Microwave rice, sometimes called one-minute or instant rice is a pre-cooked form of rice that usually comes in a plastic pouch. Companies infuse the rice with delicious flavors, but it’s also possible to buy plain one.
Typically, you cook it by opening the pouch and putting it in the microwave for a few minutes. It comes out steaming hot and ready to eat; you can serve it with any dish you like.
Unfortunately, not everybody has a microwave or wants to use one to ‘cook’ instant rice. In reality, you aren’t ‘cooking’ it at all – it is pre-cooked and for the best result it just needs to be heated somehow.
Luckily for the microwave-less, there are a few different ways to cook this precooked rice – even if you don’t have a microwave.
Stick around as I explain three main ways you can cook and reheat instant rice without a microwave. Whether it is Uncle Ben's Whole Grain Brown, Minute Ready Jasmine, or Annie Chun's Basmati, the same techniques apply.
Cooking Microwave Rice Out of the Packet
When cooking microwave rice properly – i.e., with a microwave – you usually leave the rice in its packaging. Companies typically make it microwave safe for this reason. However, when using other methods, it’s recommended to remove the rice from its pouch.
For example, if you were to cook instant rice in the oven or boiling in the water, it may melt the packaging because the temperatures are so high. As a result, it’s best to transfer the rice to an oven-proof container first, unless it says in the packing that is ok to do so.
Whichever method you choose, it’s advisable to remove the packaging.
1. Heating Instant Rice On Stove
To cook microwave rice on the stove-top, simply pour the entire sachet into a saucepan. Pour in a little water, but not enough to cover the rice completely. Cook it over medium heat for 5-10 minutes until it is steaming and hot, the water is gone and it has desired consistency.
Boiling it on a stove top is perhaps the most common way to heat it without a microwave. In fact, ‘boiling’ probably isn’t the correct term. Adding too much water can wash out some of the flavors and make the rice gummier and chewier than you would like it.
Alternatively, you can steam rice to heat it up using a bamboo steamer.
Layer the steamer with parchment paper and place the rice on top, then steam it until hot and fluffy.
Read Also: To Rinse Or Not To Rinse? - 6 Good Reason To Rinse Rice Before Cooking!
2. Frying Microwave Rice On a Pan
With most microwavable rice products, you can skip the water altogether and fry it in a wok or frying pan. You just need to add a splash of oil to prevent it sticking to the pan. Fry the rice for about 4 minutes, adding in vegetables, eggs, and other ingredients if you like. When the rice is hot, it’s ready to eat.
Can You Reheat Leftover Rice?
Yes, you can reheat leftover instant rice. However, you have to be careful. Rice is likely to become contaminated with a bacteria called bacillus cereus. It can lead to food poisoning if ingested, and unfortunately, it is not killed off by cooking.
If you’re planning to reheat rice later, you need to cool it quickly and store it in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking. You should only reheat rice once, and when it is time to reheat, make sure it is piping hot before serving.
Don't be confused by the initial self-life stated on the pouch. Once the packet has been open the self-life won't count anymore. If the leftover rice has been in the fridge for more then 2 days, it is best to throw it away.
Storing Microwave Rice After Opening
A closed sachet of pre-cooked microwavable rice can be stored in the cupboard and has a shelf life of up to 2 years. After opening, cool the rice quickly, don't keep it out for more than two hours, and store it in the fridge, It will keep for 24-48 hours before you need to toss it away.
When it’s time to reheat, make sure you heat it up very hot and throw away any rice that you don’t eat; you cannot reheat it again.
Can You Eat Instant Rice Cold Out of the Packet?
Most brands sell their microwaveable rice sachets parboiled and sterilized. As a result, you can open the sachet and eat the rice cold right out of the bag. After opening, though, the pouch will no longer be sterilized and is susceptible to the development of bacteria if not stored properly.
Although you can enjoy it cold, make sure you heat up the rest of the packet when it’s time to dig in according to the above instructions.
Also, if you are planning to eat it straight out of the packet, you probably need a long spoon.
Instant rice is an amazing invention that allows you to have a delicious, hot meal or side dish in just a few minutes.
If you don’t have a microwave, it’s still possible to cook it. Your only job is to heat the rice until it’s piping hot, ensuring that it is delicious to eat. As a result, you don’t need a microwave oven; it’s just that having one speeds up the process a little bit.
You can even eat it cold! Be aware, though, that rice can cause food poisoning if not stored properly, so make sure you store it and cook until it’s piping hot.