Wondering what to do with leftover rice? There are a couple obvious choices—that are no less delicious for their ubiquity—but there are also plenty of other creative leftover rice recipe ideas you might never have thought of before.
Most of these work best with cooked long grain or medium grain rice. Short glutinous rice can be too sticky for certain applications, although everything is also a matter of personal taste, so feel free to try it out in any of these dishes (definitely use it in rice pudding). But for something particularly well suited to short grain rice, try this Sticky Rice Cake with Coconut, Ginger & Coconut Milk recipe, or this Coconut-Turmeric Sticky Rice Pancakes recipe.
Also worth noting, brown rice starts out chewier than white rice, so expect it to be more toothsome in its second incarnation too.
Wild rice (spoiler alert!) is not actually rice, but it can be used in most of the same ways; it just has an even firmer chew and nuttier flavor. It won’t hold together so well in cakes or be the best choice for fried rice but can go in soups, stuffings, and pudding.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Types of Rice
How to Reheat Leftover Rice
Even if your leftover rice is going into another cooked dish, it’s a good idea to rewarm it first so the grains separate and will mix easily into other ingredients. There are a few ways to do this, but the two best are as follows:
- Reheat it in a pot on the stovetop over low heat with a couple tablespoons of water or broth added and the lid on, stirring every few minutes until it’s heated through and gently breaking up clumps as it warms.
- Reheat it in the microwave after breaking up clumps with a fork; again, add a splash of water or other liquid and place a wet paper towel directly on the surface of the rice. Nuke on high until it’s warm, which won’t take long at all (check after a minute and then every 30 seconds or so).
The Best Leftover Rice Recipe Ideas
Try these when you want to transform your leftover rice into something more than just a side dish.
1. Fried Rice
The number one way to use leftover rice is probably also the easiest. Make fried rice a few times and you won’t even need a recipe, but if you’re not sure where to start, try these eight fried rice recipes. As the above anchovy and parmesan fried rice example shows, you can get as inventive with your add-ins as you like—or keep it classic with soy sauce and veggies.
2. Rice Pudding
The other classic option for repurposing rice is pretty sweet, but also open to interpretation. To make rice pudding with leftover rice, just simmer the grains in your dairy (or oat milk or coconut milk) until they’re creamy. Then mix in whatever extras you like; vanilla and cinnamon, maple syrup, raisins and almonds, fresh mango…it’s hard to go wrong. Depending on how decadent you get (or don’t), you can enjoy it for breakfast or dessert.
Stuffed peppers will happily take almost anything you want to throw at them (or in them), and cooked rice is a perfect way to bulk them up. Adding moist ingredients to the filling, like cooked onions and/or meat, will help rehydrate the rice, but you can also add a splash of broth if it seems super dry before you stuff the peppers. No matter how you tweak the filling, do not forget the most important ingredient!
While these are traditionally made with fresh arborio or Canaroli rice that’s well chilled before rolling into balls and frying, there’s no reason you can’t make a version with leftover rice (any kind). Just reheat it with a little…