Nourish PA: 4 Ways to Use Leftover Rice

If it always feels like the batch of rice you make for dinner yields a cup or two too much, don’t toss it out! Leftover rice is one of the most versatile ingredients to keep around in the fridge: you can use it to make snacks, dessert — even breakfast! 

Here are four ways to turn your leftover rice into delicious dishes:

Ham and Spinach Rice Balls


  • 2 cups leftover cooked medium-grain or short-grain white rice, or brown rice
  • ½ cup deli ham, or ham steaks, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh spinach, or frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped


  1. Mix leftover rice, ham and spinach in a large bowl.
  2. Using wet hands, roll rice mixture into balls.

Other easy ideas for how to use leftover rice:

Creamy Vanilla Rice Pudding: Combine 2 cups of leftover cooked rice, 2 cups milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in sugar or honey to taste (optional). Add raisins, if desired.

Leftover Rice Pancakes: Mix 1 1/2 cups leftover cooked rice, 1 beaten egg and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional) together in large bowl until combined. Heat butter or oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, pour 1/4 cup of the rice mixture into the skillet for each pancake. Cook until golden-brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with pancake syrup. 

Homemade Rice Crackers: Mix 3 cups leftover cooked rice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl until combined. Portion rice mixture into 1 tablespoon-sized balls on a parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Flatten each rice ball into a 1/4-inch thick disk. Bake at 375°F until light golden-brown and crisp. 

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