How Long Can Rice Sit Out Before It Goes Bad?

It is generally advised that rice should not be left to sit out for more than 2 hours. But sometimes, we can’t help but leave a bowl of rice to cool on the kitchen counter while preparing other ingredients.

For instance, if you make fried rice frequently, you’ll agree that leaving rice on the counter is almost inevitable, among many other reasons.

So, how long is too long before that bowl of rice becomes contaminated and unhealthy? Let’s find out.

How long can rice sit out?

Rce can sit out for 1-2 hours and still be at its best. However, it is important to store rice properly to prevent bacterial growth. 

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

How long can rice sit out in a rice cooker?

Rice can stay in a rice cooker for 10 to 12 hours. After that, the rice will begin to spoil and should be thrown out.

Also, know that the rice will go bad if your rice cooker is not plugged in at room temperature. 

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 to 140°F. 

After that, it should be refrigerated and consumed within two days. When reheating, bring the fried rice back to a steaming hot temperature to kill any bacteria that can cause 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.

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 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 time to throw it out.


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. These bacteria can thrive at 40-140°F and cause food poisoning. 

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

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.

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. Most importantly, ensure you reheat it thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.


Different recipes require that you handle rice differently. And some, like fried rice, require that you keep rice out for hours. The one to two hours window is more than enough time to get the moisture out of rice and still have it healthy.

Knowing when and how to protect your rice from bacteria can keep you and your loved ones from feeling sick. 

Thank you for reading.

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