rice go bad

Does Rice Go Bad? How to Store and Cook It Safely

Quick summary: Yes, rice can go bad, but the timing depends on the type. White dry rice can last many years if stored properly, while brown rice has a shorter shelf life due to its less processed nature. Signs of spoilage in rice include a funky smell, the appearance of mold, or the presence of pests.

Are you wondering if rice can ever spoil, or will it be okay on a shelf in a pantry for years until you run out of it? Find all the answers you need in our article.

You can hardly peek into any kitchen in the world and not find rice in it. It is an indispensable addition to dishes, and in some cases, the main course, as is often the case in Asian cuisine. Like when you buy pasta, you usually purchase rice in many packages. And sometimes you have a choice of different versions. White, brown, long-grain, basmati, and so on.  

But how long does uncooked rice last? And how to recognize that it is no longer edible when it seems okay? Yes, rice has a shelf life, well some of the types at least, and there are specific indications to help you identify when to throw it in the trash. 

How Long Does Rice Last?

So how long is uncooked rice good for? To answer this question, what kind of rice we are talking about is very important because the differences are significant. Seriously, shelf life goes from a few months up to indefinitely. Although there are numerous types, we bring information for the most common ones.   

White dry rice 

White dry rice is indeed the most common variant known worldwide. And although there are instructions on durability on the packaging, if you store it properly, it will undoubtedly be suitable for many years after the expiration date. And we genuinely mean many years. Some will say even forever, even though they would not go that far.      

Brown rice 

Brown rice is not as processed and refined as white, so its shelf life is dramatically shorter. It ranges from six months for some versions to about a year which is typical for most. Generally, it is much more prone to spoilage, and the appearance of mold, so be sure to pay attention.  

Can Rice Go Bad? 

Yes and no. As we have already said, white rice will endure for a very long time, while brown rice will be susceptible to spoilage. In the case of both, the following signs are valid that something is wrong. 

Sign 1: It has funky smell 

Stale odor is never a good indicator when it comes to food. A foul smell will mean that the rice has been exposed to adverse conditions such as moisture and is a sure sign that you need a new supply. 

Sign 2: Mold appeared  

Mold will often follow in the case of moisture that has come in contact with the rice. If you notice something like a cobweb, thin fibers stretching between grains of rice, it is mold. You should never joke with it, so even though rice is meant for heat treatment, it will be safest to buy a new stock.   

Sign 3: Pests have settled     

Unfortunately, open rice packaging can often be a very attractive habitat for moths or other insect species. In case you notice something squirming in your packaging, you’d rather throw it in the trash. You don’t want extra protein in your meal. Also, if you happen to have slightly larger animals in a bag of rice, such as mice, be sure to throw the entire amount in the waste. 

Which is the Best Way to Store Rice? 

There aren’t too many complicated tips for storing rice properly. As with other dry foods, it is essential to follow basic guidelines.   

Tip 1: Keep it in a dry place  

A dry place is imperative when it comes to storing rice, whether the packaging is intact or already open. Prevent moisture from coming into contact with food and thus allow spoilage.    

Tip 2: Keep it in an airtight container   

After opening the package, it would be good to transfer the rice to a bag that you can close well. Best with as little air present as possible. This will prevent potential spoilage, especially in the case of brown rice.   

Tip 3: Freeze for longer storage 

Freezing is not necessary when it comes to dry white rice. But if it is cooked, for example, you can freeze rice without any problems to preserve it for a long time. If you need it in a day or two, store cooked rice in the fridge. You can also freeze brown rice if more extended storage is required. Frozen rice will surely endure at least a couple of months longer.   


Is it safe to eat rice that is out of date?

Yes, it is generally safe to eat rice that is past its expiration date as long as there are no signs of spoilage such as an off smell, unusual texture, or the presence of insects. Cooking the rice thoroughly can also help eliminate any potential harmful bacteria.

How can you tell if rice is off?

You can tell if rice is off by checking for an unpleasant odor, unusual discoloration, or the presence of insects or mold. If the rice has an off smell or an unusual appearance, it’s best to avoid consuming it.

Can expired rice hurt you?

Yes, eating expired rice can potentially hurt you if it contains harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning or digestive issues.

How do you store white rice for years?

To store white rice for years, place it in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag to prevent moisture and insect intrusion. Keep the container in a cool, dark, and dry place, which will help preserve the rice’s quality and shelf life over an extended period.

How how long cooked rice can last in the fridge?

Cooked rice can last in the fridge for about 4 to 6 days when stored in an airtight container at or below 40°F (4°C). It’s important to reheat the rice thoroughly before consuming to minimize the risk of bacterial growth.

How long can you keep dry rice?

Dry rice can be kept for an extended period, often up to 4-5 years or more, when stored in a cool, dry place and protected from moisture, insects, and sunlight. Proper storage conditions are key to maintaining its quality over time.


White rice is one of the foods that can survive for many years without changing texture or taste and being perfectly fit for consumption long after the expiration date. It is only vital to store it in favorable conditions, and a dry pantry is usually enough for that. When properly stored, it will have an indefinite shelf life. 

If you notice an unpleasant stale odor or mold appearing on the rice grains, it is a sign that storage conditions have been unfavorable and that it is better to throw the packaging in the garbage. It is a sign that rice has gone bad. In addition, the only thing that can still spoil your cooking lunch is the appearance of insects in a bag of rice. Also, in that case, buy new stock or try one of these rice substitutes.

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*image by jirkaejc/depositphotos

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