Can You Freeze Ribs? Brace Yourself for the Answer!

November 16, 2022

Yes, you can freeze both raw and cooked ribs, but you have to do it the right way to ensure that the ribs taste maintain taste and texture once they are defrosted.

It is only natural to wonder can you freeze ribs. After all, you are probably used to freezing every other kind of meat! Well, when I was a sous chef at a fine dining restaurant, I was taught the secrets to freezing ribs and I am now passing on that wisdom to you.

In this post, I am going to explain how to freeze ribs, how long they can be stored for, and a whole more!

Can you freeze ribs

Can You Freeze Ribs Raw?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze raw ribs! This is true for baby back ribs, spare ribs, and even beef ribs.

Frozen ribs tend to have a longer lifespan than those stored in the refrigerator. That being said, it is best to cook and eat the meat within 4 to 6 months after freezing.

Personally, though, I would advise you to cook and eat the ribs about 2 to 3 months after the freezing process. I have found that at this point that the meat taste just as good as if they were fresh.

Can You Freeze Cooked Ribs?

Yes, you can freeze cooked ribs!

It isn’t as common to freeze cooked pork ribs, but it is certainly possible. As with the uncooked ribs, you can freeze pork ribs as well as beef ribs.

Cooked ribs don’t last quite as long in the freezer as raw uncooked pork ribs and uncooked beef ribs. Still, after you freeze cooked ribs, they should be good for 2 to 3 months.

Once again, I do like to thaw and reheat the rack within a month because this is when I feel that they taste the best.

Do BBQ Ribs Freeze Well?

Yes, cooked ribs freeze surprisingly well. This, of course, is as long as the cooked ribs are frozen in the right manner and then reheated properly.

Is It Better to Freeze Ribs Before or After Cooking?

As I have mentioned above, both raw and cooked ribs hold up equally well to freezing.

That being said, I do personally prefer freezing raw ribs as opposed to cooked ribs. This is because you are less likely to lose moisture and flavor this way.

Not to mention, you can’t quite compare thawed cooked ribs to those that you take fresh off the grill.

Now, if you are dealing with leftover ribs, then go ahead and freeze them as they are going to taste quite good.

In case you are hosting a cookout and wondering if you should grill the rack ahead of time, place ribs in the freezer, and then thaw before your guests arrive, I would suggest otherwise.

In this scenario, it is better to prepare fresh racks.

Raw Pork Ribs with Spices and Herbs

How Long Can You Freeze Ribs?

Officially, you can freeze uncooked ribs for between 4 to 6 months at a time. It is a good idea to thaw and cook the rack around the 2 to 3 month mark, however.

As for cooked ribs, you can freeze the rack for around 2 to 3 months. To ensure that they taste as good as possible, though, you should reheat the ribs closer to 1 month.

How to Freeze Uncooked Ribs?

Here are the steps that you should follow:

Step 1: Freeze the Ribs Immediately

It doesn’t matter if you have just come home from the store or taken the rack out of the refrigerator – freeze the ribs immediately.

The longer that the meat is kept out or at room temperature, the greater the risk for bacteria growth. Keep in mind that even if you freeze the meat that have been left out for a long time, the risk for food poisoning is still quite high.

Step 2: Use Proper Packaging

The good news is that there are lots of different kind of packaging that you can use to freeze beef and pork ribs.

You can use aluminum foil, plastic wrap, freezer paper, or freezer bags. Personally, I like the freezer bags as this provides a good seal.

Step 3: Wrap the Pork Ribs

Keep the ribs in their original packaging. If using aluminum foil, paper, or plastic wrap, make sure to wrap the pork ribs thoroughly. You should create a tight seal to keep the meat as fresh as possible.

If using a freezer bag, then still keep the rack in its original packaging. Place the ribs in the bag and squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag. This will help to prevent freezer burn.

Then, seal the bag shut.

Step 4: Freeze the Ribs

If you have a lot of frozen items in your freezer, make sure to label the wrapped rack. It is also a good idea to write down the date of freezing. This will ensure that you use up the meatwithin the right amount of time.

Then, arrange in the freezer until needed.

How to Freeze Cooked Ribs?

These are the guidelines you should follow to freeze cooked ribs:

Step 1: Freeze Lukewarm Ribs

It is a good idea to freeze cooked ribs shortly after they have been cooked. However, don’t place hot ribs in the freezer.

This will bring down the overall temperature inside the freezer and risk spoilage for all the other foods in their as well.

Instead, let the ribs cool completely, but make sure that they don’t reach room temperature. Once again, this increases the risk of bacteria growth and food poisoning.

Monitor the ribs carefully and freeze them the moment that you think the temperature is right.

Step 2: Wrap the Ribs

You can choose from plastic wrapping, foil, freezer paper, and a freezer bag to freeze the cooked ribs in.

If you are using plastic, foil, or paper, make sure to tightly wrap the ribs. You need to create a tight seal so that the taste and texture of the ribs remain.

In case you are using a freezer bag, place the ribs inside and push all the air out of the bag. Then, seal it tightly.

Step 3: Freeze the Ribs

Make sure to label the packaging and to also write down the date that you are freezing the ribs.

Then, place in the refrigerator and keep until needed.

Pork Ribs Along With Lemon, Tomatoes and Other Herbs

How to Thaw Frozen Uncooked Ribs?

There are two main ways to thaw frozen pork ribs that haven’t been cooked yet.

The safest method is to thaw frozen ribs in the refrigerator. Place the ribs in an appropriate container and let them defrost.

The only downside with this method is that it can be rather time consuming. It can take up to 24 hours for a small rack to defrost and about 36 hours for a large rack.

Your other option is to use a cold water bath. Here, you place the ribs – still in its packaging – in a container filled with cold water. The water has to be very cold, but tap water will do.

Keep the ribs in the bath for 30 minutes before emptying the water and refilling the container with more cold water. Do this every 30 minutes until the ribs are defrosted.

Never keep meat out of the refrigerator for longer than 2 hours as this can result in food poisoning.

You should also never microwave the ribs. The microwave is unreliable as it creates hot and cold spots. This means that only certain portions of the meat will defrost while other sections may be still frozen or even cooked all the way through.

You can then cook the meat on the grill, slow cooker, or however else you like.

How to Thaw Frozen Cooked Ribs?

When it comes to frozen cooked ribs, you only have the option of defrosting in the refrigerator. Therefore, you should plan accordingly and start thawing the rack well before you will need them.

Once the ribs have thawed, fire up your grill. Then, arrange each rack on a baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with foil and then place the sheet on the grill.

Grill for about 15 to 25 minutes until the meat is heated all the way through. You may want to baste the meat with barbecue sauce halfway through.

Take the meat off the grill and then apply more barbecue sauce before serving.

Wrapping It Up

There you have it – all that you need to know about freezing a rack of ribs, regardless of whether it is cooked or not. Go ahead and put this knowledge to good use!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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