This article will address a question that many of you have been asking: Hector, how do I reheat ribs without drying them out? In addition, I will explain many methods and tactics for reheating ribs using your grill and oven, plus a bonus tip.
Using a grill or a smoker is the preferred method for reheating ribs, but it is the slowest. Using the grill to reheat the ribs serves two purposes. Firstly, if you own a pellet smoker or grill, you will infuse the ribs with additional smoky flavor while reheating the ribs. Secondly, indirect heat can be used to warm the ribs. Although this technique is slow, the ribs will remain juicy.
The secret to reheating pork ribs is to do it at a low temperature and gradually. Putting the ribs in the microwave and shocking them with as much heat as possible to get them ready to eat quickly will certainly result in dry ribs.
Instead, follow the steps as follows. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil first. While the ribs are warming and the internal temperature is rising, the foil will aid in retaining moisture. It is essential to use a quality meat thermometer to monitor the reheating process and to verify that the ribs’ internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the USDA-recommended temperature for reheating leftovers.
Once the ribs reach a temperature of around 160 degrees, remove the foil and let them finish reheating uncovered. This is the time to add additional barbecue sauce or a tiny bit of apple juice to the ribs to make them extra juicy.
The idea is to reheat the ribs to at least 160 degrees and then remove them from the foil wrap to prevent them from becoming mushy or from braising in their own juices.
How to reheat ribs using the grill or smoker
The grill is my preferred method for reheating ribs, but I’ll discuss alternative options later. To warm up leftover ribs, preheat the grill or smoker to 275 degrees, then place the ribs in the grill and monitor their internal temperature.
Remember to reheat the ribs wrapped in foil first, then remove the foil just before the ribs reach 165 degrees and finish warming uncovered. Again, the 165 degree mark is a safety guideline and recommendation by the USDA, but you can get the ribs a tad hotter if you prefer. Just be sure not to overcook them, as they will dry.
Reheating Ribs in the Oven
Suppose you do not want to use your grill or do not have access to one. You may also reheat ribs in the kitchen oven. The approach is identical to using your grill, with the exception that no additional smoky flavor will be imparted. The oven will also do a good job at reheating the ribs evenly.
Follow the same approach employed in our “grill” warming method and preheat the oven to 275 degrees. It is OK to preheat the oven to a higher temperature since, as I’ve seen, ovens warm a bit slower.
However, you should not surpass 300 degrees, as the sugar in the ribs’s seasoning or barbecue sauce can caramelize and ruin the ribs.
Reheating ribs in an air fryer
Air fryers are another wonderful method for reheating ribs.
Air fryers are gaining in popularity, and manufacturers such as Ninja offer excellent and powerful air fryers.
However, use air fryers with caution while reheating ribs, since these machines can reach high temperatures quickly and dry out food fast. Also make sure that other air fryer functions, such as broil mode, are off.
Preheat the airfryer to between 250 and 275 degrees and set the wrapped ribs on a tray. Use a high-quality meat thermometer and observe the ribs until they reach 160 degrees. Unwrap and reheat to 165° or to taste; enjoy!
Why I use aluminum foil and the wrapping method
There are two main reasons I use aluminum foil to reheat ribs. Some people do it differently, and there are a lot of opinions, but this is how I like to do it and get good, consistent results.
First, the aluminum foil wrap traps all the moisture released by the meat as its temperature rises. The moisture inside the ribs is turned into steam, which helps keep the ribs moist and reheat them evenly.
Second, wrapping the ribs helps accelerate the reheating process, which means less time the ribs are exposed to heat and lower chances of them drying out.
There are different methods to reheat food, but the aim with reheating ribs is to prevent them from drying out. This is why I only use these three techniques, although you are welcome to experiment with your own methods and equipment.
My recommendation is to begin the warming procedure with the ribs wrapped, and then remove the wrapping to allow the ribs to get to temperature without cooking them in their own juices. This will allow for juice without sogginess in the ribs.