Home Ideas Use Up Leftover Rice With This Crispy Fried Rice Cake

Use Up Leftover Rice With This Crispy Fried Rice Cake

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Using up a little bit of leftover rice isn’t much of an ordeal—drop a half cup into soup or chili, or use it to bulk up a salad. It’s when you have around three or four cups of rice taking up space in your fridge that you start to consider chucking it all just to win the space back. But let’s not get dramatic: There’s a simple and exciting way to use up a mound of rice. Use your leftovers to make yourself a crispy fried rice cake.

I like this technique because you can make it with three cups of cooked rice and up from there. The more rice you have, the deeper the cake is. This method takes some texture notes from the many popular scorched rice dishes from around the globe, like Persian tahdig, or Korean nurungji, and adds the reward of a filled center, like Japanese onigiri. What you get is a round rice cake with savory fillings of your choice, and a crispy exterior that pairs well with any dipping sauce.

How to make a fried rice cake

1. Heat up the leftover rice

Cooled starches are hard and they won’t stick together or compact the way you need them to, so reheat the rice. In a semi-covered container, add a teaspoon or so of water and put it in the microwave for about one minute.

2. Shape the rice cake

Generously butter a frying pan. If you have a lot of rice, you’ll want a wider pan. Use a smaller pan for less rice. Add half of the reheated rice to the pan. With a damp spatula, begin to press the rice down into a disc the shape of the pan. The moisture from a damp spatula will prevent the rice from sticking to the spatula. I don’t recommend oil because you still want the rice to stick to its neighbors. Turn the burner on medium-low heat.

Spatula pressing rice into a frying pan.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

3. Add fillings

I like to sprinkle on some cheese on first. Personally, I like adding cheese to rice sometimes; on a practical level, it will hold the rice together a bit. Layer on other fillings you like, like shredded chicken, cooked eggs, or pre-cooked vegetables. Don’t overfill it, but if you have more rice, then you have a bit more leeway. 

4. Add the rest of the rice

Distribute the remaining reheated rice over the top, and use a damp spatula to press the rice down so it makes a layer that seals the fillings in. Toast the cake in the pan for about 10 minutes. 

Toasted fried rice cake on a plate.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

5. Flip the cake

Use the spatula to begin pressing and compacting the edges. This will help you see how the edges are browning and also the pressure should release the cake so it slides around freely. Once you see the edges are darkly browned, turn off the heat. Lay a damp plate (the moisture will prevent the cake from sticking) upside down over the top of the pan and, holding the plate bottom and the frying pan handle, flip them over together so the pan is upside down and the plate is right side up with the cake on it. Add more butter to the pan to melt. Slide the cake back into the pan to toast the other side for about 10 minutes. Flip it onto a plate and serve immediately.

Originally I made these as smaller, palm-sized, fried rice nuggets, which you could do if you wanted to. It’s more difficult if you’re not used to shaping rice with your hands, so in that case I recommend using plastic wrap as your assistant. Just add the rice to a sheet of plastic wrap, put a small amount of filling in the center and bundle the wrap so the rice pulls up and over the filling. Flatten the pocket into a patty before frying. 

Crispy Fried Rice Cake Recipe


  • 3 cups of cooked rice, reheated if necessary

  • 1 tablespoon of butter, divided in half

  • 1 cup of cooked fillings (egg, chicken, pork, veggies, or cheese)

1. Melt half of the butter in a frying pan. Add half of the rice to the pan and flatten it into a disk with a damp spatula. Turn the burner on medium-low heat to begin toasting the bottom.

2. Add your fillings in an even layer, leaving about a quarter inch of a rice border so the top layer can stick easily. 

3. Distribute the remaining half of the rice over the top and use the same damp spatula to press the top layer of rice flat. The rice should completely cover the filling. If there are any holes, patch them up with some extra clusters of rice. 

4. After cooking one side for 10 minutes, or until the edges are well-browned, flip the cake out onto a damp plate. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and slide the cake back into the pan to toast the other side. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the other side is well toasted. Flip it back onto a plate and serve immediately.

Source: LifeHacker.com