Learning how to reheat ribs in the air fryer is easy. Leftovers come out hot, juicy, and tasty with this method of warming them up. There is no better way to reheat pork, lamb, or beef ribs than by air frying. By slowly bringing them up in temperature versus a full recook, the meat will remain moist and flavorful.
This is one of the best ways to reheat ribs, especially if you like them juicy on the inside with a crunchy crust on the outside. It only takes a few minutes in your Consori, Ninja, or Breville air fryer to reheat your ribs. With these simple steps, you will have tasty leftovers in no time. Add your favorite barbecue sauce and side dishes and have another complete meal the whole family will love.
During the summer months, we like to smoke meats and entertain guests. We always make sure we make a lot so everyone can enjoy as much as they like. Plus smoking ribs takes some time, like my beef short ribs recipe that takes about 4-5 hours on the smoker. When you spend all that time on a labor of love, having extras to enjoy later is a bonus.
The main ingredient is obviously the leftover beef, pork, or lamb ribs. You can reheat them easily within 3 days of storing them in your refrigerator. Air frying them for a quick appetizer, snack, lunch, or dinner is another great way to save money, and time, plus enjoy extras.
You can reheat a few or many ribs at once, it is all about the size of your air fryer basket or tray. I have the tray style and can warm up about 8 baby back ribs or beef short ribs in a single layer at once. For larger country-style or spareribs, about 4-6 will fit into a smaller air fryer basket.
Remove the leftover ribs from the refrigerator. They are not ready to go into the air fryer immediately. I like to let them come a bit to room temperature so cold ribs are not going into a hot air fryer. You can safely let them sit on the counter for 30 minutes. This ensures the meat around the bone gets warm too. Otherwise, it may be cold, and/or the surface meat with dry out or burn.
How Long to Reheat in the Air Fryer
It doesn't take long to reheat ribs by air frying them. It only takes between 8-12 minutes. It will depend on the size and thickness of the ribs you are warming up. See the chart a few sections down for the estimated cooking times for reheating different types of ribs in the air fryer.
The temperature for air frying leftover ribs is best when done low and slow. You don't want to really fry the meat, you want to warm it up. This is why it is best to not do a quick & hot cooking time and temperature. If you want to reheat them in under 5 minutes, that high of heat will dry them out. So try this lower temperature and trust the process.
Set the air fryer to 350° and set the timer for 8 minutes. Let it preheat. See below for estimated cooking times based on rib type & size. This estimate is based on regular-sized baby back ribs. Sometimes maybe be less, like 5 minutes for lamb riblets.
Place them in a single layer on the air fryer tray or basket. Keep a bit of space between them so they can get hot & crispy on all sides.
The ribs will be done when an internal thermometer reads 165°. You want to check the meat close to the bone, not the bone itself. When they are done, carefully remove them from the air fryer with tongs and place them on a platter. Enjoy immediately!
Hint: For saucy bbq ribs, do not add more sauce to the ribs before warming them up. Once the ribs come out of the air fryer, sauce them at that time. If you add sauce before reheating, it will not only make a mess but the sauce will burn and be unappetizing.
Cooking Times for Reheat Ribs
Based on the size and type of ribs you are reheating the cooking times will vary. Once you set the air fryer to 350° you may need to alter the cooking times to one of the below.
Here are estimated cooking times by rib types for reheating in the air fryer.
- Baby Back Ribs - 8 minutes
- St. Louis Style / Spareribs - 12 minutes
- Country-Style Ribs - 10 minutes
- Large "Dinosaur" Beef Back Ribs - 12 minutes
- Beef Short Ribs - 8 minutes
- Flanken Thin Short Ribs - 5 minutes
- Lamb Riblets - 5 minutes
How to Reheat without Drying Ribs Out
This low temperature for air frying leftover ribs helps them not dry out. One thing you can do is add a bit of moisture to the ribs before reheating. Once the ribs are ready to go into the air fryer, you can spritz on some apple juice or water. Using a spray bottle, spray both sides of the ribs with the juice or water. Then place them in the air fryer.
Adding additional bbq sauce helps leftover ribs taste great and not dry. As my HINT above suggestions, only add this after reheating.
Other Ways to Reheat Ribs
Here are 5 other methods on how best to reheat leftover ribs. I have put them in order based on what works best. It starts with reheating them in the oven which is a good way to warm them up. Then the least favorable way is the microwave and I only recommend this when you are in a rush or have no other means to warm them up - like in your office lunchroom.
- Oven - bring them to room temperature and then wrap them in foil. Place them in a preheated oven at 350° and warm until they reach about 140°. Finally, open up the foil, add more sauce and cook until they are 150°.
- Toaster/Convection Oven - bring them to room temperature and then wrap them in foil. Place them in a preheated toaster or convection oven at 300° and warm until they reach about 140°. Finally, open up the foil, add more sauce and cook until they are 150°.
- On the Grill - bring them to room temperature and then wrap them in foil. Place them on a hot grill with a temperature between 225-250° and warm until they reach about 140°. Finally, open up the foil, add more sauce and cook until they are 150°.
- Slow Cooker - bring them to room temperature. To the bottom of a slow cooker add ⅓ cup of apple sauce or broth. Add a small baking rack, steamer rack, or wad up several balls of foil. Place the rack of ribs on top of the rack or foil. Set to low and let them warm up for 30-45 minutes. Remove with tongs and add sauce.
- Microwave - It is best to cut between each rib bone to warm them up as individual ribs versus a rack. Place ribs on a microwave-safe plate. Warm them up in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until heating thoroughly. Add sauce and enjoy.
To air-fry ribs, you need an air fryer. Either a tray or basket style will work. I have the Breville toaster oven/air fryer combination which is ideal for my small kitchen and my large family of 5.
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Can you refreeze ribs that have been cooked? Yes, you can safely freeze cooked leftover ribs. Place them in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag. Store for up to 30 days in the freezer.
Can You Reheat Frozen Cooked Ribs?
Once the ribs are frozen, you can thaw them out in the refrigerator for 2 days. Once defrosted, you can reheat them easily. You cannot reheat them from frozen, so thaw them safely before warming them up. Reheat the ribs in the air fryer.
Do not walk away when reheating the ribs, stay near the air fryer. This way you can watch to make sure you do not overcook them. Every machine will reheat differently. The size and thickness of the ribs may mean that you will need to cook the ribs a bit more or a bit less. Use the recipe below as a guide.
How to Reheat Ribs in the Air Fryer
- air fryer
- leftover ribs
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°. Set the timer for 8 minutes. This is the recommended time for baby back ribs. ** See the above table for a list of times based on types of rib & size.
- Optional - spritz them with a bit of water or apple juice from a spray bottle. This will help add a bit of moisture and create a bit of steam in the air fryer once they begin to reheat.
- Place them in a single layer on the air fryer tray or basket. Keep a bit of space between them so they can get hot on all sides.
- The ribs will be done when an internal thermometer reads 165°. You want to check the meat close to the bone, not the bone itself.
- When they are done, carefully remove them from the air fryer with tongs and place them on a platter. Optional - Add barbecue sauce to your liking. Enjoy immediately!