Can You Freeze Ribs? Step-by-Step Guide to Freezing Uncooked Ribs

Freeze uncooked ribs to prevent spoilage, save money, create space, and maintain nutritional value. Choose the right ribs, freeze properly, and enjoy delicious meals later.

how to freeze uncooked ribs

Not all food items can be put in a freezer, but the ones that can should be frozen when possible. Fortunately, one of the most freezer-friendly kinds of food is meat. Actually, there are benefits to freezing meat, including:

  • Prevents spoilage by stopping harmful microorganisms from turning the meat bad.
  • Helps save money by preventing food waste and allowing bulk purchases to be stored for later use.
  • Allows the refrigerator section to have more room for foods that can’t be frozen (creamy dairy products, watery fruits and vegetables, or anything else that could get soggy and gross).
  • Doesn’t compromise the nutritional value of the meat.

So, if you’ve got glorious slabs of uncooked ribs that you don’t want to waste or are saving to cook for another day, you’re in luck.

Trying to figure out how to freeze uncooked ribs is a smart thought. Uncooked ribs freeze beautifully and can be cooked to tasty perfection when the time is right.

Before you freeze uncooked ribs, there are a few things to consider.

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What Kind of Ribs Are You Freezing?

If you were to walk up to a butcher’s counter and ask for ribs, the first question that may get bounced back to you is “what kind?”.

When you go to the meat department of any grocery store, look carefully at the selections. You’ll notice that there are different cuts of ribs and different types of rib meat.

Pork Ribs

Pork Rib

One of the most popular types of rib cuts are pork ribs. In fact, pork ribs account for 21 percent (including chops and roasts) of the types of pork meat that most people buy.

Wallet-wise, this makes a lot of sense. Pork is one of the least expensive meats on the market, allowing consumers to buy bulk cuts for a lot less money. Tummy-wise, it doesn’t hurt that pork ribs can be absolutely delicious.

If you’ve gone to a cookout or had dinner where ribs are the main entree, the odds are very high that those ribs were pork. Different cuts of pork ribs include:

There is a reason that you will find a healthy supply of pork ribs available during traditional holiday seasons all over the world.

Typically, holiday meals take longer to prepare and pork is a tasty meat that is highly associated with a low-and-slow cooking approach, ribs included. When cooking pork ribs, it generally takes hours to yield a chef-level dish for this very reason

You’ll find that few people will complain when those ribs are properly cooked. So, whether you celebrate holidays or not, when you see plentiful supplies of ribs in the meat section, a special occasion is afoot.

Commemorate the day or don’t. Grab the pork ribs, freeze them and cook them later anyway. Pork isn’t the only type of meat that can be frozen for succulent ribs.

Beef Ribs

Beef Rib

Almost as popular as pork, beef ribs are another option for you to consider freezing. Beef is a go-to choice for people that take barbecuing very seriously.

If you know someone that considers themselves a pitmaster and they’re cooking & seasoning ribs, don’t be surprised if it’s beef. The flavor of beef is different from pork, so choosing beef ribs is really a matter of personal preference and taste.

Cows are much bigger than pigs, so beef ribs are always bigger, packing a lot more meat than pork ribs.

There are three essential cuts of beef ribs:

  • Back Ribs
  • Short Ribs (also called Plate Short Ribs)
  • Chuck Short Ribs

Back beef ribs will be the smaller cut of the beef options. Depending on your freezer, keep in mind that when choosing beef ribs, you will need more storage space than you would with pork ribs.

Lamb Ribs

Lamb Rib

In the U.S., lamb is not as widespread a rib option as pork or beef. However, it is extremely popular in other parts of the world – especially in countries where lamb is a major meat staple.

Still, it is still a viable and tasty option for freezing if you like the taste of lamb.

Lamb ribs without the bones are made from the belly or breast portion of the sheep. The other option you can choose is the large connected portion of ribs, commonly known as a lamb rack.

Remember that when you freeze it, you should consider how much space your freezer has because racks of lamb can take up a lot of room.

The Process of Freezing Uncooked Ribs

After you bring the uncooked ribs to your kitchen, you’ll want to freeze the meat as soon as you can. Doing it quickly will help the meat keep its moisture content intact.

If you are pressed for space, try removing any unnecessary fat or bones from the meat. However, keep in mind that fat also imparts great flavor to the ribs when you cook them.

If you can, invest in freezer-proof containers or packaging. You’ll want to limit air pockets when freezing the ribs so that the meat doesn’t get freezer burn (like shrimp, ice cream and other foods).

Freezer plastic wrap and freezer paper are fantastic because both hug the meat closely, preventing excess air and ice crystals from forming around the ribs. Airtight and properly wrapped keeps uncooked ribs safer in the freezer.

Should You Add Salt and Other Seasonings Before Freezing?

Despite what some people may believe, certain meats, such as pork, are not naturally salty. However, you should not add salt to fresh meat, like uncooked ribs, before you freeze it.

Adding salt can actually speed up the degradation process of the ribs’ composition, even when it’s frozen. So, wait to add salt and other seasonings after you pull the ribs out of the freezer.

How Long Can Uncooked Ribs Stay Frozen?

Uncooked pork ribs can be left in the freezer for up to six months if packaged correctly. Uncooked lamb ribs can stay in the freezer anywhere from six to nine months.

Uncooked beef ribs have the longest freezer shelf life and can be frozen for up to a year.

Using these tips, you should be able to take your uncooked ribs out of the freezer, thaw them, cook them to perfection and enjoy one of the most sumptuous cuts of meat on the planet.

More FAQs about Uncooked Ribs

How long can you freeze uncooked pork ribs?

The uncooked pork ribs can be frozen for a certain period of time. For optimal quality, it is recommended to use fresh pork roast, steaks, chops or ribs within four to six months after freezing. Fresh ground pork, pork liver or variety meats should be used within three to four months, and home cooked pork, soups, stews or casseroles should be used within two to three months after freezing.

How long will vacuum sealed raw ribs last in freezer?

Vacuum sealed raw ribs can last in the freezer for 1-3 years, depending on the type of meat. However, if the raw ribs are not vacuum sealed, their freezer life will be shorter, lasting only 1-12 months, depending on the type of meat.

Can you cook pork from frozen?

Yes, it is possible to cook pork from frozen without defrosting it first. Whether you choose to cook it in the oven, on the stove, or on the grill, it is safe to do so. However, keep in mind that the cooking time will be approximately 50% longer than usual. To ensure that the pork is cooked thoroughly, it is recommended to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Can you eat freezer burned pork?

Freezer-burned pork can be eaten, but it may not have the best taste due to its dry and leathery texture. Additionally, the flavor may have deteriorated, indicating a loss of freshness.

Do frozen ribs need to be thawed before cooking?

Frozen ribs must be thawed before cooking. It is essential to completely defrost the ribs before cooking, regardless of the cooking method you choose. For optimal results, it is recommended to thaw the ribs overnight in the refrigerator. This ensures that the meat fibers defrost evenly, resulting in juicy and tender ribs.

How do you defrost frozen cooked ribs?

To defrost frozen cooked ribs, it is recommended to place them in the refrigerator and let them thaw gradually over the next 24-48 hours. It is crucial not to rush the defrosting process by using hot water or leaving the ribs at room temperature. Doing so can create an environment for bacteria to thrive and raise the chances of foodborne illness.

Should you put ribs in the fridge or freezer?

Ribs should be stored in either the fridge or freezer. Storing cooked ribs in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40 °F can prolong their freshness for up to 4 days. However, if properly stored in the freezer at 0° F, they can last even longer, up to a few months.

Can you freeze prime rib after baking?

The prime rib can be frozen after baking. After dinner, ensure to tightly wrap any remaining prime rib in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator or freezer. Leftover prime rib can be enjoyed for up to five to seven days in the fridge or up to six months in the freezer.

Do you need to pre cook ribs?

Pre-cooking ribs is not necessary, but it can be beneficial for tenderizing tougher side ribs. However, if you prefer not to spend hours cooking, you can skip the pre-cooking step and still enjoy tender back ribs.

How long and at what temperature do you cook pre cooked ribs?

The recommended cooking instructions for reheating pre-cooked ribs are to wrap them in foil and bake in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for approximately 30 to 35 minutes, according to one manufacturer’s suggestion.

How long can ribs marinate in the fridge?

Ribs can be marinated in the fridge for up to 24 hours to ensure food safety and enhance flavor before cooking.

What do you wrap ribs in to freeze?

To freeze ribs, you should wrap each rib portion tightly in plastic film wrap, ensuring to remove as much air as possible. For added protection, place the wrapped portions inside a heavy-duty freezer bag.

Is it better to freeze meat in paper or plastic?

It is better to wrap meat in butcher or freezer paper when freezing it in order to block out moisture and air.

Is Saran wrap good for freezing meat?

Saran wrap is not ideal for freezing meat as it is permeable to air and water vapor, allowing freezer burn to occur even with multiple layers. Although it can help trap moisture initially, it does not provide sufficient protection for long-term freezing.

What is the best wrap to freeze meat?

The best wrap to freeze meat is one that prevents exposure to outside air. While a vacuum-sealer is ideal for proper packaging, you can also use freezer paper, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or airtight zip-loc bags to double wrap cuts of meat.

Does butcher paper prevent freezer burn?

Butcher paper with a waxy coating effectively prevents freezer burn and helps retain moisture in the package when used correctly.

How do you freeze meat without freezer burn?

To freeze meat without freezer burn, you should first wrap the meat tightly in saran wrap. Next, encase the saran wrapped meat in tin foil, ensuring a secure wrapping. Place the wrapped meat in a freezer bag and label it with the name of the meat and the date. Finally, place the bag in the freezer for optimal preservation.

How long do uncooked ribs stay good in the fridge?

Uncooked ribs can stay fresh in the fridge for up to five days before they should be cooked or frozen. If the ribs are already cooked, you have a maximum of four days to reheat or freeze the leftovers. It is important to note that while refrigeration slows down bacteria growth, it does not completely stop it. Therefore, freezing is the only way to ensure the long-term safety of your ribs.

Can you put raw ribs in the fridge uncovered?

Raw ribs can be stored in the fridge uncovered for optimal results. It is important not to wrap them in cling film when using a dry rub overnight as the moisture from the meat can counteract the desired effects of the rub. To achieve the best outcome, it is recommended to store the ribs without any covering in the fridge or a cool and dry place.

How long can ribs stay in the fridge after thawing?

The ribs can stay in the fridge for up to three to five days after thawing.

How long should you marinate ribs with a dry rub?

The dry rub should be on the ribs before cooking for a duration ranging from 15 minutes to 48 hours. It is recommended to allow the dry rub to sit on the ribs for at least 15 minutes in order to tenderize the meat and extract moisture. However, if desired, the ribs can be refrigerated with the dry rub for up to 48 hours.

Can you freeze cooked ribs on the bone?

You can freeze cooked ribs on the bone, just like uncooked ribs. However, it’s important to note that cooked ribs don’t have as long of a freezer life compared to raw pork and beef ribs. After freezing cooked ribs, they should remain good for approximately 2 to 3 months.

How can you tell if pork ribs have gone bad?

Pork ribs can be determined as spoiled by observing certain indicators. When pork starts to spoil, it releases a sour odor that becomes stronger and more pungent as time passes. Additionally, the appearance of raw pork changes, with a slimy texture and altered color. It is important to note that cooked pork left in a warm environment overnight may not exhibit visible signs of spoilage, but consuming it can likely result in illness.

Can you refreeze pork ribs?

You can safely refreeze pork ribs if you have thawed them in the refrigerator and cannot use them immediately. Whether the ribs have been cooked or not, simply return them to the freezer within a few days of thawing. It is important to note that the ribs may be slightly drier when reheated after the second thaw, but they will still maintain their great taste.

Is it safe to eat cooked ribs left out overnight?

It is not safe to eat cooked ribs that have been left out overnight. If a perishable food, such as meat or poultry, is left at room temperature for more than two hours, it may pose a risk to your health. It is recommended to discard it, even if it appears and smells good.

Can you freeze ribs?

Yes, you can freeze ribs. It’s a common method for preserving them and extending their shelf life.

How long can you freeze pork ribs?

Pork ribs can be frozen for up to six months. However, for the best quality, it’s recommended to consume them within the first three months.

Can you freeze pork ribs?

Indeed, you can freeze pork ribs. This helps in maintaining their freshness when you’re not planning to cook them immediately.

How to freeze ribs?

To freeze ribs, first cool them completely if they are cooked. Then wrap them tightly in foil or plastic wrap, followed by a layer of freezer paper or a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.

Can you freeze baby back ribs?

Absolutely, you can freeze baby back ribs. Just like other types of ribs, they can be preserved in the freezer to extend their usability.

Can you freeze short ribs?

Yes, short ribs can be frozen. Freezing is a great way to store them if you don’t plan on using them right away.

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