Whether it's St. Louis style ribs, spare ribs, or baby back ribs, mastering smoked ribs takes time. But once you are done with preparation, what do you do with leftovers?
If you have leftover ribs from a party or barbecue joint, reheating them without prior knowledge can turn them into a tough, dry, and not-so-great dish.
I've come up with a couple of ways for how to reheat ribs without compromising any of those extra juices after some experimentation in my kitchen. Here’s what you can do.
Summary of the Key Findings
- To effectively reheat the ribs, you must first understand how to properly keep rib leftovers.
- There are five effective ways to reheat ribs.
- Each method for understanding how to reheat ribs has various requirements that must be met in order to avoid dryness and lack of taste.
How Long Does It Take To Freeze Leftover Ribs?
It takes about 2 hours to freeze leftover ribs, but if it is very hot outside, that period can be reduced to an hour.
If you wish to freeze leftover ribs, you must act quickly because cooked meat cannot be left out for long periods of time without accumulating bacteria and drying out.
You can't let your ribs spoil before you've had a chance to store and freeze them properly.
Once your cooked ribs have cooled, they'll enter the "danger zone," which will be most prone to bacterial contamination.
Remember to cut your leftover ribs down to suitable serving sizes before storing them. Not only will this help them freeze faster, but you'll also have more manageable amounts when they're done.
How Long Can You Keep Cooked Ribs in the Fridge?
You can keep cooked ribs in the fridge for 3 days, and some believe they can be kept for up to a week if stored properly. Our recommendation is to be careful and only keep cooked ribs in the refrigerator for about five days. Outdated ribs will smell odd and may also be contaminated with bacteria.
5 Ways to Reheat Ribs
You can reheat ribs in the oven, grill, air fryer, microwave, and a Sous Vide machine. Whatever reheating method you take, you can enjoy the taste of those juicy ribs again if you follow our tips.
1. How to Reheat Ribs in the Oven
Oven reheating is one of the top ways to reheat barbecue ribs since it helps preserve the meat's softness and moisture if done correctly.
When reheating the ribs in the oven, you can even use the broiler to carmelize the BBQ sauce in ways that no other method can.
Allow your pork or beef ribs to reach room temperature once you take them out of the refrigerator or freezer.
Preheat the oven to 250 °F. Add a thick layer of sauce over the ribs for the full flavor. To keep beef ribs juicy and tender, a little water can be added to the foil.
Wrap your ribs in two pieces of aluminum foil to prevent any juices from leaking out in the oven. This heavy layer of aluminum foil will keep the sauce from burning and give reheated ribs extra moisture and caramelized taste.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler with 5 minutes left on your timer to caramelize the sauce. Remove the ribs from the oven once they should reach an internal temperature of 165°F, I recommend using a meat thermometer to keep track of the internal temperature of the meat.
"If you're using barbecue sauce, brush the ribs with the sauce, then cook them uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes so the sauce can caramelize on the ribs."
- Matthew Register
Owner of Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland
2. Reheat Your Leftover Ribs on the Grill
The grill is the best way to reheat ribs. Preheat your grill and place foil-wrapped ribs on it. Reheating beef or pork ribs will take roughly eight to ten minutes in total.
While the ribs are reheating, you can add your preferred wood kinds for a smoky flavor. This is how you'll get that fantastic grill flavor, regardless of how you prepared the ribs in the first place.
3. Reheat BBQ Ribs in an Air Fryer
It's simple to reheat ribs in the air fryer. To guarantee that the ribs cook up evenly and that the air fryer does not overcrowd, chop them up before putting them in the air fryer.
After 10 minutes of cooking time, remove the ribs and glaze them with extra BBQ sauce, olive oil, or extra spices.
Return the ribs to the air fryer and cook for additional 5 minutes.
Remove ribs after 5 minutes to ensure they are searing hot and properly warmed. If necessary, return them to the air fryer for another 5 minutes at a low temperature, but keep an eye on them because the air fryers may easily burn food, and BBQ sauce can burn quickly.
4. Reheating Ribs in the Microwave
If you are short on time the best solution for you is to reheat smoked ribs quickly in the microwave. Before you place the ribs in a microwave-safe dish soak a few paper towels in the water. Place soaked paper towels underneath and on top of the dish. And like that, reheat the ribs for up to 3 minutes.
This is my least favorite method to reheat ribs as the flavors somewhat evaporate. Reheating in the microwave also lessens the number of nutrients, primarily Vitamin B12 and other essential compounds . If you don’t mind this minor inconvenience, using the microwave could be right for you.
5. Using the Sous Vide Machine to Reheat Ribs
Sous vide, meaning "under vacuum" in French, uses hot water to cook food vacuumed in a plastic wrap.
If you currently use an airtight container to preserve your food, this is a great option because you can take your ribs straight from the fridge or freezer and into the Sous Vide.
Start with preheating your Sous Vide machine or a large saucepan of water on the stove to 165°F.
Fill the vacuum-sealed bag with the leftover ribs and place them in the machine/pot for 45 minutes. If you're cooking frozen ribs from scratch, add another 30 minutes to the cooking time.
This approach is great for reheating process and keeping the ribs moist, and it doesn't require any additional moisture or extra sauce because the meat doesn't lose any during the cooking process.
How Can Ribs Be Reheated Without Drying Out?
Ribs can be reheated without drying out by warming the ribs on low heat and adding more sauce to keep them juicy.
Is It Okay to Eat Cold Ribs?
It is okay to eat cold ribs, but they might be a little chewy and tough to eat though.
Choose Your Favorite Method for Reheating Ribs
All of these methods are excellent for reheating ribs, but I believe the Sous Vide or the oven are the best reheating methods. These techniques keep the rib flavor and moisture locked in.
Don't forget to get your ribs only from trusted suppliers. ButcherBox, a meat delivery service company that offers organic and sustainably-raised beef, always provides me with the finest cuts that are just as delicious when reheated as they are fresh from the grill.