How To Reheat Ribs And Keep Them Moist

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Whenever you make ribs, I imagine they turn out so delicious that you never have leftovers unless you exercise a high degree of personal restraint. When it comes time to reward your restraint, it’s all too easy to ruin the leftovers by overheating them and drying them out.

We’ve compiled our three favorite ways to reheat ribs to help you keep them moist and tender.

If you don’t want your ribs to congeal into stringy lumps of dry meat when you reheat them, you need to start with storing them properly.

You can lock in more of the ribs’ moisture by refrigerating them right away instead of letting leftovers sit at room temperature. Cut large rib racks into smaller portions like halves or thirds to cool them down even faster so they retain more moisture.

Ribs need to be both cooked and reheated slowly. They’re made almost entirely of tough connective tissue that only softens up in the presence of prolonged heat.

how to reheat ribs in oven

When it comes time to reheat them, our favorite method is the oven. Oven reheating will mirror the slow and steady way they were originally cooked, although it can take some patience if you’re starving.

If your patience is running low, you can reheat your ribs in the microwave. Your microwave may heat unevenly, leaving some ribs too hot to handle and others too cold to consume. Microwaves also tend to dry food out, especially stringy meat, so you’ll need to add extra moisture.

The three top ways for reheating ribs that we talk about in this article will work for:

  • Beef ribs
  • Baby back ribs
  • Spare ribs
  • Pork ribs
  • Short ribs
  • Flanked ribs

How Long To Reheat Ribs

You need to reheat your ribs long enough that they reach a safe temperature but short enough that all their internal moisture doesn’t evaporate. It’s best to use indirect heat if possible. You cooked them slowly on low heat to keep them juicy, and that’s also how you should reheat them.

Here are the best temperatures to reheat ribs in the oven compared to other methods:

  • Reheating in the oven – 45 minutes at 250F
  • Reheating in the microwave – 2 or 3 minutes on medium heat
  • Reheating on the grill – 10 minutes at indirect, moderate heat

Both the heat and the cold can steal your ribs’ moisture. Every time you heat them up or cool them down, they dry out a little more. Try to limit yourself to only reheating the number of ribs you plan to eat immediately. That way, they’ll only get cooled and reheated once.

A good hack for this mysteriously disappearing moisture problem is to add in extra moisture before you reheat the ribs:

  • You can use coke or beef broth to moisturize and flavor beef ribs.
  • Apple cider vinegar or plain apple juice will add some extra zing to pork ribs.
  • Brush a bit of barbecue sauce over the top of the ribs if you want a glossy caramelized finish.
  • You can also save the rib juices from your original batch in a separate container and drip them over the leftover ribs before you reheat them.

Related | Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?

A few years ago, the USDA lowered their safe temperature guidelines for pork and beef, which includes ribs. Instead of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, they now believe it’s safe to get pork and beef cuts to 145 degrees as long as you rest them for three more minutes before eating.

When reheating ribs, we recommend using your best meat thermometer to make sure they’ve reached that safe internal temperature. Don’t forget the three-minute rest period!

How To Reheat Ribs in the Oven

The most important thing to remember for oven reheating is that the higher you set your temperature, the shorter it will take, but the drier your ribs will turn out.

Baby back ribs are cut thinner than regular ribs, so they need even lower heat. We recommend preheating your oven to 225°F and adding 15 minutes to your reheating time.

Spare ribs have a higher fat content, so they’ll need a bit longer reheating time than usual. Don’t change your oven temperature, but leave them in for 10 or 15 more minutes.

Related | How To Preheat An Oven

What You Need

  • 1 Baking pan
  • Aluminum foil
  • Broth, coke, apple juice, water, or other moisturizing liquid
  • 1 Thermometer

Reheating Directions

  1. While you preheat the oven to 250F, take the ribs you plan to reheat out of the fridge. This allows them to slowly reach room temperature, which helps them reheat evenly.
  2. Spread out a generous helping of foil on the counter, and place your ribs in the middle.
  3. Pour plenty of liquid over the ribs, and quickly close the foil so none leaks out.
  4. Wrap the foil-wrapped ribs in another layer of foil to make sure the juices stay sealed in.
  5. Put the entire shiny parcel in your baking pan, and put the pan in the oven.
  6. It should take around half an hour for the ribs to reach 145F internally.
  7. Once you verify this safe temperature with your thermometer, remove both foil layers and leave the ribs simmering in the oven for about 10 more minutes. This extra period will caramelize the saucy surface.

How To Reheat Ribs in the Microwave

If you insist on using the microwave, you’ll need to over-moisturize your ribs. You can do this by soaking two paper napkins in water and placing one over your ribs and one under your microwave-safe dish. The napkins will keep your ribs’ fat and juices seared in, and the water will turn to steam in the microwave to keep the meat moist.

What You Need

  • 1 Microwave-safe dish
  • Plenty of your favorite rib sauce
  • Paper napkins
  • Water
  • Thermometer

Reheating Directions

  1. Spread your ribs generously over your microwave-safe dish, leaving plenty of breathing room between each piece.
  2. Sauce them up using your favorite rib sauce.
  3. Place the dish in the microwave with one damp napkin under the dish and one on top of the ribs.
  4. Set your microwave’s heat to medium.
  5. Microwave the ribs for about three minutes. Turn them over at about the midway point.
  6. Use the thermometer to make sure they’ve reached a safe temperature. If not, keep heating them in 30-second increments until your thermometer tells you it’s safe.

How To Reheat Ribs on the Grill

The grill has lots of space if you need to reheat a whole rack of ribs.

What You Need

  • Aluminum foil
  • Lots of sauce
  • 1 Pair of tongs
  • 1 Thermometer

Reheating Directions

  1. Take your ribs out of the fridge while you heat up the grill on high heat.
  2. Place your ribs on a sheet of foil, and drench them in lots of sauce.
  3. Wrap them up loosely in the foil, giving them enough room to breathe.
  4. Put the foil-wrapped ribs on the part of your grill that receives indirect heat only.
  5. Set your grill to moderate heat, and leave it to sizzle for about 5 minutes.
  6. Use your tongs to turn the whole package over, and heat the other side for five more minutes until your thermometer tells you the inside has reached 145F.

Final Thoughts

While the grill has lots of room and the microwave is a racehorse, slowly reheating ribs in the oven is the best way to keep them juicy.

Whichever method you use, add lots of extra liquid when reheating ribs to avoid stringy, dry meat. Don’t forget to make sure their internal temperature has hit 145F before removing them from the heat.