Even if you’re seriously on top of meal planning, or you’re one of those people who’s always thinking about their delicious next meal, there comes a time when you find yourself in that fateful cooking bind: frozen meat. How are you going to get dinner on the table when that rack of ribs you were hoping to throw in the oven is completely frozen? Take a breath. If you need to bake frozen ribs in a pinch, there are steps you can take to make it happen. Turns out you can easily cook frozen ribs in the oven and get incredibly delicious results.
How to Cook Frozen Ribs
No matter how you plan on cooking your ribs, you will absolutely need to defrost them completely before cooking. As a general rule, the best way to cook frozen ribs is to thaw them overnight in the fridge beforehand. This allows the meat fibers to defrost evenly and produces the best juicy results and textures. But this low and slow process can take over 24 hours (a full day for every 5 pounds of meat), especially with big bone-in cuts. For a same-day cooking situation, you need an alternative.
To defrost frozen pork ribs quickly, place the sealed package in a large bowl or deep tray. Then set the container in the sink and run cold water over the surface, ensuring the meat is as submerged as possible in the water. If the ribs can be fully submerged in the container and you’re concerned about water waste, you can also let them sit in the water without running it constantly. Just make sure to change out the water every 30 minutes or so.
Keep an eye on the ribs as they thaw; they’ll defrost faster than you think. A rack of ribs, for example, can thaw out in 1-3 hours depending on its weight.
Okay, so say you don’t have three or even one full hour to waste on thawing. Why not run hot water over the meat instead? Think again. Hot water can cause the meat to defrost unevenly and unsafely—chances are that the outer layer will get too hot (practically cooking it) while the center and areas near the bones will remain completely frozen. Cold water is your friend here.
Can You Season Frozen Ribs?
Salt and pepper are all you really need to season pork ribs, especially when you’re dealing with the oh-so-mighty Ibérico. But if you’re looking to get creative and season with spices or lacquer on sticky sauces, these oven-based rib recipes will make frozen Ibérico pork ribs sing:
Can Frozen Ribs be Cooked on the Stovetop?
Once properly thawed, there are all sorts of ways to cook pork ribs. The oven is the indoor ideal for that low and slow, fall-apart goodness, and the grill will take them to the next level with the addition of char and smoke. But ribs can also be cooked on the stovetop.
For St. Louis Ribs, we recommend cutting them into smaller sections of 2-4 ribs, or even into individual ribs, so they fit easily into your pots and pans. From there you can create spoon-tender treasures— think red wine, garlic, and herbs— or big savory stews full of spices, like stovetop braised ribs bathed in coconut curry.
For a 4-Rib Rack, try cutting them into individual ribs and sear on high heat for a few minutes on each side.
No Pork Rib Like Ibérico
Whether you’re cooking ribs on the grill or the oven, there’s truly no pork rib like Ibérico. Bold, nutty nuances and absurd quantities of intramuscular fat make for some of the most flavorful ribs on the planet—sauces and seasonings or not. The next time you’re looking to cook frozen pork ribs from the oven, remember three things: don’t panic, thaw appropriately, and go Ibérico.