What Is The Best Way To Reheat Ribs And Keep Them Moist?

By Frank Tyler | Grill Cover

Aug 18
best way to reheat ribs

​Who doesn’t love freshly off the grill, deliciously moist ribs? The hearty meal seems perfect, for any time of the day, for any mood you may be in. All of us know how we like our ribs to be- tender, moist and with the meat falling off the bones, simply oozing with sauce. But is enjoying freshly barbecued always possible?

Not necessarily - Perhaps you’d like to load up the grill for efficiency or maybe you just have leftovers from a party. For whichever reason, it is very likely you will want to put away the ribs for another day of delicious binging. Thus ensues endless questions about storing ribs, reheating them and ensuring the taste.

Thankfully, here’s your guide to the best way to reheat ribs and keep them moist.

Nobody likes a dried rack of ribs and that is why people are generally wary about storing ribs for later use. But when done the right way with some nifty culinary tips, you will find your ribs to be as good as new!

Be it baby backs, St. Louis style, pork spareribs or any other cut, each of these can be stored, reheated and served with the same juicy taste as when first prepared.

More...


​How To Store Ribs

best way to reheat ribs 8


​If you’ve decided to store cooked ribs for your next meal, learning about the best ways to store them is in order. After all, if not stored properly, no amount of reheating techniques can infuse the ribs with the flavour that you want.

Firstly, make sure that the cooked meat is cut into manageable serving portions. It will make the task of reheating and serving much easier. But do not cut them too small- smaller pieces of meat tend to dry out sooner.

Cooked meat cannot be left outside for too long. Put your leftover ribs away as quickly as possible and if you are living in a warmer climate, you need to be even faster. It is of utmost importance that you put them away to a temperature below 40F.

One of the most common questions about storing ribs is about how long they last in the fridge. Technically, they should last a very long time but they certainly won’t be good. Now, ribs can be good for about a week, according to some.

But just to be cautious, it is best to have them within 3-4 days of storage. And the rules, of course, apply for both beef and pork ribs. 

Proper storage techniques can definitely prolong shelf life of ribs. It will also influence how well they reheat and their taste. Here are your options.

​Refrigerator

​If you plan to have your cooked ribs soon, as we recommend, refrigerating them should be good enough.

Ensure that the ribs are in an airtight condition. Let’s a vacuum seal, airtight container or a zipper plastic bag. Wrapping the ribs with plastic and an additional layer of aluminium foil also works. The idea is to keep out air.

For an additional hint of flavour, you may also want to store the ribs with some sauce. The ribs will taste absolutely delicious upon reheating.

​Freezer

​In case you want to have your precooked ribs on a later date, you may decide to freeze them.

The same techniques used to store in a refrigerator will work here as well. You may however want to avoid plastic tubs because the lids tend to get loose and the insides become frosty, defeating the purpose of an airtight seal.

Before freezing the extra ribs, you should first refrigerate to cool them down. This will ensure that the freezing process is faster and more efficient in general.

So, these were all the tips on storing ribs. Now, let’s move on to the part where the magic happens- how to reheat ribs and keep them moist. Continue reading for a complete walkthrough.

​Getting The Temperature Right

best way to reheat ribs 5


​The problem with reheating ribs is basically getting the temperature right.

As you may have seen with improperly reheated ribs, they are often dry and chewy. And this is, of course, because of lack of moisture.

For safe reheating, it is best to follow what USDA suggests reheating at a minimum of 145F.

This will ensure that your beef or pork ribs are safe to eat. It is, however, far more likely that you will be reheating at a higher temperature.

​Reheating Different Types of Ribs

​There are many different varieties of ribs, each with their own layers of taste. Reheating them, with the knowledge of what is best for the particular type that you want to enjoy, is sure to make your leftover meal a success.

​Meat Ribs

​You may choose to reheat your meat ribs on an oven or a grill. However, we suggest avoiding microwave reheating as it would put your meal at the risk of drying out.

If you’ve decided to reheat on a grill, here’s how you can proceed.

  • Preheat your outdoor grill to 225 to 250F
  • ​Tightly wrap the ribs with a layer of aluminium foil. Repeat the process with a second layer of foil. This will lock in moisture.
  • ​Place the ribs on the grill but not directly over the fire.
  • ​Heat them to an internal temperature of 165F, you may use a meat thermometer to be perfectly sure.
  • ​Serve the meat ribs with delicious dollops of sauce!

​You can also reheat meat ribs on an oven.

  • ​​Preheat the oven to 250F. Avoid going any higher or else the meat will dry out.
  • ​Loosely wrap a sheet of aluminium foil around the ribs. Pour ¼ cup of water into the foil, allowing the moisture to be absorbed by the meat. You may also choose beef broth or any other flavoured liquid instead of water.
  • ​Place the wrapped ribs on a baking sheet and into the preheated oven.
  • ​Heat the ribs for as long as it takes for the internal temperature to reach 165F.
  •  ​Serve the meat ribs, hot and delicious!

​Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs or pork loin ribs have less fat content and are more tender than most other varieties of ribs.

But because they aren’t very meaty, these ribs have a tendency of drying out. That is exactly why you need a curated reheating process, such as the one listed below, to help your baby back ribs be as juicy as ever.

  • ​Set the ribs on a broiling pan with the bone side kept upwards. You should definitely add some thick sauce for extra moisture- baby backs do need them.
  • Ensure that the ribs are placed 4 to 5 inches below the broiling element and insert the pan.
  • Leave them for about 3 minutes. If you’ve added sauce, stop when the sauce starts bubbling.
  • Remove the pan, flip over the ribs to the other side and insert the pan again to be reheated for 3 more minutes.
  • Remove the pan and cover the ribs with some aluminium foil. Allow the baby back ribs cool for about 4 minutes and then serve. 

​This is known as the broiler method and is your best bet for reheating back ribs. However, timing is very important in this technique, so you may want to keep an eye on the timer.

​Spare Ribs/St. Louis Style

​Pork spare ribs, cut from the belly and breastbone portion, tends to have greater fat content and are generally meatier. This gives them additional moisture, so even upon reheating, the ribs are just as juicy.

The process is, therefore, just a little different.

  • ​Add some BBQ sauce to the spare ribs. It doesn’t have to be as thick as with baby back ribs.
  • Wrap them with aluminium foil. Again, there is no need to add water or any other fluid.
  • Do not reheat the ribs to a temperature higher than 250F. You may, however, keep them on for a longer time. The high fat content will ensure that the ribs don’t dry out. 

​So there you have it- the best techniques for reheating different cuts and varieties of ribs. But you can also learn how to use microwave, ovens and grills in the best possible way, regardless of whichever reheating medium you choose to go with.

​Reheating In Microwave

best way to reheat ribs 6


​Chefs and culinary connoisseurs often look down upon the microwave- it is indeed a convenient appliance but it does strip off the flavour.

The sauce you add will just end up in pools on the plate or splatter all over the insides of the microwave.

However, if you want nothing more than a quick snack or are simply running short on time, this step-by-step process of microwave reheating might help your extra ribs taste good.

  • ​Place the ribs on a microwave-safe dish. Try to make sure that it is just one layer of ribs with adequate spacing between them.
  • Pour BBQ sauce over the ribs. You can also add some water or meat broth to the bottom of the dish or container.
  • Set the microwave to medium heat and let the ribs recook for about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • If not done yet, you can heat it for 3 more minutes and your leftover ribs will definitely be ready to be eaten.

This is a fairly no-frills reheating process for a quick snack for, say, over a football game. But if you do have the time and craving for juicy, flavorful ribs, some of the more extensive processed may be of help.

​Reheating In Oven

​They key to getting reheating in the oven right is the timing. The particular technique that will be discussed here is not just great for maintaining the taste and flavour of pre-cooked ribs, it even gives it a beautiful caramelized taste of its own.

  • ​Preheat oven to 250F.
  • Take out the ribs from the fridge or freezer and let it cool down to normal temperature. Pour BBQ sauce over it in the meantime.
  • Wrap the ribs in two layers of aluminium foil to lock in the taste.
  • Place the ribs in a baking dish inside the oven and let it heat for 20-30 minutes. You can be done sooner if you have a stronger over.
  • Switch on the broiler 5 minutes before the timer is about to go off on the oven. This is the part which will give your extra ribs a unique caramelized flavour.

​Reheating In Grill

best way to reheat ribs 3


​This is the more preferred option by most chefs. If done right, reheating a rack of ribs on the grill is often as good as the first time.

Take a charcoal or gas grill and work your way through these steps.

  • ​Preheat grill to 250F.
  • Rub BBQ sauce all over the ribs
  • Place the ribs on two sheets of aluminium foil.
  • Set the ribs on an indirect heat zone of the grill.
  • You may flip the ribs to ensure even heating throughout the portions
  • Allow it to heat until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

The reheating process should take about 8 to 10 minutes.

​Reheating On The Stove

If you don’t have access to a grill or microwave but you don’t want to completely lose out on the juicy taste of freshly cooked ribs, you can try using the stove.

  • ​​Take a medium-depth frying pan, about 3 inches deep, and add a little water or meat juices to the bottom of the pan.
  • Place the ribs on the pan. Slather the ribs with a sauce of your choice.
  • Turn up the stove to medium heat.
  • Shuffle around the ribs, making sure that all parts of it are covered in sauce and is being heated evenly.

Depending on the type of frying pan you are using and the quantity of the ribs that are in the pan, this process should also take around 8 to 10 minutes.

But keep checking on the ribs to avoid them getting dried out; overcooking is very common on the stove.Rub BBQ sauce all over the ribs

​Reheating In Toaster Oven

​If you are an experienced cook who has mastered the art of the perfect rack of ribs, you can even make a toaster oven your mode of reheating. It is basically just a miniature version of a conventional oven but it can still get the job done.

  • Preheat toaster oven to 250F
  • Cover the ribs with foil
  • Place them inside the oven
  • Keep checking on the ribs until they have been heated completed

Reheating in the toaster oven is slightly trickier because you will need to know exactly how long it will take to reheat the ribs.

It can take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the type and cut of the ribs.

​Reheating In Slow Cooker

​Just like the name suggests, reheating in a slow cooker is bound to take time.

But it is all worth it because of how well this technique retains moisture. Slow cookers are famous for cooking meat to a juicy perfection and if you have the time for it, whip out your slow cooker or crockpot for this sure-fire method.

  • ​Set your slow cooker to warm. In the case that it doesn’t have a “warm” setting, choose the low option.
  • Add some water. It is suggested that you only add 2 tablespoons of water per rib. You can even add some sauce if you like.
  • Place the ribs inside the slow cooker with a pair of tongs. Cover the cooker with a lid and leave it on.
  • Keep checking every 30 to 60 minutes to see whether your ribs are done. You can even turn them a little, if necessary.

This technique is sure to reheat your ribs to the perfect tenderness, rich in flavour and a delightful meal. But here’s the pitfall- it can take as long as 4 to 6 hours.

​Sous Vide- Reheating Like A Pro

​Don’t be intimidated if you haven’t heard the term “sous vide” before. Professional chefs have been using the sous vide technique for ages and now it’s your chance in on the secret.

Instead of using harsh flames of fire and electricity, why not just use hot water? The fancy-sounding term is basically chef’s lingo for using water to reheat ribs.

​Follow the process listed here and learn to reheat like a pro. 

  • ​Place the ribs inside an airtight plastic bag. You may already have done so when storing precooked ribs overnight.
  • Place a pot on the stove and set the stove to high.
  • As you may know already, water boils at 212F. Because water can’t get any hotter than that, this is the point where you immerse the bag of ribs into the water.
  • Now, you can just wait until the ribs are done reheating. This should take around 45-60 minutes. If you set the stove to low, it can take up to 3 hours.

If you want nothing less than juicy, tender ribs, we suggest you go for the sous vide technique. It will definitely give you reheated ribs which taste just as delicious as they did when cooked for the first time.

​The Moisture Factor

best way to reheat ribs 2


​When it comes to ribs, the juicier the better. But as it turns out, reheated ribs are, more often than not, chewy and dried out. This makes additional moisture more important than ever when reheating ribs. Besides, there is no denying that dousing meat in sauce can create a meal experience like none other.

For reheated ribs, you may choose to brush on a new sauce all over the ribs. You may also choose to save the meat broth and drippings from when you first cooked the ribs- stored meat juices actually taste delicious, no matter how you choose to put them to use!

During the reheating process, all of the techniques that have been listed suggest adding water to the mix. But you are free to experiment with other liquids too. For instance, apple juice or apple cider is a great replacement for water in the case of pork ribs; it adds a delightful tanginess to the pork.

For beef ribs, there is a wider array of liquids to choose from. Meat broth, cola, beer can all be used instead of water for some extra flavour. If you are using cola, be careful to keep an eye throughout the reheating process to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

The exact technique of adding moisture can also be the secret to your perfectly reheated ribs. You may spray them on with a spray bottle for an even seasoning or you can pour them all over the ribs to excite the taste buds. You can even let it pool up on the foil layer which cover the ribs for a more natural flavour.

Now, it is possible that your meat or pork ribs turned out to be dry and chewy the first time you cooked them. In that case, try this magic sauce. Make a 1:1 mixture of a BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar, diligently rub the sauce onto the ribs, wrap in foil and turn on the oven. Reheating with this custom sauce will infuse moisture into the driest of ribs!

​How Many Times Can Ribs Be Reheated?

​Truth be told, the same ribs may be reheated as many times as you like.

However, the quality of the meat or pork will deteriorate every time you reheat it and at one point, it will be nothing like the juicy tender ribs that we all love to indulge in. Besides, reheating multiple times puts the ribs at greater risk of contamination.

If you are willing to give up on taste for the sake of practicality, feel free to store and reheat. But ideally, thawed ribs should not be reheated more than once.

best way to reheat ribs 1


​Deliciously Reheated

​There you have it- your complete guide to reheating ribs and keeping them moist! Ribs are always a favourite- be it for parties or even some self-indulgence. And when it comes ribs, nobody can resist a succulent rack.

There is no reason why your leftover ribs shouldn’t taste just as great as the first time you cooked them. For juicy tender ribs even when reheated, firstly make sure you aren’t careless about storing them properly.

Next, just choose the technique that you feel is perfect for the kind of ribs you will be serving and follow the instructions. Sauce it generously and you have a steaming plate of everyone’s favourite meal!

About the Author

Hi, I'm Frank Tyler. Welcome to GrillsCatalog where I share all the knowledge, methods and reviews about grills and cooking with grills