25 Easy Leftover Rice Recipes

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Fortunately, there are a number of great ways to put your leftover rice to good use. From pancakes and burritos to stuffed peppers and soups, the options are endless. 

So, before you throw it away, take a look at this list of 25 easy leftover rice recipes that are not only simple to put together, but will leave you incredibly satisfied. 

1). Rice Pancakes 

The first recipe on this list are leftover rice pancakes. Admittedly, this recipe may not be like the type of fluffy and light pancakes that you’re used to, but these pancakes provide a sweet, lightly-spiced flavor and oatmeal-like texture that’ll be sure to win you over.

If you add a touch of butter and allow the edges to crisp up, it’s like eating a delicious rice pudding pancake. 

2). Rice Pudding

This classic dessert is satisfying, warm, and consistently delicious - ideal for a cold winter’s evening. With just three main ingredients, it’s also incredibly easy and quick to put together.

If you cook your rice in coconut milk this will give the dish even more flavor, while adding a swirl of strawberry jam or a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar are popular garnishes. 

3). Tuna Rice Salad

Ideal for busy households, this hearty tuna rice salad is a healthy way to put your leftover rice to good use. Once cooked, it can be kept in the fridge for up to three days, ready to be spooned onto your plate as an accompaniment to a meal or whenever you’re peckish throughout the day.

In addition to tuna and rice, the other main ingredients of this dish include peas, tomatoes, peppers, spring onions, parsley, and olives. It’s also important to stir through mayonnaise, olive oil, and lemon juice to enhance the flavor. 

4). Chicken And Rice Soup

This dish is one of the best leftover recipes you can make if you’re left with spare rice and rotisserie chicken. Although there are plenty of delicious meals you can make with chicken, this recipe is one of the best for providing a hearty and flavorful combination of ingredients.

After you’ve chopped the vegetables, you can have the soup served up in as little as half an hour, so it’s perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time to spare in the evenings. 

5). Thai Crispy Rice 

This recipe may seem simple, but it’s addictive once you’ve tried it. The best way to create perfect Thai crispy rice is to cook the rice without stirring, allowing the bottom of the rice to crisp in the pan.

You can then add the sauce as you turn and break the rice up into small pieces. This recipe is best served with a fried egg on top and a sprinkling of green onions. 

6). Stuffed Peppers

If you’re looking for a reasonably healthy option for lunch or a light dinner, these stuffed peppers are a great choice. The recipe uses ground beef, tomatoes, and leftover rice. Many people also like to melt some cheese on the top for added flavor.

Once stuffed and cooked, the peppers become tender but still hold their shape and contents really well. As a result of this, they’re great for being made ahead and for travelling. 

7). Paella Salad

Filled with tender and tasty pieces of chicken, shrimp, and sausage, this hearty recipe serves up to seven people. Other ingredients of the dish include diced fresh vegetables, spiced rice, and lemon juice for a fresh edge.

It’s worth noting that steamed mussels can also be a traditional and delicious addition to the recipe if you want extra flavor. This comprehensive salad can be eaten either in small portions as a side or in generous helpings as a main course. 

8). Ubbu Rotti / Rice Roti 

This gluten-free and vegan recipe is a rice-based flatbread from India. It’s made using leftover rice, rice flour, and a touch of salt and pepper.

If you’re eating curry or a similar dish, Rice Roti provides a great alternative to naan bread. They can also be used as a replacement for flour tortillas. 

9). Rice Frittata

Frittatas are ideal for a big, protein-rich breakfast. They’re usually filled with potato, but using rice instead provides excellent texture as well as an equally filling dish. You should load this recipe with parmesan cheese for the optimal flavor.

In terms of making a rice frittata, it’s as simple as whisking the eggs and adding them to the pan. Considering the rice is already cooked, you can have this dish on the table in less than 15 minutes. 

10). Bacon And Egg Fried Rice

This simple rice recipe can be compiled in less than 30 minutes and provides some excellent comfort food if you’re short on time. Add your leftover rice to some diced, fried onion, and stir-fry for a few minutes while seasoning with salt, pepper, soy sauce, and sugar.

Once there’s steam coming off the rice and it’s fully heated through, add scrambled eggs and cooked bacon, and sprinkle some green onion for extra flavor. 

11). Risotto Balls

Risotto balls are the perfect snack for any occasion. With this recipe, you’ll be adding a cube of mozzarella to the middle of some of your leftover rice, before coating it in egg, flour, and breadcrumbs.

Once fried, these risotto balls can be served as a potato alternative, an appetizer, or just a gooey late-night treat. While mozzarella is the preferred choice of cheese due to the satisfying cheese pull as you bite into the snack, smoked cheese or Gruyere would add a real depth of flavor to this recipe. 

12). Vegetarian Bean And Rice Burrito 

Burritos are suitable for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so using your leftover rice for this recipe is always an option. These burritos are vegetarian and packed full of flavor, from beans and lime to hot sauce and garlic.

You can use the beans of your choice for this dish, although black beans and refried beans are the most popular. Black beans provide the burrito with extra texture, while refried beans add some welcome moisture. If you like things hot, spicy guacamole compliments this recipe nicely.  

13). Parmesan Rice Cakes 

This recipe is effectively a simplified version of the fried rice balls mentioned earlier in the list. Once the ingredients are all mixed together, check the consistency of the cakes to see if you need more egg before frying.

Ideally, the mixture should hold together well and not be runny. These cakes make a great cheesy side to pork chops, roasted chicken, or even your morning eggs. 

14). Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole 

This recipe is a straightforward one that can serve the whole family. The only thing you’ll be cooking in this casserole is the broccoli, so cooked rice makes the perfect ingredient for a shorter bake time.

To prepare the dish, combine cooked, shredded chicken with broccoli, cheese sauce, and extra cheese, along with your leftover rice.  If you want to further simplify the recipe to cut down on cooking time, you can use cream of chicken soup instead of the homemade sauce. 

15). Rice Fritters 

A number of ingredients work well as a fritter, and rice is definitely one of them. Lightly salted and cooked until the edges begin to crisp, this recipe is a delicious side to almost any dish.

While these patties are filled entirely with rice, you could just as easily add a cup of your leftover rice to some corn fritters. 

16). Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup

This soup is a heart-warming recipe that combines a variety of vegetables, tomatoes, and herbs with ground turkey and soft brown rice. For those who like to batch cook and meal prep, this dish is perfect as leftovers pack and reheat well for a few days worth of hearty meals.

Moreover, many of the ingredients are full of nutrition, leaving you satisfied for hours after eating. 

17). Risotto Cakes 

If fritters are too crunchy for your liking, then these easy-to-make cakes will be the perfect alternative for your leftover rice. Things may get messy during the construction of this recipe, but once formed, the cakes are typically thick, full of flavor, and best served hot and golden.

The main ingredients are cheese and green onion, although bacon bits are often a popular addition. 

18). Bibimbap (Korean Rice Bowl) 

Bibimbap is one of the most well-known Korean dishes. The recipe is a rice bowl topped with marinated meat, a variety of sautéed vegetables, a fried egg, and a generous helping of Bibimbap sauce. At first glance of the extensive ingredient list, you may think that this recipe would be far from straightforward to put together.

However, despite the daunting number of ingredients, these aesthetically-pleasing bowls can be made within an hour. Each step of the preparation process can be done one after the other, allowing you to layer it all in the bowl as you go along.

19). Wild Rice Stuffed Mushrooms

You can use any leftover rice for this recipe, although wild rice combines perfectly with the mushrooms. Between the rice, cheese, and artichoke, these stuffed mushrooms provide perfect little appetizers.

If you’d prefer something a little more filling, you can just as easily stuff a portobello for a satisfying meat-free meal. 

20). Ground Beef And Rice Casserole 

The second casserole on this list is a delicious ground beef and rice recipe that’s incredibly easy to make. You’ll firstly need to brown the beef with onions and garlic before combining with the leftover rice, mushrooms, creamy celery soup, and a bag of frozen veg.

Top the casserole with grated cheese and breadcrumbs for the last couple of minutes of cooking and serve with a basic garden salad. 

21). Fried Chicken And Wild Rice Waffles

These fluffy waffles are made with leftover wild rice and topped with delicious pieces of fried chicken. It’s the perfect recipe for days when you’re craving a hearty brunch but can’t be bothered to venture out of the house.

To serve the dish, load each waffle with a couple of pieces of fried chicken and pour the pink peppercorn sauce over the top. 

22). Rice Pakoras 

If you like deep-fried food, you’ll love these spiced rice balls. Crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside, this recipe is filled with chopped vegetables and spiced with a variety of turmeric, ginger, and besan.

They make a great accompaniment to curry and work well with chutney. The pea and carrot filling provides a well-balanced flavor, but the pakoras also work nicely with corn, raisins, and a touch of curry powder. 

23). Hot Dog Fried Rice

While hot dogs may be devoid of any meaningful nutrition, they provide real value in this recipe alongside rice, eggs, green beans, and tofu.

Your leftover rice will be the main ingredient in this dish, which can be enjoyed by people of all ages, especially children who love hot dogs. Just make sure that the hot dogs are cut into small slices so they’re not a choking hazard for young children. 

24). Rice Cutlets 

The penultimate recipe on this list are rice cutlets, which are similar to the risotto cakes mentioned earlier, only with the addition of mashed potato for a creamier finish. This recipe is packed with Indian spices, so they’re an ideal snack for your next Indian feast.

Just be careful when frying these cutlets and make sure you take them off the heat as they turn perfectly golden and a little bit crispy on the outside. 

25). Vegan And Gluten-Free Lentil Loaf

The final recipe, and by certainly no means the least, is this easy lentil loaf which is gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan. This dish is equally as delicious and filling as the meat editions, and can be made ahead of time to be baked right before dinner.

In addition, the lentils are packed full of fibre and provide a great plant-based source of protein which is key to every healthy diet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does cooked rice last in the fridge? 

Cooked rice can generally be stored in the fridge for around 4 days before going bad. This time period is the case for most varieties of rice, including long, short, and medium grain. 

In order to maximize this period of time, it’s recommended to store the leftover rice in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. This helps to keep the rice from airborne bacteria. If you have leftover rice after cooking, it should be packed away and stored in the fridge within two hours.

How long does cooked rice last in the freezer? 

Leftover cooked rice lasts significantly longer in the freezer than it does in the fridge. Generally, if cooked rice is stored in an airtight container or freezer bag, it’ll last and maintain its quality for around 4-6 months.

It’s worth bearing in mind that cooked right is still safe in the freezer beyond 6 months, but the quality might not be quite as high.   

How can you tell if cooked rice has spoiled? 

It’s definitely not a good idea to reheat and cool cooked rice too many times as this provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow. Your leftover cooked rice may be spoiled if it has an unpleasant smell. This is the most telling sign that your rice should be thrown away immediately. 

Another clue that your cooked rice has spoiled is if the grains are hard and dry. Leftover rice that has a crunchy texture or looks dry when reheated should not be consumed. Eating spoiled rice can often cause food poisoning, so it’s essential that you throw your rice out if you have any concerns about the smell or look of it. 

Can you eat cold rice? 

Cold rice is safe to eat as long as you handle it properly. To reduce the risk of food poisoning, try to cool the rice within an hour of cooking and keep it fully refrigerated at the right temperature before eating it.

Taking these precautions should protect you from any of the major risks. 

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community.
She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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