How to Reheat Ribs (5 Tried and Tested Methods)

Can’t be bothered firing up the smoker every time you crave ribs?

Leftover ribs are the best, so it’s a good idea to cook a big batch!

Plus I find it easier to just reheat my ribs than to make them from scratch each time.

In the BBQ community reheating meat is frowned upon by some! But why?

People think that reheating meat will dry it out. Well, that doesn’t have to be the case.It all depends on the reheating process. 

We’ll cover all of the reheating methods I have tried

 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.

Some Tips on Reheating Your Ribs

Popping the ribs in a preheated oven (or using any other method of heating) can result in some pretty dry meat.

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, and 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 enough moisture during the heating process. You can keep your ribs moist by adding any of the following liquid 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.

There are 5 methods for reheating ribs – see them below

Below are my 5 tried and tested methods!

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 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 — until the ribs reach 140℉.
  6. Plate it up and it’s done!

My Favorite Ribs Recipes

Smoked Rib Recipe (The Easy 3-2-1 Rib Method)

Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a Pellet Grill

Smoked Beef Short Rib Recipe

Smoked BBQ Beef Ribs On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill

Pork Country Style Rib Burnt Ends

Grilled Beef Ribs with Sweet Smoky Barbecue Sauce

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 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.

So now you have my top tips for reheating ribs like a pro as well as getting the most use out of each and every time you fire up the smoker!

If your going to cook up a big batch make sure you see my tips for storing them. You don’t want the meat to go to waste! You don’t want to disappoint your family with tasteless, dry ribs so hopefully, my tried and tested methods will come in use!

If you have any methods that I haven’t covered here, please share them with the rest of the community, we want to know your hot tips! Share your industry insider information and we will all become better pitmasters!

If you see your neighbors or friends with leftover ribs, make sure you send them this resource!

Smoke on!

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 the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

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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