Can Ribs Be Cooked Frozen?

Last updated on October 5th, 2022 at 09:27 am

*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Ribs are a summer barbecue favorite. But you don’t have to just grill them, you can also cook ribs in the oven. 

Basting the meat with flavor from BBQ sauce makes them irresistible. Ribs can even be cooked in a crockpot or roaster, too. 

When you think of a summertime grill-out, ribs are most likely on the menu. Friends and family gather at your home while you cook up some delicious ribs with a smoky flavor. 

Scheduling the cookout earlier in the week, you went out and bought some ribs. When you arrive home, you put them in the freezer to save them until the weekend. Now, it’s time to cook! 

Before you cook the ribs, you have to thaw them. But what if there was a way of skipping this step?  Can ribs be cooked frozen?

You can cook ribs frozen but you have to follow certain steps to do it properly. It is best to thaw the ribs before cooking them but if you are in a hurry you can cook them frozen. Just know that they may not cook evenly.

Can Ribs Be Cooked Frozen?

Sometimes, you just don’t plan ahead. You get in a rush and then remember that you forgot to put the ribs in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. This can take hours. 

Some faster ways to thaw them is in the microwave or to use the cold water method. Or you can leave them at room temperature. There are times when you just don’t have this time. 

If it is the day for your barbeque and you completely forgot to thaw the meat, no worries, you can cook ribs frozen. Now, even though you can cook ribs frozen, they may end up being unevenly cooked and that is why normally you should thaw them. 

Cooking frozen ribs is simple and easy to do but they will take extra time and care to cook them just right. You can cook frozen ribs in the oven as well, however, it is recommended to thaw ribs before cooking them for the best results. 

So, if you are able, thaw the ribs before cooking them. Placing them in cold water for an hour or two will thaw them quickly. If you just aren’t able, you can cook ribs frozen. 

If you are cooking ribs frozen, use an oven, cover them in foil and use a low temperature so the ribs cook evenly. If you baste the meat in juices every so often this will also help keep them juicy. 

So, you can cook frozen ribs but they will take a longer time to cook and there is a certain way to do it.

How Long Does It Take To Cook Frozen Ribs?

Ribs take a few hours to cook so by skipping the thawing process you can save an hour or two of time before putting them into the oven for hours. But, the cooking time will be lengthened. 

Ribs take a while to cook normally so cooking frozen ribs will take even longer to cook. This doesn’t really save any time in the long run. But, if you forgot to thaw the ribs and are in a pinch, you can cook them frozen. 

So, if you are going to be cooking frozen ribs, you could be wondering, how long does it take to cook them?

Using an oven is recommended when cooking frozen ribs because it takes quite a bit of time. Frozen ribs will normally take about 3 to 4 hours to cook. Thawed ribs don’t take quite as long to cook so they can easily be cooked in the oven or on the grill. 

Thawed ribs are already ready to cook whereas frozen ribs have to defrost in the oven before the cooking begins. This adds an additional hour or so to cooking which means that frozen ribs will take about 3 to 4 hours in all to cook in the oven. 

1 to 2 hours is needed for defrosting and getting the ribs ready to be cooked, then 2 to 3 hours (for spare ribs) or 1 to 2 hours (for baby back ribs) is needed to bake the ribs.

It is recommended to use an oven for cooking frozen ribs because an oven produces a different kind of heat than a grill does. And since the ribs will take a long time to cook, it is better to just pop them in the oven and baste when needed instead of standing over the grill all day. 

So, on average, it takes about 3 to 4 hours to cook frozen ribs.

As far as cooking frozen ribs on a grill, the article, Can You Cook Ribs Frozen When There’s No Time To Thaw? has some good advice. 

According to them, “…One potential pitfall when cooking ribs from a frozen state: The seasoning rub won’t adhere as well. You can attempt to get around this by coating the rib rack in mustard before adding the spices, but the mixture might wash away as the excess moisture is forced out of the meat. Once you’ve seasoned the meat and the grill has reached your desired temperature, place the ribs directly on the grill and close the lid. Cook undisturbed for 3 to 4 hours…This should take 2 to 5 hours longer, depending on how large the ribs are and the consistency of the grill temperature.”

How Do You Defrost Ribs Quickly?

The summertime favorite entree of ribs are tender and juicy when cooked well. Wanting to save some time because you forgot to thaw the ribs, you were going to cook them frozen. 

You can safely cook frozen ribs in the oven or on a grill. After further research you decide that thawing beforehand is best so that the ribs don’t end up cooking unevenly and taking longer to cook than if you were to thaw them. 

So, how do you defrost ribs quickly?

The quickest ways to defrost ribs is to use a microwave or the cold water method.

Thawing ribs in the refrigerator takes about 8 to 10 hours. This is why usually you will leave ribs overnight in the refrigerator to thaw.  If left at room temperature, then 5 hours is needed until the ribs are thawed. 

The two fastest ways to thaw ribs are using the cold water method or the microwave. The cold water method will take approximately 1 to 2 hours to thaw the ribs. To do this, you just place the ribs in a bowl of iced water, changing water every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed. 

Using the defrost setting on the microwave to thaw ribs will take about 7 to 8 minutes per pound. Be sure to check the meat every few minutes to check up on how the ribs are thawing.

The article, The Fastest Way to Thaw Ribs, states,

“Defrosting your ribs in the microwave can help jump-start meal preparation and reduce cooking time. This method is the fastest way to thaw ribs, but you still need to adhere to some safety rules…Place the frozen ribs into a microwave-safe container and cover them loosely…As the ribs defrost, the edges may slightly cook. However, the inside of the food may remain frozen. Uneven thawing is a safety concern, especially if the food reaches the 40 F mark where bacteria begin to grow and multiply. For this reason, you should cook microwave defrosted food immediately. It is not safe to thaw ribs in the microwave and then put them in the refrigerator to cook later.”

Final Thoughts

Ribs can be cooked frozen. However, they will take much longer to cook from a frozen state. It takes about 3 to 4 hours to cook frozen ribs on the grill or in the oven. 

That is why it is recommended to thaw ribs before cooking them. You can defrost ribs quickly by using the coldwater method or a microwave. But, if you are in a hurry and forget to thaw the meat, you can cook frozen ribs.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

Recent Posts