How to Reheat Ribs (and keep them as tasty as the first time round)
I am a confirmed barbecue junkie. I’m lucky enough to live near one of the best barbecue restaurants in the world! I always order a full rack of ribs and ask my server to serve me half a rack and to package the rest in a to-go container.
Reheating ribs is a fairly straightforward operation, and can be accomplished with your grill, oven, sous vide, or microwave.
Maintaining the quality of your ribs
The same care needs to be taken with storing food as with cooking or reheating it. Make sure that your ribs are stored in a zip top storage bag with as much air evacuated as possible. When I get home from the restaurant,
I ditch the styrofoam clamshell before I refrigerate the food. If not stored correctly, the ribs will begin to dry out and may take on other flavors from your refrigerator.
If I don’t plan on using the ribs the next day, I will freeze them the following morning (I never freeze anything that isn’t thoroughly chilled). Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
Maintaining moisture is key to having a great rib redoux. This is accomplished by using low heat (250° F), reheating the ribs to the minimum safe temperature (155° F), and using more barbecue sauce as a lubricating agent.
It’s also important not to reheat the ribs immediately after you’ve taken them out of the refrigerator.
Let them sit on the counter for 15 to 20 minutes. If bringing ribs home from a restaurant, make sure to request a container of extra sauce for this purpose.
Grill Method of reheating Ribs
Preheat your grill to 250° F with the lid closed. You need an indirect heat zone, so make sure that you pile your charcoal off to one side. If using a gas grill, leave one of the side burners off.
Slather both sides of the ribs with barbecue sauce. In a single layer, wrap the ribs in two sheets of foil. Set the packet away from the heat and close the lid. Cook until ribs reach 155° F.
Unwrap the ribs and place over direct heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. Let cool slightly and enjoy!
Oven Method for heating barbeque ribs
This is very similar to the grilling method. Preheat your oven to 250° F. Coat your ribs with barbecue sauce and wrap in a double layer of foil. Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 155° F.
This should take about an hour.
Remove ribs from the foil and place back on the baking sheet. Broil the ribs (with the oven door open) until the sauce begins to caramelize, no more than a couple of minutes per side.
Watch them like a hawk! Let the ribs rest for about five minutes, and serve.
Heating ribs using the Sous Vide Method
Sous vide is an old restaurant method of preparing food, but recently, several brands have come out with equipment for sous vide at home. This is currently my favorite newfangled gadget!
Sous vide is a method of cooking not unlike the “boil-in pouches” of my childhood. The model that I own resembles an immersion blender. You place the unit in a large pot of water and turn it on.
The sous vide heats and circulates the water in the pot. This is the first half of the equation. The second half is that your food is vacuum sealed in a food-safe plastic bag that gets placed in the pot.
This is a very gentle method of cooking / reheating, and since the bag is vacuum sealed, moisture in your food has nowhere to go, so your food will never dry out!
Bathe your ribs in barbecue sauce and vacuum seal them in a sous vide bag. Set your sous vide for 150° F. Once the water is preheated, put the ribs into the pot. One inch thick ribs should take about an hour and a quarter to reheat.
If you like your ribs crisp, finish them under the broiler.
Heating your ribs in the microwave
This is my least favorite method of reheating food. Microwave results are inconsistent, tend to dry out the meat, and are consistently sub-par.
Place your ribs in a single layer in a microwave safe dish. Coat them with sauce. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (make sure it is vented). Microwave in 1-minute increments, rearranging the ribs after each bout to ensure that they are heated evenly. Eat carefully, as some bites may be MUCH hotter than others.