4 Ways to Reheat Ribs As If Not One Day Has Passed

We all know sometimes you have too much food on your plate. Perhaps you got take out, or maybe you went to a great BBQ, but in any case, you are now left with cold ribs that need to be eaten and not spoiled!

If you have cooked with a smoker before and love the flavor, then you may want to retain the delicious smoky flavor. It will not be the same once your ribs are leftover and reheated, but it can still be yummy.

So, by now you may be asking, what is the best way to reheat ribs? There are options, each one different depending on what equipment you have available and how many leftover ribs you have.

best way to reheat ribs

Best way to reheat ribs

Before you even consider reheating your ribs, you need to know whether they are still good and haven’t completely lost their flavor. How to do this? Well, you should know first, that your freezer will always be your best friend when it comes to storing leftovers.

When frozen, meats lose less nutrients and less flavor. However, if it has been some time, meats can oxidize, fats can go bad and their surface can get hard due to freezer burn. Watch out for oxygen when it comes to your meats!

The best way to store ribs is in a vacuum sealed bag, but if you don’t have access to one, use a tightly closed ziploc bag. As you are ready to thaw the ribs, place them on the refrigerator–still on the bag– for about 6 hours.

Tip: you can always use salt to cure your meats, which will protects them from lipid oxidation. This is why meats like bacon, ham and pastrami are safe from this problem and taste good.

Now that your ribs are thawed, let’s explore what is the best way to reheat ribs some more.

4 Ways to Reheat Ribs

#1. Indoor Oven: The Safe Bet.

I usually suggest using some sort of sauce to reheat ribs. If you are using barbecue sauce–or any other sauce– spread it all over the meat. After, make sure you wrap the entire meat in foil.

When you are not using any sauce, it’s best to add some broth, stock, water or wine to your meat once it is wrapped—about ¼ cup is usually enough, but feel free to add more. Heat your oven up to 225°F. Place your fully thawed ribs on a baking pan and put it in the oven.

Ribs may take up to an hour to heat up completely. Make sure they are at 155°F; usually they heat up better in the middle rack of the oven. After they reach this temperature, unwrap the ribs and heat them up on each side for about 5 more minutes.

Another way to do this is to leave the door open after you unwrap your ribs. While you have the meat on the broiler, the open door prevents the broiler from turning off, but it also helps you watch the meat, as the sauce can go from warm to burnt in only a few minutes.

Reheat ribs in the oven

Reheat ribs in the oven

Though your ribs won’t be as good as they were originally, this is a good method because it allows you to warm ribs up without drying them, and may even give them a new flavor.

#2. Grill: The Good Choice

This is one of the fastest and safest ways to reheat your leftover ribs. First, make sure that your ribs are completely thawed. Now, as in the step before, you have to spread the barbecue sauce–or whatever other sauce you want to use–along the entire rib rack.

Heat up your grill to 250°F. While your grill is heating, wrap the ribs in a double layer of foil. Place the wrapped ribs on the grill, but make sure they are not receiving direct fire. Do this until your ribs have reached a temperature of 155°F.

When your ribs have reached the ideal temperature, remove them from the foil and place them on the grill, this time with direct heat, for about 5 more minutes. After, remove your ribs from grill, let them cool off and enjoy.

As a rule, always have your thermometer at hand, it will be essential when using the grill, but also when using the oven. If you don’t have one yet, hold on until you get one, because with this type of meat you can’t risk have it undercooked. And you may also want to avoid overheating it.

Here are some of the best selling thermometers in the market. Whichever you pick, have it handy for all these methods.

If you have more than just ribs as leftovers from the last time you grilled, here are some great ideas.


#3. Microwave: The Easy Option

I use the microwave for time’s sake. It’s not the best way to reheat your leftovers, especially when it comes to smoked meats, but it can be savory and good nonetheless

Microwaves work differently, they heat up the juices in the meat from inside, and so, it is important to watch time carefully, as your ribs can become mushy if overheated. As with the other methods, spread the sauce over the meat before putting it in the microwave.

When using this heating method, it’s also essential that you cover the meat with a plastic cover, or even just a paper towel because the sauce or meat juices can splash around your microwave. Though time varies, I recommend starting with 1 minute and testing your ribs for enough heat.

A pro tip when using the microwave is to reduce the power level to about 30%. Usually, all microwaves are programmed at about 80-100% potency, but this will dry out your ribs and take away the flavor.

In my opinion, using this method for reheating ribs should be your last choice. But it doesn’t mean that it will ruin your flavorful leftovers, just always make sure that you check the time and don’t let them inside for too long.

If you go with this option, make sure you aren’t heating the ribs in all-plastic containers, or watch that they are BPA-free. Read more about the issue here. If not, some of the chemicals can be harmful for you and can actually ruin your ribs as well.

#4. Sous Vide: The Bold One

If you haven’t used sous vide before, then you must be wondering what this is and how it works. Sous vide basically works by placing meats in air-sealed plastic bags and placed in boiling water, or in a temperature-controlled steam environment. You can read this guide to get familiar with it.

In this case, make sure your ribs are thawed and place them on the air-tight bag. In this case, aim for a lower temperature than with the other methods, around 150°F.

For ribs, it really depends on how many you have to heat up, but it will take about 45 minutes to an hour. If you have to go to work, or leave the house, turn the temperature lower, and allow them to cook for longer time, maybe 3 hours.

If you are wondering how this may work out, check out this video to find out more about using sous vide to reheat your ribs.

Ready to Enjoy Your Leftover Ribs?

Which method did you enjoy more? I personally enjoy using the oven when it’s cold out, and it seems more controlled than any of the other methods. Using the grill is also a great way to heat your ribs, as it gives it some of that smoky flavor back.

It is now time to take out your leftovers, thaw them and start your oven, or grill, clean your microwave or get your air-sealed packages for the sous vide. Of course I want to know how this went, let me know if these options worked for you and what you would add or change.

Never let those ribs go to waste ever again!

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