Skip to Content

How Long Will Rice Be Fresh And How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad

Have you ever wondered if rice expires? Rice is one of those things that just seems to last forever. It never seems to go out of date, but everything has to expire at some point, right?

The truth is that rice does go out of date, however, the ‘when’ of it depends on the type of rice, cooked and uncooked rice, brown, and white rice will all be different.

Also, if you cook the rice with other ingredients, it may have a different expiry, because of the ingredients. 

There are many factors to consider here, so it’s time to look through all of them. 

How Long Will Rice Be Fresh And How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad

Types Of Rice

Dry rice, i.e. that rice that comes in a bag will last a long time, months. However, there are some rice varieties that will stay in date longer than others. 

White and wild rice can store for years, but brown rice does not store as long, typically only a year until it goes bad. 

But, even though different uncooked rice will have a vast variety of expiry dates, when rice is cooked it will only last you a couple of days, although you can freeze it. 

So, we are going to cover dry rice, and cooked rice today and talk to you all about rice, its shelf life, storage, and how to tell if it has gone bad. 

Dry Rice

Dry rice means it is uncooked. It’s not met with water and expanded yet, it is uncooked and can last a long time. 

How Long Does Dry Rice Stay Good?

How long does this rice last, well it depends on the rice. 

Dry rice that is white will last almost forever. However, brown rice will only stay edible for a year or so before it is no longer good for consumption. 

This is because white rice has its germ, bran, and husk all removed, it is missing many nutrients that you would find in brown rice, however, it does not contain as much fat either because of this, so it is much less prone to going bad. 

This is why many brands will state that white rice lasts forever, and also why brown rice may often come in a smaller bag than white rice. 

With brown rice, every grain will have an external layer that is made from bran, this is also where you find the oil, this is why it does not last so long.

Some brands will state a year for brown rice, others 16 months, but it is usually around the year mark. 

Of course, we cannot forget wild rice. This rice is not technically rice, it is actually water grass, even though it looks very similar to rice. Wild rice and white rice have their everlasting trait in common. 

Of course, it does help if it is properly stored! 

Brown Rice – Does It Go Rancid?

You needn’t be living in fear that one day you’ll open your cupboards and suddenly be faced with rancid brown rice.

It will not happen overnight, brown rice going bad will take weeks, or months to actually go bad. It’s not going to catch you off guard. 

Generally the process is slow, you might not actually notice any changes as it starts going off, however, eventually you might notice that it smells different from usual, or the taste is a bit off. 

Eventually the smell will become more potent, invading your nostrils, and the flavor will do the same to your taste buds. 

We cannot tell you at exactly what point you should throw away your brown rice, it’s up to your own decision-making skills.

However, we recommend that you chuck it in the trash when you first notice that it smells off and the flavor is not what it should be.

Will Dry Rice Go Off?

All dry rices will have an expiry date on the packaging, regardless of the type. This is actually a best-before date, which is not about the food going bad, but the quality of the food, if anything it is more for the shops to go by than you. 

This date regards food safety, not actual expiration. You should judge it for yourself. 

But how can you know? 

Well, with white rice, this will usually be just fine to eat months or even years past the best before date. With brown rice, it will likely be okay for a couple of months more, but it will end up going off. 

Wild rice is the same as white rice, keeping for potentially years past the best before date. 

Of course, here we are simply assuming that the rice is good and has not become bad or unsafe for consumption for any other reasons. 

But, if it has gone bad… How do you know?

How Can You Tell If Dry Rice Has Gone Bad?

So, how do you tell that your rice is not okay to eat anymore? There are actually four telltale signs that it should go in the trash instead of your stomach. 

  1. Mold: Obviously if any food starts to accumulate mold you should not be eating it (except for gourmet cheese of course), rice is not supposed to have mold on it, so at the first sign, get rid of it. 
  2. Damp/Water: If your rice is damp or watery, this will definitely result in mold within mere days. None of us check our rice every single day, so there is no way to tell just how much mold accumulation has come so far, so into the trash it goes! 
  3. Pests: If your pantry has pests, it’s got to go because if any get into the bag, this is not good for your health. Throw out your bag and always check other food products for bugs. Pests spread fast, so at the first sign of a pest, clear it out and check EVERYTHING! 
  4. Smell: If your rice smells, moldy, sour, or just wrong, this is a sign that your rice is not good anymore. Brown rice will usually release an odor similar to old paint or chemicals when it has gone rancid. Where does this go? In the trash! 
How Long Will Rice Be Fresh And How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad (1)

You can limit the chances of your rice going off if you practice proper food storage. So, before we move onto cooked rice, let’s remember how to store rice.

How Should I Be Storing Dry Rice?

Dry rice should be stored in a dry place (fitting) and it should also be cool and away from strong odors. Cupboards and pantries are ideal.

Once the bag or container is open, you need to steal it properly to ensure that the outside environment doesn’t harm it. 

Plastic flour containers, can be ideal as well, or a sealing clip can do just fine. 

As long as you are free of pests, and humidity a slightly loose seal can be okay. Of course, if pantry bugs break in, it won’t be fine. 

You can also freeze your rice so that it keeps fresh for longer. This is a great thing to do for brown rice since it doesn’t last as long. Obviously you may want to portion it though. Freezing is not a popular option for rice, but can be done. 

What About Cooked Rice? 

Now cooked rice. We are always warned about eating rice the right way after cooking it and having leftovers, but why is that? Well, here’s why…

Cooked Rice In The Fridge

If you have cooked rice as leftovers, it can stay in the fridge for 4 days, no matter what type of rice it is. 4 days is generally a standard rule for any perishable foods as leftovers.

However, you might be able to keep it for 5 days, but we would say that is the maximum! 

Of course, much like with dry rice, you can also freeze it, especially if you do not want it right now. It doesn’t take much work to do and can be an easy way to prevent waste. 

How Long Can It Sit Out For?

Rice is okay if it is left out at room temperature for two hours, however if the temperature is above 90 degrees then it will only last an hour. This is considered to be an official recommendation for rice, but some use it as guidelines. 

You can be strict about this rule or more casual with it and use it as a guideline for keeping rice out. 

So, if your rice is sitting in a pot on the counter for 3 hours because you didn’t pop it in the fridge, official recommendations would have you throw it in the trash, however, if you only cooked it 3 hours ago, and the cooking utensils used to scoop it were clean, and the pot is covered, it should be fine. 

It’s your call. 

If you do bend the rules you should be smart with it. Leaving rice out on the counter overnight means it needs to be thrown away in the morning.

How To Tell Its Gone Bad

So, how can you tell if your cooked rice is no longer edible? Well, there are three signs that will tell you straight away. 

  1. The smell: Any time rice smells strange or off in any way at all, then it is not okay to be ingested. 
  2. Signs of mold or dark specs: If there is any mold or dark spec on the surface of your rice then it is time to say goodbye. You should always give rice in your fridge a good once over before you reheat it, if it got contaminated it can grow mold fast, even with one day of being in the fridge! 
  3. Stored too long: If your rice has been sitting happily in the fridge for more than 5 days it is not okay to eat. It might smell okay, and look just fine, but this is not an indicator that it is okay to eat it. If you think you may not eat it within this time frame, just freeze it! 

If anything about your rice is suspicious, or you are unsure about its quality, always assume it’s bad. It is better to be on the safer side of things then end up sick. 

Storing Cooked Rice

Once your cooked rice is cool you should put it in the fridge, this means waiting a maximum of 2 hours before it goes in teh fridge. You should use a resealable container or even the pot you cooked it in if it has a lid. 

Always use a clean spoon when handing rice, if you use dirty ones, it will contaminate it. 

With large portions, separate the rice into different smaller plates, and it will cool faster. 

How Long Will Rice Be Fresh And How To Tell If It Has Gone Bad

How To Store Rice

Active Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Different types of rice have different expiry times but you can store all kinds of rice safely in an airtight container. Just make sure that you store your rice in a cool, dry place, and it can last for months.


  • Rice


  • Airtight storage container
  • Fridge/freezer/pantry


  1. Pour rice into an airtight container: The best way to store rice is to remove it from its original packaging and pour it into a sealable container.
  2. Store the rice in a cool, dry place: Rice should be stored in a cool, dry place. This can be in your pantry or cupboard, as long as it is cool and free from humidity.
  3. Freeze rice for longer storage: If you want to store your rice for longer, then you can also freeze rice. However, you will need to portion it to be able to remove the right amount when you want to cook your rice.
Jess Smith
Skip to Instructions