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How To Defrost Ribs

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While you can usually grab frozen ribs on special at the grocery store, you might love having a stack of ribs frozen at home, ready for your next grilling session!

The one issue with frozen ribs is that you should thaw them at some point before cooking, but you want to thaw them properly so that their texture and taste are kept as delicious as possible.

How do you defrost ribs? There are a few ways to defrost ribs before cooking them, but the best way to do so is to leave the ribs in the fridge to thaw slowly overnight. If you are in a rush, you could use a cold water bath or even try thawing them in the microwave.

If you are looking for the best or quickest way to thaw ribs safely, keep reading to find out exactly how to do so, and how to make sure your ribs taste as delicious as possible!

What Is The Best Way To Defrost Ribs?

The best way to defrost ribs is to leave them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw slowly.

You will have to plan ahead and take the ribs out of the freezer the night before, but the wait will be worth it.

The reason that thawing ribs in the freezer is best is because of how bacteria grow on food.

Bacteria thrive at temperatures between 40-140°F, and exposing the meat to these temperatures can pose a risk of foodborne illness.

By keeping the ribs in the fridge to thaw, you will be keeping them out of this temperature range, but still allowing them to thaw properly.

Handling the ribs properly from frozen until the time of cooking is the best way to ensure they are kept safe to eat.

Ways To Defrost Ribs

You might have tried to defrost ribs or meat before at room temperature just to get it done quickly, but we strongly advise against this.

Thawing meat at room temperature means that the meat is exposed to the temperature danger zone (between 40-140°F) for a longer period, which means the risk of bacteria growth is quite high.

So, instead of leaving ribs to defrost at room temperature, here are some of the best ways to defrost ribs in the best and safest way possible.

Defrosting Ribs In The Fridge

If you are planning on cooking ribs the next day, then it is best to take the ribs out the night before. You can simply remove the ribs in their freezer packaging from the freezer, and place them in the fridge.

You won’t be able to cook the ribs in a few hours if you defrost them in the fridge — you will have to wait overnight for them to thaw, which can take some pre-planning.

Try to empty up some space in the fridge for the ribs to sit, so they aren’t crammed too much with other food items, giving them some space to thaw.

How long the ribs will take to thaw will depend on their size and how many racks you are planning on cooking. A full rack of ribs can take around 24 hours to thaw fully, but larger or more racks could take longer.

Once thawed in the fridge, the ribs should be cooked within 2-3 days.

Make sure as well that the temperature of the fridge is lower than 40°F, to protect the ribs from any bacteria growth.

It is a good idea to place a plate under the ribs, or place them into a container, to catch any water or juices that might run off as the ribs defrost.

Defrosting Ribs In A Cold Water Bath

There is the option of defrosting ribs in a cold water bath, but this method is best used when you are not trying to defrost a large number of ribs, as they might not all fit into the sink or the bowl you are using.

It is a good idea to place the ribs in an air-tight container or plastic freezer bag to prevent them from coming into direct contact with the water, which could end up ruining the meat.

Once you have done this, you can fill a large bowl or your kitchen sink with cold tap water and a few ice cubes to get it to a low temperature, but just above freezing.

Place the ribs in the cold water and leave them to thaw for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, drain the water and refill the sink or bowl with cold water again. Repeat this every half an hour until the ribs are thawed.

For a small number of ribs, this should take around an hour, but the time increases with the more ribs you are trying to defrost.

Once thawed, cook the meat as soon as possible.

Defrosting Ribs In The Microwave

If you are really in a rush and can’t wait for hours for the ribs to thaw in the fridge or in an ice bath, then you could attempt to thaw them in the microwave. This can be a little difficult to get right, but it is the best option in a hurry.

You will need to remove any packaging from the ribs and place them into a microwave-safe container or onto a microwave-safe plate

Try to cover the ribs loosely with a lid when placing them in the microwave. Check to see whether your microwave has a defrost function — if it does, use the recommended time according to the weight of the ribs.

Halfway through defrosting, turn the ribs over and rotate the container, so the ribs defrost evenly throughout.

If your microwave does not have a defrost function, then you can set it on low, and check the ribs every 3 minutes.

Keep a close eye on the ribs when setting the microwave on low, to make sure they are thawing and not cooking around the sides.

After defrosting ribs in the microwave, you will need to cook them straight away, to prevent any further bacteria growth.

Can You Cook Ribs From Frozen?

If you do not want to go through the hassle of thawing meat before cooking, then you could simply cook them from frozen.

It is best to thaw the ribs beforehand, but you can certainly cook them from frozen.

However, keep in mind that cooking ribs from frozen will take longer than cooking them thawed, so make sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly.

The ribs are ready when they have been cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F, to make sure they have cooked fully and they are safe to eat.

How Long Can Ribs Be Frozen For?

Ribs freeze really well, and with the right freezing and thawing process, they can taste just as great once cooked after freezing.

However, you do need to keep a check on how long the ribs have been frozen — the best way to do this is to label the rib packaging with the date of freezing.

Uncooked ribs can be frozen for between 4-6 months, and they should be used within this time.

They will still be safe to eat after this period, but there is a chance that the quality will begin to decline, and the taste and texture will not be as great.

On the other hand, cooked ribs should only be frozen for up to 3 months, and are best used within this timeframe.

Final Thoughts

The best way to defrost ribs is to place them in the refrigerator overnight so they can thaw slowly without being exposed to the dangerous temperature zone that increases the chance of bacteria growth.

You can choose to safely defrost ribs in the refrigerator overnight, in a cold water bath for a few hours, or by using the defrost or low-heat setting on your microwave.

Avoid leaving your ribs to thaw at room temperature, as this could increase the chance of bacteria growth — not only would your ribs be ruined, but it could cause you to become sick as well!

With some pre-planning, you can remove your ribs from the freezer the night before, place them in the fridge, and have them ready to grill the next day!

Related Questions

Can I slow-cook frozen ribs?

While you can grill ribs from frozen, it is best to not slow-cook ribs from frozen. The ribs will begin to thaw in the slow cooker and might spend too much time at a temperature that is conducive to bacterial growth.

It is best to thaw ribs in the fridge before slow cooking them.

How long does it take to cook ribs in the oven?

It can take some time to cook ribs in the oven, as you would want to cook them slow and long to get them tender and falling off the bone.

It is a good idea to cover the ribs with aluminum foil and cook them for between 2-4 hours (depending on the size and weight) and then remove the foil to brown them for a few minutes in the end.

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