HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


OK to freeze cooked ribs not yet grilled?

Vegetarian here! I supposedly make "the best ribs" according to my meat-loving friends. Have no clue how they taste but that's not why I need help.

My dilemma is that I want to be sure that I have enough ribs for a crowd, but I'm not sure how much of a crowd is coming.

The recipe I use calls for a quick 3-minute boil followed by a cold-water wash and then an hour-long simmer with celery, onions, gar;lic, carrots.

Recipe says you can do the slow cooking a day in advance, then keep ribs in tightly wrapped plastic in refrigerator until ready to grill (basically a 15-minute high heat reheat of room-temp. ribs with slathered sauce). I have done this with apparently tasty results.

My question is:

Do you think I can freeze any remaining cooked (but not grilled) ribs and then defrost and grill with BBQ sauce?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I have had good results freezing cooked ribs. I personally would grill them and then dip
    them in the sauce so the sugar in the sauce would not burn while grilling them.

    1. My recipe calls for a longer pre-boil and less of a final cook, but I have often pre-boiled, frozen and then grilled or broiled successfully. And all my family and friends are still living.

      1. As the posters have answered, you can, and with very good results. You might want to freeze them overnight on a tray so you can store them seperatley rather than in a solid mass. Next day you pry 'em off with a srewdriver, then wrap the whole bunch (they'll remain IQF), or seperately.
        You can also freeze completely finished ribs (fully grilled with sauce) if you have any leftovers. It'll make a great, simple&easy microwaved snack later...

        1. Those poor ribs - boiled, washed, simmered, frozen, and slathered - sounds like the "revenge of the vegetarian".

          9 Replies
          1. re: grampart

            I agree, those poor ribs......

            meat jello at its finest.

            1. re: swsidejim

              Boiled ribs?
              Misguided souls.
              I have probably had boiled ribs a few times in my youth at the meat jello rib joints.

              I'm SO glad I know how to BBQ.

              1. re: gordeaux

                And we are happy for you, Gordeaux, but up here in the land of apartments/ice and snow, BBQ is NOT a year-round option. And we do not all have access to BBQ/grills. And the question is about 'par-boiling', not boiling the ____out of the poor things in one of those red sauces.

                1. re: LJS

                  Indeed. I'd have a charcoal grill & a smoker if I could, but I can't so I don't. I live in a high rise apt bldg in the middle of a northeastern city, not exactly friendly to such activities. I've managed to do some decent fake bbq w/ the means I have and it certainly isn't ever going to be as good as the real thing, but sometimes one needs to take teh shortcuts.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    There are many recipes for oven ribs that don't involve boiling water. Shortcuts are understandable, but there are limits.

                    1. re: grampart

                      I've always just cooked 'em in the oven, but just saying that one can't always assume perfect conditions.

                  2. re: LJS

                    I feel for you. But, I'll never understand what the purpose of par boiling them is. Skin 'em, rub 'em, let 'em sit, and stick 'em in the oven Low and Slow.
                    As for the weather, I've been known to smoke some slabs in sub zero temps. Where there's a will, there's generally always a way.

                    1. re: erica

                      Very interesting and not a mention of boiling water.

              2. A master ribmaker friend of ours (who had a BBQ restaurant and his own mobile smoker for events) counseled us to do a similar thing. He smokes the ribs for hours and hours until they are almost done. Then has us wrap them really really well and freeze. In the end they need a half hour in the oven, with sauce. So I think the idea of mostly cooking then freezing then finishing works.

                1 Reply
                1. re: karykat

                  Try this recipe. You'll never boil ribs again.

                  Competition Bar-B-Q Ribs Recipe courtesy Chris Lilly
                  Show: Cooking Live
                  Episode: Southern Foods: Memphis in May

                  4 slabs pork loin back ribs
                  First Stage Dry Rub:
                  1/2 cup dark brown sugar
                  1/2 cup paprika
                  1/3 cup garlic salt
                  2 tablespoons onion salt
                  2 tablespoons chili powder
                  1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
                  1 tablespoon black pepper
                  1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
                  1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
                  1 teaspoon cumin

                  Second Stage:
                  1/2 cup apple juice per slab
                  1/2 cup grape juice per slab

                  Third Stage:
                  3/4 cup First Stage rub
                  1/4 cup brown sugar

                  Finishing Glaze:
                  1 1/2 cup Big Bob Gibson Championship Red Sauce or your favorite red sauce
                  1/2 cup honey

                  Raw Preparation: Place slab of ribs bone side down on table. Slide knife under the membrane and against the end bone to separate the 2. With a dry paper towel, grasp the edge of the thin membrane and pull. The entire membrane should separate from the rib.
                  Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine First Stage rub and mix well. Generously apply rub onto the front and back sides of ribs. Gently pat to ensure that rub will adhere. Place ribs meat-side up on a broiler pan and bake for 2 1/4 hours.

                  Remove ribs from oven. Place each rib meat-side down on its own doubled aluminum foil square. Foil should be large enough to completely wrap rib. Mix the Second Stage juices. Pour 1 cup of liquid over each rib. At the same time wrap and seal each rib tight. Return to the oven for 1 hour.

                  Remove wrapped ribs from oven. Remove from foil and apply a medium coat of the Third Stage rub to the meat-side of the ribs. Place uncovered in the oven meat-side up for 30 minutes.

                  Remove ribs from oven and increase oven temperature to 350 degrees. Brush finishing glaze on both sides of ribs. Place ribs in oven for 10 minutes, or until sauce caramelizes.

                2. How big is your crowd? The rub and slow smoke crowd are spot on if you have 10 people. If you have 100 - 200, try browning, braising, and grill finishing with sauce. This is a repeat point of view from a concurrent thread.

                  1. Well Chowhounders, I didn't expect to get such spirited response to my query. It's nice to know that so many people are passionate about ribs -- the genuine meat-on-the-bone, not tofu-style faux ribs. So, my question was answered. Yes I can partially cook, freeze, then defrost and finish them off. While I appreciate the enthusiasm for the slow cooked rub and rerub method, this vegetarian is not going to be getting so intimate with the slabs of meat that bring you all so much pleasure. The flavored boil, despite the smell, is the way of least resistance for this plant lover. Thank you again for all your responses. And hey, Gordeaux, I perceive your attitude to be one of superiority and it gives all us gastronomes a bad rap. Tolerance my friend, even if the ribs are boiled.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: dropdeadcookie

                      Only way I cook ribs now a days is by braising. Best results. Perfect everytime.
                      Cut ribs(preferably Pork Back ribs into 3-4 rib pieces). Season with Dry rub of your choice. Remember to remove the membrane from the under side beforehand.
                      Place ribs on a elevated rack and pour 2 cans of room temp ginger ale in the reservoir. Cover completely with foil and roast/bake/BBQ for 3 hours on a low heat 300-325 degrees. Beautiful fall off the bone yummy. You may choose to add a sauce if your prefer at the end or serve on the side. Honestly, you will not cook ribs any other way after you have tried this method.

                      1. re: easily amused

                        e a, what you describe sounds like steaming and not braising.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          It does sound like steaming...... however the ribs turn out all roasted and delicious. One can always grill them at the end of this process for added smokey flavor. I usually do not , as the taste is just right. BBQ sauce is often left untouched as the ribs have a unique flavor of their own. My favorite go to rub includes paprika, cayenne , chili powder, dry mustard, garlic, cumin, basil, thyme, (a little salt), pepper. Coriander and curry are also possibilities to include according to one's taste.

                      2. re: dropdeadcookie

                        ddc, you've indeed wandered into a hot theme for some.

                        The posters who are real BBQers essentially support rubs, often then without saucing, and then long, slow, low indirect heat and smoking.

                        Those who prepare ribs for large groups--say 50 or more--are forced by logistics to sear, braise, and grill finish. This group probably wouldn't "boil" (as in lots of water and a roiling boil) the ribs.

                        Most interesting is that the sear-braise-grill people fully accept the rub-slow heat people; but hte rub-slow heat people are passionaely against the sear-braise-grill people.

                        1. re: dropdeadcookie

                          You can cut some of the smell down by adding some ginger to the boil pot. We did a lot of par boiling when prepping the ribs for Korean stir fry.

                          1. re: dropdeadcookie

                            I'm extremely passionate about food, and one of the foods I am passionate about is bbq. I am, really, a very tolerant person. I will never prefer par boiled ribs or understand why it would be done. Everyone is entitled to choose their own method...no matter how wrong it may be. :-p

                            Yes, that was a jokey little jab. Relax, and keep cooking them the way your friends prefer them to be cooked.

                            1. re: gordeaux

                              I can respect your passion. Not to throw hot pork drippings onto the fire but... my husband has been suggesting we par boil chicken as a way to ensure thoroughly bbq'd chicken. I'll have no part of it (unless conviced otherwise by chowhounders). It's tough being a vegetarian who cooks meat and fowl for others. The only feedback I get literally is from the mouths of friends.

                              FYI I think I am going to try easily amused's three-hour ginger-ale steaming of pork back ribs that have been rubbed.... and then freeze, reheat, and grill.