Ribs are a staple in any barbecue and one of my personal favorites. I mean, what’s more mouth-watering than fall-off-the-bone, succulent, pork ribs.
Now, we all know how important it is to rest barbecue meats like pork butt or a glorious brisket, but is resting pork ribs really necessary?
Since the meat is so thin and much smaller than others, you don’t want it to go cold, right?
Where do we draw the balance?
Well, here’s exactly why you should let pork ribs rest after smoking them, how long they need to rest, and the best methods to use to ensure the ribs stay moist and juicy without becoming cold.
We’ve all done it before. We’ve been impatient and succumbed to the allure of freshly smoked pork ribs. I know I’m guilty.
But, even though you may think pork ribs are ripe for the picking as soon as they’ve become fall-apart tender – you’d better think again!
You see, something quite unique happens when you halt the cooking process of meats, and allow them to rest, including pork ribs.
The most important and the most noticeable impact of resting pork ribs is the reabsorption and redistribution of their divine juices.
During this process, the meat reabsorbs these juices so that when you cut into them or pull them apart none of these deliciously delectable juices get away!
What’s more, while the meat rests and remains at high temperatures, it continues to cook slowly, which can further the overall tenderness of the rib.
Don’t take my word for it. Try cooking two slabs of ribs and try resting one while devouring the other and you’ll find out exactly what I mean.
How Long To Rest Pork Ribs?
Listen, there’s no need to rest pork ribs for hours like you would a brisket or for pork shoulder for pulled pork. No no no.
But, by resting pork ribs for at least 10 minutes you’ll certainly experience the benefits of the resting process – without your stomach rumbling for long.
Though ten minutes is a good guide, if you’ve got a hefty rack of ribs then you may want to go rest your ribs for up to 20 minutes or even longer depending on what method you’re using.
Of course, some still choose to dig into their ribs as soon as they’re ready, so it’s not 100% necessary, but believe me, ten minutes goes a long way.
Best Method For Resting Pork Ribs
Let’s not try to be too fancy here. Really, there’s one crucial step when it comes to resting your pork ribs.
That is, you want to be resting your pork ribs in two layers of aluminum foil or butcher paper to really seal in that moisture. This also stops the exterior of the ribs from cooling too quickly. After all, you don’t want to be eating cold pork ribs.
Keeping your pork ribs sealed in butcher paper or foil will keep them at higher temperatures for longer, staying nice and hot for at least twenty minutes. This gives you plenty of time to rest your ribs, letting them absorb the juices and finishing them off nicely.
Tip: keep the pork ribs resting meat side down so that any juices that collect can smother the meat even more.
When you’re ready to eat simply unravel the package or ribs, finish with sauce or go ahead and serve them as they are: ridiculously juicy.
Pork Ribs Done Too Early? What To Do
There are some that argue that pork ribs can never be too “done”, as they simply become more tender as the process goes on.
However, there’s definitely a limit!
After all, there’s a reason why championship ribs judged at a competitions are awarded for their “perfect bite”.
A pork rib at it’s prime should have the meat pull off the bone, but not fall off! You want there to a bit of bite left, which is a sign the ribs are tender without being considered overcooked.
So, if you’re cooking ribs in advance or your pork ribs are simply done earlier than expected, here’s the best ways to rest your pork ribs for long periods of time.
Resting Pork Ribs For 0-2 Hours
If your pork ribs are really done an hour or two earlier than you’d hoped for then you better take a page from the book of resting brisket.
Meaning of course, copy the technique that allows brisket to rest for four hours or more, utilizing what’s called the faux cambro technique, using a cooler box and towel.
Before you remove your ribs from the heat, add some hot water to a cooler box and close the lid for five minutes.
After five minutes or so, pour out the water and pat the inside of the cooler dry with paper towels.
Then, remove your ribs from the heat, wrap them in butcher paper or aluminum foil, and wrap them tightly in a thick towel.
Finally, add your wrapped ribs to the cooler box and close the lid.
By adding hot water (not boiling) to the cooler box first, it’s able to pre-heat and hold your ribs at a higher temperate for longer, giving you at least two hours of resting before it starts to cool below 145°F.
This technique can make the ribs ridiculously tender without overcooking them!
Resting Pork Ribs For More Than Two Hours
If you’re looking to rest your pork ribs for more than two hours, then the faux Cambro technique isn’t always going to cut it.
Keep in mind the key here is to keep your ribs within food-safe internal temperatures, above 145°F as recommended by the FDA.
To keep your ribs above this temperature for more than two hours, your going to have to rely on either a low-heat oven (heated to 150°F) or a hot box, similar to what they use at commercial barbecue restaurants to keep meat warm overnight or even longer.
The Wait Is Over
No doubt we’ve all felt that temptation before.
Some even give in to it.
But, if you’re looking for crazy juicy and tender ribs, then resting them for at least 10 minutes is all part of the process.
Keep it simple. Wrap your pork ribs in two layers of aluminum foil or butcher paper and set them aside.
To keep yourself sane during this process, simply prepare everything else for your meal and play the waiting game.
If your pork ribs are done too early or you’re preparing them in advance, you can also use the cooler box, faux cambro technique, or get a pre-heated oven or hot box ready to hold them at temp until you’re ready to serve!
If you’re looking for some alternatives to bbq sauce for ribs, try a spicy or tangy sauce, or even just a dry rub!