Rice cookers are incredibly easy to use. They take little preparation or supervision and cook pots of fluffy rice every time. Many brands of rice cookers advertise that they can keep rice warm for days. However, should you keep a rice cooker full of rice on the “warm” setting for days?
Though a rice cooker can keep rice warm for days, it doesn’t mean you should. After 12 hours, rice in a warm rice cooker begins to spoil; it grows bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Cooling your rice after 12 hours is best, after which you should store it in the fridge or freezer for later.
How Long Can You Keep Rice In A Rice Cooker?
You can keep rice in a rice cooker for 10-12 hours. After that, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Most rice cookers have a “keep warm” setting that gently heats your rice for up to 12 hours. Once that setting finishes, cool your rice and refrigerate or freeze leftovers.
Which Rice Cookers Keep Rice Warm For Days?
Several brands advertise they can keep rice warm for extended periods. Some can heat for hours, while others can keep your rice warm for several days. Here are a few brands of rice cookers that advertise they can keep rice warm for 12 hours.
Toshiba Digital Programmable Rice Cooker
This Toshiba model can keep rice warm for up to 30 hours, but the manufacturer doesn’t recommend keeping the rice warm for that length of time.
Zojirushi Micom Rice Cooker
Zojirushi rice cookers come with a regular “keep warm” setting that keeps rice warm for 12 hours. This model has an “extended keep warm” setting that can keep rice warm for extra time. Other Zojirushi induction models also have extended keep-warm settings that keep rice warm for a few days.
Cuckoo CRP-RT0609FW Rice Cooker
This Cuckoo model can keep rice warm for at least 24 hours. Again, the manufacturer doesn’t support keeping rice warm for this long, but the appliance does have that capability.
Can You Keep A Rice Cooker Warm For 24 Hours?
Though some models advertise they can keep rice warm for extended periods, it isn’t necessarily safe. After 12 hours, rice begins to grow bacteria. If you leave your rice long enough, it can become dry and hard, and it may also start to grow mold. It’s best to keep your rice warm for less than 12 hours.
Can You Cook Rice Ahead Of Time?
If you’re getting ready for a party or have a busy week ahead, cook your rice beforehand. Sometimes, I cook a big pot of rice on Sunday and freeze it in containers or freezer bags for the week. All varieties of rice freeze well. Here’s how I freezer rice to use later:
- After cooking rice, I quickly cool it on a cookie sheet.
- Once cooled, I spoon out servings into containers or zip-top bags.
- I date each container and put it in the freezer.
- When I am ready to eat some rice, I pull a container from the freezer and defrost it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
- I add 2-3 tablespoons of water and heat it for 3 minutes.
This way, I have a healthy, delicious side dish in under 10 minutes! I prefer to freeze my rice because my fridge is often full. Frozen rice stays fresh for up to 3 months, so I have plenty of time to use it.
A Unique Way To Store Rice
If you’ve stored rice in your fridge, you know it can become hard and dry when you reheat it. The Japanese culture has designed special rice storage containers, called ohitsu tubs, so their cooked rice stays fluffy and soft while they store it! An ohitsu tub is a container made from Kiso straw. The straw helps maintain the texture of the rice while you store it.
Why Does Rice Spoil So Quickly
Rice contains Bacillus cereus, a bacteria that can survive the cooking process. This bacteria causes food poisoning in reheated rice. To lessen the chances of contracting food poisoning from rice, make sure you:
- Cook your rice to above 140° F.
- Cook your rice as quickly as possible.
- Store it in an airtight container in a refrigerator or freezer.
- Reheat it to 165° F.
How Do You Reheat Rice So You Don’t Get Sick?
When you reheat rice, the most important thing is to make sure the rice gets to 165° F. Reheat your rice in the microwave or on the stove.
In The Microwave
Open the lid of your rice container and sprinkle a few tablespoons of water over your rice. Gently place the top back on the container, but don’t seal it. Heat it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. Check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer.
On the Stove
Place your leftover rice in a saucepan with a few tablespoons of butter or oil. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir to combine. Put the lid on your saucepan and heat the rice for 5-10 minutes. Check that the internal temperature reaches 165° F or higher before serving.
The Bottom Line
Rice cookers are easy to use. However, if you keep your rice warm for over 12 hours, you risk eating spoiled rice and contracting food poisoning. Instead, cook a big batch of rice and freeze it for quick evening meals.