If you want leftover ribs that taste like they just came off the grill, then you need to know how to reheat ribs. And whether you’re warming up a rack of ribs, BBQ ribs, spare ribs, or pork ribs, a few missteps could mean you end up with dry meat that even your dog won’t want to eat. (What a waste!) That’s why we asked a few expert chefs for their best cooking tips on how to make this favorite taste fantastic — even a day or two later.
The Best Way to Reheat Ribs
When you’re trying to serve leftover ribs that taste like you just whipped them up, your best bet is to reheat them in the oven right under the broiler, just as you would for a pizza. (See our tips for how to reheat wings to perfection, and how to reheat burgers).
Courtney Rada, host of Genius Kitchen’s Carnivorous, prefers this method, because the broiler not only helps your ribs stay tender and juicy, but will help you up your sauce game and give you a nice caramelized flavor you can’t get on the grill. This technique also works well if you want to reheat smoked ribs in the oven or reheat cooked ribs in the oven.
If it’s juicy ribs that you’re after, make that you watch the clock while they’re heating. The amount of time spent in the oven can make or break this popular finger food (more on that later). Here, Rada shares her cooking tricks for reheating ribs in the oven.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Oven
Use these simple steps to reheat your ribs in an oven:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take your leftover ribs out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter until they come to room temperature. If you’re planning to reheat BBQ ribs in the oven, now’s the time to coat them in your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Wrap the ribs in two layers of foil to make sure none of that delicious juice escapes. More importantly covering your ribs while they heat will prevent burning and help you achieve that caramelized, juicy flavor. (A lot of barbecue sauces have a high sugar content, which means they tend to burn in the reheating process.)
- Place the wrapped ribs in a baking pan and heat for about 20 to 30 minutes. The length of time may vary depending on how strong your oven is.
- Five minutes before the timer is set to go off, turn on your broiler to give your sauce that additional caramelized flavor.
To reheat spare ribs in the oven, Rada says you’ll want to keep them in for 20 to 30 minutes or even a little longer. “The higher fat content means they’ll need more time than your average pork ribs, but cooking them low and slow at 250 degrees Fahrenheit will keep them from drying out,” she explains. This is the trick to keeping them moist.
If you plan to reheat beef ribs, you’ll want to add a little bit of water or broth while you’re wrapping them in foil to make sure they stay juicy and tender, says Rada. And when it comes to the best way to reheat baby back ribs, Rada recommends the following steps:
- Lower the oven temp to about 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Coat your ribs in a generous amount of barbecue sauce.
- Wrap the ribs tightly in two layers of foil.
- Heat for about 45 minutes.
One other way to reheat baby back ribs, says Claudia Sidoti, a chef at HelloFresh, is to broil them in the oven. Here’s how to do it:
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the ribs on a broiling pan bone side up.
- Add more sauce for extra moisture.
- Insert the pan in the oven and leave under the broiler for about three minutes or until the sauce begins to bubble.
- Remove the pan and flip the ribs over. Continue heating for about another three minutes.
- Take the pan out and cover the ribs with foil.
- Let them sit for about four minutes before serving.
To reheat braised short ribs, Sidoti says using the oven works best. Here are the steps she recommends.
- Remove ribs from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before reheating.
- Preheat oven to 250-300 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover short ribs with foil and place on a baking pan.
- Reheat until warm.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Microwave
If hunger strikes and time is tight, the microwave may be your best option for reheating cooked ribs. But try to only use this method if you’re looking for a quick way to get the job done. Unfortunately, the microwave tends to dry out the meat even if you slathered it in sauce or butter (and that sounds like a rib-lover’s nightmare).
As a general rule, use the microwave only to reheat frozen ribs, spare ribs, or any other type of ribs if you’re really in a pinch. And make sure to thaw frozen ribs in the refrigerator before attempting to reheat. This will require some pre-planning on your part, since the process can take anywhere between six and eight hours. Here are the steps Sidoti recommends if you want to reheat them in the microwave:
- Use a microwave safe dish.
- Place the ribs on the dish with enough space to make sure each piece is covered properly.
- Spread barbecue sauce over the ribs to prevent them from drying out.
- Place the ribs in the microwave and set your microwave on the medium heat.
- Heat for three to five minutes.
- Check to see if meat is heated all the way through.
- Place back in the microwave and heat for an additional three minutes (if not thoroughly heated after step four).
How to Reheat Ribs in the Toaster Oven
Most people don’t think about the toaster oven as option. After all, isn’t the toaster oven just for individual pizzas and peanut butter toast? Not necessarily.
Think of your toaster oven as a miniature version of your large conventional oven: It serves the same purpose, it just does the job faster and with less energy. Speaking of faster, this method only works if you know how long to reheat ribs, which in this case is anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. Times may vary depending on the cut of meat and your toaster oven, so make sure to check on the ribs often until they are heated all the way through. With that said, if you want to give this method a try, here are the steps Sidoti recommends to reheat ribs in the toaster oven.
- Preheat to about 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover the ribs with foil.
- Put in the toaster oven.
- Continuously check on ribs until they are heated through.
How to Reheat Them on the Grill
Executive Chef Joseph Rizza of Prime & Provisions says that his preferred way to reheat ribs is on the grill. The grill will give your leftover meat that “fresh off the grill” flavor — and it works well if you want to reheat pork ribs or smoked ribs. It’s also a large enough cooking surface for a rack of ribs. Overall, it will take about eight to ten minutes total to reheat barbecue ribs. Give these steps a try, Rizza says, and you will have delicious-tasting ribs in no time.
- Preheat your grill on high.
- Take your leftover ribs out of the fridge and allow them to come to room temperature for a few minutes.
- Slather the ribs with more sauce of your choice.
- Loosely wrap them in aluminum foil.
- Lower the grill to a medium heat (once it is hot).
- Place the wrapped ribs on the grill.
- Turn the ribs over about halfway through.
- Before serving, make sure the internal temperature of your ribs comes to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
There you have it — everything you need to know about reheating your favorite meat. But before you head to the kitchen to try one of these methods out, make sure you have a side of fries or sweet potatoes ready to reheat. Because nothing says dinner like a plate full of goodness!