The Egyptian military ousted President Mohamed Morsi in early July. He was removed from power barely a year into his inaugural term as the first person elected to power by a democratic vote in Egyptian history.
Rice, secretary of state in the administration of President George W. Bush, told the CBS News program "This Morning" the military's influence was frustrating.
"Whether you call it a coup or not, the military's intervention was a dark day for Egypt," she said in a broadcast aired Monday. "We cannot sanction what the military did -- we have to recognize that we are where we are in Egypt and try to move forward."
Western governments have been reluctant to classify the ouster as a military coup. Doing so would place legal restrictions on the delivery of foreign aid to Egypt.
Rice called for a wait-and-see approach, saying the military should move quickly to reinstate a civilian administration. Morsi's political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, said the military takeover violated the spirit of the 2011 revolution that ended long-time President Hosni Mubarak's grip and power.
Brotherhood supporters pledged to continue a campaign of non-violent protest despite a weekend warning from the Egyptian government and police officials.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement Saturday all parties to the political crisis in Egypt were called on to avoid actions that could lead to violence.
"Instead they should try to look creatively at new approaches toward a genuinely inclusive political process that would be rooted in reconciliation," he said.