How to Reheat Ribs So They Taste Like They’re Fresh Off the Grill
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When done right, a rack of ribs provides a type of carnal pleasure that can rival the finest filet mignon. Luckily for you, you cooked them to savory sublimity for last night’s dinner. And the even better news? You now have leftovers of this finger-licking food in the fridge. Your restraint should be rewarded—but first, you need to know how to reheat ribs so they stay just as juicy and flavorful as they were yesterday.
(The TLDR? Our preferred method is popping them on the grill, since they’re easy to keep moist and reheat in a flash. But in the off-season when your grill is covered, the oven is a reliable—yet more time-consuming—alternative.)
How to Reheat Ribs in the Oven
The oven is a fuss-free and reliable method for reheating many different types of meat, and pork ribs are no exception. When it comes to warming leftover ribs in the oven, the method mirrors the original low-and-slow cooking technique. Why the wait? Ribs contain a lot of connective tissue that needs time to turn tender. The same is true when it comes to reheating them, but there’s another issue to contend with here, as well: moisture. Read on to learn how to tackle both.
Step 1: Remove ribs from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to reheating so they can come to room temperature.
Ribs that have had some time to hang out on the counter will reheat more evenly.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 225°F.
The low temperature ensures that the meat will be warmed through without cooking further.
Step 3: Place the ribs on a sheet of aluminum foil and add some extra moisture.
If you served them with barbecue sauce, slather on another coat. Otherwise, dry-rubbed ribs can be dipped in leftover drippings or sprinkled with a few tablespoons of water.
Step 4: Tightly wrap the foil around the moistened ribs.
Add a second layer of foil to ensure that no liquid escapes during the reheating process.
Step 5: Place the packet of meat in the oven to cook for approximately 30 minutes.
Know that cooking time will vary depending on the cut and quantity of meat (spare ribs will need more time than back-cut ribs, for example, because they're fattier), so keep a close eye on your parcel. The ribs are ready to be demolished as soon as they are warmed through.
How to Reheat Ribs on the Grill
Fire up the barbecue for leftover ribs that have the same delicious smoky flavor as when they were freshly cooked. Bonus: This approach is fast—ideal for when you want to chow down post-haste. The steps to reheating ribs on the grill are similar to those for the oven method with a few adjustments.
Step 1: Turn the grill up to high and let it preheat while the ribs come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
Don’t send them straight from the fridge onto the fire.
Step 2: Drench your ribs with sauce, drizzle them with drippings or splash them with a few drops of water.
This will help them stay moist against the heat.
Step 3: Loosely wrap the ribs in aluminum foil.
This time, you don’t want a tight seal: While the convection heat of an oven warms from all directions, a grill warms them with direct heat, so it’s better to give the ribs a little breathing room.
Step 4: Turn the grill down to moderate heat and barbecue the bundle for 8 to 10 minutes.
Be sure to turn them over at the halfway point for even reheating.
How to Reheat Ribs in a Sous Vide Machine
Sous vide is method chefs use to warm meat without extra cooking, which helps it retain its moisture and tenderness. It's essentially a long, warm bath—think of it like sending your ribs for a spa day.
Step 1: Prep the ribs by bringing them to room temperature.
Let them rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Seal the ribs for soaking.
Transfer the meat to a vacuum-sealed bag. You won't need to coat them in sauce yet, since the sous vide machine won't dry them out.
Step 3: Fill the sous vide basin with enough water to completely cover the ribs, then set the machine to 150°F.
Place the ribs in the water and let them sit.
Step 4: Watch the clock.
After about an hour (or 45 minutes for every inch of the meat's thickness), the ribs will have reached the same temperature as the water and be ready to eat. But don't feel the need to babysit them: You can let them soak for two or three hours if necessary without any risk of them burning or drying out.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Air Fryer
Air fryers are countertop convection ovens that circulate electric heat with high-powered fans, a process that makes food crispy as if it were fried in oil, minus the mess and extra calories. The appliance isn't our top choice for reheating ribs, since it tends to dry out whatever food is put in it and—depending on the size of your leftover rack—it might be a tight squeeze for smaller models. But with a little forethought, it's certainly possible. (On the plus side, the ribs will be warmed through much faster than in a standard oven.)
Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 350°F.
Add a silicone liner, foil or a parchment round on the base of the fryer for easy cleanup, and grease the basket to keep the ribs from sticking.
Step 2: Lightly sauce or oil the ribs.
This will keep the ribs from totally drying out as they air fry.
Step 3: Place the ribs in the air fryer basket (or on the warming rack) in a single layer.
If your air fryer has a drawer for water, add some before cooking the ribs to keep them from overheating and smoking. You can also wrap the ribs in foil before placing them in the air fryer to help them retain their moisture.
Step 4: Cook the ribs for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until warmed through.
Take care not to overcook them—they'll turn out excessively dry.
Can I Reheat Ribs in the Microwave?
We don't recommend nuking since it tends to dry out the meat (even if you slather those bad boys with sauce). Instead, opt for one of the methods above for juicy ribs on day two and beyond.
How Long Do Cooked Ribs Last in the Fridge?
Leftover ribs should last for three to four days in the refrigerator if they're wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil and stored in a shallow, airtight container. If you want them to last longer, keep them in the freezer for two to three months.
Ready to eat? Here are seven side dishes for ribs: