If you’re looking at a mushy mess instead of the fluffy grains of rice you’d hoped for, not to worry — you’re in good company. Overcooking rice might be a rookie mistake, but it happens to the best of us — much more often than we’d like to admit. Fortunately, there are several ways to rework overdone rice that can save you from throwing it out and starting all over again.
Believe it or not, some recipes actually call for overcooked rice. We’re here to share those with you, plus provide some tips on how to prevent your rice from overcooking in the first place.
Easy recipes using overcooked rice
A super-delicious way to use up your overcooked rice is to make rice pancakes (think potato pancakes made out of rice). Sauté your favorite vegetables in a little bit of olive oil, and add them to the rice. Toss in a few handfuls of shredded cheese, and mix well. Shape the rice mixture into round patties, and sauté until crispy.
Rice in soup is always overcooked since you reheat the soup (and cook the rice further) every time you go to eat it. The soups that work the best for adding overcooked rice include chicken and rice, hot-and-sour soup, minestrone and vegetable beef.
Hosting a party? Mix a few cups of overcooked rice into your meat to form meatballs. The rice acts as a filler so you’ll get more meatballs for your money without sacrificing flavor.
Have little ones running around? Overcooked rice is great for them since it’s significantly easier to chew than regular rice is. Serve it to them as is, or mix with puréed vegetables or fruits.
Frying foods will naturally make them crispier. Put your overcooked rice in a saucepan with some olive oil, and cook over medium heat. Add in your favorite vegetables, an egg and soy sauce.
If you’re in the mood for something sweet, turn your overcooked rice into rice pudding by adding milk, cinnamon, sugar, raisins and vanilla extract. Mix well, and serve warm.
Tips to prevent your rice from overcooking
Sometimes we can’t help overcooking our food. Whether we get an unexpected phone call, the baby starts crying, or we simply forget to set the timer, it can’t always be avoided. To lessen your chances at overcooking your rice, though, use the following tips:
- Don’t cook when you have a million other things going on. In other words, if the kids are screaming and the phone won’t stop ringing, it’s not the best time to start dinner. Give the kids a snack, wait until your co-parent gets home, hide your phone… whatever you need to focus on the task at hand.
- Set the timer early. This is our favorite trick. Whether you’re cooking rice, a casserole or brownies, always set the timer a few minutes earlier than the directions say. If the timer goes off when you’re in the middle of changing a diaper, you know you have time to complete the task without burning the food.
- Delegate. Finally, when cooking rice or any type of meal, delegate tasks to family members. Older kids can set the table or be in charge of preparing side dishes. Younger kids can do small tasks with you so they feel involved too. By making dinner a family event, you’ll give the kids something to look forward to plus prevent food from burning or overcooking.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2013.