7 Easy Ways to Give New Life to Leftover Rice

Instead of pitching the leftover cooked rice from tonight’s dinner, try using it in different ways in your next meal. Just don’t make the fatal mistake of calling it “leftovers.”

fried rice in a brown bowl with chopsticks

Provided you think of leftover cooked rice as an ingredient in a future meal, you’re home free and all your picky eaters will be none the wiser.

Make sure you handle cooked rice safely:

  • Refrigerate the rice as soon as possible after cooking and consuming, ideally within 1-2 hours.
  • When reheating, make sure it’s steaming hot all the way through and avoid reheating more than once.
  • Keep leftover rice in the refrigerator for no longer than 24 hours before re-use or freeze in a freezer bag.

Fried rice

Toss some garlic, chopped onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil in your frying pan. Stir in two or three beaten eggs, stirring until lightly scrambled.

Add the leftover cooked rice (white or brown) and whatever veggies and chicken, beef, or pork you have on hand. Voila! You have a new meal of Chinese Fried Rice.

Rice salad

Another great way to use up your leftover rice is to toss it with your favorite vinaigrette or other salad dressing, fresh herbs or spices, and your favorite diced vegetables.

Rice and bean burritos

Heat up a can of refried beans, add some hot sauce and your leftover rice, and you’ve got yourself a quick bean and rice burrito. Add in whatever burrito toppings you happen to have on hand, such as salsa, sour cream, guacamole, or maybe even some leftover cooked veggies.

Rice soup

Use your leftover rice to make rice soup. Pop open a can of soup and heat it over the stove, stirring in your leftover rice and some extra spices for a quick homecooked meal suitable for the whole family. Or add cooked rice to your favorite soup recipes.

Rice quiche

You can use your leftover rice to make a bottom “crust” for a breakfast quiche by pressing the cooked rice on the bottom and sides of a pie pan. Or just toss the leftover rice in with the eggs and other ingredients before baking. Use about one cup of pre-cooked rice in your quiche.

Meatloaf and Meatballs

Here’s a great idea for leftover rice, especially for those who are sensitive to wheat: Substitute cooked rice for the bread or breadcrumbs in your favorite recipe. It’s a brilliant idea since cooked, cold rice absorbs excess moisture in the same way that breadcrumbs can. You may need to play around with the proportions as it probably won’t be an exact 1:1 substitution of rice for bread crumbs.

Rice pudding

Rice pudding is a great way to use up lots of leftover rice all at once. You can add some cinnamon and nutmeg, or some raisins and dried fruit for a breakfast rice pudding.

A bowl of food with rice and vegetables, with Fried rice

15-Minute Chinese Fried Rice

Instead of pitching the last few cups of cooked rice from tonight’s dinner, try using it in different ways in your next meal. Here's a great recipe for leftover rice.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 371kcal
Author: Mary Hunt
Cost: $3


  • 3 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 16-ounce peas and carrots bag of frozen
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 7 cups rice cooked jasmine or basmati
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce to taste
  • 5 scallions chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  • Cut chicken in small cubes and place in bowl.
  • Season generously with salt, pepper and onion powder. Add oyster sauce and stir well to coat chicken.
  • Heat butter and oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. 
  • Add garlic and chicken. Stir constantly and cook until no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Add beaten eggs to the meat. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly until eggs are scrambled. 
  • Add frozen peas and carrots, bell pepper and and stir to incorporate. Add cold rice (must be cold)
  • Add soy sauce and stir until light golden brown. Stir in chopped green onions just before serving.


Serving: 1.25cup | Calories: 371kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!
A bowl of food on a plate, with Pudding and Rice

Caramel Rice Pudding

Rice pudding is a great way to use up lots of leftover rice all at once. You can add some cinnamon and nutmeg, or some raisins and dried fruit for a breakfast rice pudding.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Slowcooker: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 456kcal


  • Slow cooker


  • 3 cups cooked rice white or brown
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk 14-ounce size
  • 1 can evaporated milk 12-ounce size
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar or white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  • Spray inside of 2- to 3 1/2-quart slowcooker with cooking spray.
  • Add cooked rice, raisins, vanilla, condensed and evaporated milks to the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on Low 3 to 4 hours or until liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  • Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Serve warm.


Calories: 456kcal
Tried this recipe?Mention @EverydayCheapskate or tag #EverydayCheapskate!

First published: 2-27-14; Republished adding new photo and recipes 4-26-21

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6 replies
  1. Linda says:

    I make extra rice intentionally because I just like rice. I like to boil a boneless skinless chicken thigh with a couple of chicken bouillon cubes and some frozen mixed vegetables. When the chicken is done I remove it and dice it. Then return the chicken to the broth and add the cooked rice. Instant chicken rice soup.

  2. Kathie says:

    I freeze my leftover rice if I don’t have another use for it. When I need a quick meal, it takes a few minutes in the microwave with a little water and it’s almost like it was freshly cooked.

  3. neva fairchild says:

    Mix 3 cups left over rice with 1 to 1 1/2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce, I like the chunky style, and 1 to 1 1/2 pounds browned ground beef. Add extra onion, garlic, etc. to taste. If it’s too soupy, add one can of condensed tomato soup, but leave out the water. Stir together and serve. It’s yummy.

  4. Vanessa says:

    When I was a kid, my mom would make breakfast rice out of leftover rice. She would add a little butter, sugar, and milk and serve warm. I still enjoy breakfast rice.

  5. Angie says:

    Great ideas. With summer on the way, I think of buttered rice with fresh from the garden tomato diced up and mixed in with the rice. All you need is a dash of salt to enhance the flavor. So simple and delicious.


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