Brown rice is different from white rice because of the presence of an extra bran layer. Due to this reason, you will find variations in their taste, texture, and even shelf life. If you are thinking about how long does brown rice last and the best way to store it, I have you covered in this article.
Uncooked brown rice lasts about six months at room temperature, 12 months in the refrigerator, and 18 months in the freezer. Cooked brown rice remains fresh for up to two hours at room temperature, four to five days in the refrigerator, and six months in the freezer.
What Is the Shelf Life of Brown Rice?
Many people think brown rice lasts longer than white rice, as brown rice has an extra bran covering.
I was surprised to learn that brown rice has a shorter shelf life than white rice! Unlike white rice, which is polished, brown rice retains its outer bran layer. This layer contains high oil and fat content, causing the brown rice grains to spoil more quickly.
As a result, uncooked brown rice can only last up to six months at room temperature, 12 months in the refrigerator, and 18 months in the freezer.
The shelf life of cooked brown rice is even shorter. It can stay fresh for up to two hours at room temperature, four to five days in the refrigerator, and six months in the freezer.
I also recommend checking the “best by” date on your brown rice pack to ensure that the rice is safe to consume.
The table below summarizes the shelf life of both raw and cooked brown rice at room temperature, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer.
|Type of Brown Rice
|At Room Temperature
|Raw Brown Rice
|Up to six months
|Up to 12 months
|Up to 18 months
|Cooked Brown Rice
|Up to two hours
|Four to five days
|Four to six months
How Can You Tell if Brown Rice Has Gone Bad?
There are four main signs that can tell you when you need to discard your brown rice. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Rotten or Musty Odor
Both uncooked and cooked brown rice have a strong and nutty fragrance. They also smell like popcorn to some people.
When brown rice goes bad, the rapid bacterial growth can turn this nutty fragrance into a nasty odor! You should throw away the rice if it has a sour, acidic, or musty smell.
2. Oily Texture
The biggest indicator of spoiled brown rice is an oily or sticky texture.
Raw brown rice grains should feel dry when you touch them. Similarly, cooked brown rice grains are also chewy instead of oily.
Yet, the fats inside the rice’s bran layer may degrade and turn the grains oily. This is your cue to toss the rice into the trash can!
3. Discoloration or Mold Growth
It is pretty self-explanatory that brown rice has a brown or tan appearance. However, the grains may turn lighter or develop tiny black spots because of rice weevil infestation.
Besides discoloration, I also found grayish-green mold growing on brown rice that I accidentally left in the fridge for ten days! Mold can also be orange, red, or black.
4. Sour Taste
You will notice a change in the taste of spoiled brown rice, even if there are no changes in its appearance.
Freshly cooked brown rice has a mildly nutty flavor, whereas rotten brown rice has a strong and unpleasant sour taste. You might feel like you are drinking acid, so discard such brown rice immediately unless you want to spend your time in the bathroom!
Best Ways to Store Brown Rice
I can’t control myself when I see excellent deals on grocery and food products, including brown rice. Just last week, I ended up purchasing three to four huge bags of brown rice. The only problem was how and where to store them.
Thankfully, I found many ways and tips to keep brown rice fresh and delicious for months!
1. At Room Temperature
It is impossible to have extra space in your fridge or freezer all the time, so you can store uncooked brown rice at room temperature.
All you need to do is store the rice in an airtight container and keep it in a dry and cool place. You should also keep it away from direct sunlight or any other heat source in your kitchen or pantry.
The best part about an airtight container is that it protects brown rice from pests too.
Note: I don’t recommend leaving cooked brown rice out in the open, as it gets spoiled within two hours.
The refrigerator is one of the most convenient options for storing uncooked brown rice for up to a year and cooked rice for four to five days.
- Uncooked Brown Rice: You can store uncooked brown rice in the fridge by keeping it in an airtight container or a resealable bag.
- Cooked Brown Rice: If your brown rice is steaming hot, let it come to room temperature first. Then, place it in a container or a resealable bag and refrigerate.
It is best to keep the airtight containers or resealable bags away from any smelly items in your fridge, like cheese, meat, or garlic.
Freezing is the best option for storing brown rice for a long period. The only problem is that it may lead to a slight loss of taste and texture.
You just need to divide the brown rice into smaller portions and transfer them to freezer-safe containers or bags. Again, if you have cooked brown rice, let it cool first before freezing.
Additionally, store the brown rice bags or containers away from frozen meats to avoid contamination.
Tip: I suggest opting for freezer-safe containers and resealable bags, as they prevent freezer burns. Dividing brown rice in tiny quantities also lets you thaw just the required portion instead of the whole thing.
Brown rice has a shorter shelf life than even white rice due to the presence of the outer bran layer.
Unlike other white rice varieties that can last indefinitely, brown rice stays fresh for only up to six months at room temperature, 12 months in the refrigerator, and 18 months in the freezer.
Is there a difference in the shelf life of short-grain and long-grain brown rice?
Brown rice is available in short-grain and long-grain varieties, but there is no difference in their shelf life.
Is it OK to eat brown rice left out overnight?
Cooked brown rice only stays fresh for up to two hours at room temperature. Beyond that duration, the bacteria start contaminating the rice. Consuming such rice may lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
What factors affect the shelf life of brown rice?
Many environmental factors, like temperature, humidity, and sunlight, can affect the shelf life of brown rice. High temperature and humidity can reduce the shelf life, so always store brown rice in a dry and cool place.
How long does uncooked brown rice last at room temperature?
Uncooked brown rice can last for about six months at room temperature if stored in a cool and dry place.
How long does cooked brown rice last at room temperature?
Cooked brown rice stays fresh for up to two hours at room temperature. You might see signs of spoilage after that duration.
How long does uncooked brown rice last in the fridge?
You can store uncooked brown rice in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 12 months.
How long does cooked brown rice last in the fridge?
Refrigerated cooked brown rice is safe to consume and remains fresh for four to five days.
How long does uncooked brown rice last in the freezer?
Freezing uncooked brown rice is the best way to store it for up to 18 months. Just use freezer bags to avoid freezer burns!
How long does cooked brown rice last in the freezer?
Cooked brown rice can last for four to six months in the freezer. However, you may notice a slight loss of taste and texture.