The messy, dripping, straight-out-of-the-smoker flavor of a rack of ribs is unbeatable. When you have leftover ribs, you may think the leftovers aren’t worth saving or reheating. It can be done. Here’s how to reheat ribs for a fantastic second, third, or fourth meal that’s totally worth eating.
Saving Leftover Ribs
In order to have good leftovers, you need to make sure you store the meat correctly. How you store leftover ribs will depend on how you plan to use the meat in the future. If you want to eat the meat off the bone a second time, just place the leftovers in a freezer-quality plastic zipper bag and remove the excess air. Place this in the refrigerator and keep it for two to three days. I do not recommend freezing cooked ribs on the bone.
If you want to use the leftover rib meat in a soup or stew, remove the meat from the bone, dice it up, and place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep two to three days in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer stored this way and can be reheated directly in the soup or stew when you are ready for it.
No matter how you will be reheating your ribs, get them out of the refrigerator and let them come up to room temperature before you put them on the heat.
Reheat in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 250º F. Wrap your leftover ribs in foil and add a little bit of beef broth or apple juice to the packet. You can also add fresh BBQ sauce if you like.
Seal it up and place this in the oven on a baking sheet. Bake until the meat reaches 165ºF.
Reheat in a Skillet
It is possible to reheat a handful of ribs in a skillet. Get your skillet hot, add the ribs, and cook until they are heated through. Add BBQ sauce or butter to moisten up the meat. Make sure to turn at least once.
One of the problems with this method is that the curved bones may not allow some of the meat to touch the cooking surface. If your ribs are flat, this method will definitely work well.
Reheat with Sous Vide
If you have one of these incredible machines or a conversion kit for your Instant Pot, sous vide is one of the most popular methods for reheating ribs without drying them out. First, seal the ribs in a vacuum-sealed bag. Do not add liquids. Set your machine to 150º and make sure there is enough water to cover the bag of ribs. Place the ribs in the machine.
The ribs will be at the same temperature as the water in about 45 minutes to an hour. This is how sous vide works. It’s easy and effective.
Reheat in an Air Fryer
An air fryer will actually work very well for reheating ribs. Preheat the air fryer to 350º-400º, depending on your available settings. Place the ribs inside and heat until they are completely heated through, usually three to four minutes. This will work faster than your oven and may even crisp up the ribs on the outside.
Reheat in the Microwave
If you have a small number of ribs to reheat, such as leftovers from a restaurant, you can simply place them on a plate and cook them in the microwave for thirty seconds to three minutes until the meat is good and hot. It should be 165ºF. Just be careful using this method. Meat near the bone will be very hot from the microwave, and it my dry out the meat a bit.
How to Reheat Safely
First, make sure your ribs have been properly stored in an airtight container for no more than two or three days in the refrigerator.
Second, make sure your ribs are re-heated thoroughly to at least 165ºF using your method of choice.
Third, do not keep meat that has already been refrigerated and reheated one time. After it has been cooked, refrigerated, and then reheated, it is no longer safe to refrigerate a second time.
Ways to Use Leftover Ribs
If you have a small number of leftovers, it’s pretty easy to reheat those ribs for an individual meal or two and leave it at that. However, if you have a lot of extra ribs, you may want to remove the meat from the bone for future recipes. Strip the meat off the bone, dice it up, and freeze it in freezer-quality zipper bags for up to three months.
Frozen, leftover rib meat can be used later for soups, stews, casseroles, tacos, pasta dishes, burritos, and as a topping for baked potatoes, salad, mac-n-cheese, or nachos.
Rib Recipes Perfect for Reheating
Great Side Dishes
You spent a lot of time with these ribs, and even eating them as leftovers is a treat! Here are a few of my favorite side dishes that pair perfectly.
Smoked Baked Potatoes – This is an easy one to throw on the grill. Make sure to make a few extra as they work wonderfully as leftovers.
Smoked Potato Salad – The creamy richness of this salad is insane. Smoking the potatoes ahead of time adds a fun and delicious twist to a classic recipe.
Grilled Peach and Arugula Salad – If you’d prefer something lighter, I don’t blame you! Throw some peaches on the grill for a minute and whip up this light and refreshing salad.
The best way to reheat ribs and keep them moist is to wrap them in foil with apple juice, place them in the oven at 225ºF, and reheat them at this low temperature until they reach an internal temp of 165ºF.
You can preheat the grill and then place the ribs directly on the grate. Heat them until the meat is at an internal temperature of 165ºF. Baste in BBQ sauce to add flavor and moisture.
It depends on the number of ribs you are reheating. It could take up to thirty minutes for an entire rack of ribs.
Wrap the ribs in foil with a little bit of beef broth or apple juice. Place in a preheated oven at 225ºF. Leave the ribs in place until they reach an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Use a skillet. Preheat the skillet to medium, and place the ribs in the hot skillet. Turn the ribs at least once and cook until the meat is thoroughly heated through.