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10 Creative Recipe Ideas for Leftover Rice

  • Reducing Food Waste
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Rice always seems to be one of the kitchen's great culinary anomalies. No matter how tightly we monitor the number of cups of rice we add to boiling water, there always seems to be an excess when the rice is cooked through. Whether we're making a spicy jalfrezi to sit atop a bed of fluffy rice, or mixing together a rice and vegetable salad to complement a salmon fillet – we always seem to end up with about half a pan of rice remaining.

But, rather than scooping the unwanted rice away into the green bin, there is an alternative. As a staple food across the world, rice has become the focal point of a huge variety of different delicious dishes – many of which can be produced with a helping of already-boiled, leftover rice.

So, to help you reduce food wastage, we've compiled a selection of our favourite recipe ideas which use leftover rice. Never will a single grain go to waste again.

1. Vegetarian Burritos

These simple and delicious burritos are mostly made up of cupboard and fridge essentials – and are super quick to rustle up, perfect for Monday dinnertime. The recipe can be amended depending on what you have in the fridge – with most things complementing the ingredients, as long as they're all wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Vegetarian burritos, perfect for Monday night dinner.Vegetarian burritos, perfect for Monday night dinner.

Time: 25 Mins
Serves: 8 Burritos


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 flour tortillas, warmed
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Grated cheese


  1. Sauté the pepper and onion in oil until tender, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute, stirring in the spices.
  2. Add the beans and rice and cook through for 4 minutes.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the warmed tortillas and top with salsa. Fold the sides and then roll the tortilla, serving with sour cream and lime.

2. Fancy something a little lighter, how about this recipe for Classic Louisiana Cajun Dirty Rice, from Elise Bauer over at Simply Recipes.

3. Hot and Spicy Pilaf

A staple of Central Asia cuisine, pilaf is a popular side dish or main event in its own right. With a rich, golden brown tone – thanks to being sautéed in oil – pilaf makes a welcoming and warming dish to return home to. There's a huge range of different versions of pilaf, but we've gone for a slightly, spicy, slightly fruity variety – calling for a few spice rack regulars.

Spice up dinner with this pilaf recipe.Spice up dinner with this pilaf recipe.

Time: 40 Mins

Serves: 6


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 700ml chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp plump raisins
  • 1 tbsp roasted slivered almonds, to serve


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pan. Then add the whole spices and fry for 10 seconds. Add the onion and fry until coloured.
  2. Add the rice, ground spices, sugar and stock. Stir well then cover, simmering for 15 minutes.
  3. Give the mixture a stir and add the raisins. Then re-cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Serve and sprinkle with almonds.

Source: The Guardian

4. Alternatively, this pilaf recipe from Shaheen over on Allotment2Kitchen features a range of veggies, great if you're trying to get your family to eat their five a day.

5. Torta di Riso e Spinaci

Or, in English, Rice and Spinach cake – this Italian dish is hearty and satisfying. Best made with leftover Arborio rice, this is a great solution for using your leftover risotto. Like many great Italian recipes, Torta di Riso e Spinaci is best served with fresh mozzarella, plum tomato and delicious red wine.

Give leftovers new life with this Torta di Riso e Spinaci recipe.Give leftovers new life with this Torta di Riso e Spinaci recipe.

Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6


  • 1 cup cooked Arborio rice
  • 500g tender-leafed spinach, washed and destalked
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g parmesan, grate
  • 3 sage leaves
  • A pinch of chopped thyme
  • A pinch of chopped oregano
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • A pinch of grated nutmeg


  1. Once the spinach is washed, squeeze out the excess water and roll into tight balls. Then finely chop and mix well with the rice.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onions in oil and butter until pale and soft, then add to the rice and spinach mixture. Combine the mixture with the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.
  3. Add to a dish and bake in a pre-heated oven (200C) for 30 minutes until golden.

Source: The Guardian

6. Another great use for leftover risotto, Yotam Ottolenghi's delightful arancini.

7. Traditional Kedgeree

One of the great Indian exports, kedgeree has been a breakfast favourite on these shores since Victorian times, when the upper classes swapped out tea and toast for this delicious spicy rice and fish dish. A wonderful Sunday brunch treat, here is a simple kedgeree recipe which can be whipped up within half an hour to feed the whole family.

Take Sunday brunch to new heights with this kedgeree.Take Sunday brunch to new heights with this kedgeree.

Time: 30 mins
Serves: 4


  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 300g skinless smoked haddock fillet
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tbsp coriander, finely chopped
  • 3 boiled eggs


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and then add the mustard seeds and bay leaf.
  2. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion and fry until soft.
  3. Add the garlic and ginger paste, and the chilli, frying for another minute.
  4. Add the rice and mix until the rice is coated with all the spices and seasonings.
  5. Add the garam masala and cumin, and then the tomatoes and haddock.
  6. Meanwhile, boil the eggs to your preference before leaving to cool.
  7. When the haddock begins to flake, the kedgeree is ready. Serve in large dishes, topped with chopped coriander and the soft-boiled eggs. Season generously with pepper.

Source: Great Curry Recipes

8. Fancy something a little more unusual? How about the Peruvian classic, Chaufa de Pescado? A fish and rice stir fry with delicate flavours and wonderful subtleties. Here's a great recipe from Peru Delights.

9. Chicken and Rice Soup

A wonderful winter warmer, adding rice to your traditional chicken soup can thicken it up, and add a delightful texture. If you already have a trusted chicken soup recipe, rice can simply be added in as an extra ingredient. If not, check out our great recipe for delicious chicken and rice soup.

Time: 40 mins
Serves: 4


  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2l chicken stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups shredded chicken
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat and add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf – cooking and stirring for 6 minutes.
  2. Pour in the stock and water, bringing to the boil before adding the rice and chicken.
  3. Cook on medium-low for 30 mins until the rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Source: Two Peas and Their Pod

10. Looking for a vegetarian alternative? How about this black bean and leftover rice soup?

We hope you've found a few recipes here to help you make the most of your leftover rice. And don't forget, all these dishes can be stored for leftovers using the FoodSaver vacuum sealing system, so you can save money and reduce food waste. Find out more about our innovative range of vacuum sealers.