Can You Freeze Smoked Ribs?

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Leftovers stare dauntingly from the table. You don’t want those smoked ribs to go to waste, so how can you keep them from going bad?

Smoked ribs can be frozen for up to 3 months if packaged properly. After a 3 month period, smoked meat can become a risk even while frozen. If you don’t want to freeze it, smoked ribs can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days before it goes bad. Smoked ribs should be packaged well to keep fresh.

Let’s look into the best ways to freeze your smoked ribs to keep them as fresh as possible.

How To Freeze Smoked Ribs Properly

Four days can pass quickly as life gets busy and a cluttered refrigerator can hide perfectly good smoked ribs rather well. Don’t deny it, we have all lost things in the fridge only to find them later and have to discover exactly what it is. But hopefully, the ribs were spotted and intended to be preserved before they were unidentifiable.

Freezing them can become a delicate process. If done properly, it can create a succulent leftover meal, weeks if not months down the road. When done incorrectly, they can turn into a freezer-burnt, questionable package, so let’s discover the best way to do it correctly.

The first thing that you need to do is let the smoked ribs cool to room temperature. Putting the ribs into the freezer when they are still hot can create problems. This will create moisture inside the packaging that will freeze and that is not good for the ribs. If the packaging has been done right, this moisture won’t have anywhere to go, which can add further safety issues to the meat.

So it has to be at least room temperature, but make sure to not leave it out to sit for too long. It is recommended that 2 hours or longer is too much time to leave smoked meat out, as it will gather unwanted bacteria which may cause health problems if eaten later.


Within those 2 hours of being off the smoker, the meat is still safe to package up for freezing. The best way to do this is to vacuum seal the ribs so that no air is available to the ribs themselves, which will also keep any freezer burning from happening. An aluminum foil wrap can also be used around the meat, but it is suggested to use multiple layers or perhaps even put it in a freezer bag to further keep air out and preserve freshness.

It is also suggested to label and date the package. This will help you know how long it has been in the freezer at a later date and can be helpful in organizing your freezer. Putting the ribs in a place that won’t get hidden will also help you remember that they are there, which will help you remember to eat them before those 3 months are up.

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How To Properly Thaw And Reheat Smoked Ribs

Now that the smoked ribs are packaged up it’s only logical to look into the “how-to” of thawing those ribs and reheating them to eat. After they are frozen you can take them out at any time within that 3 months and enjoy them. But it is probably best not to just stick the ribs, while still frozen, into a microwave and heat them in 5 minutes. This will probably cause your meat to be dry or tough, not to mention most likely cold in the middle.

The best strategy to use is to take the ribs out of the freezer and let them thaw out in the fridge. This will give the meat time to thaw evenly and keep its juices within its contents and the package itself rather than just be dried out from a quick reheat.

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Once the meat is thawed you can put the ribs into the oven at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Makes sure to cover with tin foil to preserve the juices of the ribs themselves. This should allow the ribs to be nice and warm, if not hot, temperature that is acceptable for eating. If 20 minutes is not enough you can tell that the ribs are done when fat begins to seep near the bone, showing that the meat is warm all the way to the center.

Reheating can also be done on the grill with the ribs wrapped in tin foil as well. This may give a more authentic feel to your meat and may preserve the ribs in the preheating process better. Also by reheating it slower it will keep the juices better.

It might be a good idea to add a new baste to the smoked ribs as the original baste will most likely not be as good. Freezing the meat will likely decrease its original flavor and so a new sauce isn’t a bad idea. It isn’t too hard to do and you can find a baste recipe online without too much difficulty. It might be a good idea to use the same baste that you originally used in smoking the ribs.

Dangers Of Freezing Improperly

I figured it should be stated briefly that freezing the meat improperly can lead to rotten, or freezer-burned meat. It can be dangerous to reheat ribs that may have been left out too long before freezing as bacteria is not killed, just latent, in a freezer. The wrong bacteria can cause a lot of problems if digested.

Also take into account that if your packaging gets punctured in the fridge it can cause freezer burn to occur, so proper packaging is important. But if done correctly with the proper methods then smoked ribs can be reheated months after original smoking and still be perfectly good to eat.

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