Does Brown Rice Go Bad

If you have jars full of brown rice that you have not touched in a while, the question “does brown rice go bad?” naturally comes to mind.

Everyone knows that rice is both easy to prepare and lasts quite a long time, but how long does it last exactly? The answer to that question depends on how you store the rice. Proper storage is essential for preserving the flavor and quality of this grain for the long term

If you would like to learn a thing or two about storage, shelf life, and going bad of rice, this article is for you. If you have a bowl of leftover cooked rice, we’ve got you covered too.

Package of brown rice
Package of brown rice

How To Store Brown Rice?

Brown rice should be stored in a cool and dry dark area. The pantry is the best place, but a cupboard in the kitchen is fine too.

Brown rice comes in various packagings such as brown paper boxes and plastic bags. To make sure any moisture can’t get into the package, consider transferring it into an airtight container or jar, especially after opening the package.

If you wish to extend the shelf life of brown rice further, storing it in the fridge or freezer is an option too. If you want to freeze uncooked brown rice, make sure you transfer the grains into freezer bags and remove excess air before freezing. This way you will avoid freezer burn. For storing rice in the refrigerator, freezer bags or airtight containers are the way to go.

When it comes to cooked brown rice, you have two options. If you want to store the cooked rice for a few days, let it cool a bit, transfer to an airtight container, and chuck into the fridge. For long-term storage, you need to freeze it.

Cooked brown rice in a container
Cooked brown rice in a container

Can You Freeze Cooked Brown Rice?

In this section, we’re going to focus on freezing cooked brown rice. While you can freeze pretty much any food, some foods freeze better than others.

When it comes to rice, it freezes very well. And since preparing brown rice takes quite some time, cooking it in bulk and freezing most of it for future meals is a great way to save time. Also, the method is straightforward and doesn’t require any fancy steps or equipment. Here’s how to freeze cooked brown rice:

  1. Cook the rice using your favorite method.
  2. Divide the grains into several meal-sized portions. We immediately portion it because it cools down much faster than when it’s all clumped together.
  3. Let the rice cool down to about room temperature. It shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes if the rice is portioned and spread out.
  4. Transfer the rice into freezer bags. Add labels with name and date if needed.
  5. Chuck the bags into the freezer.

If you plan to freeze the rice only for a week or two, freezing it with other food in meal-prep containers is perfectly fine. For longer-term storage use freezer bags.

Plate with brown rice
Plate with brown rice

As with any other type of food, frozen cooked brown rice lasts indefinitely, but its quality might slowly deteriorate over time. Because of that, it’s suggested to use that rice within about half a year.

Here’s how you can defrost and reheat brown rice:

  • Microwave. Start on low to thaw the rice. Once it’s thawed, you can increase the power to cook it. Add some water if it’s dry.
  • Non-stick pan. Set the dish on low on the stovetop to defrost, then set to medium heat to reheat. Consider adding some water so it doesn’t burn.
  • Throw it in frozen. If you use the rice in a soup, you can throw it in frozen and add a few minutes to the cooking time to account for thawing.
Brown rice, beets, and fish
Brown rice, beets, and fish

How Long Does Brown Rice Last?

What’s interesting about brown rice is that it has a much shorter shelf life than white rice. That’s because brown rice has more natural oil in it. Shorter shelf life, however, doesn’t mean that it’s short by any means.

While each manufacturer has their own instructions when it comes to shelf life, you can safely assume that brown rice lasts between 12 (Lundberg Family) and 24 months of the production date.

The shelf life is reflected in the “best by” or “best before” date on the package. Of course, the rice won’t go bad right past that date. It only informs you how long the product should be at peak quality, and brown rice should stay fit for consumption for months, or even year longer.

Brown rice: best before date on the label
Brown rice: best before date on the label

When it comes to cooked brown rice, transfer it into the fridge or freezer. Cooked brown rice can stay for about 4 to 6 days in the refrigerator. It might last a few days longer, but the risk of it getting moldy increases significantly. The rule of thumb is: if you plan to store the cooked rice for more than five days, freeze it.

Storing cooked rice at room temperature is a bad idea. Staying in room temperature means the rice stays in the danger zone, where the bacteria growth is the fastest.


Many sources suggest that after cooked food sits in room temperature for longer than 2 hours, you should get rid of it for safety. That means if you left out the rice overnight, definitely throw it out in the morning.

Uncooked brown rice“Best by” + 3 months“Best by” + 6 months“Best by” + 12 months
Cooked brown rice 4 – 6 days4 – 6 months

Please note that all dates are approximate.

Cooked brown rice closeup
Cooked brown rice closeup

How To Tell If Brown Rice is Bad?

Uncooked brown rice can go bad and you should be able to easily identify that it is spoiled. Some of the symptoms of it going bad are signs of mold or odd discolorations, insects inside the package, foul (or rancid) smell, or moist texture. If you notice any of these signs, get rid of the rice.

Also, if you think there’s something wrong with the rice, throw it out too. Human intuition does a pretty good job of sensing spoiled food.

Dinner with brown rice and fish
Dinner with brown rice and fish

When it comes to cooked rice, there are quite a few signs of spoilage, including some not quite standard ones.

The first one is that the rice doesn’t absorb water properly while cooking. Chewy texture after cooking is another.

If you put the rice into the fridge and after a few days notice any signs of mold, dark spots, or off smell, throw it out.

From time to time you might think that you did everything properly when it comes to storing cooked rice and it will go moldy either way.

That’s perfectly normal and happens to everyone. Some bacteria got inside the container or bag before sealing it and did what they do best. If that’s the case, just toss the rice out, cook another batch, and forget about it.

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