Food & Drink

7 Great Uses for Leftover Rice

Rice Balls
Shutterstock/Lapina Maria

Rice. Is there anything it can't do?

Actually yeah, it can't de-clog a carburetor, nor explain to your girlfriend why you left her car in the middle of the Jersey Turnpike with her four dogs inside. I know this, because I tried.

But what rice CAN do is make almost every food better. And since it is plentiful AF, you probably always have some leftover rice laying around. Here's how to put it to good use.

Pineapple coconut cashew rice

This mash-up combines pineapple, coconut, and cashews together in one dish, but the real wow factor is that it's served up in a hollowed-out pineapple. Kind of like a fancy Tiki drink that you can eat. And without any booze in it. So... actually, it's not like a Tiki drink at all. Recipe here.

Baked rice balls with avocado cilantro dip

On my 13th birthday my dad sat me down and gave me the life advice I'd carry with me forever. He said, "Remember, son: Every food is better in ball-form." And these baked rice balls just prove the old man's point. The Mexican-style poppers are great on their own, but pair them with the avocado cilantro dip and you have an app that tastes just like the one dad made... if your dad was a line cook at TGI Fridays. Recipe here

Supreme soy sauce fried rice

There are a couple versions of this dish laid out here, ranging from super easy to "make your own soy sauce" difficult, all inspired by the recipe writer's trip to Shanghai. Given you're reading an article about repurposing leftover rice, we're gonna guess you're not going to do the latter. And that's OK. This is just as good if you use a bunch of packets you got with takeout, too. Recipe here.

Chicken and lemon rice

Chicken. Lemon. Rice. Kind of boring. Still, it's a damn good use of your leftover rice. And to be frank, people are into boring stuff. It's why you always have a date. Just kidding, you never have a date. But this basic dish has a twist: Greece (the country, not the musical).

While the author of the recipe is upfront that it's "not a traditional Greek recipe," the recipe does call for traditionally Greek ingredients like dried marjoram, olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper to give it an extra kick. Who knows? It's all Greek to me. Or just traditionally Greek, I guess. Recipe here.

Hawaiian meatballs and rice

You'll need to do a little extra shopping to load up for these chicken/pork balls hit with a sweet glaze (brown sugar and pineapple are involved), but most great things are worth extra time. It took Hawaii 4.5 million years to form out of molten lava atop the Pacific Ocean. So you can spend some extra time shopping. Recipe here.


This looks really complicated, right?  It even sounds complicated. But this rice concoction is like a lil' Japanese sandwich snack, and is as good as that sounds. The ingredients are super-basic: nori, teriyaki chicken, rice (obviously), and a little bit of greenery to round it out. It's the perfect one-handed lunch for a train ride, an afternoon drive, or a quick fuel-up in the midst of an intense ping-pong match. Recipe here.

Spicy mushroom rice

I knew this dude who was REALLY into mushrooms. All he would talk about was how mushrooms changed his worldview, and how he didn't understand why "the man" hated them, and how he would just give them to people in their food without telling them.

So I'm sure the dude would appreciate this spicy mushroom rice recipe that pairs your old rice, some fresh 'shrooms, and all the spiciness of jalapeño peppers to create a dish that will probably melt your mind in a totally legal and family-friendly way. And if you can't take the heat, listen to Terrapin Station on repeat until you cool off. Recipe here.

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Wil Fulton is a staff writer for Thrillist. He actually blames Gwyneth Paltrow for most of the world's problems. Follow him @wilfulton.