Can You Put Frozen Ribs in the Oven? To Thaw or Not?


Can you put frozen ribs in the oven? Technically yes, you can cook frozen ribs in the oven. But when you do this, the results won’t be wonderfully juicy and tender ribs like you’re thinking of.

Because frozen ribs don’t cook evenly, they will begin to thaw first and then they will cook, you’ll end up with some portions dry and overcooked while other parts might be under done.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs Pinterest

The other aspect of putting frozen ribs directly in the oven is that you’ll need to increase the cooking time by up to 50%. This will give the time for the ribs to defrost before they’re cooked.

To achieve deliciously moist and juicy ribs, we don’t recommend cooking them from frozen, but instead they should be thawed completely before they’re placed in the oven. This will allow you to achieve wonderful, falling apart, juicy ribs that are so delicious.

How to Defrost Frozen Ribs

There are a variety of ways you can thaw frozen ribs to prepare them to be cooked. We will go over the safest way, a cold water method, and a quick method defrosting process.

You’ll note that some of these methods are safer than others and some are preferred over others. 

The Safest Way to Defrost Ribs

The safest way and the recommended way to defrost ribs is in the refrigerator. To do this, just transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator, placing them on the bottom shelf, with a tray underneath.

This way as they begin to thaw, juices will not run and contaminate other foods in the refrigerator.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs cut open ribs

Defrosting ribs in the refrigerator can take up to 24 to 36 hours but allows your food to stay in the safe zone since it’s in the refrigerator at a safe temperature.

How To Defrost Quickly

If you’re short on time, some might choose to use what is called the cold water method or cold water bath.

To do this, use a pan that’s big enough to hold your frozen package of ribs and fill it with cold tap water and ice, not hot water.

Leaving the ribs in the sealed packaging, place them in the bowl of cold water. For food safety reasons, the ice water will need to be changed every 30 minutes until the ribs are fully thawed. This could take up to 4 or 5 hours.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs piece cut out

Can You Defrost in the Microwave?

Personally, we don’t like to use the microwave defrost setting for anything meat related because it can be unsafe, due to the uneven cooking, and leaves your food in the danger zone for too long.

Besides the safety aspect, we feel like it results in a shoe leather texture, rather than a juicy meat texture that’s preferred.

Can You Season Frozen Ribs?

Salt and black pepper are adequate in seasoning ribs or you can use a dry rub if you prefer, but when should you apply the seasoning?

Thinking through the process of cooking frozen ribs, if you sprinkle the seasoning on the ribs while they’re still frozen, as the ribs thaw, condensation forms and rolls down the ribs which will cause the seasoning to roll off the ribs with it.

Technically yes, you can season frozen ribs, but it’s better to wait until they’re fully thawed before applying the seasoning.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs close up on plate

How Long Does It Take to Cook Frozen Ribs?

A good rule of thumb to follow is that it will take up to 50 percent longer to cook ribs that are frozen compared to ones that are thawed.

This is true because during the cooking process the first thing that has to occur is that the ribs will need to thaw first, then they can begin cooking, which adds extra time.

Another aspect to consider when determining the cook time, is the size of the rack of ribs as well as the thickness. Larger, thicker ribs will take longer to cook compared to a smaller, thinner rack of ribs.

For example, a thawed rack of baby back ribs will take about 3 hours to cook in the oven and about 5 hours on the grill. But frozen baby back ribs can take up to 4.5 hours to bake in oven and up to 7 hours on the grill.

On the other hand, a rack of fully thawed spare ribs can take about 3.5 hours to fully cook in oven and up to 6 hours on the grill, but frozen spare ribs will take 4.5 to 9 hours to fully cook.

How to Cook Frozen Ribs

If you’re planning to cook frozen ribs without thawing them first, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow to be the most successful as possible.

Keep in mind that the recommended method for cooking ribs is when they’re fully thawed, rather than being frozen.

Seasoning Frozen Ribs

We recommend waiting to add your salt and pepper seasoning to your ribs after they’re fully thawed during the cooking process.

Otherwise, it will wash away as thaws due to the condensation and water than forms on the product while it’s being cooked.

The Smoker Temperature

To compensate for the aspect of the ribs being frozen, you’ll need to use a bit higher temperature than you would for ribs that are thawed.

We recommend 275F degrees for cooking frozen ribs. You can always adjust the temperature up or down as time goes on and as seems necessary.

Internal temperature

When cooking thawed ribs, we don’t usually monitor the internal. Temperature just because the meat on the rib bones is minimal and it cooks evenly without any problems. 

But when you’re working with frozen meat, we recommend that you monitor the internal temperature as it cooks because they’re frozen. The internal temperature should reach 195F degrees throughout before the ribs are removed from the heat source.

Can Frozen Ribs Be Cooked on the Stovetop? 

Yes, ribs can be cooked using a variety of heat sources such as the grill, using a crockpot or slow cooker, in the oven, using a smoker, or on the stovetop.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs cut of ribs

Choosing the cooking method is up to you and can vary based on personal preference and appliances available.

Cooking Fully Thawed Ribs

The best way to cook ribs is after they’re fully thawed. This will allow them to cook nice and even and will give you deliciously juicy, fall apart ribs. It’s the kind that make your mouth water.

To cook ribs that are fully thawed, preheat your oven or smoker to 180F degrees. Then apply seasoning, salt and pepper, or rub. Prepare a foil lined baking sheet with your ribs.

For baby back ribs, cook them for about 2 hours, spare ribs should be cooked initially for 3 hours. Then add any flavoring such as honey or brown sugar and wrap them in foil and put them back in your oven or smoker.

Cook them for another 2 hours, and add the barbecue sauce, and leave uncovered, cooking for 1 more hour. Let stand for 10 minutes, serve and enjoy.

Type of Ribs

Choosing the variety of ribs to cook can be a daunting task if you’ve never picked out ribs before. There are so many names that relate to different meat sources such as pork or beef, as well as thicknesses and cuts. Here are some of the types of ribs.

Spare Ribs

Spare ribs are pork ribs that are cut from the lower portion of a pig, including the belly and breastbone located right behind the shoulder.

Spare ribs are large compared to other varieties of ribs, as the bones can be up to 13 inches long.

Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are another cut of pork ribs, however they are leaner and more tender than spare ribs.

A rack of baby back ribs weighs about 2 pounds, about half of which is bones.  A rack of baby back ribs serves about 1 adult.  

Country-Style Ribs

Country-style ribs are boneless pork ribs that are cut as pork loin country style ribs. They can be sold with the bone in, but very rarely do so.

Rib Tips

Rib tips are exactly as it sounds, it refers to the tips of the ribs from pork ribs.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs close up on plate

St Louis Ribs

St. Louis ribs start as spare ribs but they’re trimmed down so that the rib tips, sternum,  and cartilage are removed.

Short Ribs

Short ribs are beef ribs that are a cut that’s taken from the brisket, plate, chuck, or rib areas of beef cattle. They consist of a short portion of bone and meat that surrounds the bone.

How to Store Ribs

Ribs can be stored on the bone or off the bone, depending on your preference. And you’ll want to choose the storage method based on how soon you intend to use them. Different storage methods have a different shelf life.

Room Temperature

Cooked ribs should be stored at room temperature for no more than 2 hours if the room temperature is between 40F degrees and 90F degrees. If the room temperature is more than 90F degrees, they should be left at room temperature for no more than 1 hour.

Storing food at room temperature causes a food safety risk and is considered a danger zone because bacteria grows rapidly. 

Smoked Baby Back Ribs cut open ribs


To store fully cooked ribs in the refrigerator, just cover them with plastic wrap or place them in an airtight container with a lid. Then transfer them to the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 days.


Fully cooked ribs can be frozen for later use. To do this transfer them to an airtight freezer bag and date and label it with the contents. Ribs can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months, without compromising quality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are frequently asked questions that relate to can you put frozen ribs in the oven. If you have a question that’s not answered here, feel free to drop it to us using the comments box below and we’ll be happy to respond.

How long do I cook frozen ribs in the oven?

First of all, we don’t recommend cooking frozen ribs from a frozen state. Ideally, they should be fully thawed first so that they’ll cook evenly.

The length of time needed to cook frozen ribs in the oven varies depending on the size of the ribs and the variety.

For example, frozen baby back ribs can take about 4.5 hours to cook from frozen in the oven, and spareribs will take about 3.5 hours to cook in the oven from frozen because they have to thaw first before they cook.

How to cook frozen BBQ ribs in the oven?

The best way to heat frozen BBQ ribs in the oven is to fully thaw them first. This will allow them to cook evenly and will make nice, juicy ribs.

For the best results, heat your oven to 275F degrees and place the ribs on an aluminum foil covered pan. Allow them to cook for 2-3 hours, then add BBQ sauce and cover with foil. Cook for another hour or until the internal temperature reaches 195F degrees.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs cover

How do you defrost ribs quickly?

The safest way to defrost ribs is in the refrigerator overnight. It can take up to 24 hours for ribs to thaw in the refrigerator.

Simply transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator, placing a tray underneath to catch any drippings as they thaw.

How long to cook frozen ribs in oven at 375?

We recommend cooking them at a lower temperature such as 275F degrees for more tender meat. You’ll want to cook your ribs in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 195F degrees, using a meat thermometer.

The amount of time will vary based on the size of the ribs as well as the thickness of the ribs.

Other Things to Know About Ribs:

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Ribs

Smoked Baby Back Ribs

What to Serve with BBQ Ribs

How Long to Smoke Ribs at 275 and More

Save to Pinterest:

can you put frozen ribs in the oven pinterest pin
can you put frozen ribs in the oven pinterest pin

For more posts like this one, follow us on PinterestFacebookInstagram and YouTube.

Photo of author
Sarah is known for her extra fancy yeast breads, melt in your mouth pies, and everything salads. She has won awards as a home cook, and is passionate about helping others feel smarter in the kitchen. Sarah is the cooking genius of the sister duo.

Leave a Comment