How Long Can Rice Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

How long can rice sit out? It is generally advised that rice should not be left out for more than 2 hours. “Rice sit-out” is a question that often plagues cooks, especially when making large batches of food. 

Sometimes, it is hard to gauge how long rice can sit out without becoming unsafe to eat. However, it’s always best to refrigerate cooked rice within an hour or two. 

Do you want to know more? Keep reading to learn about the shelf life of rice and how to tell if it has gone bad.

What Is Rice?

Rice is a cereal grain; it’s among the most widely consumed foods in the world. It is a staple food in many cultures and has been eaten for thousands of years. Rice is rich in nutrients and can be used in various dishes, including sushi.

Several types of rice exist, i.e., white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, and jasmine rice. Each has a different nutritional profile and can be cooked in various ways, including boiling, steaming, frying, and baking.

Rice is a good source of complex carbohydrates and provides a range of essential vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6. It is also rich in fiber and protein.

As a versatile food, it can be used as a side dish or as the main ingredient in a meal.

SEE: If It Is Bad To Eat Rice Every Day

Can Rice Sit Out For Long?

Yes, rice can sit out for long periods (1-4 hours at best) and still be safe to eat. However, it is important to keep rice properly cooled and stored to prevent the growth of bacteria. 

Cooked rice should be placed in an airtight container and refrigerated as soon as possible. When reheating cooked rice, bring it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any bacteria present.

Can You Eat Rice That Has Been Left Out For 5 Hours?

No, it’s not ideal.

Eating rice that has been left out for more than four hours is generally not recommended as it may contain bacteria (which thrives at 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit temp), which can cause food poisoning. 

If you choose to eat rice that has been left out, be sure to cook it thoroughly before consuming it.

How Long Can Rice Sit Out In A Rice Cooker?

10 to 12 hours. After that, the rice will start to spoil and should be thrown out. Also, know that if your rice cooker is not plugged at room temperature, your rice will still be unsafe to consume. 

SEE: Why Rice Bubbles When Cooking And How to Stop It

How Long Can Cooked Rice Stay In The Fridge?

Cooked rice can stay in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for 2-6 months. Keeping your rice in the fridge only helps to slow down the growth of bacteria, it doesn’t necessarily kill the bacteria.

So, make sure to store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh and discard it after four days preferably.

Finally, when reheating, be sure to cook it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.

How Long Does Fried Rice Last At Room Temperature?

Fried rice is best enjoyed fresh, but it can last up to two hours at room temperature, often between 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 

After that, it should be refrigerated and eaten within two days. When reheating, bring the fried rice back to a steaming hot temperature to avoid the risk of food poisoning.

How Long Can Rice Sit Out In The Pantry Before Spoiling?

If stored properly and under the right conditions, uncooked rice can last very long. Brown rice can last up to 6 months in the pantry, while dry white rice can take up to 2 years.

In addition, basmati, jasmine, arborio rice, etc. have an indefinite shelf life when they are kept away from contaminants. But they are best consumed within two years.

To extend the shelf life of rice, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Keep it away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight.

SEE: Food Storage Mistakes You Should Avoid From Now

How Can You Tell If Cooked Rice Is Spoilt?

The best way to tell if cooked rice is spoilt is by its smell.

Cooked rice that has gone bad will have a sour, unpleasant smell that is distinctly different from the sweet, nutty scent of good rice. Once you notice this off-putting odor, it is best to discard the rice immediately. 

Additionally, cooked rice that is spoilt may change color, appearing brown or gray instead of its usual white or ivory hue. Finally, if you notice any mold growing on cooked rice, it is definitely time to throw it out.

SEE: How To Stop Food Spoilage And Food Poisoning

How To Get Rid Of Bacteria In Your Rice Cooker

Bacteria can thrive in rice cookers, especially if the appliance is not cleaned properly. Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. When these spores are cooked, they can produce toxins that can make you sick. 

Here’s how to keep your rice cooker bacteria-free:

  • Fill the pot half full with water and add 1 cup (240 ml) of white vinegar.
  • Let the pot soak for 30 minutes, then scrub it with a sponge or brush to remove any buildup.
  • Rinse the pot well and dry it before using it again.
  • If your rice cooker has a nonstick coating, be careful not to scratch it when cleaning.
  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbers on the pot.


How long is rice good for after it has been cooked?

1-2 hours. Anything more than that might be harmful to your health. This is because uncooked rice can have spores of Bacillus cereus, and this bacteria causes food poisoning when cooked with rice.

Can you eat fried rice that was left out of the fridge overnight?

No, you shouldn’t. If you do, you’ll expose yourself to bacteria-causing diseases.

Can leftover rice make you sick?

Yes, it can. Eating leftover rice (from 5 hours and above), can result in vomiting and other mild symptoms.

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Bravo! You made it this far, and now you know what to do with your cooked and uncooked rice. Knowing when and how to protect your rice from bacteria can keep you and your loved ones from feeling sick. 

Preferably, never let your rice sit out for more than one to two hours.

Thank you for reading.

For more health and wellness guides, visit Cheffist.