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In a pickle: What to do with leftover rice

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

Don’t ditch it, use it

Rice that’s been sitting in the fridge overnight can be unpleasant to eat and difficult to heat up. But don’t throw it out just yet – check out these great uses for leftover rice.
Don’t ditch it, use it

Although leftover rice isn’t great on its own, it’s actually perfect for a number of recipes and can be a quick fix for a weeknight dinner. After trying these recipes, you may make extra rice on purpose from now on.


If you have risotto left over, which is made from Arborio rice, then you may want to try making arancini at home. These Italian bar snacks are a traditional way to use leftover risotto. The rice is formed into bite-sized balls, often stuffed with cheese, breaded and fried. They’re utterly addictive and will have your whole family screaming for more. Use: Leftover Arborio or risotto rice.

Check out these recipes for easy risotto, plus arancini three ways >>

Fried rice

If you’ve ever tried making fried rice with just-made rice, then you know it turns into a mushy mess. The best fried rice is actually made from cold, cooked rice, making this the ultimate use for your leftovers. Save on take-out while putting nothing to waste! The best part is you can customize it to suit your tastes and put to work any other meat and veggie leftovers. Use: Leftover white or brown rice.

Get an easy and delicious chicken fried rice recipe >>

Rice pudding

To satisfy your sweet tooth, put your leftover rice to good use by making rice pudding. Creamy, lightly sweet and absolutely comforting, rice pudding is a classic dessert that’s due for a comeback. Simply simmer or bake your leftover rice with milk, sugar, eggs and flavorings for a quick fix. Use: Leftover basmati, jasmine or white rice.

Learn how to make rice pudding using leftover rice >>


Soup is the ideal use for leftover rice as well as any remaining meat and vegetables. The possibilities are endless and can include turkey and wild rice, broccoli and rice or even cabbage, kielbasa and rice soup. Once the soup is made, it can even be frozen to stretch those leftovers even further. Use: Leftover white or wild rice.

Check out this great recipe for chicken and rice soup >>

More great uses for leftovers

Health and wellness tips: Don't waste leftovers
Get creative with leftovers
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