5 Ways to Use Up Leftover Rice

5 Ways to Use Up Leftover Rice
Photo: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

When you find yourself with leftover rice, your first instinct may be to use it to make fried rice. (And your instincts are correct, as dried-out, day-old rice is preferable to the fresh stuff here.) However, as delicious as this option is, there are plenty of other ways to use up your leftovers, too.

Before we get into some of the ways you can use up leftover rice, it’s important to note that rice should not be allowed to sit at room temperature for more than a couple hours — it could make you very sick, due to a pathogen called Bacillus cereus, which is often found in dry rice. Cooking doesn’t always kill all the spores, and if left at room temperature too long, they can germinate, creating a heat-stable toxin that can cause some pretty nasty stomach issues — so be sure to pop any leftover rice you have into the fridge ASAP.

If you are going to go the fried rice route and don’t want to wait until the next day, you can also dry it out with a fan until it achieves the right consistency. To do that, spread your rice out on a sheet pan, then place it under a fan for about an hour, until it dries out.

Or wait until tomorrow to try one of these also-delightful ways to use up that leftover rice.

Rice Pudding

Photo: Robyn Mackenzie, Shutterstock Photo: Robyn Mackenzie, Shutterstock

As we once pointed out, an excellent way to use up your leftover rice is to make rice pudding. To do so, grab your milk of choice, which could be either cow’s milk or your favourite alt-milk, and combine it in a 1:1 ratio with leftover rice.

Simmer the mixture on medium heat, stirring frequently, and adding in sweetener to taste and a pinch of salt. You can also add in spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, or cardamom. After about 20 minutes, you’ll have a delectable pudding.

You can also garnish your pudding with chopped nuts, such as pistachios or pecans, to add a bit of crunch.

Mix it with an egg and other leftovers

Photo: jreika, Shutterstock Photo: jreika, Shutterstock

Sometimes you want pudding or fried rice, other times you just want a filling breakfast the next day that is fast and uses up your leftovers. When this is the case, it’s time to mix your leftover rice with whatever else you have in the fridge, and top it all with a fried egg.

This combinations here are endless; it could be as simple as mixing your rice with some soy sauce and chilli paste, or you could add in some carrots, chopped peppers, or whatever else is hanging out in your crisper drawer, just on the verge of going bad. If it needs to get used up, and it mixes well with rice, throw it in there.

To perk up your rice, it’s a good idea to microwave it first — here’s how to do that without drying it out.

Waffle it

Photo: Claire Lower Photo: Claire Lower

Personally, I think leftover rice is at its finest when it’s crispy and a little browned around the edges. To achieve that, you can waffle your rice! To make the perfect rice waffle, mix your leftover rice with a little oil or fat, at a ratio of about one teaspoon of oil to one cup of rice. Then, place the rice in a waffle maker, and set it to medium-high heat for about five minutes, until it is golden brown around the edges.

You’ll need to ease it out of the waffle maker (we recommend using a pair of chopsticks to do the job); then, mix your waffled rice with whatever your heart desires, whether that is eggs and bacon, stir-fried veggies, or as Lifehacker’s Senior Food Editor Claire Lower recommends, some leftover gumbo.

Make a salmon bowl

Photo: Elena Eryomenko, Shutterstock Photo: Elena Eryomenko, Shutterstock

The salmon bowl making the rounds on TikTok lately, which was created by TikTok user Emily Mariko, has amassed a number of rave reviews and loyal fans, and for good reason. It’s a tasty lunch that uses up leftover salmon and rice.

To make this, mash leftover salmon, add leftover rice on top, place an ice cube into the rice, then cover with a piece of parchment paper. After microwaving for a minute (the ice cube creates steam that softens and hydrates the leftover rice), top with soy sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, sriracha, and eat with sliced avocado, kimchi, and dried seaweed.

Add it to soup

Photo: Julie208, Shutterstock Photo: Julie208, Shutterstock

Leftover rice is the perfect addition to soup to make it feel more substantial. When you are adding already cooked rice to soup, though, you’ll want to add it in at the very end, just a few minutes before serving, to prevent it from getting mushy. And if you think there will be leftover soup, be aware that the rice will soak up all of the liquid overnight, turning it into a thick sort of porridge (which isn’t necessarily terrible either).

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