Risks of Reheating Cooked Rice

There’s not really any more danger reheating rice than there is anything else. In fact it’s less dangerous than many things with higher protein content.

I’ve been a chef for about 15 years. I took classes in food safety while in cooking school and have taken lots of hours of classes in food safety from various sources including the health department since then.

The danger zones for food are from 35 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. While in this temperature zone bacteria can thrive and grow. It is important that when cooling food, you get it below 35 degrees as quickly as possible. Similarly, when heating it up, you need to get it above 140 degrees as soon as possible.

What’s most important is that you store any leftovers properly and quickly. In the past, people had iceboxes and used to let leftovers cool down before refrigerating so the heat wouldn’t melt the ice. Ice was expensive and often wasn’t delivered every day so you had to make it last. Since the invention of refrigerators this hasn’t been a problem, but there are still a lot of people who let it cool off before refrigerating because their mothers or grandmothers did this.

Refrigerate your leftovers immediately after the meal. If you are putting it in a plastic container, leave the lid off for an hour or two so it will cool more quickly. If there is a large quantity of something that is dense, like rice, it’s probably a good idea to stir it once or twice during the first hour or two, so the heat will be released. If you are covering it with a plastic wrap you should wait an hour or two before putting the wrap over the container or piece the plastic with a few holes to vent the heat.

When you are reheating the food, you want to reheat it as quickly as possible. Don’t let it sit out on the counter for a while to "warm up" before starting to heat it. Don’t heat it at unusually low temperatures, medium heat is probably okay. Again stirring will help distribute the heat and help it eat through evenly not just on one side where it might burn.

In commercial kitchens we use instant temperature thermometers to make certain the food is above 140 F. I do the same when I’m cooking at home.

Good luck.


  1. Can reheating rice cause food poisoning? – Health questions – NHS …
  2. Can you reheat rice? – Hygiene Doctor

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