5 Steps to Defrost Ribs: Quick & Perfect Thawing Guide

Thaw ribs quickly using a cold water bath, taking up to 4 hours; avoid hot water. Best method is thawing in the fridge overnight for flavorful, juicy ribs.

how to thaw ribs fast

Making yummy mouthwatering ribs on the grill is a fun summer activity the entire family can get involved with. However, what happens if you forget to take the frozen ribs out of the freezer in time to thaw on their own slowly?

No worries. There is still time to get those ribs defrosted using various quick thawing techniques that still allow the ribs to remain flavorful. 

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

How long does it take to defrost ribs? 


It does take time to defrost food, and the amount of time depends upon the size and weight of the food. For example, when defrosting ribs, it can take at least 24 hours to defrost; however, larger, heavier racks of ribs can take up to 36 hours or more to completely thaw out. 

How do you defrost ribs quickly? 

Though there are several ways to help ribs defrost quickly, using a cold water bath can help speed up the thawing process. Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold tap water and place wrapped ribs in the water. Add a few ice cubes if the tap water does not get cold enough. 

Allow the ribs to sit in the water bath for about 30 minutes, then drain the water and refill with another fresh batch of cold water. Let the ribs sit in the water for 30 more minutes, then check to see if the rib meat has thawed.

If not, keep repeating the water bath process every 30 minutes until it is fully thawed. Depending upon the size of the ribs, it could take between one and four hours to thaw using this method entirely. 

Once fully defrosted, it is best to cook the ribs as soon as possible to prevent bacteria growth. 

Can you defrost ribs in hot water? 

It is not recommended to thaw ribs in hot water. Though this method may thaw them out faster, the heat from the hot water could dry out the meat and possibly start cooking it.

Additionally, the use of hot water could increase the chances of microbes growing because the meat may not thaw evenly.

Can you thaw ribs at room temperature? 

Perishable foods, including ribs, should not be left out to thaw at room temperature. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, it is best to thaw meat overnight in the refrigerator or use cold water to defrost it faster. 

Leaving the ribs out at room temperature to defrost can cause the outer layer to thaw faster while the center of the package remains frozen.

As a result, the outer layer is at risk of entering the danger zone of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when meat is at its highest right of bacteria growing and multiplying. 

Can you defrost ribs in the microwave? 

The microwave is another method used to defrost ribs quickly; however, this method can be a bit tricky. If using the microwave, it is best to use the defrost feature.

If your microwave does not have a defrost option, set the power of the microwave down to 30 percent before using it to defrost the ribs. 

Remove the ribs from any packaging and place the meat in a microwave-safe container and loosely place the lid on top. If the microwave does not have an automatic turntable, stop the microwave halfway through the defrost cycle and rotate the container.

Essentially, you should defrost the ribs for about three minutes, turn the container, and then defrost the ribs for another three minutes. 

It is vital to keep an eye on the ribs when defrosting them in the microwave because the outer edges can start cooking while the inside of the meat remains slightly frozen.

Take your time thawing the meat in the microwave and rotate the ribs every few minutes throughout the defrosting process. Once defrosted, cook immediately. 

If you have plenty of time, thawing the ribs in a cold-water bath or overnight in the refrigerator is the best way to retain the meat’s flavor and juiciness. 

What is the best method to thaw frozen ribs? 

Though there are safe ways to thaw frozen ribs quickly, the best method to defrost ribs is in the refrigerator.

Leave the ribs in their original packaging and place them in a container with high sides on the bottom shelf to prevent juices from dripping on other food items in the refrigerator. Let the ribs thaw in the fridge overnight. 

Once fully defrosted, the ribs can be kept in the refrigerator for three to five days. If needed, the ribs can be refrozen, but there is a risk of losing some of the meat’s quality. 

Do you have to thaw frozen ribs before cooking? 

If you are in a hurry to enjoy some mouthwatering ribs, there is no need to thaw them out. Instead, it is perfectly fine to start cooking the meat while it is still frozen. 

If skipping defrosting, it may take longer to cook, but the ribs will benefit from a long, slow cook, preserving the flavor and juiciness of the meat.

Cook the ribs until the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and let the meat sit for between 10 and 15 minutes before serving. 

How do you cook frozen ribs? 

Now that you know it is possible to cook frozen ribs, let’s take a look at the different methods that help produce mouthwatering, juicy ribs when cooked from a frozen state.

Ribs can be grilled, smoked, and baked without first thawing out the meat. Though many recipes recommend using defrosted meat, you can still use the same recipe for cooking frozen ribs.

Just know it can take up to 50 percent longer to cook ribs from a frozen state. 

How do you cook frozen ribs in an oven? 

Cooking ribs in the oven is the best method to start from a frozen state. To cook frozen ribs in the oven, set the oven temperature to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cover a baking sheet or pan with aluminum foil and place the ribs on top. Place ribs uncovered in the oven for about one hour, then cover the pan and ribs tightly with aluminum foil.

Once covered, bake the ribs for an additional two to three hours (for spare ribs) or an additional one to two hours (for baby back ribs)

You can add additional spices or sauces to the meat halfway through cooking. Remove ribs from the oven when internal temperature reaches a minimum of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Slowly cooking the ribs at a low temperature creates delicious and flavorful ribs. 

How do you cook frozen ribs in a smoker? 

A smoker is another excellent way to cook frozen ribs, allowing the meat to cook slowly. Take the ribs out of the packaging and apply desired spice rub generously using mustard as a binder.

If you do not want to use mustard as a binder, you can apply the spice rub after the meat has thawed (approximately one hour) in the smoker. 

Once the meat has fully thawed in the smoker, it should take about one to two hours to thoroughly cook. 

How do you cook frozen ribs on a grill?

Cooking frozen ribs on the grill is a fun way to spend time outside with family while preparing a mouthwatering dinner. Preheat the grill to 275 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for about four to six hours, turning the meat regularly throughout the cooking process. 

Grilling times may vary depending upon the size and weight of the meat. Check the internal temperature of the ribs to ensure it has reached at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

When done cooking, remove the ribs from the grill, add desired sauce, and serve. 

What temperature do you cook ribs at, and how long? 

When cooking ribs on the grill, you will want to cook them at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for four to six hours, depending upon if the meat is thawed or still frozen.

When cooking the ribs in the oven, it should be set to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and can take anywhere from one to four hours, depending upon if the meat is thawed or frozen. 

How do I know the ribs are fully cooked? 

The best way to determine if the ribs are fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer to take the internal temperature. Another way to determine if ribs are fully cooked is that they should pull apart easily. 

What temperature should ribs be when cooked? 

The meat should have an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, but ideally, the internal temperature for ribs should be between 190 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ribs will be easy to pull apart at this temperature and be very flavorful. 

Avoid overcooking ribs because the meat will become mushy if cooked too long. 

How long does it take to defrost ribs before cooking? 

If you are not using any of the above-mentioned quick-thaw techniques, it can take a full rack of ribs up to 24 hours to completely thaw.

However, if you have a large rack of ribs, it could take up to 36 hours to thoroughly defrost. Therefore, it is always best to remove the ribs one to two full days before planning to cook them. 

Can you eat ribs cold?

Once fully cooked, it is safe to eat ribs cold straight out of the refrigerator. Though they may taste better heated up with a bit of extra sauce, it is safe to eat them cold if you’d like. 

Can you eat uncooked ribs? 

Though it is safe to eat cold ribs after they have been thoroughly cooked and refrigerated, it is not safe to eat raw or undercooked ribs. It would be best if you did not eat raw rib because the meat can harbor parasites, such as roundworms and tapeworms, causing foodborne illnesses. 

Though rare, foodborne illnesses, such as trichinosis can lead to severe complications and can sometimes be fatal. If you believe you have eaten uncooked or undercooked meat, seek immediate medical attention should you start experiencing symptoms, including excessive vomiting, intense stomach pains, and high fever. 

Can you freeze cooked ribs? 

You cannot refreeze meat that has been thawed and remains uncooked. However, once fully cooked, it is possible to freeze the ribs.

After cooking, seal ribs in an airtight container or vacuum seal them and place them in the freezer. Cooked ribs can remain in the freezer for up to three months before losing their flavor and quality. 

What are the dangers if the ribs are not thawed properly? 

Uneven thawing or improper thawing of ribs (especially frozen pork rib but also beef ribs) can lead to the rapid growth of bacteria, including staphylococcus, E. coli, and salmonella.

If any of these bacteria are injected into the body, they can cause serious illnesses, including abdominal pain, vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort. 

In most cases, foodborne illnesses can manifest in the body within 20 minutes of consuming contaminated food. Those with foodborne illnesses had reported symptoms lasting for up to six weeks before their body started to recover from the disease.

Foodborne diseases can be fatal in some more complex situations and among those with underlying conditions. 

How do I know the ribs are no longer good? 

If the ribs have been improperly thawed, they can become spoiled. Spoiled rib meat can feel slimy and sticky and have a very offensive and foul odor. Additionally, the ribs may change color, appearing brown and have moldy patches. 

What can I do with leftover ribs? 

If you love to cook and plan on having ribs, you may have plenty of leftovers. Once fully cooked, you can freeze the ribs, store them in the refrigerator, or use them in other dishes.

Place ribs in an airtight container or fully wrap in two layers of aluminum foil, then store in the fridge. 

To reheat, place the leftover ribs on a sheet pan and pour just enough water into the pan to cover the bottom. Cover the pan with aluminum foil to trap the moisture.

Reheat the ribs in an oven set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes. Add some additional BBQ sauce and enjoy with a side dish

More FAQs about Thawing Ribs

Can you put frozen meat in the smoker?

Can frozen meat be placed in the smoker? It is important to completely thaw meat or poultry before smoking. This is because smoking involves cooking food at low temperatures, and if the meat is frozen, it will take too long to thaw in the smoker. This extended thawing time can allow the meat to remain in the “Danger Zone,” which refers to temperatures between 40 °F (4.44C) and 140 °F (60 °C) where harmful bacteria can multiply.

How long to cook frozen back ribs?

The frozen back ribs should be cooked for 25 to 30 minutes in a preheated oven at 220°C (425°F). If the ribs are thawed, the cooking time can be reduced to 17 to 23 minutes. If desired, baste the ribs with sauce halfway through cooking.

Can I cook ribs from frozen?

You cannot cook ribs from frozen. It is essential to fully defrost them before cooking. The recommended method is to thaw the ribs overnight in the refrigerator. This ensures even defrosting of the meat fibers and results in juicy and tender ribs.

What happens if I put frozen ribs in the oven?

If you put frozen ribs in the oven, the ribs will cook unevenly because they need to thaw out first. Unfortunately, the frozen ribs do not defrost at the same rate, resulting in one section defrosting at a steady rate while the other section thaws slower.

Do you need to thaw ribs before slow cooking?

The answer to the question “Do you need to thaw ribs before slow cooking?” is that it is recommended to thaw meat or poultry before putting it in a slow cooker, according to the Slow Cookers and Food Safety guidelines. It is advised to store the thawed meat in the refrigerator before adding it to the slow cooker.

Can you slow cook ribs from frozen?

It is possible to slow cook ribs from frozen by placing them in the crockpot without thawing them first. However, it is important to note that the cooking time should be extended to 5-7 hours instead of the usual 4-6 hours.

Can you put frozen ribs in an air fryer?

Frozen ribs can be put in an air fryer by preheating it to 380 degrees F and placing the ribs inside in a single layer. Cook the frozen country-style ribs for approximately 20 minutes, making sure to flip them once at the 10-minute mark.

Can you defrost ribs in the microwave?

You can defrost ribs in the microwave by using the defrost feature or setting the power to 30 percent if your microwave doesn’t have this feature. The defrosting time will vary depending on the power of the microwave and the thickness of the ribs, but it typically takes around 7 to 8 minutes per pound.

Is it safe to microwave ribs?

It is not the safest option to microwave ribs as a method of reheating. While it does provide a quick heating process, there is a risk of the ribs drying out. To minimize this, you can choose to keep the ribs intact or cut them into smaller portions. Additionally, it is advisable to add a small amount of water to a microwave-safe dish to help retain moisture.

Can you thaw ribs in cold water?

Yes, it is possible to thaw ribs in cold water. If you are short on time and need to thaw the ribs quickly, placing them in a bowl of cold water is the recommended method. It is important to note that ribs are typically packaged in a vacuum-sealed packaging, but if yours are not, make sure to place them in a leak-proof package such as a Ziploc bag.

How long do I put ribs in the microwave?

You should put the ribs in the microwave for 8 minutes on HIGH, with the cut side down and arranged in two layers in a Deep Covered Baker. Make sure to add water and cover the dish while microwaving. After the 8 minutes, remember to turn the ribs over.

How long after defrosting ribs should it be cooked?

Raw pork ribs can last for an additional 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator after being defrosted in the fridge. However, if the ribs were thawed in the microwave or in cold water, they should be cooked immediately.

Is it better to reheat ribs in the oven or microwave?

It is better to reheat ribs in the oven rather than the microwave. Using a microwave can result in tough and rubbery ribs. To reheat ribs in the oven, preheat it to 250°F, which is the ideal temperature to gently heat the ribs without drying them out. Place the ribs on the center rack to ensure even heating from the circulating heat.

Can you thaw ribs in water?

You can thaw ribs in water by placing them in a bag and submerging them in boiling water for about an hour. This method allows the ribs to thaw and heat simultaneously without losing any moisture. Alternatively, you can defrost the ribs by running cold water over them under the kitchen faucet.

How do you thaw vacuum sealed ribs?

To thaw vacuum sealed ribs, you can expedite the process by placing the vacuum sealed bag in a bowl of cold water. Remember to monitor it periodically and replace the water whenever it begins to feel warm.

How long are pork ribs good after thawing?

The pork ribs are good for three to five days after thawing, if they are beef, pork, lamb or veal (roasts, steaks, or chops). Ground meats, poultry, and fish should be used within one or two additional days after thawing in the refrigerator (40 °F or less) to ensure safety.

How long to reheat frozen pork ribs?

The recommended time to reheat frozen pork ribs until they reach a safe eating temperature of 145 degrees F, as advised by the USDA, can range from 20 to 30 minutes. It is important to monitor the ribs closely during this time to prevent them from overcooking.

Similar Posts