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 tried and tested six different ways to reheat fried rice, so you don’t have to!
Want the quick answer?
The best way to reheat fried rice is by refrying it in a skillet. Heat some oil or butter on a medium-high heat. Add the fried rice along with 1 tablespoons of water per cup of rice. Heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring continuously. You can also use the microwave if you’re in a rush.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
A note on the experiment
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.
Here’s what I tested:
|Steam frying in a skillet||Heat for 4-4 minutes on high heat||5/5|
|Microwave||Heat on 50% power in 30 second intervals||4/5|
|Oven||Heat at 400°F for 10-15 minutes||3/5|
|Air fryer||Heat at 375°F for 3-5 minutes||4/5|
|Making a frittata||Mix the rice with egg and fry||5/5|
The microwave was the most convenient method but frying was the tastiest.
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.
Related: Best Way To Reheat Jambalaya
How to reheat fried rice in a skillet (steam frying)
Re-frying the rice is the best way to get its crunch back. It will return your rice to its former glory!
- Put some oil or butter in a pan and heat on medium-high.
- Add the leftover fried rice along with 1-2 tablespoons of water per cup of rice.
- Quickly stir the rice to mix the water in, and then cover the pan for 30 second or until the water stops steaming.
- Take the lid off, increase the heat to high, and stir fry for 4-5 minutes.
Adding the water prevents the rice from drying out and overcooking (you can also add an ice cube!). Once the water has cooked off, you can fry the rice to get it’s crisp back.
Pro tip: before you put the rice in the pan, you can opt to fry up some new vegetables or meat to revive your rice. I like adding bacon because it adds SO much flavor.
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.
Pros: this was my favorite method. The rice was super tasty and had a good texture
Cons: nothing really – maybe the fact you have to wash up the frying pan.
How to reheat fried rice in the microwave
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.
- Set your microwave to 50% power and put some butter or oil on top of the fried rice (optional).
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of water for each cup of rice.
- Cover the fried rice with a splatter plate, a wet paper towel, or some pierced plastic wrap.
- Microwave in 30 seconds increments, stirring during each break, for up to 2 minutes.
- Let the rice to rest for one minute before serving.
Stirring the rice helps to avoid cold spots and adding some butter before microwaving helps revive the flavor of the fried rice.
If your microwave doesn’t let you change the power, don’t worry, full power will work too (the rice won’t be as fluffy though). Just use 20 second heating intervals instead of 30 seconds.
Make sure not to use too much water or you risk over-hydrating the rice.
Pros: super quick and easy, and the rice was nice and fluffy.
Cons: the rice had lost its crispness, and it’s easy to overcook the rice if you’re not careful.
How to reheat fried rice in the oven
This is 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.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and spread the rice out evenly in an oven-proof dish.
- Mix in a tablespoon of water or stock for each cup of rice.
- Cover the rice with aluminum foil and bake for 10-15 minutes.
- Optional: take the cover off the rice for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking to allow it to develop a lightly crusted top.
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.
Another trick with the oven is to add a sauce to your rice before you heat it. Think sriracha or gochujang. The sauce will thicken in the oven and coat the rice in sticky deliciousness.
Pros: you can reheat big loads of rice at once without having to stand and monitor it.
Cons: it’s slower and the texture of the rice wont be like fried rice, it will be a lot softer.
How to reheat fried rice in the air fryer
Air fryers combine the convenience of a microwave with the cooking quality of a stove or oven.
- Cover your air fryer basket with foil and spread your fried rice out in a thin layer.
- Optional: spray the fried rice with a light coating of oil.
- Heat at 375°F for 3-5 minutes depending on how much rice you have.
- When the rice is piping hot, take it out and serve.
If you have a lot of rice it’s best to reheat it in batches rather than overload the basket. Keeping the rice in a thin layer will make sure it crips up like fried rice should!
Pros: quick and the rice comes out with a really nice texture.
Cons: it’s a bit awkward with the foil, and it can be easy to overcook the rice.
How to make a frittata with leftover fried rice
If you don’t feel like another bowl of fried rice turn your leftovers into a frittata.
Take your fried rice, stir it into some whisked eggs and then pan fry it. Oil the pan, then pour the egg mixture in and cook it on one side for 4-5 minutes (on medium heat). Then it should be sturdy enough to flip so you can cook the other side.
Here’s a great recipe if you want one to follow.
Is it safe to reheat fried rice?
As long as you store your fried rice correctly, it’s perfectly safe to reheat and even eat cold. Cool your rice as quickly as possible, don’t leave it out at room temperature for longer than an hour (preferably less), and store the rice in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Eat it within 4 days.
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.
While this is defiantly true, if your rice hasn’t been left out at room temperature for more than an hour total the risk should still be small.
How to store fried rice
Fried rice should be cooled quickly and then kept in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Never leave your fried rice at room temperature for longer than an hour. You can also freeze fried rice for longer-term storage.
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.
To thaw fried rice, leave it in the refrigerator overnight. Or you can reheat the rice straight from frozen in the microwave.
Transfer the rice to a bowl with a cover, add a few tablespoons of water and microwave in 1 minute intervals until the rice is piping hot.
Exactly How To Reheat Fried Rice
- 1 portion fried rice all types work: chicken fried rice, pork fried rice, egg fried rice, etc
- 2 tbsp water
- 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.