Recipes Using Leftover Brown Rice
Including Porridge, Sushi and More

These recipes using leftover brown rice are our go-to ways we enjoy eating already cooked brown rice.  Whenever we meal prep a whole grain like brown rice, we typically cook enough at one time to last for 2-3 days, or another two meals for each of us beyond enjoying some freshly prepared, essentially plain brown rice as part of our meal.

Specifically, I share several simple recipes using leftover brown rice, including Brown Rice Porridge, Brown Rice Balls and Sushi, Refried Brown Rice, Buddha Bowls, and using brown rice as a thickener in soups.

In this article, I discuss why brown rice is so beloved among many macrobiotic dieters.  

Click here to learn how to choose the best brown rice for the season or your needs, our preferred ways to prepare perfect brown rice, and how to store and reheat leftovers. 

Brown Rice on top of Colorful VeggiesIf you love stickier rice, try short-grain brown rice! If not available, try medium-grain. For even stickier, with a touch of sweetness, sweet rice is the best.

Recipes Using Leftover Brown Rice

Recipes Using Leftover Brown Rice for Breakfast Porridge

Place 2 cups of cooked rice into a pot, and cover with water, and/or a mix of water and soy or other nondairy milk. Gently bring to a boil, being watchful if using nondairy milk.  Let simmer, covered, about 30 minutes.  The longer it simmers, the creamier it will get.

To the Brown Rice Porridge, you can add: raisins, goji berries, a couple chopped dates, chopped or grated apple or other fruit, cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom, and/or ginger, peeled and diced butternut or kabocha squash, or even chickpeas, grated or diced carrots and sliced onions.  (See also my Sweet Savory Recipes using leftover brown rice, below.)

Add enough water to cover both, then let simmer long enough for the squash to cook.  It should be tender enough to mash with the back of a spoon.  Top your porridge with:  sliced scallions, hemp seeds, or Gomashio.

Brown Rice Porridge with ND Milk & AlmondsLeftover brown rice makes a tasty breakfast porridge; try with any of the additional ingredients listed above
Brown Rice PorridgeBrown Rice Porridge topped with Hemp Seeds & Sliced Scallion
Brown Rice Congee With Carrot & CilantroBrown Rice Porridge with Chickpeas, Shredded Carrot & Raisins

Leftover Brown Rice Balls

This is one of our favorite ways to use up leftover brown rice.  It's also ideal for packing to-go.

Have a small bowl of cold filtered water handy to moisten your hands.

Grab a handful of the brown rice, and mash well with your hands, moistening hands if needed.  Press your thumb in the middle, and add about 1/4 teaspoon of umeboshi plum paste, or part of an umeboshi plum.  The plum adds a delicious flavor surprise in the middle of the rice ball, and will also help preserve it, so it keeps well if traveling.

Roll the rice ball in ground black sesame seeds or Gomashio, and/or wrap in a nori sheet.  Tear nori sheet in half if needed.  Wrap around the rice, tearing at the corners if needed for the nori to overlap.  Dip your index finger into the water, and wipe along the edge of the nori to moisten it.  This will help the nori sections stick together.  

Dipping Sauce for Brown Rice Balls

To Make the Dipping Sauce:  Place about equal amounts of toasted sesame oil, reduced sodium tamari, white or brown rice vinegar, and a little brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or brown sugar into a small jar.   Add a little hot sauce like sriracha or this really tasty Mother-In-Laws Kimchi Fermented Chile Paste (possibly available at Whole Foods), or Sriracha, then shake.  Taste, and adjust.  Good to go!

Brown Rice Balls w/ Dipping Sauce, To GoBrown Rice Balls packed for lunch to go w/ a dipping sauce
Vegan Plant-Based SushiBrown Rice Sushi is best with a stickier rice, like short- or medium-grain
Brown Rice BallsBrown Rice Balls w/ Umeboshi Plum/Paste in the center, wrapped in sesame seeds and/or nori sheets

Brown Rice Sushi

Place nori sheet on your sushi mat.

Carefully spread rice across the nori sheet leaving a couple inches at the top. Add baked or air-fried tofu cut into 1/4 inch pieces lengthwise, any raw or blanched vegetables, such as julienne carrots, cucumber, QB broccoli, or some fermented vegetables or sprouts.  For extra flavor, add a drizzle of Sriracha or tahini, or some diced avocado.  

Take a finger and smear a bit of white or other miso paste, or water across the top.   Roll it up tight, and give a good squeeze.  Then roll all the way.  The miso or water will help seal the nori sheet. 

Optional:  Before spreading brown rice onto nori sheet, drizzle 1/2-1 teaspoon of rice vinegar and a sprinkle of organic cane sugar or sweetener to the cooled rice, wet your hands, and mash it up a bit.  This takes a bit more time, but I like how the rice comes out when mashed up a bit first, similar to making the Rice Balls.

Brown Rice Vegetable Sushi packed to-go
Brown Rice Sushi with Carrot & Burdock & Scrambled Tofu
Brown Rice Sushi with Tofu & Quick Blanched Broccoli

Sweet & Savory Recipes Using Leftover Brown Rice

I made this recipe using leftover rice one evening when we wanted a lighter final meal of the day, and we still had some already cooked brown rice to use up.  I was craving something similar to a Brown Rice Pudding or Tangine combining chickpeas and some root veggies with a little dried fruit, and sweet, earthy spices, like yellow curry powder, cinnamon and cardamom. 

This is a base recipe which you can modify using whatever vegetables you have on hand, and your favorite spices. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but it's a quick, easy to make one-pan recipe using leftover brown rice.

  • 2 tsp. cooking oil 
  • 1/2 sweet, red or yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced 
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 1/3+ head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 1/2 can chickpeas + aquafaba
  • 2+ cups leftover brown rice
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup golden or regular raisins
  • 2 chopped Medjool dates, optional
  • 1/2 cup or so veg broth, or use water and tamari
  • Sliced or grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. sweet yellow curry or turmeric
  • White or black pepper
  • Optional spices: small pinches of dried ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and/or nutmeg (or use a little allspice)
  • 1/2 cup or so soy milk, or non-dairy milk
  • Optional garnishes:  sliced scallions, chopped fresh parsley or other herbs, roasted sesame seeds
  1. Heat a pan and add oil.  Add onion, and cook a couple minutes, stirring. 
  2. Add carrots, parsnip, and cauliflower, and let cook a couple minutes to soften.
  3. Add chickpeas with some of the aquafaba, followed by the brown rice.  Stir using a wooden spatula to break up the brown rice.  
  4. Add remaining Ingredients, including any of the optional spices.  Cover, and let simmer on medium heat until all the vegetables have softened.  


If there's too much liquid remaining, remove lid and let simmer a couple more minutes.  If at any time the rice mixture is sticking, add more broth, water and/or non-dairy milk.  

Make this more savory, or more sweet according to your taste preferences, using more or less tamari and/or sweet spices like cinnamon.

Use different dried fruit, including dried apricots, or your favorites

Add slivered almonds, or chopped dried roasted peanuts.

For more of a Rice Pudding texture, add more non-dairy milk, and use more of your choice of sweet, earthy spices, like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger or a pinch of ground anise, or even clove.

(See photos, below.  Pardon the poor lighting.)

Brown Rice Refried with Veg & Dried Fruit
Brown Rice Refried with Vegetables & Raisins cooking in pan
Brown Rice Refried with Veg & Raisins-2

More Recipes Using Leftover Brown Rice

Macro Meals a.k.a. 'Buddha Bowls'

A simple way to enjoy freshly prepared, or leftover brown rice includes making what I always referred to as a 'Macro Meal' that many now call a 'Buddha Bowl.'

To prepare, grab your favorite  pretty plate or shallow bowl and add fresh cooked or leftover brown rice that can be reheated with a quick steam, or microwave if needed,  then add your choice of the following:

  • Fresh raw, steamed or QB Greens & Vegetables, including your choice of snow or sugar snap peas, broccoli, julienne carrots, sliced bell pepper, arugula or other lettuce blend, radishes, cucumber, scallions, zucchini, etc.
  • Supplement with chickpeas or other beans or legumes, and/or baked or air-fried tofu or tempe.
  • Top with a drizzle of plain tahini, Tahini Dressing, Peanut Ginger Dressing, or a simple Asian style vinaigrette.
  • Garnish with a sprinkling of nuts or seeds, sliced scallions, and/or chopped fresh herbs.

Tahini Dressing:  Combine in a small bowl, about 1 Tbsp. tahini, the juice of 1/2 lemon (more if needed), about 2 tsp. rice vinegar, 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil,  1+ tsp. reduced sodium Tamari or Shoyu sauce (see all my top condiment picks for savory plant-based macrobiotic cooking), and 2+ tsp. maple syrup.  Add a little grated ginger or a pinch of dried ginger, and a pinch of white pepper.  Stir, and adjust flavor as needed.  If too thick, thin with a tad of water.  Add any other herbs or spices you like.

Asian Vinaigrette:  Make a vinaigrette similar to the Brown Rice Balls Dipping Sauce, above, adjusting as desired with a little more toasted sesame oil and/or add sesame seeds to the vinaigrette.  Also good with a little grated and squeezed ginger juice.

Peanut Ginger Dressing:  I blend together in a small bowl about 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1+ Tbsp. peanut butter, about 2 tsp. rice vinegar, 1-2 tsp. tamari, and a generous amount of grated ginger.  Stir, then adjust.  Add a little bit of brown sugar, brown rice syrup or maple syrup to taste, and a touch of the Mother-in-Laws Fermented Chile Paste or Sriracha.  Make it as thick or thin as you like, thinning with a little water if needed.  

Use the Peanut Ginger Dressing as a sauce to make a delicious Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry, served over fresh pressure or pot cooked brown rice.

Feeling lazy?  Just drizzle plain tahini on top, then squeeze a little lemon or lime.  Can't go wrong!

Macrobiotic Meal Brown Rice Cooked with Hatomugi, Sweet Sour Tofu, Vegetables w/ Lotus Root'Macrobiotic Meal' Brown Rice Cooked w/ Hatomugi (Chinese Pearl Barley), with Sweet Sour Tofu, Vegetables Cooked w/ Lotus Root
Macrobiotic Meal Brown Rice w/ Corn, Red Cabbage, Black Soy BeansMacrobiotic Meal w/ Brown Rice Cooked w/ Corn, Chickpea & Zucchini, Pressed Red Cabbage Salad

Other Uses for Leftover Brown Rice

Use leftover brown rice in stir fries (use the Peanut Ginger Dressing, above, as a Stir Fry Sauce) or make a vegetable fried rice, by first sautéing diced vegetables, then adding rice and a little reduced sodium tamari and enough water to prevent sticking.  Cover, and let simmer a few minutes until soft, and heated through.  Garnish with sliced scallions (which you already sliced while doing your plant-based meal prep, hint, hint!)

Leftover brown rice is good added to creamy vegetable soups.  Add a cup to whatever vegetable soup you are making, such as Zucchini, Broccoli, or Cauliflower Soup.  Blend using an immersion blender.

Creamy Yellow Zucchini Soup thickened with brown riceBrown rice provides extra creaminess to this delightful Homegrown Yellow Summer Squash Soup
Brown Rice, Homemade Tofu Seitan Loaf, Beets, VeggiesBrown Rice with Homemade Tofu Sietan High Protein Meat, Carrot Beet Salad & Vegetable Medley

For more recipes and information about starting a macrobiotic diet, be sure to download a copy of my free ebook, How to Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet.  More FREE Macrobiotic books / cookbooks coming soon in 2024!  

For my top recommended condiments for making delicious, healthy, vegan macrobiotic food, including my favorite condiment to put on top of brown rice ~ umeboshi plum or paste ~ click here.

More Resources

How To Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet book cover

For more recipes, check out my FREE Macrobiotic Ebooks.  

How To Feel Great & Improve Your Health with a Macrobiotic Diet, now available, with more to come!