mtwildflowerkitchen logo image

How Long Does It Take to Defrost Ribs in the Refrigerator?

Latest Posts


Defrost Ribs in the Refrigerator
Share Post :

Defrosting ribs isn’t just about getting them from frozen to cookable. It’s about safety and flavor. Thawing meat improperly can lead to bacterial growth, which not only affects the taste but also poses health risks.  When meat sits in the “danger zone”—between 40°F and 140°F—bacteria like staphylococcus, salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter can multiply rapidly.

That’s why defrosting ribs in the fridge, where it stays cool and steady, is usually the safest bet. But how long this process takes? Let’s find out.

Refrigerator defrosting – the safe and steady method

Defrosting ribs in the fridge is my go-to method, even though it takes a bit of planning ahead. Just put the ribs in a container to catch any drips—this saves you from a messy fridge and stops any raw meat juices from getting on other foods. Trust me, it’s worth it. Let them thaw for a full day.

Bigger cuts might take longer, so check on them now and then.

Once they’re thawed, you have 3-5 more days to cook them, which is super handy for meal planning. You can also refreeze them, but it might mess with the quality a bit. Honestly, it’s best to cook them once they’re thawed to keep that perfect flavor and texture.

Other thawing methods


If you’re in a hurry, the microwave is your best friend. Remove the ribs from the store packaging and place them in a microwave-safe container. Using a microwave-safe container ensures even thawing and avoids any plastic chemicals leaching into the meat.

Use the microwaves defrost feature, or if it doesn’t have one, set it to 30% power to avoid cooking the ribs accidentally. Microwave for 7–8 minutes per pound, ensuring to rotate the ribs periodically for even thawing.

Rotating the ribs ensures that all parts are evenly thawed and reduces the risk of partially cooked spots. Cook the ribs immediately after thawing to prevent bacterial growth, which can start if the ribs sit at room temperature for too long.

Cold water thawing


For a faster thawing method without using a microwave, cold water can be effective. Place the ribs in a sealed plastic bag to prevent water from getting in and contaminating the meat. This method is particularly useful when you’re short on time but still want to ensure safe thawing.

Submerge the bag in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Consistently changing the water ensures the ribs stay out of the danger zone where bacteria can grow. 

Small packages may thaw in an hour or less, while larger packages (3-4 pounds) may take 2-3 hours. This method requires a bit of attention but is a good balance between speed and safety. As with the microwave method, cook the ribs immediately after thawing to ensure they remain safe to eat.

Can you cook frozen ribs?

If you forgot to defrost the ribs, and you’re out of time, you can still cook them from frozen. Cooking frozen ribs will take about 1.5 times longer than usual, so patience is key. This method is particularly handy for those last-minute meal decisions. Ensure the internal temperature reaches at least 145 °F (ca. 63 °C), and let the ribs rest for at least three minutes before serving.

Using a meat thermometer helps ensure they are safely cooked throughout. This method can be a lifesaver, but it’s always better to plan ahead if possible to enjoy the best texture and flavor.

Health and safety tips!

Proper food handling is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses. Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Never thaw ribs at room temperature, as they should not be left out for longer than two hours. Leaving meat out can quickly bring it into the danger zone, inviting bacteria to multiply.
  • Keep meat out of the temperature range where bacteria thrive (40°F to 140°F) by using safe thawing methods.
  • Always use clean utensils and surfaces when handling raw meat to avoid cross-contamination. Keeping a clean kitchen is just as important as following proper thawing techniques to ensure your meals are safe to eat.

In summary

Defrosting ribs in the refrigerator might take up to a full day, but it’s the safest method to ensure your meat is both tasty and free from harmful bacteria. Regardless of which method you use for a quicker thaw, always remember to cook the ribs immediately afterward.

Related Posts

Browse through a selection of related articles for additional insights and inspiration on our website.