I'm trying to understand what is it about day old rice that makes it better for fried rice, and how exactly to store day old rice for fried rice.

Specifically, what exactly am I aiming for when storing cooked rice for a day to make it optimal for fried rice? Is it simply exposure to oxygen so that the rice crusts up? Should the rice be refrigerated overnight, but left exposed? Should it be wrapped, and kept outside in room temperature, or in the refrigerator?

  • related/possible dup: cooking.stackexchange.com/q/81144/1672
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 6:08
  • 1
    @Jefromi : I'd say 'related'. Although it contains the answer to the question asked here, that wasn't the focus of the question. If you start counting those as dupes, then someone could write up a treatise on cheese, and every question about cheese would be sent there, even though it meant that people had to go reading through screen after screen of text 'til they found the answer to their question.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 9:35
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    Possibly more related, particularly the answer: cooking.stackexchange.com/a/81158/33128
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 13:09
  • @Catija That's just the top answer to the question I linked :)
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 15:00
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    @Joe Well, we close A as a duplicate of B if B will inevitably answer everything about A. That does mean that more specific questions are sometimes dups of more general questions. Your scenario shouldn't happen because a question asking for a treatise would be too broad. In this case, that related question does inevitably make it very clear the goal is for it to dry sufficiently, so it really is probably a duplicate of the "why" and "what am I aiming for" - it's just that it's not a dup of some of the other details.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 15:07

2 Answers 2


The goal is to sufficiently dry it, so that you get the right texture of your fried rice. You want it to be noticeably dry, so that it will fry rather than steaming, and not clump together. It's okay if it's clumped up as it dried, as long as you can break it up without it sticking back together.

It does not actually have to be stale (changes in the starch that happen over time), just dry. So it's not exposure to oxygen, it's just moisture evaporating, i.e. exposure to air that's going to happen no matter how it's stored.

There are a lot of ways to accomplish this, including refrigerating for a day (or even 12 hours). There's no need to leave it uncovered. That might let you get away with a shorter time, so you could try it as a way to rush, but be aware that it may pick up smells from your fridge.

You can also use a fan to dry it quickly at room temperature. Simply leaving it at room temperature for a long period is unsafe, though, so I wouldn't recommend that.

See this recent answer and the Serious Eats article on fried rice it's largely based on for more details and related information.

  • Ideally then, would you say to cook the rice with less water than the ratio it calls for? Instead of filling up to the 3 cups line with 3 cups of rice would it be more ideal to fill up to say 2.5 cups for 3 cups of rice, in order to achieve the same "dryness" in day old rice?
    – yuritsuki
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 15:20
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    I don't think so. If you use less water, you probably just get undercooked rice. Rice cookers generally stop when there's only a tiny bit of water left (none on the bottom, just the steam and what's collected on the rice) and they're going to do that whether you start with the right amount or too little, it's just that if you started with too little, the rice will be less cooked at that point. I guess if you go just a tiny bit under and leave it on warm, the rice might finish cooking using the remaining moisture and end up drier than normal, but I don't think you can push it too far.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Apr 27, 2017 at 15:25

Because the rice has the time to dry out.

When the rice is freshly made, it will take a lot of time (and energy) to actually evaporate the moisture before you can start to "fry" it with the other ingredients.

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