How Long are Ribs Good in the Fridge? A Timely Tutorial

November 30, 2022

You can store raw pork ribs in the fridge for up to 5 days, while cooked ribs will usually only last about 4 days in the refrigerator.

I have been barbecuing since I was old enough to be around a hot stove and I am still passionate about my cookouts to this day. A lot of my friends don’t BBQ that often, however, which is why most of them have no idea about the shelf life of pork ribs in the fridge. So, I have come to the rescue a few times and decided it was time to write a guide on it.

In this post, I will show you how long are ribs good in the fridge based on if they are cooked or not. I will also provide useful tips on storing the ribs to make them last longer. Let’s go!

how long are ribs good in the fridge

How Long Can You Keep Raw Pork Ribs in the Fridge?

I do want to emphasize that when I say raw pork ribs I am referring, in particular, to fresh pork ribs. This means pork ribs that have been just bought from the store and haven’t passed their use by or sell by date.

When it comes to uncooked ribs, you can store these in the fridge for 4 to 5 days as long as it is within its use by date.

Baby back ribs, spare ribs, St. Louis style ribs, or even country style ribs can last in the fridge for this estimated amount of time.

After this time frame, you have to either cook and eat the ribs immediately. Or, you need to freeze the ribs so that they can last longer and be cooked at a later date.

Remember that you should always pay attention to the labels on the raw pork ribs packaging. These give you an idea of the shelf life of the meat. This will let you know precisely how much time you have before you need to cook the pork ribs.

How Long Can Cooked Pork Ribs Last in the Fridge?

It happens to all of us, you end up cooking more ribs than people can eat in one setting and now you have to consider storing them in the fridge.

So,

How long are leftover ribs good for?

Well, cooked ribs can last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days before they need to be reheated and eaten. Either that, or you need to freeze the cooked ribs if you want them to last for longer.

Can I Eat Cooked Ribs After 5 Days?

I totally understand wanting to play hard and fast with the rules. Sure you have guidelines to follow but are these really set in stone?

Are cooked ribs good if stored for five days in the refrigerator?

Personally, I wouldn’t push it. What most people seem to forget that when you store cooked or uncooked ribs in the fridge that you are simply delaying spoilage, not preventing it.

There is already bacteria on your food no matter how carefully you prepare it. However, when properly stored, the bacteria growth is minimal. Therefore, there isn’t enough bacteria to make you sick.

After four days, though, the bacterial growth is going to increase exponentially. When this happens, the risk of food poisoning gets a lot higher.

So, in case if you are wondering can cooked ribs last in the fridge for more than five days, I would say no. While meat can last in the fridge a little longer, you should still pay attention to the general food safety rules.

Pork Spare Ribs

How to Store Pork Ribs in the Fridge?

If you are dealing with raw pork ribs, then keep the ribs in their original packaging. If you are worried about any blood or juices dripping from the ribs, then place the raw ribs in a container.

Place the raw pork ribs at the back of the fridge, in the coolest area.

If you want to store cooked ribs, remember that ribs do have to be stored shortly after they have been cooked. Make sure that you never leave your cooked pork ribs out on the counter for more than 2 hours. If it is a very warm day, then only let the cooked ribs sit out for 1 hour.

Wait until the ribs are lukewarm and then wrap them up in plastic wrap. Or, you can place the ribs in shallow airtight containers. Then, store in the refrigerator.

Don’t store piping hot cooked ribs in the refrigerator. This is because the heat from the pork ribs will cause the heat in the fridge to go down. In turn, this can cause all the food to spoil.

How Do You Know If Ribs are Bad?

I do want to say that just because you store ribs in a refrigerator doesn’t mean that they can’t go bad. Spoilage can still happen even when the meat is properly stored so it is important to know how to spot it.

How to Know If Raw Pork Ribs are Bad?

The first thing that you may notice about spoiled raw pork ribs is the off smell. Fresh pork has a very mild smell. So, if anything smells bad, off, or has a sour smell, then you know that the meat has likely gone bad.

The other thing to consider is texture. If the meat has a slimy texture or is tacky to the touch, then it is likely to have gone bad.

Finally, if you notice white or green spots on the meat or it is greenish gray in color, spoilage will have set in.

How to Know If Cooked Ribs are Bad?

As with raw pork ribs, you can tell if cooked ribs are bad by the odor. Bad meat will smell sour and should be tossed out.

The cooked ribs will have a slimy texture as well. Now, it will not always be easy to know if cooked ribs are based simply by looking at it. Sure, patches of discoloration may be there but this typically happens when the meat is very spoiled.

Due to this, it is best to trust your sense of smell or gently touch the meat to check.

Cooked Pork Ribs with White Sesame Seeds

Freezing the Ribs

If you want to make raw or cooked ribs last longer, then the best thing to do is to freeze them before their shelf life is up.

If you freeze raw pork ribs, you can make the ribs last for 3 to 4 months. Freeze cooked ribs and you could make the cooked ribs last for around 2 to 3 months.

You can use the same method for freezing raw and cooked ribs.

Keep the meat in the original packaging. Then, tightly wrap in either plastic wrap, heavy duty aluminum foil, or freezer paper. Make sure to create a tight seal to prevent freezer burn.

You can also use freezer bags. Place the ribs inside the bags. Then, squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible. Then, seal.

I like to write the date of freezing on the packaging so that I know when to use up the ribs by.

Place in the freezer until needed.

Defrosting the Frozen Ribs

It it isn’t enough to freeze the ribs properly. You also need to know how to thaw them.

Never leave frozen cooked ribs or raw ribs out on the countertop.

Instead, keep the ribs in the fridge until fully defrosted. If you want to speed up the process, then you can place the wrapped ribs in a container of cold water. Replace the cold water every 30 minutes and the pork ribs should thaw out in a few hours.

Once they have been defrosted, reheat thoroughly. Then, serve with barbecue sauce and make sure the ribs are eaten immediately.

Wrapping It Up

There you go – you know how long pork ribs last in the fridge. This way, you know just how long to store them for and know the ribs will still be good. As always, safety first!

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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