Exactly How To Reheat Ribs – I Test 10 Methods

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Reheat ribs in one of the ten ways to get flavorful and juicy results so that you will never again have to throw away leftovers or settle for dry ribs.

How To Reheat Ribs: Top 10 Ways You Didn't Know!
How To Reheat Ribs

So, you had a grand barbecue night, went a bit overboard with one of the best gas grills, grilled too much meat, and now you’re left with a pile of leftover ribs. 

The first thing to do is to safely store them in the fridge or freezer within two hours. 

The next thing? Well, reheat the ribs, of course! But do you know how to reheat ribs in one of the ten ways?

Pick the method based on the amount of time you have and the results you are looking for.

You may also like: Reheating Smoked Chicken: The Best Ways To Do It Without Drying Out The Meat

reheat ribs in microwave
reheat ribs in microwave

Different Reheating Methods

10 Ways To Reheat Ribs
10 Ways To Reheat Ribs

Reaheat Ribs in Microwave

Although reheating ribs in the microwave is a bit of a challenge as it tends to dry out the meat, by following the steps below, you may still retain the juiciness. 

  1. Slice the ribs to allow the pieces to reheat uniformly and faster. 
  2. Place them on a microwave-safe dish and splash some water, stock or apple juice. Add some extra sauce if you want. 
  3. Cover with a damp towel.  
  4. Microwave on Medium for 60 seconds
  5. Continue reheating in 30-second increments until the ribs show an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Be sure to use a meat thermometer for accuracy. 

Using a Medium power ensures you don’t have overheated and dry ribs.

The microwave oven isn’t great at even reheating, so you should take 30-second breaks in between. 

Reheat Ribs in Air Fryer

To reheat ribs in the air fryer, this is what you need to do. 

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C) to ensure the meat is thoroughly warmed with no chance of any bacteria left in it. Here’s a lesson on how to preheat an air fryer. 
  2. Slice the rib racks into separate pieces for uniform and faster warming. It’s also more convenient for you to place them in the air fryer basket without overcrowding. 
  3. Use a sauce or some oil to cover the ribs to keep the meat moist and result in a crisp exterior. 
  4. For 5 to 8 minutes, heat the ribs and check the temperature halfway through.
  5. After the temperature is high enough at 145°F (60°C), remove the ribs from the air fryer and serve.  

💡Pro Tip: When laying out the sliced ribs in the air fryer basket, keep enough space in between the pieces to allow the air to circulate through. 

Some say that the circulating air inside the fryer helps to retain moisture.

Others believe that it dries out the meat and that only ribs with a higher fat content should be reheated in it. 

But everyone agrees that the air fryer gives a nice crisp texture to the ribs. 

Reheat Ribs in Oven

When you’re faced with the dilemma of how to reheat ribs, the oven is the best way to reheat ribs. Slow and low heating of beef ribs in the oven retains all the moisture and flavor.

  1. Allow the ribs to come to room temperature by removing them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before reheating.
  2. Set the oven’s temperature to 250°F (120°C). 

Use bbq sauce to cover the ribs.

This will pack in extra moisture when you reheat ribs.

  1. Carefully double-wrap the ribs in aluminum foil to prevent the sauce’s liquids and sugar from scorching and leaking out.
  2. Put the ribs in a baking tray and reheat for 20-30 minutes until their temperature is 145°F (63°C). 
  3. Unwrap the ribs from the foil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes

By doing this, the sauce will caramelize and develop an even richer, sweeter flavor.

  1. Remove the ribs and before serving, give them a 10-minute rest.

Pro Tip: If your ribs were covered in a spice rub instead of sauce, wait until they are reheated and apply more dry rub before serving.

Bonus Tip: Reheat baby back ribs at a lower temperature.

Because they are cut thinner, baby back ribs may dry out much more quickly as they are more heat-sensitive. For 45 minutes, reheat them at 225°F (107°C).

Reheat Ribs on Grill

Exactly How To Reheat Ribs - I Test 10 Methods 1
Reheat Ribs on Grill

Grilling leftover ribs retain the fresh, right-of-the-grill vibes and you also get the same charred taste when you first grilled them.

While setting up the grill will take a little more time and it’s also dependent on fair weather, it’s worth it to reheat ribs on the grill. 

  1. Allow the ribs to come to room temperature by removing them from the refrigerator 30 minutes before reheating.
  2. Set the grill to high heat while you wait for the ribs to come to room temperature.
  3. Use leftover sauce or additional liquid, such as water, stock, or apple juice, to baste your ribs.
  4. Wrap the ribs in foil, loosely. 

There should be a little breathing room because the ribs will be directly exposed to the grill’s heat.

  1. After the grill has been preheated, turn it to medium heat
  2. Reheat ribs for 8 to 10 minutes and remember to flip them halfway. 
  3. Once the meat thermometer shows the ribs are at an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), take them out. 
  4. Allow a standing time of 10 minutes before serving. 

Note: If possible, set up a two-zone grill (i.e. only heat one side directly) for reheating pork ribs on the unheated portion.

This is milder than utilizing direct heat and imitates a convection oven.

Reheat Ribs in Slow Cooker

Exactly How To Reheat Ribs - I Test 10 Methods 2
slow cooker

Although you won’t get a crisp texture if you reheat ribs in a slow cooker, you will certainly get tender and juicy meat. 

A slow cooker will obviously take longer than other methods of reheating ribs. 

  1. Get the ribs out of the fridge 30 minutes before you plan to reheat them so that they come to room temperature. 
  2. Turn the slow cooker on medium-high heat
  3. Add about ¼ inch of water, apple juice, or chicken stock in it.
  4. Place the ribs in the slow cooker after basting them with any leftover sauce or any extra BBQ sauce.
  5. Set the thermostat to a warm or low setting and heat for 30 to 60 minutes with the lid on.
  6. Check after the first 30 minutes to see if the internal temperature is getting close to 145°F (63°C).
  7. Once you’re satisfied with the temperature, turn off the slow cooker and take out the ribs.
  8. Before serving, let the ribs sit in the juices for 10 minutes.

Reheat Ribs in Steamer

Exactly How To Reheat Ribs - I Test 10 Methods 3
steamer ribs

Another reheating method is the steamer. 

If you don’t have one, you can make a temporary one using a pot and a colander. 

The benefit of using a steamer is that it will keep the ribs moist and it’s also healthy for reheating ribs without oil. 

  1. You can start by boiling a broth in the pot. 

For flavor, use apple juice or orange juice, or even ale. 

Use ¼ cup of whatever liquid you choose. 

  1. Slice the rib racks for faster warming. 
  2. Once the liquid starts to boil, place the ribs on the steamer basket and put it above the broth. 
  3. Cover the pot and steam the cooked ribs for 30 minutes

Don’t remove the lid while steaming as the steam will escape, turning the temperature low in the pot and taking more time to reheat the ribs. 

  1. If you want the ribs to be very juicy, then steam for 45 minutes. 
  2. When 30 minutes are over, check the internal temperature of the ribs. It should be 145°F (63°C).

Otherwise, steam for longer to bring the temperature up. 

  1. Plate the ribs and cover them with the liquid left in the pot for a full blast of flavor and moisture. 

Reheat Ribs in Skillet

Exactly How To Reheat Ribs - I Test 10 Methods 4
Reheat Ribs in Skillet

The cast iron skillet could be your go-to tool for reheating ribs if you have less than 30 minutes on your hands. 

The meat will be juicy enough but not as much as you would expect when reheating ribs in the oven, grill, or steamer. 

  1. Warm a deep cast iron skillet over medium heat and add some water or stock or leftover juices from the meat or apple juice. 
  2. Take your favorite BBQ sauce or any sauce of your choice and cover the ribs with it.
  3. Into the skillet, put the ribs without crowding them together, and cover with a lid.
  4. Without removing the lid, heat the skillet for 10 minutes, swirling it around to make sure the ribs get warmed up evenly and don’t get scorched. 
  5. Once the meat temperature is 145°F (63°C), remove it from the skillet and allow 10 minutes of standing time before serving. 

You can also chop up the meat from the ribs and reheat the shredded meat in the skillet. 

In this case, you will need to stir the meat in the skillet over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until the meat gets heated through. 

Serve immediately. 

💡Pro Tip: Instead of water, use stock or juice to retain or add flavor as water tends to dilute the flavor. 

Reheat Ribs in Water Bath

A hot water bath or sous vide is a French way of cooking food at a low temperature by placing the food in a plastic bag in a water bath and letting it cook or reheat through indirect heat. 

Store your leftover ribs in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag in the fridge or freezer so that you can put them directly into the water bath without waiting for the ribs to come to room temps. 

Another beauty of using this method to reheat ribs is that you don’t need to add extra sauce or any liquid as it’s already in the bag.

If you don’t have sous vide machine, no need to worry as you can use a large pot instead. 

  1. In a vacuum-sealed bag, put the ribs and seal the bag using a vacuum sealer.
  2. Bring the temperature of the large pot full of water or the sous vide machine to 155°F (68°C).
  3. Put the vacuum-sealed bag with the leftover ribs in the water bath and reheat for 45 minutes to an hour, keeping the water temperature constant.
  4. Count 45 minutes of reheating time for every inch of thickness in the ribs. 

You need to factor in an additional 30 minutes of reheating time if put a frozen pack of leftover ribs in the water bath.

  1. Remove from the water bath and serve immediately. 
  2. This step is optional. Broil the reheated ribs in the oven for a few minutes to caramelize the sauce. 

Reheat Ribs in Broiler

The broiler is a fast way to reheat leftover ribs. 

It also caramelizes the sauce nicely, leaving it sticky instead of runny. 

The downside of using a broiler is that it requires more attention and dries out the meat a bit.

  1. Place the top rack of the oven 4 to 5 inches below the grilling part as otherwise the sauce will burn and the ribs won’t be heated thoroughly. 
  2. Bring leftover ribs to room temperature. 
  3. Now put them bone side up on a baking pan lined with a sheet.
  4. Broil for about 3 to 4 minutes or until you notice the sauce starts to bubble. 
  5. Flip the ribs to the other side and heat for 3 minutes. 
  6. Take the reheated ribs out of the oven and cover them loosely with foil. 
  7. Allow cooling slightly under the foil for 4 minutes before serving. 

Reheat Ribs in Toaster Oven?

The toaster oven is not a gadget that would come readily to your mind when thinking about how to reheat beef ribs. 

However, let me say that this is a neat little way of reheating cooked ribs if you have only a few pieces of pork ribs. 

You’ll have warm and juicy ribs within just 20 minutes. 

  1. Take the cooked ribs out of the fridge 30 minutes before you reheat them so that they can cool down to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the toaster oven to 250°F (121°C).
  3. Grab your favorite bbq sauce and slather it on the ribs to cover them completely if you don’t want to have dry ribs. 
  4. Cover the ribs tightly with double foil to keep all the juices in and prevent the sauce from getting burned. 
  5. Put the pork or beef ribs on a baking tray and heat in the toaster oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the temperature in the ribs hit the mark of 145°F (63°C).
  6. Let the reheated ribs rest for 10 minutes before serving so that all the juices and flavors can combine and you can enjoy them to the fullest.

💡Pro Tip: Check the temperature after the first 10 minutes as reheating time will depend on the thickness of the ribs. 

Pros and Cons of Reheating Ribs in Various Ways

Reheating ApplianceProsCons
1MicrowaveFaster heatingDries up meat
Fresh grill flavor is lost
Sauce gets too watery
Doesn’t heat uniformly
2Air FryerWorks fast
Gives a nice crisp
Good for ribs with more fat
Meat dries up
3OvenRetains moisture and smokey flavorTakes time
off-the-grill flavor
Charred taste
Setting up takes time
5Slow CookerTender and juicy meatCrispiness is missing
Takes more time
6SteamerKeeps meat moist
Healthier as uses no oil
Sauce melts
7SkilletProvides better moisture
than microwave
Less juicy
Takes longer than the microwave method
8Water BathPrevents overcooking
No need to add sauce or juices to retain moisture
Can be placed directly from the fridge or freezer
Takes time
9BroilerFast method
Leaves the sauce sticky, not runny
Dries out the meat a little
10Toaster ovenFast methodSuitable for fewer pieces

Tips for Reheating Your Ribs

Here’s how you can make sure your ribs taste like you just got them off the grill:

  • Slow and steady temperature. Cooking the ribs on low heat for 30-40 minutes will make your ribs soft and tender, and juicy.
  • Add a broiling pan. If you are worried about the ribs losing too much moisture on the oven or grill, add a pan of hot water over the burner. It will steam some moisture into the meat.
  • You can even add coke, root beer, apple juice, or stock for exciting flavors.
  • Let them rest. Give your ribs some time to settle in their juices before cutting into them.

How Long Do Leftover Ribs Last In The Fridge?

Exactly How To Reheat Ribs - I Test 10 Methods 5

If stored properly in an airtight container and at a temperature of below 40°F (4°C), leftover ribs will last for three to four days in the fridge

It’s best to add all the juices or barbecue sauce in which you cooked the ribs inside the container or a vacuum-sealed bag. 

This ensures the meat is juicy and flavorful.

How To Freeze Ribs?

The key to freezing spare ribs in the freezer is to get a tight seal in the container. 

Vacuum-sealed bags work best but you can also place the ribs in a Ziploc or freezer bag, or even foil as long as there is no opening to let any air in. 

The benefit of freezing ribs in vacuum-sealed bags is that you can put them directly in the sous vide machine for reheating ribs. 

If stored properly, the ribs will last for 6 to 12 months in the freezer

How To Thaw Frozen Ribs?

How to reheat ribs after freezing them?

Leave the frozen ribs in the fridge overnight to thaw. 

Keep them on the bottom shelf of the fridge and in a container that has high sides so that any dripping from the defrosting ribs doesn’t contaminate the other food in the fridge.


How To Reheat Ribs In The Microwave?

Slice the ribs and place them on a microwave-safe dish. Splash some water or stock or apple juice or sauce. Cover with a damp towel and microwave on Medium for 60 seconds. Continue reheating at 30-second intervals until the temperature is 145°F.

How Long Do Leftover Ribs Last In The Fridge?

If the temperature is below 40°F, you may keep your leftover ribs in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Keep your ribs in an airtight container or vacuum bag to prevent moisture loss for optimum preservation.

How Do You Freeze Ribs?

Your ribs can be kept in the freezer for six to twelve months if you properly seal them. The best bags are vacuum bags because they can be put directly into the sous vide machine. However, a zip-lock bag, plastic wrap, or foil with a tight seal will also work well.

Can You Eat Cold Ribs?

Yes, you can eat cold ribs if you had smoked them to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) and refrigerated them in an airtight container or sealed plastic bag.

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