Can you partially cook the ribs and finish later

Ribs are a classic and favorite dish that people love to prepare at home, restaurants, and barbeque gatherings. However, cooking ribs can be time-consuming, especially when you want the meat to be tender and tasty. Partially cooking ribs seems like an excellent solution to help reduce overall preparation time. In this article, we will explore whether it is possible to partially cook ribs and finish them later. We’ll also discuss the benefits of pre-cooking ribs as well as potential drawbacks.

Understanding Ribs and Different Cuts

Before we dive deeper into the topic of partially cooking ribs, let’s understand the different types of cuts available. The most popular types of cuts include baby back, spare ribs, and St. Louis style.

Baby Back Ribs: Baby back ribs come from the loin area of pigs located on the upper-side portion near the spine. They are smaller in size compared to spare ribs but have more meat between each bone. Due to their tenderness and mild flavor profile, they are a favorite among many BBQ enthusiasts.

Spare Ribs: Spare ribs come from the lower side or belly of pigs and are larger than baby backs with less meat per bone ratio. They have a fattier taste while being a bit tougher than baby backs.

St. Louis Style Ribs: St. Louis style is a trimmed version of spare ribs where breastbone cartilage is removed for uniformity in shape and ease in preparation.

Each cut requires different consideration when partially cooked – keep that in mind accordingly.

Safety Considerations When Partially Cooking Ribs

Safety should always be considered when preparing food for consumption. Food temperature plays a pivotal role in preventing bacterial growth on food items, including partially cooked ones.

The danger zone temperature range for food is between 40°F (4°C) to 140°F (60°C), where bacteria grow faster at higher temperatures within this range. Therefore, to ensure food safety, it is essential to store partially cooked ribs within that temperature range, but if the meat rises above 40°F for over two hours, throw it away.

If you aren’t planning on finishing the ribs right away, be sure to use proper storage techniques. Furthermore, when reheating pre-cooked ribs, ensure that they reach at least 165°F (74°C) before consumption.

Methods for Partially Cooking Ribs

Various methods can be used to partially cook ribs; each method varies in time and required equipment. Let’s take a look at some of the most common methods:

Parboiling or Simmering: Parboiling entails boiling the ribs until they are fully cooked and can stand as they are or then placed on a grill. This method only requires water and pot/pan for cooking.

To parboil:

  1. Fill up a large pot with enough water that will cover your rib.
  2. Add seasoning salt or vinegar of your choice along with thyme or bay leaves.
  3. Bring everything to boil and add your partially cooked rib.
  4. Allow cooking for about five minutes before shutting off heat.
  5. Remove from heat after this period and let your ribs cool down before storing.

Smoking or Grilling at Low Temperatures: Smoking or grilling can give that smoky flavor many people enjoy while imparting a unique texture onto the meat.

To smoke the ribs:

  1. Preheat your smoker/grill
  2. Season and marinate your rib first beforehand
  3. Place the partially cooked meat in there once ready to go
  4. Choose a temperature that fits well with how much remaining cooking time you require.
  5. Smoke/grill according to preference while periodically checking meat temperature using a thermometer until you’re ready

Sous-vide Method for Pre-Cooking: Sous-vide is another method of cooking ribs for those who have the equipment and are perhaps more familiar with it. Sous-vide involves packaging your rib in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag before placing it into a water bath to cook evenly.

To sous-vide:

  1. Preheat your water bath to 155°F (68°C) and seal up enough portions of the ribs in plastic bags to be covered by water.
  2. Add seasoning overt from that and submerge the bagged meat into the hot water.
  3. Cook for about six hours or less depending on how long you want your meat partly done.
  4. After reaching this point, use tongs to move pre-cooked ribs to an ice bath towel.
  5. Once cooled down, store away until you’re ready for final preparation.

Some Tips and Tricks

To make sure that your partially cooked ribs come out delicious every time; take note of these tips:

  • Choosing a cooking method that works best for you is important when considering partial cooking;
  • Seasoning and marinating before partially cooking allows flavors to become more pronounced;
  • Using a rub after finishing cooking can enhance the dish’s overall taste significantly.

Benefits of Pre-Cooking Ribs

Pre-cooking ribs has many benefits; some of them are highlighted below:

  • Reduced total preparation time: Saving time is paramount in today’s fast-paced world; this technique helps reduce cook time;
  • Convenience factor: You can pre-cook parts at different times, so you don’t have everything coming out at once
  • More extended marination: prolonged marination enhances the taste profile of meat products – ideal for enhancing flavor profiles.

Drawbacks of Partially Cooking Ribs

While there are benefits to consider, several potential downsides require consideration as well:

  • Texture suffering when done incorrectly can impact enjoyment;
  • Risk associated with bacteria growth during cooling if not managed adequately;
  • Possibility one could over or undercook ribs when finishing them.

How To Finish Cooking Partially Cooked Ribs?

There are adequate cooking methods to finish pre-cooked meat:

  1. Smoking: Place the partially cooked meat on your smoker’s grill and let it cook using a lower heat for a more extended period to acquire that smoky flavor.
  2. Grilling: Heat your grill to medium-high, clean the partially cooked rib bone sides. Then place the partially heated rib over direct heat until it reaches the desired temperature and texture.
  3. Sous-vide 2: Fully submerge bagged meat in a pot of boiling water and allow it to come up to temperature gradually before completing.
  4. Instant Pot Oven: An instant Pot oven utilizes steam power; select a suitable pre-set or regular mode to complete cooking time once you’re satisfied with how much partial cooking you did

How long should previously frozen pre-cooked meats take, and many food safety experts suggest thawing ribs first before reheating in an oven until reaching an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).


Pre-cooking meat has advantages, especially when time is limited. However, pay attention to make sure temp ranges are maintained and safety measures are served because if not done correctly, health issues could arise in those who consume them later given E.coli or Listeria concerns.

If you want to give this technique a try while still ensuring safety guidelines are followed appropriately, sous-vide methods tend to offer convenience and precision even in preventing such effects as there isn’t any extra interaction required by the cook after getting everything set . Don’t be afraid – experiment with new recipes when considering ways via which you prepare ribs.


Q1: Can you partially cook ribs and finish them later?

Yes, it is possible to partially cook ribs and finish them later. This method is ideal for busy individuals who do not have time to cook a full rack of ribs in one sitting.

Q2: How should I store partially cooked ribs for later use?

To store partially cooked ribs, allow them to cool at room temperature before placing them in an airtight container or sealable bag. Store the container/bag in the refrigerator and consume within three days.

Q3: How should I reheat partially cooked ribs?

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and place your partially cooked ribs on a baking sheet lined with foil. Cover the top of the ribs with more foil to prevent drying out and bake for 20-30 minutes until heated through. Alternatively, you can also finish the cooking process on a grill or smoker.

Q4: Can I freeze my partially cooked ribs for later consumption?

Yes, you can freeze your partially cooked ribs for later consumption, but it is important to follow proper food safety guidelines when doing so. Allow the stored cooled down ribs in an airtight sealed bag and freeze them immediately as per safe freezing instructions. Thaw thoroughly before reheating.

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