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How To Reheat Fried Rice [I Test 6 Methods]

If you’ve got a load of leftover fried rice, you may be wondering how to reheat it whilst maintaining its crunchy fresh qualities.

Fried rice can be a little delicate, and overheating it the wrong way can leave you with a plate of dried-out, bland grains.

I have personally tested six different reheating methods to find out which one truly does the best job at reheating the fried rice and bringing back its original deliciousness.

These reheating methods include:

I also experimented with two different microwaving methods – one at 50% power and another at 100%. The difference was noticeable and a little surprising (more on this later).

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

What’s the best way to reheat fried rice? The best way to reheat fried rice is by refrying it in a frying pan. Heat some oil or butter on a medium-high heat. Next, add the fried rice along with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir the rice until the water has mixed in. Reheat by stir-frying for 4-5 minutes (or until the rice has heated through).

PS – these reheating methods work equally well for all kinds of fried rice. So whether you have egg fried rice, chicken fried rice, pork fried rice (you get the picture), the following tips will all be relevant.

What’s the best way to reheat fried rice?

I did an experiment to find out.

I cooked up a big batch of fried rice and left it in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, I tested six different methods of reheating the rice to see which one yielded the best results.

For each method, I reheated the rice until it showed an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) (as the USDA recommends) on my food thermometer. 

The microwave was the most convenient method but frying was the tastiest.

Reheating fried rice by frying it

To reheat rice by frying it, put some oil or butter in a pan and heat it over a medium-high heat. Add the rice and a tablespoon of water for each cup of rice. The steam will rehydrate the rice. Stir the rice continuously until all the water has evaporated and the rice is heated through.

Re-frying the rice is the best way to get its crunch back. It will return your rice to (pretty close to) its former glory.

There are two methods you can use, simple stir-frying or steam frying.

Steam frying is where you add some water into the pan to help rehydrate the rice. I highly recommend adding water when refrying fried rice, as it prevents the dish from drying up and overcooking.

Reheating the fried rice by frying it also gives you the opportunity to add in some new ingredients such as extra meat or veggies.

To reheat fried rice by steam frying:

  1. Put some oil or butter in a pan and heat it to a medium-high heat.
  2. Fry any new vegetables or meat you want to add to the rice (optional).
  3. Add the leftover fried rice along with 1-2 tablespoons of water per cup of rice.
  4. Stir the rice until the added water has mixed in.
  5. Put a lid on the pan until the water stops steaming.
  6. Take the lid off, increase the heat to high, and stir fry for 4-5 minutes (or until heated through).
  7. Stir continuously.
  8. Once the rice has heated through, take it off the heat and serve immediately.

You can also add in extra seasonings like soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, or just regular old salt and pepper as you stir fry.

Verdict

Frying the rice was my favorite method, it yielded the tastiest dish with the best texture. If you have time, frying is the way to go.

I found that I quite enjoyed adding some extra flavor as the original fried rice does have the habit of going a little bland once reheated.

Reheating fried rice in the microwave

Set your microwave to 50% power and heat the rice for 30 seconds intervals up to 2 minutes. Cover the rice and add a tablespoon of water for each cup of rice and optionally add some butter or oil for extra flavor. Stir the rice after every 30 seconds.

The microwave is the most convenient way to reheat fried rice. The rice won’t have that ‘just-fried-crispiness’, but it will still taste great.

The best way to microwave fried rice is on 50% power.

It takes a bit longer, but the less harsh heating stop the rice from becoming mushy.

How to reheat fried rice in the microwave:

  1. Set your microwave to 50% power.
  2. Put some butter or oil on top of the fried rice (optional).
  3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice.
  4. Cover the fried rice with a splatter plate, a wet paper towel, or some pierced plastic wrap.
  5. Microwave in 30 seconds increments, stirring as you go.
  6. The rice should be heated through after 1-2 minutes.
  7. Leave the rice to rest for one minute before serving.

Stirring the rice helps to avoid cold spots and the 1 minute of resting time means the heat and moisture have time to evenly distribute throughout the rice.

If your microwave doesn’t let you change the power, don’t worry, full power will work.

Put the fried rice in a bowl with some water (1-2 tablespoons per cup of rice), cover it, and then microwave in 30-second intervals until it’s heated through. At full power, the rice should be done after 45-90 seconds.

Make sure not to use too much water or you risk over-hydrating the rice.

Verdict

I tried microwaving two separate batches of fried rice on 50% and 100% power. The rice was significantly better when reheated at 50% power.

It took a minute longer but the rice was so much fluffier. The fried rice reheated on 100% power had lost its crispy texture and felt slightly overcooked.

The microwave is perfectly acceptable for reheating fried rice at work or in a hurry, but if you have time, the frying method still delivers the best results.

Reheating fried rice in the oven

Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C) and spread the rice out in an oven-proof dish. Spritz the rice with water and add any extra flavor you want. Cover the rice with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes, or until the rice is heated through.

I included the oven in my experiment because I saw it mentioned on a few other sites.

The rice was okay but nothing like fried rice. It completely changed the essence of the dish. I’d call it baked rice, not fried rice.

Having said that, I can see it being a good option if you have loads of fried rice to reheat because you can just bung it all in the oven in one go and forget about it.

If you do go down this route, I suggest adding a sauce into the rice (think sriracha or gochujang). The sauce will thicken in the oven and coat the rice in sticky deliciousness.

How to reheat fried rice in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Spread the rice out evenly in an oven-proof dish.
  3. Optional: stir in any sauce you want to add.
  4. Spritz the rice with a light coating of water.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 5-10 minutes or until the rice is heated through.
  6. Optional: take the cover off the rice for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking to allow it to develop a lightly crusted top.

The less rice you have, the less time it will need in the oven.

I always remove the foil for the last few minutes of cooking because I LOVE that slightly dry crispy crunch you get. It adds a whole new dimension to the dish.

Verdict

Don’t expect a fried rice texture if you’re using the oven.

The rice will take on a softer texture and lose any bite it had. I personally wasn’t a fan of the oven and would only use it if I had no other choice.

Reheating fried rice in the air fryer

Air fryers combine the convenience of a microwave with the cooking quality of a stove or oven. The fryer will keep your rice crispy without drying it out, but make sure not to overdo it. Air fryers are basically very small, powerful ovens and if you leave it too long you’ll ruin your rice.

How to reheat fried rice in an air fryer:

  1. Spread your fried rice out into an even layer in your air fryer.
  2. Optional: spray the fried rice with a light coating of oil.
  3. Heat on high for 3-5 minutes depending on how much rice you have.
  4. When the rice is steaming hot, take it out and serve.

If you have a lot of rice you’ll need to reheat it in batches so as not to overload the basket.

Verdict

Good if you have an air fryer, but I still preferred frying on the stove. I mostly enjoyed the convenience aspect of the air fryer.

How to make a frittata with leftover fried rice

Don’t feel like another bowl of fried rice? Or need a tasty breakfast treat but don’t have any breakfast foods?

Frittatas are the answer to all of your leftover food woes. You can put literally anything in a frittata.

Leftover pasta? Frittata. 

Leftover ground beef? Frittata. 

Leftover fried rice? You get the picture.

Simply take your fried rice, stir it into some whisked eggs and fry or bake it (or do a combination of both).

Traditional frittatas are heated on the stove until the edges are cooked and then transferred to the oven for 10-15 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit to finish off. 

Is it safe to reheat fried rice?

As long as you store your fried rice correctly, it’s perfectly safe to reheat. Don’t leave your fried rice out at room temperature for longer than an hour (preferably less). Store the fried rice in a shallow airtight container in the refrigerator. Consume the fried rice within 3-4 days.

rice in shallow container vs thin container

A shallow container is best because it aids the cooling process.

The more spread out the rice is, the quicker the heat will dissipate. Make sure your refrigerator is below 40°F. Above this temperature, bacteria can rapidly replicate. 

Rice gets a bad rep because some people don’t realize it can cause food poisoning. They think nothing of leaving it out for a few hours, then putting it in the refrigerator and frying it for lunch the next day. 

The issue with rice is that it can harbor a toxic bacteria known as Bacillus cereus. This bacteria can grow to harmful levels if you leave your rice at room temperature for too long, but refrigeration inhibits its growth.

Bacillus cereus can also survive cooking, so if your rice has been left out for too long don’t be tricked into thinking it will be safe if you reheat it.

I used old rice to make my fried rice, can I still reheat it?

Traditional fried rice is made with day-old rice that’s been left in the refrigerator overnight. Therefore, reheating it means reheating the rice for the second time.

Some sources (NHS UK for example) say you should only reheat rice once because with every reheat, the risk of food poisoning increases.

Several other sources online claim that the USDA also advises against reheating rice more than once, but I could not substantiate these claims after significant research.

Having said that, if you’re 100% sure the rice hasn’t been above 40 degrees for more than an hour, it will most likely be perfectly fine to reheat it again.

If you always put the rice in the refrigerator straight away, you should be fine.

But if you ordered the rice from a takeaway and you can’t be sure how long it was left at room temperature, I would think twice about reheating it for a second time.

In this case, I’d eat the rice cold!

How to store fried rice

Fried rice needs to be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Don’t leave your fried rice at room temperature for longer than an hour. Pick a shallow container so the rice can cool down quickly. If you’re freezing the rice, use a heavy-duty freezer bag with all the air squeezed out.

It’s really important to rapidly cool the rice because harmful (food poisoning causing) bacteria can multiply on a room temperature rice very quickly.

If you think there’s a chance there’ll be leftovers, it’s better to put a portion in the fridge right away rather than leave it out until you’ve finished your meal and then put it away.

Most takeaway boxes aren’t airtight, so make sure you transfer any takeaway rice to another container before refrigerating it. 

Can you freeze fried rice?

Fried rice freezes pretty well and it’s super easy to cook in bulk.

To freeze fried rice, portion it out and put each portion in a heavy-duty freezer bag with all the air squeezed out. The removal of air will help protect the rice against freezer burn. Use the rice within 3 months, after this, the quality of the rice will start to deteriorate. 

If you have a vacuum packer, use it!

The complete lack of air will really help your rice retain its texture and you won’t be at risk of mushy rice.

Vacuum sealed fried rice can last quite a bit longer than normally packed rice – the longest I’ve left it is 6 months so far and it’s been completely fine without any noticeable loss of taste or texture.

To thaw fried rice, you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Or you can reheat the rice straight from frozen – the best way to do this is in the microwave.

Transfer the rice to a bowl with a cover, add a few tablespoons of water and microwave for 6-7 minutes (or until heated through).

How long does fried rice last?

Fried rice will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator when properly stored in an airtight container.

Fried rice with eggs, watery vegetables, or meat won’t last as long as plain fried rice. In the freezer, fried rice will last 3-4 months before the quality starts to deteriorate.

How to tell if fried rice has gone bad

Rice doesn’t give off many obvious clues that it’s gone off, so you need to rely on more subtle signs. 

The main things to look out for are texture and smell.

If the rice has gone super hard, it’s likely been in the fridge too long and you should throw it out. Likewise, if it smells of anything other than fried rice, chuck it out.

Can I eat cold rice?

Cold rice (fried or normal) is safe to eat as long as you handled and stored it correctly. You should keep the rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator and make sure to put it in the fridge within an hour of it being cooked. This will prevent any harmful bacteria from growing on it.

Exactly How To Reheat Fried Rice

If you're wondering what the best way to reheat fried rice is, you've come to the right place.
I have personally experimented with 5 different reheating techniques, to determine what method truly does the best job of returning your leftover fried rice to it's former glory.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 1 person
Calories 244 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion fried rice all types work: chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, egg fried rice, etc
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions
 

  • Put some oil or butter in a pan and heat it to a medium-high heat.
  • Fry any new vegetables or meat you want to add to the rice (optional).
  • Add the leftover fried rice along with 2 tablespoons of water per cup of rice.
  • Stir the rice until the added water has mixed in.
  • Put a lid on the pan until the water stops steaming.
  • Take the lid off, increase the heat to high, and stir fry for 5-10 minutes (or until heated through).
  • Stir continuously.
  • Once the rice has heated through, take it off the heat and serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 140gCalories: 244kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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