How To Reheat Ribs – The Best Way To Restore Leftover Barbecue

When reheating ribs, you want them to taste almost as good as they did when you got them out of the smoker. There are a couple of different ways you can reheat ribs. The best way takes a little work, while other methods are quick-and easy. As always, I wanted to know what the barbecue pros do, so I asked some of the world’s best pitmasters how they restore smoked ribs.

The easiest way to restore ribs is by placing them in the oven wrapped in aluminium foil. Set the temperature of your oven to 225° F, then baste the ribs in barbecue sauce. Instead of an oven, you can put the ribs back in your smoker, or the grill. However, the best way to restore ribs is by using the sous-vide method. This involves vacuum sealing the ribs, then heating with a sous-vide bath. The grill is a fast way to reheat ribs, although this isn’t the best way. Microwaving ribs is the easiest way, but has the worst results.

Different Ways To Reheat Ribs

  • Oven
  • Grill
  • Smoker
  • Air Fryer
  • Sous-Vide
  • Microwave

Reheating Ribs In The Oven

The oven is the most common way of reheating ribs because it’s the easiest. For the best results, wrap the ribs in foil, and preheat your oven to 225° F—no higher.

It should take about 45 minutes to bring the ribs up to a safe serving temperature. In the last 10 minutes, apply barbecue sauce to the ribs with a basting brush. This will add some extra moisture and flavor to really set off the ribs.

Reheating Ribs On The Smoker

I wouldn’t bother firing up a charcoal smoker to reheat some ribs. It’s not worth the hassle. However, if you have an electric, gas or pellet smoker, then it’s quick-and-easy. Just wrap the ribs in aluminium foil and bring the smoker up to 225° F.

The ribs should only need about 45 minutes. In the last 10 minutes, baste the ribs with barbecue sauce. In the last few minutes, unwrap the ribs and let them sit on the grill for a few minutes to set the glaze.

Reheating Ribs In The Microwave

The microwave is probably the worst way to reheat ribs. But I understand why people do it. It’s the quickest way. If you’re going to nuke the ribs, use a plastic takeaway container and microwave for 30 seconds. Check the ribs, then microwave for another 30 seconds, and so on.

Vacuum Sealed Leftover Ribs

The best way to restore any barbecue leftovers is by using a vacuum sealing machine. A vacuum sealer will suck all the air out of the bag, and will help the meat stay fresher for longer. If you own a vacuum sealing machine, you’ll be able to keep your leftover ribs in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

If you choose to freeze your leftover ribs, vacuum sealing will preserve your ribs twice as long as they would in a normal bag or container. The problem with freezing leftovers is the meat gets freezer burn, and it’s never turns out very well.

Vacuum sealers cost between $60 to $100 on Amazon, but they are well worth the investment. You can use them not only for your barbecue but just for storing all kinds of fresh food.

Sous-Vide Barbecue

Sous-vide is a type of slow cooking and is French for the word “under vacuum.” All that is required to cook using the sous-vide method is water and time. Sous vide is a method that uses precise water temperatures to cook meat and food. You can either buy a sous-vide machine, or you can replicate this process by using a stove and a pot of water.

The is used in fancy restaurants, and in recent years has merged with barbecue. Sous-Vide leftovers have become the best way to restore leftover brisket and pork and any other barbecue leftovers. This is popular with competition barbecuers who have a lot of leftovers.

The reason sous vide is such an effective way of cooking is because it cooks meat evenly. It’s very difficult to overcook meat using this method, because it uses precise temperatures.

How To Reheat Ribs Using The Sous-Vide Method

There are two ways you can reheat your smoked ribs using the sous-vide method. The first way is to use an actual sou-vide machine. The other way is to use a regular pot of water, and a meat thermometer. You can get a decent sous-vide machine for around about $150 to $180 on Amazon.

Sous-Vide Without A Machine

You can use a regular pot of water to reheat your ribs sous vide. Do the following:

  1. Fill a pot of water and place it on the stove at a low temperature.
  2. Place your wireless meet thermometer in the pot of water and stabilize the temperature.
  3. Once the water reaches around about 150° F, gently lower your defrosted bag of vacuum sealed ribs into the water.
  4. Let the rub soak in the bath until the meat reaches a temperature of about 165 F.
  5. To reheat ribs on the stove, use the clip on your wireless thermometer and clip it to the side of the pot.
  6. Bring the temperature of the water up to about 185° F. Because the meat bag is cold, it will drop the temperature of the water down to about 165° F.
  7. It should take about 1 hour to reheat the ribs using this method. When you’re ready, insert an instant-read thermometer into the vacuum-sealed ribs. Hopefully, it will be around about 140° F (Keep in mind that now that you’ve pierced the bag).

However, once you poke the ribs, the bag will break and water will get into the bag. The only way to track the temperature is with a waterproof wireless smart thermometer like The Meat Stick. The only wireless and fully waterproof thermometer on the market.

Use Zip-Lock Bags Instead Of A Vacuum Sealer

If you don’t want to buy a vacuum sealer, you can also use zip-lock bags. Although this method isn’t the best, it can still can be done.

Take your leftover ribs and place them into a ziplock bag. Buy the largest sized bags if possible.

Fill a container or a pot of water and gently lower the bag of ribs into the water.

The water pressure will squeeze the air from the bag.

Seal the zip-lock bag and place it in the freezer.

When you are ready to eat your leftovers, simply defrost the ribs and follow the above sous-vide method.

The Best Sous-Vide Machine

There are two types of sous-vide machines. The first looks almost like a stick mixer. These can be packed away easily, and don’t take up much space. The other machine is a sous-vide bath. This is a large machine, is expensive, and takes up a lot of space. However, it’s a great set-and-forget sous-vide solution.

There are several sous vide machines available on Amazon, but the Anova is best value. It’s affordable, works well and is an Amazon Choice. The Anova has thousands of positive reviews.

My Favorite Meat Smoking Tools

Thanks for checking out this article. I hope you learned a few things. Here are some of my favorite tools I use when smoking brisket that may be useful to you. These are affiliate links, so if you decide to purchase any of these products, I’ll earn a commission. But in all honesty, these are the tools I recommend to my family and friends who are just starting out.

Meat Thermometer: There are dozens of fancy thermometers on the market, but I still use my trusty TP20. For around $50, I have a high-quality meat thermometer with two probes, and can track the temperature of my smoker with one probe, and my meat with the other probe. The ThermoPro TP20 is an Amazon Best Seller because it’s the easiest thermometer to operate, is durable, highly accurate, and comes with pre-programmed meat settings.

Instant Read Thermometer: Arguably, the second most important tool you need is a fast and accurate instant-read thermometer. These tools play an important role in the latter stages of the cook when the meat needs regular checking in multiple areas. I use the ThermoPro TP19 because it can do everything a ThermaPen can do, but for a fraction of the cost. You can check out the TP19 on Amazon here.

Wireless Thermometer: The latest thermometers on the market have no wires and can be controlled by wi-fi via your phone. Airprobe 3 is the best of this technology.

Butcher Paper: Wrapping brisket in butcher paper has become a huge trend in barbeque thanks to Aaron Franklin. Wrapping your brisket in paper will give you a nice brisket bark. However, you can’t just use any old paper, it has to be unwaxed, food grade paper. You can find it on Amazon here.

Advanced Thermometer and Automatic Temperature Controller: Once you’re ready to take things seriously, the FireBoard 2 Drive is a six-channel Bluetooth/Wi-Fi thermometer that can monitor up to 6 pieces of meat, control and graph your cook sessions on your smartphone, and attaches to an an automatic blower that will convert your charcoal smoker to a set-and-forget. This is one of the most advanced meat thermometers on the market. You can check it out on the FireBoard website here.


Author and founder at Meat Smoking HQ

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