I threw a barbecue party a month ago, and it was amazing! Unfortunately, some people couldn’t make it and we ended up with too many cooked ribs and nowhere to put them. The question, then, is: how to reheat ribs?
It is sad when, because of unreliable guests or poor planning, you get leftovers you can’t reheat properly. It can happen— and it happens!— to everyone, though. To solve this issue, there must be a way to recreate the original flavor and texture of ribs.
I have some handy tips and tricks to make reheating ribs easy and painless. Read on to find out what they are!
Ribs— the life of the party
Ribs, baby-back ribs, spare ribs. All these varieties are essentially the same: a cut of pork that is extremely popular and delicious!
Why make them? They are always a crowd pleaser and they are inevitably tied to memories of young summer barbecues and good times.
The key is to calculate portions thoughtfully: some cooks recommend three or four ribs per person if you have other side dishes. But, sometimes, the estimates might be off and you end up with more meat than you can handle.
How to store cooked ribs
If you have leftover ribs, you have to think of where to store them. For safety reasons, never leave any sort of meat— ribs included— at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. This is to prevent potentially dangerous bacteria from growing and giving you food poisoning.
Because of this, extra ribs must be stored carefully. If you plan on keeping them in the fridge, wrap them in aluminum foil or cling wrap and put them in airtight containers. Make sure to keep them away from any uncooked meat: this way, they can last up to 4 days.
If you want the ribs to keep for longer, you can place them in the freezer, inside freezer-appropriate containers. There, they will last for up to 3 months in peak condition.
As for taste, it’s always better to eat ribs that have been recently cooked, but there are ways to bring them back to that level after being refrigerated.
Before you reheat the ribs
Before you start figuring out how to reheat pork ribs, you have to consider a number of things:
- Think of how— and when—you put them in storage, whether it was the refrigerator or the freezer. If in doubt, throw it out!
- If any of the ribs seems strange— slimy or oozy texture, or a bad smell—, throw it out! Better safe than sorry.
- Figure out how many ribs you actually need: it’s not fun to thaw all the ribs you were keeping only to realize you needed half of them.
- Do you want to use aluminum foil? It can be helpful for cooking the meat in a moist environment, but some people think it’s not great for their health.
- Are you going to be cooking something else? Logistics might define which method you choose for reheating ribs.
Best ways to reheat ribs
When you’re trying to reheat ribs, you have to pick a convenient method!
You’re looking for:
- Convenience: if it is super hot, you probably do not want to stand right next to a fire or make the area even hotter with the oven.
- Taste: which of these methods preserve the original texture and flavor better? If they don’t, is there a way to recreate that?
- Time: the infamous microwave is the fastest way to heat up your ribs. However, there are ways to reduce the time needed for other methods.
Maybe you find that you can compromise on one front and not on another. I can help you make an informed choice!
Reheat ribs in the oven!
What is the best way to reheat BBQ ribs? The oven is, tried and true, the best method to do this. If you are going to use it, make sure that you do not need it for anything else, as ribs may take up space and have a strong scent.
- Before you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 250 degrees— hot but not too hot, or it could burn the meat.
- If you are going to use aluminum foil, now is the time! Set out enough pieces to wrap individual ribs.
- When you put the ribs on the foil, sprinkle a little water over them with a spray bottle: this helps them keep a soft texture and not shrink in size.
- Place the wrapped ribs on a baking tray and put them in the preheated oven.
- You don’t need to turn the ribs around, as the foil distributes heat evenly.
- After 20-30 minutes, take the tray with the wrapped ribs out.
- Let the pieces cool off before unwrapping: they are extremely hot!
This is the most time-consuming method, but the results are usually worth it! Using the oven, that BBQ taste will stick around.
Reheat ribs by grilling them.
How to reheat baby back ribs? If you grilled them the first time, you can grill them again! This method will keep the flavor and slightly smoky aftertaste of the ribs intact.
It will also give you a chance to enjoy the process all over again (assuming you like grilling). So, what to do this time around?
- Get your grill ready! It can be any type you own, your choosing. My personal favorite has always been the charcoal grill, but gas grills work well too.
- Get your favorite BBQ sauce and keep it close by.
- Get your tongs for turning the meat around!
- While you get the grill to a medium heat— again, not too hot, or you might just end up with charred rib remains—, slather the pork ribs with the BBQ sauce of your choice. This will keep the ribs moist and tender inside.
- Grill all the ribs on each side for 3 minutes, then turn them.
- Repeat the last step until they look hot enough, then serve!
For safety reasons— and also to avoid burning your precious ribs—, never leave a working barbecue unattended! Doing this could result in fatal accidents.
You might also be able to achieve this effect in the oven, by placing the ribs on a rack over a tray and setting the oven to “grill” or “broil”.
Reheating ribs on a pan
Reheating ribs on a pan is pretty simple!
- First, get a suitable pan: it should be sturdy and about 3 inches deep— enough to contain the sauce, but not so much as to accumulate vapor and steam your ribs.
- Add a little bit of water to the bottom of the pan, and keep a boiling kettle close by in case you need more. This is meant to keep the meat soft, not to stew it, so do not overdo it.
- To add a little flavor boost, use beef broth instead of plain water.
- Place the ribs in the pan with the meaty side up, and cover them with BBQ sauce to retain moisture and avoid burning.
- Turn the heat on and let the ribs brown a bit before moving them around.
- As you turn the ribs and expose new areas, renew the sauce covering.
- When every area of the ribs is cooked, take off the fire and serve.
- The whole process should take 15 to 20 minutes if the broth is hot to begin with.
The big advantages of this method are that it is faster than the oven and that it gives you space to maneuver. When cooking ribs in a pan, you can use the extra time and freer movement to add extra sauces or seasonings— never a bad idea.
How to reheat ribs in the microwave
Many people think that the microwave is just a necessary evil of our modern lack of time and dedication to cooking. However, this does not have to be the case!
There are some tricks you can apply to make your microwave reheating adventure a successful one:
- Check your manufacturer’s instructions regarding aluminum foil. Many modern microwaves can take this material. If you can, wrap the ribs in it!
- As I always say, place a cup of tap water in the microwave with your food— the evaporating moisture will keep it from drying out! Make sure it’s not pre-boiled or distilled water, as this can cause horrific accidents.
- Set your microwave-safe plate with the pork ribs off-center. This way, it will cook more evenly.
- Don’t forget to use sauce generously!
You’ve worked hard to keep those ribs tasting great, so enjoy them! There is nothing more pleasant than savoring a meal you have made.
Don’t sweat it
If you know the right methods and tricks, reheating ribs is not difficult! You can relax and follow the instructions, and never worry about what to do with leftover BBQ ribs again.
Just make sure you store them safely, that you have all the elements you need, and that you remember the instructions. If you don’t, you can come back to this page anytime!
As I’ve said, the oven is the best way to reheat ribs but—, with love and attention— grills, pans, and microwaves can work well too! How to reheat ribs? Now you tell me!