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Ribs are an all American classic meal. They are the centerpiece of BBQ eateries and home cookouts throughout the world. Ribs can be made in a multitude of different ways and they can be flavored in many different ways as well.
This isn’t even taking into consideration the different types of ribs you might eat. You’ve probably heard of baby back ribs, pork ribs, short ribs, and more! The options are just about endless – and ribs tend to be quite filling. It’s almost a given you will have leftovers to contend with.
So how do you reheat ribs? There are several options for reheating ribs that you can use. No matter what type of ribs you are working with, we generally prefer reheating them at a low temperature – but you can turn up the temperature if you need a quicker reheating option.
In this guide, we will walk you through all of the details you need to know for how to reheat ribs. We will discuss everything you need to know as well as a list of our favorite reheating options that you can try out for your BBQ.
The Complete Guide to Reheating Ribs
As the name might suggest, ribs come from the rib area of the animal. For the most part, when you order or eat ribs, you are probably consuming ribs from either a cow or a pig. In other words, pork or beef ribs.
Of course, there are several different types of ribs because they can come from different parts of the animal’s body or be different cuts of meat. Here are some of the most common types of ribs.
- Baby back pork ribs
- Country-style pork ribs
- St. Louis style ribs
- Pork spare ribs
- Baby back beef ribs
- Flanked ribs
- Beef short ribs
You may have heard of all of these or there might be a few names in there you’re not familiar with. Keep in mind the difference in name typically refers back to the cut of ribs. Venison ribs and lamb ribs are also types of ribs that you might hear about or even partake in.
Now, here’s what you need to know about the reheating process. No matter which of these types of ribs you are working with or how they were cooked, the reheating process is essentially the same across the board.
There are not different reheating methods because you smoked your ribs originally or because you cooked pork spare ribs as opposed to beef baby back ribs. No matter which cut you have, the process for reheating is the same.
As we progress through this guide, we will share multiple options for reheating. IF there is anything to differentiate between the different types of ribs, we will let you know but you shouldn’t have to worry about it for the most part.
Top 5 Methods for Reheating Ribs
The Best Method for Reheating Ribs – In the Oven
We want to start by sharing our favorite way to reheat ribs. This process is low and somewhat slow in the oven (similar to how they would cook in the first place on a smoker). This is the best way to keep them tender and juicy and to make sure they keep their delicious flavor from when you originally made them.
This method is our top recommendation but there are some other options out there so we will be sure to also share those with you and provide you with all of your possible options for reheating ribs.
Here is our recommended process for reheating ribs in the oven:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Add another layer of sauce (if you use sauce) or add a little liquid to your pan. You can use something like water, beer, coke, or broth. This helps to retain the moisture and prevent your ribs from drying out.
- Place the ribs in a baking or roasting pan. Cover the pan with foil tightly.
- Reheat your ribs until they reach a temperature of 145 degrees internally (measure with a probe thermometer). This should take about 30 minutes but that could vary depending on the size of the rib portion you are reheating. Spare ribs may require a few extra minutes of cooking because they are thick.
- Remove your foil and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes longer. This will caramelize any sauces used and touch up the internal texture.
You will notice we didn’t mention adding more rub if that is how you seasoned your ribs. If you used a rub and feel as though your ribs need more of it to be served again, you can add another light layer of rub after the ribs are reheated.
There are a couple more items we want to draw your attention to. Notice that we used a low oven temperature for a slightly longer period of time. The reheating time was still only about 30 minutes, so it’s not a huge amount of time.
The higher your temperature, the more likely that you will dry your ribs out in the reheating process. The other thing is you will want to check your internal temperature. It is important for safety reasons that your ribs reach at least 145 degrees internally.
Ultimately, reheating your ribs could dry them out so don’t forget to add a little moisture back in. Whether you use just a splash of liquid of your choice (like water or apple cider) or you add some additional sauce is up to you.
This is our only oven recommendation. If you’re in a hurry and you don’t want to reheat them for 30 minutes, you are welcome to experiment with higher temperatures. However, we don’t recommend it because the quality could go downhill really fast.
Reheating Baby Back Ribs in the Oven
We do have one exception to the above steps for reheating ribs in the oven. If you are reheating baby back ribs, we recommend reducing the heat even a bit more and heating slightly longer.
These tend to be cut a bit thinner than other ribs and therefore the meat is more sensitive to heat.
Here are our recommended steps for baby back ribs in the oven.
- Prepare your ribs by adding additional sauce or moisture to them. You can put liquid in the bottom of the pan and splash the ribs with the liquid as well.
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover the ribs directly with aluminum foil. We recommend 2 layers.
- Bake at this temperature for about 45 minutes. Check the internal temperature to assure it reaches 145 degrees.
How to Reheat Ribs Quickly – The Hot and Fast Method
If you need a quick reheating method and you don’t want to cook your ribs for 30-45 minutes, you can broil them. This process takes more like 10-15 minutes and is quick and easy. Be careful to follow all of the steps to ensure you get good results.
Here are the steps to reheating your ribs quickly using the broiler.
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, remember you will need your broiler.
- Coat your ribs with sauce to give them as much moisture as possible.
- Leave the ribs uncovered on a broiling pan, place them bone side up. Heat for about 8 minutes.
- Place the pan under the broiler for just about 3-4 minutes. You should see the sauce start to bubble.
- Remove the pan. Turn the ribs over to the other side, bone side down.
- Place the ribs back on the broiler and heat an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Remove the ribs and cover them with foil. Let them rest for 5 minutes
- Serve and enjoy.
This process is quicker than the best recommended reheating method and it works quite well. You will need to stay close and keep an eye on the ribs so you can make sure they don’t end up dry or burnt in the end.
The hardest part of this recipe might just be letting them rest when you remove them from the broiler.
As always, don’t forget to check the internal temperature and make sure that the ribs reheat to an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Microwave
Alright, for those of you just wanting to reheat just a small portion or maybe you are at work eating leftovers, don’t worry! You can reheat ribs in the microwave.
Will they be as perfect as cooking slowly in the oven? Well, probably not. But the good news is, they will still taste pretty great. They are more likely to dry out in the microwave. The microwave zaps out just about every last drop of moisture it can find.
We are providing this reheating option for you specifically but we also want to tell you that you shouldn’t use the microwave for reheating unless it is the only feasible option available to you.
Here are the steps for reheating ribs in the microwave.
- Place ribs in a microwave-safe dish or on a plate.
- Spread the ribs out on the dish, leaving some space between them.
- Spread sauce over the ribs to help keep them as moist as possible. You can cover the dish with a damp paper towel as well (this step is optional).
- Set your microwave to medium heat. This is the most important step!
- Heat for 3 minutes on medium heat, you can rotate them halfway through.
- Check to see if the ribs are warm enough. If they are not warm enough, repeat the process for another 3 minutes.
It shouldn’t seem like it will really take that long to reheat ribs in the microwave but it does. Some of this is because you are reducing the heat level to medium.
Please note that if you do not reduce your heat level, you will notice when you are biting into those dry ribs.
We want to reiterate that this is not one of the best methods but it can work when it is the method most available to you.
How to Reheat Ribs on the Grill
Guess what! You can reheat your ribs on the grill if you want to. This is another really good way to reheat ribs. If you like that fresh smoked flavor or a nice grilled flavor, this is the option for you.
This option is pretty simple but it’s also challenging to pinpoint a timeframe for how long it takes. Each type of grill functions differently and heats differently. We will provide you with basic instructions and even an estimated timeframe.
Just keep in mind that you may find that you need to adjust your temperature or your cooking times slightly to get the best results. If you have never reheated ribs on the grill, you will want to keep a close eye on them while you figure out the process for your grill.
You should plan on about an hour of cooking time with these instructions but remember this could vary slightly.
Here are the steps for you.
- Preheat your grill using a medium high temperature (about 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit).
- While the grill is preheating, remove ribs from the fridge and let them reach room temperature.
- Cover your ribs with sauce or moisture of some sort to help prevent them from drying out. The grill produces a very dry heat so moisture is important.
- Wrap ribs in aluminum foil. This can be a loose wrap for the grill.
- Reduce the grill heat to medium and place the ribs on the grill.
- Allow the ribs to cook approximately 30 minutes. Flip the ribs over and allow them to cook an additional 30 minutes.
- Test the internal temperature of the ribs to ensure they reach 145 degrees.
Remember that your times may have to be adjusted but this gives you a basic idea of the process and you can adjust it from here.
Side note, many people don’t know this but cooking ribs on the grill in the first place is actually a very viable way to whip up some fantastic BBQ!
How to Reheat Ribs in the Toaster Oven
We have one final reheating process for you that could come in handy when it is time to reheat your ribs. The toaster oven is a very useful tool. This option is often overlooked because it is perceived more as a toaster but it can do almost anything the oven can do, within reason.
The truth is, the toaster oven is a great tool, especially if you’re only reheating leftovers for 1 or 2 eaters. Don’t sell it short by thinking it’s just a toasting device. Try to remember that if the conventional oven can do it, the toaster oven might be able to also.
This process is fairly short and sweet. It doesn’t take quite as much time as the oven but will still take around 20 minutes to get your ribs perfectly reheated.
Here are some steps for reheating ribs in the toaster oven.
- Preheat the toaster oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Layer your ribs with sauce or splash with a small amount of moisture.
- Cover or wrap the ribs with aluminum foil and place on a baking pan.
- Place in the toaster oven and cook for 20-30 minutes.
This timeline could vary depending on how much meat you are reheating. Check the ribs every 10 minutes and be sure to double-check the internal temperature as well.
Reheating Ribs FAQ
We hope that you have found this guide to reheating ribs to be a valuable resource. There are a lot of really great options so you’re bound to find something that you like in the various options provided.
We invite you to review the following question and answer section for some additional information that could be useful for you as well.
Can You Reheat Frozen Ribs?
You can take frozen ribs directly from the freezer to the oven. However, we don’t recommend reheating them like this. Frozen ribs are much harder to keep from drying out.
Here is what we recommend. If you have ribs that have been stored in the freezer, make your best efforts to plan ahead and let them thaw out. You can thaw in the fridge overnight if you remember to pull them out of the freezer.
You can also run them under cool water to help thaw them out. Some people use the defrost method on the microwave. We don’t like this method just because the microwave could dry out the meat, even just with defrosting.
The best option is to let them thaw out in the fridge for several hours and then follow our best reheating process shared above.
How Many Times Can You Reheat Ribs?
We recommend reheating ribs (and almost any food) only once. Every time you reheat or store a food, it becomes more susceptible to bacteria and also deteriorates in quality. It’s best to only reheat what you will use to avoid this issue.
How Should I Store My Leftovers?
If you’re looking to get the most out of your leftover BBQ, proper storage is key.
First and foremost, make sure you have an airtight container to store your leftover ribs. Try to keep some of the juices and BBQ sauce to place in the container with your ribs to help preserve moisture. Refrigerated leftovers can last up to 3 days.
If you’re storing ribs in the freezer, use the same method but take the extra step of wrapping your ribs in a layer of foil before placing them into the airtight container. This will help prevent flavor loss through freezer burn. Frozen leftovers can last about 2-3 months.
If you came into this article wondering how you were going to reheat your ribs and maintain maximum smokey flavor – I hope you have your answer now!
There are a few different ways to go about it for sure, and at the end of the day the best method for you comes down to how much time you have and how much flavor you want to keep.
If at all possible, reheat them low and slow for maximum tenderness and flavor.
Did we miss something? Have an awesome method for reheating ribs that we left off of our list? Let us know about it in the comments section below.