It’s almost as important to know how to cook ribs as it is to know how to keep ribs warm.
This way, the juiciness of the ribs will be preserved, and the flavor of the ribs will not be lost.
But, of course, you don’t want that to happen to a plate of ribs you’ve spent several hours seasoning, searing, and gearing up to perfection, which is why it’s important to know some handy tips for keeping ribs warmer for longer.
There are several methods for accomplishing this.
Most of them can help retain moisture in the meat, preventing it from becoming leathery or tough. But, most saliently, it will still be cool enough to eat right away.
Smoking ribs in preparation for a large cookout will take several hours, so keep them warm. However, many people have difficulty keeping the ribs warm after being cooked.
This article will review the most common methods for keeping ribs warm and nice.
Table of Contents
How to keep ribs warm
Here are some tips for keeping your freshly grilled ribs warm and juicy for extended periods:
1. Food warmers
These containers are specifically designed for this purpose, so it’s logical to consider them when deciding how to keep your ribs warmer for longer.
Food warmers can keep your food at a consistent temperature for hours on end – that’s what they’re designed for. However, how well they are designed and how well they can achieve this goal is bound to vary depending on the quality of their build.
Higher quality, unsurprisingly, means better heat retention and insulation. Still, it also usually means spending a fortune, which is a disadvantage and why other, more cost-effective measures may be a better choice for you.
2. Wrap them in foil
After the ribs have been cooked, wrap them in foil and place them in a roasting pan with some liquid, like wine or broth. This will help them stay warm.
3. Use an oiled baking sheet and aluminum foil
Another method is to place the ribs on an oiled baking sheet and cover them with aluminum foil.
Please return them to the grill for about 10 minutes to help insulate its heat while it is still hot.
Then, pour some barbecue sauce over the cooked ribs in a casserole dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 300℉ until heated through.
4. Keep them in a slow cooker
You can also place them in a slow cooker with onions and barbecue sauce. This will give the ribs a delicious flavor that everyone will enjoy.
5. Place the ribs on a heat-proof plate
Wrap the cooled ribs in aluminum foil and put them on a heatproof plate. Next, wrap the ribs in a towel to keep them warm.
6. Place them on a preheated grill
Another method to keep ribs warm is to place them on a preheated part of the grill, cover it, and leave it for 10 minutes.
7. Keep them on the stovetop or oven
Many people prefer to finish the ribs in the oven, while others prefer to finish them on the stovetop.
This works best in a preheated oven or on a hot stovetop. Just make sure it isn’t too hot. Instead, you want it to heat your ribs “low and slow.”
Leaving the ribs in the oven for a few minutes will keep them warm for longer.
This is a method that you should consider in the short term. However, because you must keep the oven at low temperatures, you cannot use this method for an extended period without risking burning or drying out the ribs.
8. Warm your ribs over low heat.
To avoid burning, use low heat and cover your ribs with aluminum foil when reheating or keeping them warm for longer periods.
9. Considering coolers
Finally, you should think about wrapping your ribs in a cooler.
The concept is the same whether it’s brisket, ribs, or pork shoulder: Allowing a large piece of meat to rest for an extended period improves the texture and overall eating experience. In other words, don’t be afraid of the hold; rather, embrace it.
The great news is that a backyard chef does not need to invest in high-priced equipment to achieve the same results. All you need is a cooler, some tin foil, and some towels:
10. Remove the cooked meat from the grill
Aluminum foil should be used to wrap it. Better yet, use unwaxed butcher paper to allow for airflow, which will aid in preserving the crusty exterior.
Wrap the wrapped meat in a few old towels and place it all in the ice chest.
Close the lid and set aside the meat for some hours, depending on size. Large meats, like pork shoulder and brisket, benefit from a long hold. A rack of pork ribs also benefits from some time off the grill, but only for about a half-hour to an hour.
What is the most effective method for keeping the ribs warm?
It all comes down to what you want to do with them next and your personal preferences.
If I had to pick one method for keeping ribs warm out of everything discussed, it would be wrapping the ribs in aluminum foil after they have cooled.
Then, put them in a pan with liquid like wine or broth. Finally, put it in an oven at 200℉ until it reaches the desired temperature. This will result in delicious smokey ribs that everyone will enjoy.
What works best?
If you want to ensure your ribs don’t cool off while you’re serving the rest of your meal, you can put them back in the oven on a low heat setting.
However, if you want them to stay warm for longer, especially if portability is an issue, a portable warmer may be the best option.
Finally, a cooler-wrapping combination can keep your ribs warm for a few hours on the cheap.
All of these methods can help to keep your ribs warm, soft, fresh, and as tasty as ever when the time comes to dig in and enjoy them.
How to reheat ribs in an oven
Let’s start by reheating your leftover ribs in the oven. If you want to reheat your ribs in the oven, you can do so if you:
- Want to keep the ribs moist
- Want to keep the smokiness of your leftover ribs
The best way to reheat ribs:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
To keep the moisture and juiciness of your ribs, preheat your oven to the proper temperature.
Different people have different opinions, but the USDA suggests an oven temperature of 250°F to 325°F.
Step 2: Drizzle more sauce on the ribs
You can add more sauce to your leftover ribs while the oven is heating up.
Adding another layer of sauce keeps the ribs from drying out after baking in the oven.
Step 3: Wrap the ribs in foil
Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil. You can go for double wrapping the ribs in heavy-duty aluminum foil to keep the moisture and the ribs juicy.
Then, put the wrapped ribs on a pan to avoid burning yourself when you take them out of the oven.
Step 4: Let the wrapped leftover ribs cook to 145ºf
The USDA recommends that meat be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is the temperature at which most bacteria die.
Checking the temperature of the meat is critical during this step. This is why you need a meat thermometer.
This step will take approximately 20-30 minutes.
Step 5: Cook for 10 minutes, unwrapped
Unwrapping the ribs could very well allow the sauce to consolidate.
The caramelized sauce gives you that smokey and sweet taste you’re looking for when you reheat the ribs.
Because the meat will no longer be wrapped in foil, keep them in for no more than 10 minutes.
Can I reheat ribs a second time if I have leftovers?
This question has two possible answers: yes and no. If you thaw your leftovers in the fridge and afterward cook only a portion, you can safely return the rest to the freezer for later because the ribs never had a chance to return to the over 40 °F danger zone.
On the other hand, if you thawed and reheated all of it and still had leftovers, you can theoretically refreeze the remainder. However, because of the extra time spent between 40 °F and 140 °F, you will be at a higher risk of contamination.
It’s also interesting to consider what freezing, thawing, and reheating do to the meat’s quality. Perhaps you’re more practical than fussy; all you want to do is save your food. In that case, go ahead and refreeze them.
How soon should I freeze/refrigerate my ribs?
It’s important to store your leftover ribs as soon as possible. Cooked meat cannot be left out for long without drying out and accumulating bacteria. Unfortunately, they are just bacteria wandering around the neighborhood looking for a good place to live.
To be safe, cooked meat must be kept at temperatures above 140 °F or below 40 °F. As a result, the maximum recommended temperature for your refrigerator is no higher than 40 °F.
Cooked meat cools and enters the “danger zone” after being removed from the grill. So put your extra ribs away as soon as possible, but no later than 2 hours. You’ll have even less time if it’s extremely hot outside, say 90 °F or higher.
Bacteria prefer warm temperatures, so in the height of summer in most of the world, you’ll want to deal with them within an hour to be safe.
It’s important to get your ribs down below 40 °F as quickly as possible, and large racks of ribs may take longer! Before storing them, try to cut them into reasonable serving sizes. They will not only chill faster but also be in manageable chunks for reheating.
How long can I store cooked ribs?
Well-stored pork ribs can be kept in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, though some people believe they can be kept for up to a week. What is my advice? Err on the side of caution and limit yourself to no more than four days. Older ribs are not only potentially contaminated, but they are also likely to be less tasty.
As long as they stay frozen, frozen ribs are technically “good” indefinitely. There are numerous stories, all of which are suspect, of people and dogs eating Woolly Mammoth steaks that are thousands of years old. While I’m not interested in testing the edibleness of prehistoric ribs, whatever you put in your freezer is likely safe to eat for several years.
Of course, good is not the same as desirable. After a long period of freezing, almost any food will become unpalatable. So your best bet is to consume your frozen ribs within 2-3 months.
Smoked beef ribs should last just as long as pork ribs, assuming they are properly stored.
How do I know if my stored meat is bad?
If you take your ribs out of the fridge and they smell sour, that’s a sure sign they’ve passed their “best before” date. Keep an eye out for a slimy layer on the surface of the ribs.
Many foods appear and smell “bad” before they are safe to eat. They won’t taste good, so why worry about taking the chance? “When in doubt, throw it out!” is a cliche, but it’s true.
How to store cooked ribs in the best ways
The way you store your ribs has a big impact on how well they reheat. As previously stated, you must get them to their destination as soon as possible. But how should you store them till you need them again?
Storing ribs in the refrigerator
Put your leftover ribs in the refrigerator if you intend to eat them within a few days. Ensure your refrigerator is no warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the maximum safe temperature for storing meat.
The key is to seal your ribs tightly to keep air and trap moisture inside. A plastic container that seals tightly, as well as a zipper-style plastic bag, should suffice. Plastic wrap tightly wrapped with an outer layer of aluminum foil will also suffice.
The best solution is to use a vacuum sealer, which is guaranteed to be airtight. As a bonus, it’s sous vide ready right out of the fridge!
Seal your ribs with barbecue sauce, the original drippings (if you saved them), or another flavor-enhancing fluid to add extra flavor and moisture.
Storing ribs in the freezer
Perhaps you don’t intend to eat your extra ribs anytime soon. In that case, keep them on ice until you need them again.
A tight seal is important for a good freeze, just as it is in the fridge. All of the fridge methods will work, though I’ve had bad luck with plastic tubs in the past. They always appear to lose their seal and become frosty on the inside. Vacuum packing is preferred, but wrapping the ribs in plastic, foil, or zipper bags will also work.
Place the sealed meat in the refrigerator to cool down from its cooking temperature before freezing. With pre-cooled meat, the freezing process will be faster and more efficient.
A lot of work goes into grilling or smoking really good ribs, and no one wants their efforts to be in vain. Hopefully, the techniques you’ve learned here will come in handy, and you won’t have to worry about disappointing yourself with terrible, dry, tasteless warmed-over ribs.