Your Guide To Freezing and Reheating Meat Safety [March 2019] - Simply Meat Smoking

Your Guide To Freezing and Reheating Meat Safety [March 2019]

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It is best to always cook more food than necessary. But something we never think about is freezing and reheating meat safety

How good is it when you stumble in the door on a Monday night, exhausted and remember you have pulled pork tucked away in the freezer? Pulled pork nachos anyone?

Not only that, but when your having a party the last thing you want is your guests fighting over food. So, I always you plan on at least 1.5 – 2 pounds per person for a meal.

If you have a cooking plan in place like this, you will always have lots of left overs, and lets face it leftovers always make the tastiest meals.

Here is how to reheat and freeze your leftover meat, keeping safety in mind.

Your Guide To Freezing and Reheating Meat Safety

The most efficient way to store food for more than a week is in the freezer. Food only loses a very tiny of amount nutrients and quality when it is frozen.

You will find that oxygen is the main problem when freezing and reheating, so use a vacuum sealer like the or ziplock bags.

Make sure you always include the date on the bag and you add a little bit of sauce when freezing as it ensures your meat doesn’t dry out when reheating.

How to Freeze Pulled Pork

There is nothing like making a big batch of pulled pork, however, you might wonder whether you can freeze it?

Well, your in luck as long as your cool and if you freeze it correctly, it can last up to 4-6 months. Follow my 5 steps below to find how to freeze your delicious pulled pork!

  • Step 1: Cooling The Pulled Pork
    Allow the pulled pork and sauce to cool to room temperature.
  • Step 2: Packing The Pork
    Transfer the cooled pork and barbecue sauce to an airtight bag, make sure to completely seal the bags to prevent any leakage. Always leave at least 1 inch at the top of the bag because you will find that the pulled pork mixture will expand as it freezes. Leaving space prevents the bag from splitting, which can leave a huge mess in the freezer.
  • Step 3: Mark The Bags
    Ensure you write the date that the pulled pork was cooked the bag using a permanent marker.
  • Step 4: Freeze It
    Place the bags of pulled pork in your freezer.
  • Step 5: Use By Date
    Eat the pulled pork within four to six months from the date written on the freezer bag.

How to Freeze Cooked Ribs

Correctly preparing ribs to that tender and luscious richness can be time consuming.

If you like to prepare a big batch at once, you might wonder if you can freeze cooked ribs. Well the answer is yes. You will see below my method to ensure they stay at their very best.

  • Step 1: Cooling the Ribs
    After cooking your ribs you want to allow them to cool before packaging them. Put them on a wire cooling rack and let the air circulate. Once the ribs have cooled to room temperature they should be packed immediately.
  • Step 2: Packaging the Ribs
    Once they have cooled cut the racks into 1/2 or 1/3 portions. Wrap each rack with cling film tightly and squeezing out as much air as possible, then place the ribs into freezer bags.
  • Step 3: Freezing the Ribs
    Food retains texture best when it is frozen rapidly. ​To quickly freeze your ribs ​ensure they are in a single layer. It's often best to freeze the individual portions, then transfer the wrapped ribs to a heavy-duty zipper-seal bag.

​How to Freeze Cooked Chicken

Most of us, like to be over prepared when we cook for a crowd. You might wonder, what happens if I cook to much chicken, is it safe to freeze it?

I’m here to let you know you can!

Whether it is rotisserie chicken, fried chicken or just plain chicken breast, you don't have to let those extra grilled chicken pieces go to waste!

Follow my proven steps to ensure you always have a tasty meal for those busy nights.

  • Step 1: Refrigerate The Chicken
    Refrigerate the chicken after cooking, by decreasing the internal temperature of the chicken rapidly​ you keep the risk of contamination at bay. The longer you have the meat sitting out at room temperature the greater the risk of food-borne illness.
  • Step 2: Package The Chicken
    Put the chicken pieces in a ziplock bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.
  • Step 3: Label Your Bags
    Ensure you label the bag with the date it was frozen and put in the freezer. It will keep for up to three months, if you don’t use it by them throw it away.

Defrosting & Heating Meat Safety (This Is An Very Important One)

Adhering to food safety guidelines is paramount when it comes to defrosting and heating meat.

Similar to freezing you want to ensure you have the process correct. You must ensure all your family and friends are consuming meat that hasn't had the chance for bacteria to multiply.

Below you will find the correct methods to defrosting and heating ribs, chicken, pulled pork, pork chops and steak

How to Reheat BBQ Ribs

People crave beef because it is so succulent. Although it’s more expensive than pork, we find that beef as it is so juicy, tender, and tasty (and worth those few extra dollars)

Like pork, there are different kinds of beef ribs, but the reheating methods are the same for all these types.

  • ​Baby Back Ribs:
    These are the large bones that remain from a roasted rib cut. They are trimmed into single portions and very tender.
  • ​Short Ribs:
    This is the rectangular rack of a rib that has been cut from the shoulder. It has layers of alternating fat and lean meat throughout.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​Flanked-Style Ribs:
    Although it is similar to short ribs, it is cut lengthwise, which makes it meatier than short ribs.

Reheating Ribs on The Grill​​​​​

  • Step 1: Thaw the meat for 6-12 hours in the refrigerator. The time depends on the consistency of the cuts.
  • Step 2: Preheat the grill to 225-250°F.
  • Step 3: Remove the thawed beef from the bag and wrap it with aluminum foil.
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    Step 4: Put the wrapped ribs on the grill. Make sure that they are not directly on the fire.
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    Step 5: Heat until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 165°F. To make sure that the beef is reheated well, you can use a meat thermometer.

Reheating Ribs in The Oven

  • Step 1: Thaw the meat for 6-12 hours in the refrigerator. The time depends on the consistency of the cuts.
  • Step 2: Preheat the oven to 225-250°F.
  • Step 3: Unwrapped the ribs and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Add a 1/2 cup of water or broth to prevent the ribs from drying up during reheat.
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    Step 4: Put the ribs on a ​​​​baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven.
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    ​​​​Step 5: Wait until they reach a temperature of 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.

 The idea is to prevent the ribs from being overcooked, there we suggest you go for a very low-temperature heat.

How to Reheat Brisket

We suggest you only heat brisket in the oven. We have found all other methods do not produce great results.

Reheating Brisket in The Oven

  • Step 1: Remove the ​brisket from the freezer bag ​
  • Step 2: Next, take your brisket and place it in an oven-safe baking dish.
  • Step 3: Pour in just enough beef broth to cover the bottom of the dish and then tightly wrap the dish in aluminum foil. We’re not only going to reheat this bad boy, but we’re also going to steam the moisture right back into it.
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    Step 4: Set the oven for 300°F and plan to reheat about 20 minutes or once the brisket reaches 140°F internal temperature, remove it from the oven, slice and serve.

How to Reheat Pulled Pork

You have a few option when it comes to reheating your delicious pulled pork! See below for my step by step guides.

Reheating Pulled Pork in The Oven

This is a my healthy method and may be a good option if you have a huge amount of pulled pork to reheat.

To ensure you are able to reheat your pulled pork the best way, save the pan drippings. Saving your pan drippings allows the meat to retain as much more moisture when it's heating.

  • Step 1:  Save the liquids in your drip pan after you finish smoking or cooking the meat.
  • Step 2: When you want to reheat, take it out of the freezer and ​mix together your pan drippings with some BBQ sauce or apple juice, mix it all together.
  • Step 3: Set the temperature to 250 °F. When it is heated, cover your meat with foil and put it into oven
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    Step 4: Let your pulled pork heat for 30 minutes or until ​it  reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F.

Reheating Pulled Pork in The Microwave

  • Step 1: Ensure you retain the juices from original smoking or cooking of your pulled pork.
  • Step 2: After you take the meat out of the refrigerator for reheating the following day, add your original juice to BBQ sauce or apple juice. Use this liquid to cover your pork.
  • Step 3: Throw into the microwave and set the timer for one to two minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F. You can check the internal temperature with a thermometer.

How to Reheat Pork Chops

You might find that some meats like pork chops end up dried out and chewy when you reheat them. The secret is the using the oven or stove, you can use a microwave however, the other methods yield the tastiest results!

Your best bet for moist leftover pork chops is to reheat them on the stove in a cast-iron skillet or by flash reheating in the oven, a method that requires reheating food quickly at a high temperature.

Reheating Pork Chops in The Oven

  • Step 1: Heat the oven to 450°F.
  • Step 2: Pour a few tablespoons of water or broth into the bottom of an oven-safe casserole dish.
  • Step 3: Place the pork chops in liquid and cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.
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    Step 4: Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the chops are warm. Remove the dish from the oven with mitts. Be careful when you peel back the aluminum foil to avoid steam burns.

Reheating Pork Chops in The Microwave

  • Step 1: Place the pork chops in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cover the chops with a clean, damp paper towel.
  • Step 2: Heat the chops at 50 or 60 percent power. Using full power will heat the chops up too quickly, rendering them dry and leathery.
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    Step 3: Microwave the pork chops for 30 seconds at a time. Check the chops by touching one quickly with your finger to make sure it doesn't overheat. The chop should feel warm under your finger at the center and at the edges.

Reheating Pork Chops in The Pan

  • Step 1: Heat a few drops of vegetable or olive oil in a heavy-bottomed cast-iron skillet and heat to a high temperature.
  • Step 2: Place the chops carefully into the heated oil with kitchen tongs in a single layer. Reheat in several batches if necessary.
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    Step 3: Sear the pork for 2 to 3 minutes on each side to make the outside crunchy and warm the inside.

How to Reheat Steak (So It Actually Tastes Good!)

The biggest problem when reheating steak is that it can become dried out.

The main reason it usually dries out is that most people try heating up their steaks too quickly!

So, take a little extra time – and follow these helpful tips – to get your steaks tasting how it should, delicious!!

Reheating Steak in The Oven

If your using the oven the reverse sear method is a good way to reheat steak in the oven. This does take some time so ensure you give yourself about 40 minutes  before you’re ready to eat!

  • Step 1: For this method, set your oven to 250°F. Once your oven is ​heated, put the steaks on the middle rack and heat until they reach about 100 to 110°F. This usually takes about 20-30 minutes.
  • Step 2: Heat up a skillet with some butter or oil.
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    Step 3: Once the pan is warmed up and your steaks are out of the oven, sear them on each side for a minute or until browned.

Reheating Steak in The Microwave

Reheating steak in the microwave should be your last resort! If your short on time however the trick is to save the juices from when you cooked it. You can store these juices in a ziplock bag or airtight container in the fridge.

  • Step 1: Place your steak in a microwave-safe dish and pour the juices over them.
  • Step 2: Cover your dish with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in. Switch the heat to low or medium and heat in 30-second increments
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    Step 3: Checking constantly for correct temperature.

How to Reheat Chicken

Freshly smoked chicken is moist and delicious. However after reheating, that succulent chicken often can become dry and tough if you do it wrong!

I have put my tried and tested methods below! Just remember no matter what reheating technique you choose, the most vital thing is to reheat the chicken safely. 

Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

Reheating Chicken in The Oven

  • Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  • Step 2: Cover your dish with plastic wrap to keep the moisture in.
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    Step 3: Place the chicken in the middle of the baking tray​ & ​cover the chicken with a sauce or both.
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    ​​​​​​​Step 4: Reheat the chicken until the internal temperature of the meat registers at least 165°F on a meat thermometer.

Reheating Chicken in The Microwave

  • Step 1: Place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate or dish. Always put the largest, meatiest pieces towards the outside of the plate and smaller pieces in the centre.
  • Step 2: Cover the chicken with a sauce or both, this will ensure the reheated chicken is moist.
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    Step 3: Place a piece of microwave-safe plastic wrap over the dish. Switch the heat to low or medium and heat in 30-second increments
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    ​​​​Step 4: ​Halfway thought then turn the pieces over and stir the sauce. Resume cooking until the center of the thickest piece of chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is nothing I love more than cooking up a huge batch of pulled pork and having tons left over! It means I get to eat well for months! I regularly freeze and reheat so I thought I would share some of my wisdom!

Question: Can you freeze barbecue sauce?
Answer: You can, just pour the BBQ in a sealable freezer container. Do not use a freezer bag. Use the frozen BBQ sauce within 4 months.

Question: Can i freeze pulled pork?
Answer: Yes you can! Make sure you cool the pulled pork to room temperature first though. Once cool transfer into freezer bags. Always remember to date the bag so you know when it went in. Pork can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Question: Can I freeze cooked ribs?
Answer: You sure can, I have a guide above which shows you the process. How to Freeze Cooked Ribs.

Final Thoughts

Wouldn't it be amazing if reheated food tasted just as good as it did when it was freshly made?

I have asked myself this question a few times before. However, once you learn the correct techniques you can get pretty dang close to the first cook.

I also enjoy cooking with leftovers as it pushes you to be a little more creative. I would have never known how good pulled pork, guacamole and blue cheese quesadillas were!

What's your best leftovers dish? Let me know we add it too our (ever growing) to cook list.

Happy Smoking


Still Hungry For More?

About the Author Charlie

You will more often than not find me tinkering around in my backyard. I will have one hand tightly gripped around a can of beer and the other hand tightly gripped around my spatula. Not so long ago (almost 8 years now) I got obsessed with Grilling, smoking and BBQ-ing. I can't get enough of it.. and neither can my family!

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