for a reason. The roast pork, spicy mayo and pickled veggies squished between two slices of chewy bread is one of the best sandwiches on earth. (In our opinion, anyway.) In this fun vegan twist, you’ll swap the pork for crispy tofu and use leftover rice as the base instead of bread.
7. Basmati Rice, Cardamom and Pistachio Porridge with Grapefruit
Last night’s basmati rice = this morning’s porridge. Mix in cardamom and pistachios to create a hearty breakfast. You can even add grapefruit for a bittersweet bite, suggests our friend at The Full Helping, Gena Hamshaw.
8. Kale Quiche with Cheddar-Rice Crust
Wait, you can turn leftover rice into a quiche crust? It’s a thing. Behold, a gluten-free crust that makes use of the extra grains and happens to be extremely delicious. It’s just a bonus that you can throw the random veggies from the fridge into the mix too. (After all, you can eat only so many kale salads.)
9. Coconut, Sweet Potato and Lentil Soup with Rice
Here’s a tried-and-true way to reuse leftovers: Throw everything into a soup. Spice up your standard lentil with sweet potato and coconut milk, plus curry powder and the cooked rice.
10. Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower Bowls
Cauliflower isn’t trending; it’s here to stay. Top your favorite veggie with Indian spices like cumin, turmeric, garlic and paprika, roast it and spoon it onto warm cooked rice. Oh, and don’t forget to add a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds. It’s a delightful weekly meal prep...or you can just eat it right now.
11. Cheesy Broccoli, Chicken and Rice Bowls
Our motto: When in doubt, smother your dinner with cheese. Leftover rice might not taste exactly the same as freshly cooked rice, but you won’t even notice the difference when it’s topped with cheddar cheese sauce, sautéed broccoli, pan-roasted chicken and a little extra cheese for good measure.
12. Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette
If you’ve never tried rice in a salad, you’re seriously missing out. It’s best when it’s cooked and cooled (meaning that leftover dish of black rice from the other night is ideal). The cilantro-lime vinaigrette by Monique Volz is so good, you’ll be making extra rice to save for this recipe next time.
13. Bacon and Egg Fried Rice
Fried. Rice. For. Breakfast. It’s about to be your new Saturday-morning staple. Get the cooked rice from last night out of the fridge, stir-fry it with sriracha, soy sauce and scallions, then crack an egg on top. (Oh, and don’t forget the bacon.)
14. 30-Minute Vietnamese Beef and Crispy Rice Bowl
This Vietnamese beef dinner doesn’t look like it repurposed your extra cooked rice, but it’s actually the secret ingredient. The marinade comes together in minutes, and just before you sear the beef, pan-fry the cooked rice until it’s golden brown. It creates an amazing crispy base for this Asian-inspired dinner.
15. Thai Coconut Chicken and Rice
We don’t know about you, but we’d much rather stand over the stove taking in the scents of fresh ginger, coconut milk and Thai green chili than deal with the rice cooker. Just saying.
16. Black Rice Bowl with Figs, Radicchio, Pickled Radishes and Pepitas
OK, so you made black rice and now a bowl of it is taking up precious real estate in the fridge that you’d rather use for wine, beer and cheese. We’ve got you. Take a cue from Aran Goyoaga’s cookbook Cannelle et Vanille: Whip up this black rice bowl, piled high with fresh figs, radicchio, pickled radishes and toasted pumpkin seeds.
17. Hatch Green Chili Cheeseburger Fried Rice
This recipe actually includes day-old rice as one of its ingredients. Best of all, it channels the cheesy, spicy goodness of a green chili cheeseburger and transforms it into a huge bowl of carby deliciousness.
18. Cabbage Fried Rice
Raise your hand if you have a random head of cabbage in the crisper. (Same.) If this is you, try Phoebe Lapine’s cabbage fried rice, a surprisingly delicious blend of stir-fried napa or savoy cabbage, fresh ginger, shallots, scallions and eggs. You can even make this recipe low-FODMAP if your heart desires.
19. Roasted Tomato Basil and Rice Soup
Few things in life are better than dipping toast into tomato basil soup—well, maybe if you’re dipping grilled cheese. Either way, thicken up your tomato soup with leftover rice in this recipe from The Full Helping’s Gena Hamshaw. It makes the soup a bit heartier, which is perfect for cold evenings or when you just need some comfort food.
20. Three Bean Salad with Wild Rice
We’ve all been there: You’re supposed to show up at your friend’s potluck with a homemade dish, but you totally forgot. Here’s the answer: This dish is full of kitchen staples like garbanzo beans, frozen peas and onions—plus rice from last night’s dinner. (We won’t tell.)
21. Ground Turkey Teriyaki Rice Bowl
Want to use up leftover rice, a pack of ground turkey and the random veggies in the crisper? We thought so. This ground turkey bowl combines teriyaki flavors—thank you, soy sauce, ginger and garlic—all in a bowl of cooked white rice. Leftovers never looked so good.
22. Red Beans and Rice Burritos
Your local Mexican takeout spot has nothing on this dinner. Warm the cooked rice and use it to fill a giant tortilla, along with red beans, cheese and heaps of salsa. Pass the chips and guac, please.
23. Brown Rice Vegetable Cashew Lemon Bowl
Aida Mollenkamp makes a few hangover jokes in this recipe, and it’s true that there’s just something about a brown rice bowl with kale sprouts, butternut squash, beets and carrots that makes a hangover magically disappear. Even when you’re feeling your best, this meal is basically magic.
24. Fried Rice with Shiitakes and Asparagus
We’re all about meal prepping. One easy dish? Mushroom fried rice. It combines day-old rice with shiitake mushrooms and asparagus, plus all the fried rice standards: soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. (Thanks for all the tips, Alejandra Graf.)
25. Korean Barbecue Meatballs Over Rice
These meatballs combine tangy Korean barbecue flavors with savory ground beef. (Plus, it’s all served over your leftover rice for the win.)
26. Kimchi Fried Rice
You can make a paleo-friendly vegetarian meal in 30 minutes, all while using leftovers from the fridge. Plus, fermented foods like kimchi are having a moment for their health benefits. Any other boxes you want us to check with this kimchi fried rice dinner? Didn’t think so.
27. Cheesy Ground Beef and Fried Rice Cakes
Here’s an idea: Take leftover rice and mix it with browned ground beef, bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. Fry it into patties and serve it with a cream sauce. Voilà—crowd-pleasing cheesy ground beef and fried rice cakes, and we’re here for it. (So are the kiddos, neighbors and anybody else you want to invite over.)
28. Hawaiian Fried Rice
Ham and pineapple is one of the best combos in the food world. It’s salty and sweet, savory and tangy. It’s no surprise, then, that adding it to fried rice is just as good as putting it on pizza. Stir-fry your leftover rice with pork, pineapple chunks and soy sauce for this Hawaiian fried rice dish.
29. Scrumptious Rice Pudding
Not many recipes let you turn dinner leftovers into dessert, but here’s a quick and easy way to whip up rice pudding. Instead of cooking the rice with milk, you skip that entire step and go straight to mixing everything in a baking dish.