Can You Reheat Ribs In The Microwave, Oven, Air Fryer, Crock-Pot, Or Instant Pot?


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Ribs are always a favorite at the barbecue. When ribs are cooked properly, they will be tender and fall right off the bone. You know your ribs are tasty when your arms, face, and clothes are all covered in barbecue sauce. 

If any of your delicious ribs are leftover, is there a way to reheat them to the same level of tenderness? 

The best way to reheat your ribs without drying them out is by first storing them properly. Be sure to refrigerate your ribs as soon as you know everyone is finished. The longer your meat is out, the closer it gets to reaching the danger zone where bacteria grows. 

The best way to store your ribs in the fridge or freezer is to store them in individual servings. If you plan on eating leftover ribs the next few days for lunch; place the ribs in single serving sizes in different containers. 

Make sure that your ribs are sealed in an air-tight container before placing them in the fridge or freezer. 

There are a few different ways that you can reheat your ribs and still enjoy the same flavor and tenderness you did the day before. 

Refrigerating or freezing ribs will remove the moisture from the ribs. Whichever reheating method you choose, you will need to add moisture back in the ribs. You can do this with broth, apple juice, cider, vinegar, or coke. 

Can You Reheat Ribs In The Microwave, Oven, Air Fryer, Crock-Pot, Or Instant Pot?
  • Use the microwave to reheat your ribs: While this method may be the most convenient, it may not give you the best reheated results. Microwaves are known for drying out foods. Since the refrigerator has already removed a lot of the moisture from your ribs, microwaving them will remove any remaining moisture and result in some chewy ribs. 

There is a way you can reheat your ribs in the microwave and not have them end up incredibly rubbery. Soak two paper towels in water, ring them out, and place them over and under the container you’re microwaving your ribs in. 

The water will begin to steam in the microwave and allow the moisture to remain in the ribs. Microwave your ribs for about two to three minutes. 

  • Use the oven to reheat your ribs: Using the oven as your method for reheating ribs won’t be the fastest way, but it will be worth your while. When you reheat your ribs in the oven, it is easier to add moisture back into the ribs. The oven is one of the best reheating methods to use to ensure that your ribs won’t dry out or be rubbery. 

Preheat your oven to 250ºF. Add some sauce or liquid to your ribs: the sauce you cooked the ribs in, apple juice, coke, etc. Cover the ribs with foil and cook until the internal temperature is up to 145ºF. 

Remove the foil and allow the ribs to cook for another 10-15 minutes to let the extra sauces caramelize. If you prefer a spice rub, wait until they reheated before adding the rub. 

  • Use an air fryer to reheat your ribs: Air fryers are the healthier alternative to deep frying. Not only can you reheat your ribs in the air fryer, but you can also cook your ribs in the air fryer too. Though you can cook and reheat your ribs in the air fryer, it is best if you used a dry rub instead of sauces. The air fryer does not do well with wet food. 

Set your airfryer to 340ºF. Cut the ribs so they’ll fit in the air fryer nicely without needing to be jammed in. If you overload your air fryer, the ribs won’t reheat evenly. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to stop your ribs from becoming too dry. Cook the ribs in the air fryer for about 4 minutes. Be sure to check on your ribs every few minutes or so since the air fryer can reheat your food rather quickly. 

  • Use a crockpot to reheat your ribs: This method may take a bit longer than all the others, but it will keep the moisture locked in the best. If you already know you plan on eating the leftover ribs for dinner, then you can use the crockpot to ensure that they are reheated and don’t dry out. 

Add lots of liquid to the crockpot. You can use water, barbecue sauce, apple juice, etc. Set your slow cooker to warm/low. This setting will take your ribs about 1-3 hours to reheat depending on how many ribs you are reheating. 

Check on your ribs about every half an hour to make sure the liquid hasn’t evaporated and the ribs aren’t drying out. 

  • Use an instant pot to reheat your ribs: The instant pot allows you to cook crockpot dinners much faster than if they were in the crockpot. Instead of waiting a few hours for your food to be done, it can be done in about a half-hour to an hour. If you like crock pots but not the time they take to cook, then an instant pot is for you. If you decided at the last minute that you wanted your leftover ribs for dinner, you can reheat them and still have them be tender in just a few minutes. 

Place your ribs in the instant pot with some water and another form of liquid like apple juice or apple sauce. Close the lid and set the time for 20 minutes. 

Check on the ribs halfway through to make sure they aren’t too done or drying out. Your ribs should be just as tender as they were when you first made them. 

To see the most popular rib rubs just click here. 

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How Do You Store Leftover Ribs? 

A rack of ribs is an excellent dinner for a night with friends. You’ve got a big rack of ribs that should be enough for everyone. However, there were so many ribs and now you have quite a few leftovers.

Are you able to save those ribs and eat them at a later date? Are you stuck trying to eat all these ribs over the next few days? 

You can store leftover ribs in either the fridge or the freezer. Ribs will last in your fridge for up to four days. Any longer than that and you are risking bacteria spreading throughout the ribs. 

If properly stored, your ribs will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Anything longer than that will result in very dried-out and freezer burnt ribs. 

You can either choose to cut your ribs down smaller or leave them as a rack. If you choose to leave them as a rack of ribs, they will stay moist longer but are a hassle to reheat if you don’t want a whole rack. 

If you store them in manageable pieces they will dry out a bit faster, but it is also easy to add moisture back into them. 

Final Thoughts

Next time ribs are on the menu for dinner, they can also be on the lunch menu for the next day. Leftover ribs will last in your fridge for up to four days before the bacteria will start to get a hold of it. 

If you are worried about dry ribs, add some moisture to whichever reheating method you’ve chosen. 

Hannah R.

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

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