Something as simple as reheating ribs is an art in itself. Expert grillers can attest to this fact. Reheat your ribs with the wrong approach and you’ll get a tasteless chunk of stringy meat that deserves to be eaten by the dog at best.
It’s a shame when you spend 4 hours grilling racks of ribs when half of them end up tasting like dry cardboard. Everybody who has eaten reheated ribs knows what I’m talking about. You dig in expecting to get a delicious, juicy, mouthwatering bite and the only thing you get is an intense feeling of disappointment.
If you reheat them right, you can bring the ribs’ succulent taste back. Sure, they’ll never taste AS good as ribs just taken out of the grill, but at least your rib cravings will be fully satisfied.
I’ll show you everything from storing, to heating, to anything else you might need to get reheated ribs that make your friends and family think they were just cooked in the backyard barbecue.
How to Store Ribs
Storing Ribs in the Fridge
You grilled some rib racks, you ate as many as you could, and even though half your friends are lying on the floor, there are still ribs remaining. It’s now time to place the leftovers in the fridge so you can binge again later.
First things first, you shouldn’t let the ribs sit around outside for too long. There’s bacteria in the air waiting to attack and feast on your precious meat. The amount of time you have to store the meat depends on location and weather. In humid and warm places, there’s more bacteria flying around and you should store your ribs sooner. If you live in a dry, cool area, you have less chances of getting bacteria in your meat and you can worry a bit less.
As a general guideline, get your meat in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking it. That timeframe should be more than enough to finish eating and to determine how many ribs will remain as leftovers.
If the leftovers you’re about to store are gonna be eaten within the next few days, storing them in the fridge is the way to go. Make sure that your fridge is under 40F to be safe.
Now, there are a few more things you have to take into account when storing your ribs in the fridge. One of those things is to cut the ribs in small sized chunks so that they’re serving sized. That will let the ribs freeze faster and they will be much easier to serve and reheat later.
Another thing to take into account is that the ribs should be tightly sealed in a container that prevents air from getting in contact with the meat. A zip bag or a tightly sealed plastic wrapping will do the job.
Sealing your ribs tightly ensures that the moisture is trapped inside and the original flavour isn’t lost. It’s a bit of a hassle but the results are well worth the investment.
As far as for how long you can store it, your meat will be okay for a week in the fridge. Keeping it longer than that risks contamination and a bad taste.
Storing Ribs in the Freezer
If you’re not planning to eat your ribs anytime soon, the freezer is the way to go. With temperatures under 0° Fahrenheit, you’re promised to save your meat for at least a few months. Although technically, it should last for an indefinite amount of time.
When freezing, you should tightly seal the meat. Just like when storing in the fridge, a plastic wrapping or a ziplock bag should do the job. Once you do that, you’ll have meat in reserve for eons to come.
Don’t forget to cut the ribs in small sized chunks. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with chunks of ribs that are harder than steel. They’ll take way too long to cool and you won’t be able to cut them easily, specially the colder they are. So do yourself a favor and cut the ribs in pieces beforehand.
And if you want to keep any sauces for later, now’s the time to freeze them up. Allow the sauce to cool completely and then pour it in a sealable freezer container. Next, just place it in the fridge and you’re good to go.
Is My Meat Still Good?
If you’re wondering whether your meat is still good – who knows? maybe because you forgot about it in the fridge for an extra week – you can use your nose to determine its state of putrefaction.
A sour smell is the best indicator of meat that has gone bad. If you get a hint of sourness from the meat, the best thing to do is to throw it out just in case.
Remember to save your meat within 2 hours of cooking it to minimize the risk of your meat going bad. If you do that and keep the ribs for no longer than a week in the fridge, you shouldn’t have any issues regarding safety to eat.
How to Reheat Ribs:
Great. Now that you’ve mastered the storing process, it’s time to get to the real deal. There are different things to take into account depending on the heating method that you use. The grill is your best bet to make the ribs as tasty as possible. But the time it takes to reheat meat with this method is too big of a drawback most of the times. That’s why, most likely, you’ll use the microwave or the oven.
The most common mistake people make when reheating ribs is that they dry them out. Ribs are supposed to be watery, moist, and juicy. At least slightly. The good news are that you’re about to learn how to avoid making this common mistake that ruins your grilling efforts. When all of the succulent juices drip in your mouth after taking that first bite, you’ll be glad you read this article.
Reheating Ribs on the Grill
Out of all the methods you can use to reheat your meat, the grill is the one that will make it taste better. After all, it’s how you cooked the meat in the first place. It’s naturally the best option if you want to get it’s freshly cooked taste back.
Get the barbecue sauce ready because this is how you reheat your ribs on the grill, whether it’s gas or charcoal:
- Get your basic grilling equipment ready and some barbecue sauce
- Preheat the grill to a high temperature
- Next, apply barbecue sauce to your ribs, preferably with a grill brush to ensure that it’s evenly spread
- Now loosely wrap the ribs with some aluminium foil. Wrap them loosely enough to be able to turn the ribs over without turning over the aluminium wrapping. (The aluminium wrapping should have the shape of a bowl)
- Once the grill is hot, lower it to medium heat
- Place the wrapped ribs on the grill and let them cook
- Turn the ribs over after a little while, But don’t turn the aluminum wrapping over.
- After about 15 minutes, cut through a rib to check if it has been cooked enough. If it has, the meat is ready and you can get to the eating part of the process.
Since it’s the second time you cook the ribs, it’s quite easy to overdo it and dry them way too much. To prevent this, be cautious and get the ribs out of the grill sooner rather than later.
If you used barbecue sauce, your ribs are less likely to dry. So we highly recommend it. If you don’t have barbecue sauce or don’t want to use it, you can add a little extra water to the ribs.
Reheating Ribs in the Oven
- First, preheat the oven to 270° F (130° C).
- Next, cover your ribs with some delicious barbecue sauce
- Now place a sheet of aluminum foil on a baking tray
- The next step is to get a second piece of aluminum foil, which you’ll use to wrap the edges of the ribs. Place this second foil on the baking tray.
- Place the ribs on the baking tray and wrap the second aluminum foil around the edges of the ribs.
- Place the baking tray in the oven and let the ribs cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, check if the meat is done. Cook for a few more minutes if it’s not done yet.
Placing aluminum foil around the edges of the ribs prevents the edges from burning and it creates a bowl shape that keeps the liquids from spreading away from the ribs. This technique will make your ribs juicier and tastier.
Be careful because overcooking them will dry them up. Be alert with the timing because it’s the only probable mistake people make.
Reheating Ribs in the Microwave
The microwave is the most obvious choice when you don’t want to spend much time and effort reheating your ribs. The downside is that your ribs have a higher risk of drying up and tasting like cardboard.
The microwave surely isn’t the best option to maximize flavour, the grill and oven do a better job at that. Nevertheless, you can reheat ribs that taste really good with the microwave. It’s all about doing it the right way and you’ll be licking your fingers in less than 5 minutes.
- To microwave the ribs, you’ll need a microwave safe dish. Either microwave safe plastic or glass will do the job.
- Place the ribs in the container
- Cover the ribs with barbecue sauce to prevent them from drying up
- Heat them for 2 minutes
- Check if the meat is done. If it’s not, heat in 2 minute intervals until it’s done.
Cooking in the microwave is so easy even your dog can follow the process. Thanks god we’re living in the twenty first century.
Reheating Ribs in the Slow Cooker
Now that we we learnt how to reheat with the extremely quick microwave, it’s time for one of the methods at the other side of the spectrum.
As you might already know, using the slow cooker is a very slow process. (duh!) It’ll take around 1 to 3 hours to get your meat ready with the slow cooker.
The great thing is that the slow cooker significantly reduces the risk of your meat drying up like it would when it’s exposed to intense heats like the oven or grill.
This is how you reheat ribs with the slow cooker:
- Cover your ribs with barbecue
- Pour in enough water to cover the bottom of the slow cooker. If you don’t want to use barbecue (why would you ever do that though?), pour in a third of a cup of water in the slow cooker.
- Place your ribs in the slow cooker
- Heat at warm (or low, if your slow cooker doesn’t have that option) for 1-3 hours. Check the ribs every 30-45 minutes to see if they’re done.
And that’s it. Ribs reheated with the slow cooker are moist and tender, so expect a delicious meal.
The Sous Vide Technique
Sous vide is a technique where you use hot water to cook food. It is well known to be one of the best methods to reheat meat because it prevents it from drying up thanks to the properties of water.
Water boils at a temperature of 212° F (100° C). That means that when you use it to cook, it will never go above that temperature. That makes this method excellent because the temperature is automatically controlled and your meat is heated up while remaining moist and tender.
- Begin by placing your ribs in an airtight bag. You’re going to place this in water later, so make sure that no water can get inside the bag.
- Boil a large pot of water
- Once the water is boiling, place the ribs in the pot and leave them for 10 minutes.
- Once the moisture inside the bag is boiling, wait for a couple of minutes and take the bag out.
- Let the ribs cool for a few minutes
That’s it! Enjoy your meal.
Avoid Reheating Ribs Twice
You decided to cook some rib racks, and unsurprisingly, half of them ended up as leftovers. You always cook more than you actually need because let’s face it, ribs are so delicious it wouldn’t be nice if you ran out of them when you still want to eat more.
So you decided to look for a way to reheat those ribs, and somehow, you ended up in this article. With the advice you read here, you experienced the best-reheated ribs you’ve ever tried (we really hope so), and you didn’t eat them all, again.
Now you’re wondering:
Can I save these beauties again?
The answer is that preferably, you shouldn’t. Every time you reheat and refreeze your meat, it’s quality takes a hit. The rib deities won’t be very proud of you if you disrespect ribs in such a way.
But if you really don’t care that much about messing up the quality of your ribs, then you’ll probably be fine.
Just remember that at any time where your ribs get warm and overcome the 40 Fahrenheit mark, they have a higher risk of contamination.
If you’re okay with all of that, then just freeze them again. But if you can prevent doing that, for example, by only reheating the ribs you’re gonna eat, by all means, do so.
Good job getting through the post. You now have everything it takes to be a master rib reheater. We went over the different options there are to reheat ribs, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
The most common mistake is drying up your meat, usually, because either the temperature is too hot, you cook it for too long, or both. One of the best ways to prevent this from happening is by controlling the temperature. You can use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature and make sure you don’t mess up and disappoint your guests.
And that’s it! We hope you enjoyed the article as much as you’ll enjoy the ribs. (although nothing is more enjoyable than ribs to be honest)
What’s your favorite reheating method? We’d love to hear your opinion.