How to Reheat Ribs (Like They Fresh From The Grill)

Pork ribs and beef ribs — are finger-licking delicious.

If you’re like me, we like to cook our ribs in batches. 

This saves energy and makes it super convenient to just have ribs on hand. Plus its easy to just reheat ribs than to make them from scratch each time.

Reheating meat is almost frowned upon. Why? Because many people mistakenly think that reheating meat will dry it out. 

Some also might think it has a bad taste because it’s not ‘freshly cooked’.

Well, that doesn’t have to be the case.

It all depends on the reheating process. 

We’ll cover all of the reheating methods you can always rely on. These will ensure that your leftover ribs look and taste just as good as when you first pulled them off the barbecue.

how to heat up ribs
Beef ribs I cooked last weekend – getting ready to warm them.

How to Reheat Ribs Without Making them Dry

Popping the ribs in a preheated oven (or using any other method of heating) can result in major moisture loss. 

There are two things that you can do to ensure that your ribs maintain their moisture levels while it’s heating up.

These include: 

  • getting the timing just right
  • adding extra moisture

The timings can change due to many variables; how much meat are you reheating, what methods are you using. I have given rough guides below, however reheating is a bit of trial and error.

The second thing is to ensure that there’s additional moisture during the heating process. You can keep your ribs moist by adding an array of liquids to your meat. This can include something as basic as a bit of water. Or you can use this chance to add some extra flavor to your meat. Here are some ideas:

  • BBQ sauce or any other layer of sauce
  • Grill sauce
  • Beer
  • Apple juice
  • Apple cider
  • Beef broth or any other type of suitable meat broth

You can brush a layer of barbecue sauce on the ribs. And if you’re opting for a thinner liquid, you can pour it into a spray bottle and simply spray it onto the meat’s surface.

There are 5 methods to reheating ribs – see them below

1. Reheating Ribs in the Oven

ribs we heated in the oven

Now let’s move on to some easy, no-fuss reheating methods. At the top of our list, we have the oven.

The oven is not only versatile for cooking all sorts of food but it’s also good for heating them back up. 

Of course, whether you’re using a convection oven or a regular oven, you’ve got to keep an eye on it. The last thing you’d want is to be left with tough and dry ribs in the oven.

Here’s what you should do, step-by-step:

  1. Ensure that the ribs are at room temperature by taking them out of the fridge and letting them sit on the kitchen counter 
  2. Set the oven temperature to 230℉.
  3. Line a tray with aluminum foil and place the ribs on top. Add some sort of moisture (be it water, sauce, or juice) to keep the meat moist.
  4. Cover it with another layer of foil to retain all the juices.
  5. Put everything in the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes. Keep checking on it to make sure that it doesn’t overcook.

2. Reheating Ribs in a Steamer

If you’ve had your fair share of bad experiences with reheating ribs in the oven or on the grill, then you might want to try steaming it instead

Unlike all those other dry heating methods, steaming keeps the meat moist

Here’s what you should do, step-by-step:

  1. Heat half a cup of liquid in a pot on a stove. You can use any liquid. Apart from water, we suggest using apple juice or beef broth. Keep the pot lid on until the contents begin to boil.
  2. Next, place your ribs in a steamer basket (it doesn’t matter if it’s metal or bamboo) and let it rest over the open pot.
  3. Leave everything to steam for up to half an hour. Keep an eye on it so the contents in the pot don’t overboil.
  4. Next you’ll want to use a meat thermometer to check that your ribs are at least 135℉ to 140℉ before taking it off the heat.
  5. As an extra step, you can save the liquid in the pot and serve the ribs in it. 

3. Reheating Ribs using a Sous Vide

If you’re up to trying a new reheating method, then how about trying your hand at learning how to sous vide? 

You don’t have to be a professional chef to do it.

You will, however, need to get your hands on proper food-grade vacuum seal bags. This is important because if you submerge any old plastic bag in the hot water.

This method of reheating ribs ensures that the meat stays moist, without the meat coming into contact with extra liquid.

Here’s what you should do, step-by-step:

  1. Make sure that the ribs are in a vacuum-sealed food-grade bag. It must be water-tight so that the meat doesn’t come in contact with the hot water.
  2. Heat the water to just below your prior cooking temperature. Therefore, if the ribs were exposed to 140℉ before, then check to see that the water temperature is at 130℉.
  3. Place the bag in the water for anywhere between one to three hours.
  4. When it’s done, take it out of the water, cut away the bag, and serve it up.

4. Reheating Ribs in the Air Fryer

heating up my ribs in the airfryer

Air frying is a popular cooking method. 

A lot of people choose this method because it’s a lot healthier than frying food.

 It uses less oil but still provides a ‘fried’ taste and texture.

The best way to ensure they aren’t dry is by coating them in a sauce.

Here’s what you should do, step-by-step:

1. Begin by setting your air fryer to approximately 350℉.

2. Toss your ribs in your chosen sauce. Place the ribs inside the a glass dish and place that in your air fryer basket. You don’t want to overpack it or the fryer won’t be able to cook it properly.

4. You don’t want to leave it in the air fryer for long. We suggest placing it in there for less than 5 minutes.

5. Can You Reheat Ribs in the Microwave?

Of course! This is the easiest and most convenient way to reheat leftover ribs. 

With that being said, it doesn’t always give you the best results. For example, the ribs may come out too soggy, overly dry, or too tough. 

Here’s what you should do, step-by-step:

  1. Place the ribs in a ceramic dish and do not cover them. 
  2. Put the dish in the microwave oven and place half a cup of water next to it.
  3. Set the microwave to ½ power, and turn it on for 3 minutes.
  4. When it comes out, use a meat thermometer to check whether the ribs have an internal temperature of 140℉.
  5. Place the ribs back in the microwave for 20-second intervals after — until the ribs reach 140℉.
  6. Plate it up and it’s done!

Storing Your Ribs

You want to make sure that you’re always storing any leftover ribs in an air-tight container. This is to retain its freshness and longevity.

How Long Can You Store Cooked Ribs?

If it’s in the fridge, then you can keep it in there for up to a 3 days.

Best Ways to Store Cooked Ribs

The best way to store cook ribs is to place them inside the fridge or freezer.

Storing Ribs in the Refrigerator

Keep the ribs in an airtight container. If possible, the best way is to vacuum seal it to prevent it from drying out in the fridge. 

If the ribs have an accompanying sauce, then store them together.

Storing Ribs in the Freezer

Believe it or not, you can store ribs in the freezer for more than half a year! With that being said, you’ll need to make sure it is wrapped up tightly. We’d suggest a zip lock bag.

I hope that you’ve learned some helpful tips about how to best reheat ribs. 

If you have extra tips that we didn’t mention, please reach out to us and let us know!

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking and getting out in nature with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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