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How long does rice last?

Shelf life, expiration dates, and risks

Dry rice shelf life varies between white and brown rice, but once cooked, all rice has the same shelf life. This article covers rice spoilage and the dangers of eating expired rice.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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How long does rice last? Shelf life, expiration dates, and risks
Last updated on February 22, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on September 26, 2023.

Rice is a fundamental ingredient in many dishes worldwide because of its adaptability in cooking.

How long does rice last? Shelf life, expiration dates, and risks

There’s a variety of rice, like white, brown, basmati, wild, and jasmine, just to name some.

Yet, no matter your favorite type, you might be curious about its longevity.

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This article sheds light on the lifespan of both dry and cooked rice and the risks associated with eating outdated rice.

In this article

How long does dry rice last?

The longevity of uncooked rice largely depends on its type.

While there are numerous rice varieties, when considering longevity, the main distinction is between white and brown rice.

Brown rice retains its natural oils since it’s not refined, making it prone to becoming rancid faster than its white counterpart.

However, both white and brown rice are considered non-perishable in their dry state, meaning they can be safely stored at ambient temperatures.

Here’s a general guideline for their shelf lives:

Remember, storing them in cooler conditions like the fridge or freezer can boost their longevity.

How to tell whether dry rice has expired

Even non-perishable items have an advised consumption date, often termed as best-by or use-by date. Yet, they can still be eaten past this date if the package shows no degradation signs.

It’s fairly simple to ascertain if dry rice is past its prime.

Examine the package for any red flags like punctures, insect presence, moisture, or any signs that could lead to mold formation.

Specifically for brown rice, check for off-colors, an odd scent, or a greasy feel.

To retain your rice’s freshness for an extended period, ensure it’s stored in a moisture-free area, like a pantry or a kitchen cabinet.

After opening, consider transferring it to a sealed container, safeguarding it from pests and dampness.

Summary: White rice in its dry form can last around 2 years, whereas brown rice can be good for up to 6 months. Look out for indications of bad rice like packaging damage, insects, moisture, and mold. Additionally, brown rice might exhibit a rancid scent or greasy touch.

How long cooked rice lasts

While uncooked rice can vary in its shelf life depending on the type, once it’s cooked, most rice types last around the same time.

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In the fridge, cooked rice retains its taste and consistency for about 3–4 days, though some believe it might stay good for up to a week.

If you need to store it longer, you can freeze cooked rice for up to 8 months.

Signs your cooked rice has gone bad

There are a few methods to determine if your cooked rice is past its prime.

Firstly, give it a sniff. Freshly cooked rice doesn’t have a strong scent, but if it’s gone off, it will smell off or unusual.

Next, observe its feel. Fresh rice is light and fluffy, while bad rice might feel sticky or overly wet.

Lastly, search for mold. Moldy rice might show green, blue, or black patches.

If any of these signs are present, it’s time to toss out the rice.

Summary: Cooked rice remains good for roughly 4 days in the refrigerator or 8 months if frozen. Bad rice might smell odd, have a weird texture, or show mold.

Risks of eating expired rice

Bad rice often has mold or fungi, which release mycotoxins potentially leading to food poisoning.

Consuming mycotoxins might result in a range of symptoms from nausea, vomiting, and stomach discomfort to serious conditions like seizures, unconsciousness, a higher cancer risk, and a suppressed immune system.

Also, moldy uncooked rice might lose some of its nutritional value.

It’s important to note that even if rice hasn’t gone bad, if it hasn’t been handled safely, it can still lead to food poisoning. This is often because of the Bacillus cereus bacteria, commonly found in rice. This bacteria can endure the cooking process.

So, if the rice isn’t cooled and stored correctly within 2 hours of being cooked, the bacteria can generate harmful toxins.

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Summary: Eating moldy rice can introduce mycotoxins into your system, which can harm your health. Even rice that hasn’t expired but is not stored properly can cause food poisoning due to Bacillus cereus.


Different uncooked rice types have varying shelf lives, but once cooked, they generally last the same duration.

Uncooked white rice can be good for up to 2 years at room temperature, whereas brown rice might last about 6 months. Storing them in cooler environments can prolong their life.

Cooked rice should be kept cold, and it lasts approximately 4 days. For extended storage, freezing is an option.

Always be vigilant for changes in aroma, flavor, consistency, or any evidence of mold or pests in both uncooked and cooked rice, and get rid of it immediately if spotted.

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