How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture In

Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
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Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: September 18, 2023
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No matter how you cook your ribs when they are fresh, there are bound to be leftovers, especially when you’re making large batches for groups of friends and family. Rather than wasting those extra ribs, it’s a good idea to pack them into your fridge or freezer to eat another day. The issue is that reheating ribs may not give you the same quality and flavor as cooking them fresh unless you do it right. That’s why you need to know how to reheat ribs properly to maintain the deliciousness of this tasty meal.

There are a few ways to reheat smoked ribs, bbq ribs, or any other type that you have on hand. There is no right way since the method you choose depends on how you prefer to do it and how much time you want to spend on this process since some methods are quicker than others. No matter which one you choose, if you do it right, you’ll enjoy those reheated ribs as much as you did when they were made fresh. Regardless of the method, one of the best meat thermometers can help you to get the most delicious ribs at a professional level.

In the oven

How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture InOne of the best ways to reheat bbq ribs is in the oven since it helps maintain the tenderness of the meat and keeps them moist if done correctly. You can even use the broiler when you reheat the ribs in the oven to carmelize the barbecue sauce in ways that no other method has to offer.

To reheat ribs in the oven, first remove them from the fridge or freezer and allow them to reach room temperature. As the ribs are warming, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want that barbecue flavor, add a generous coating of your favorite barbecue sauce at this time.

Wrap your ribs, using two layers of tinfoil to ensure that none of the juices will leak out. This thick layer of foil will also prevent the barbecue sauce from burning while giving the ribs that fantastic caramelized flavor.

Lay the foil-covered ribs into a baking pan and place them in the oven. Let them cook for about 15 to 20 minutes. When you have 5 minutes left on your timer, turn on the broiler to carmelize the sauce.

If you’re reheating spare ribs, you’ll need to add some extra cooking time due to the higher fat content, though you want to maintain the low temperature. Beef ribs may need a bit of water added to the foil to keep them moist and tender.

For those who want to reheat baby back ribs in the oven, only turn the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. You should still add the generous layer of barbecue sauce and wrap them in two foil layers but you’ll need to increase the cooking time to 45 minutes.

In the microwave

Though it isn’t necessarily the best way to reheat ribs and keep them moist, the microwave is definitely the fastest way to do so. Thaw any ribs that you plan to reheat in the microwave before you start.

To reheat ribs this way, get a microwave dish that can fit the ribs you want to reheat without piling them on top of each other. Place the ribs in this dish and coat them in a thick layer of barbecue sauce. The sauce is important for this method since it prevents the ribs from drying out as they cook. You may also want to lay a wet paper towel beneath the ribs to add moisture as they cook.

Place the dish of ribs into the microwave. Set the temperature to medium heat and cook the ribs for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the ribs and check to make sure they are heated through. If they are still cold inside, heat them for another 3 minutes. Watch the sauce as they cook as well since it will start to bubble when the ribs get hot. Remove the ribs again, leave them for a minute or two to cool, and then enjoy.

In the toaster oven

How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture InThough it is much smaller than your regular oven, a toaster oven is another great option for reheating ribs. It cooks them faster and uses less energy than your oven would, so many people prefer this method. There may be some trial and error with this process since the time it takes to cook the ribs varies depending on the toaster oven you’re using and the thickness of the ribs.

To reheat ribs using this method, first preheat your toaster oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap your ribs in foil, making it tight so the juices don’t leak out. Place the wrapped ribs into the toaster oven. Keep a close eye on the ribs, checking them after about 10 minutes to see how quickly they are cooking. Check them every few minutes after that to be sure they are heated through without burning.

In the steamer

If a loss of moisture is something you’re concerned with when reheating ribs, you can try using a steamer. This will allow you to maintain the juicy flavor of the meat without adding extra sauce unless you want to.

To steam your ribs, you first need the right equipment, like the Chef’s Star Steamer set, which includes a 3-quart sauce pot, a 2-quart steamer, and a vented glass lid. You can also use a crockpot or a regular pot for this process if you don’t have a steamer set, though you’ll need something to hold the ribs above the water level to avoid boiling them.

Add apple juice until the pot is ¼ full and bring it to a boil. Place the ribs you are reheating into the steamer basket and put the basket over the boiling liquid. Add the lid and let the ribs steam for about half an hour. Do not lift the lid during this time since it will release the steam, lowering the steamer temperature and increasing your cooking time.

Once the ribs are hot, remove them from the basket and lay them out on a plate. Turn off your stove and stir the apple juice to mix in any drippings from the meat and its sauce. Spoon small amounts of the mixed juice over the ribs for a bit more moisture and flavor, then serve.

On the grill

How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture InThe best way to reheat pork ribs or beef ribs is on the grill. That amazing grill flavor will be added this way, regardless of how you cooked the ribs in the first place. You can use any type of grill for this, including a gas grill or a charcoal grill like the Weber Original Kettle model. You can even add your favorite wood types for some smoky flavor while the ribs are reheating.

The first step, as with a few of the other methods, is to preheat your grill on the high setting. You should also remove the ribs from your fridge and let them reach room temperature, which should only take a few minutes.

Cover the ribs in your favorite sauce and then wrap them in tinfoil. Now that your grill is nice and hot, lower the temperature to medium heat and place the ribs onto the grill. After 4 to 5 minutes, turn the ribs over using a good set of grill tongs and then leave them for another 4-5 minutes to cook them evenly on both sides.

Сheck the internal temperature of the ribs to be sure they have reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ribs are finished cooking, remove them from the grill, unwrap them, and serve.

Sous vide method

How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture InThough the sous vide method is relatively new when compared to the other reheating methods for ribs, it is becoming quite popular due to its efficiency and how moist and delicious the finished ribs are. It is also quite simple to do, though it may take longer than most of the other methods, so you need some extra time when reheating ribs this way.

There are dedicated sous vide machines for this process but if you don’t have one then you can use any large pot that you have on hand. Bring the water in the sous vide machine or pot to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you’ve stored your ribs in vacuum-sealed bags, thaw them out but do not remove them or cut the bags. You can also place any unsealed ribs into air-sealed bags to reheat them. Once the ribs are in the bags and the water is ready to go, place the bagged ribs into the hot water.

Let them cook for about 45 minutes for every inch of rib thickness. If the ribs are frozen, you’ll need to add another 30 minutes to this time. Then remove the ribs from the water and then from the bags to serve.

This method is fantastic for maintaining the moisture levels of the meat, plus it doesn’t require any added moisture or sauce since the meat won’t lose any during the cooking process.

Tips to keep moisture in

How to Reheat Ribs and Keep Moisture InThere are a few ways to maintain the moisture levels of the ribs before and during the reheating process. When you’re storing the ribs after the first time you cook them, it is best to place them in the fridge as quickly as possible after the meal is finished. Store them in any air-tight container or use a vacuum-sealer to bag them.

You should add any juices or sauces that have dripped off onto your serving platter into the storage container as well to help lock the moisture into the meat. Be sure to remove any fat from the juices first. This is easy to do once the ribs and drippings have cooled since the fat will harden into a thick layer. Pour the remaining juices into the container or bag to maintain the moisture of the ribs.

Adding a decent coating of sauce or apple juice to the ribs before reheating them also helps add moisture to the meat as it cooks. Don’t use too much, though, or you risk drowning the meat and making it soggy.

Final thoughts

Whether you prefer your ribs grilled, smoked, baked, or slow-cooked, there are usually some leftovers after you eat. Throwing them out is a waste of a delicious meal, especially since you spent all of that time and effort putting such a tasty meal together.

That’s why it’s such a good idea to learn how to reheat ribs properly. There are several methods for this to choose from, using your oven, toaster oven, grill, steamer, microwave, or even a simple pot of water for the sous vide option.

Each one of these methods can recreate your delicious rib meal without sacrificing flavor or moisture, as long as you follow the simple directions for each one. Some of the methods are better than others, depending on the time you have to spend reheating your ribs, but if done right, you’ll be eating a fantastic meal before you know it.

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