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How long to cook pork ribs from frozen?

Cooking pork ribs from frozen can take some advance planning and preparation. The time needed to properly cook pork ribs will depend on a few key factors:

The Type of Rib

There are several different cuts of pork ribs that require different cooking times:

  • Baby back ribs – These ribs come from the upper ribcage near the spine. They have the most meat and tend to be the most tender. Frozen baby back ribs take about 4-5 hours to cook.
  • Spare ribs – From the belly side of the pig, spare ribs have more fat and gristle. Frozen spare ribs can take 5-6 hours to fully cook.
  • Country-style ribs – These meaty ribs come from the shoulder. They often need a longer cook time than other ribs. Expect 6+ hours for frozen country-style ribs.
  • St. Louis-style ribs – With the brisket bone and some cartilage removed, these trimmed spare ribs cook a little quicker. Plan for 4-5 hours when cooking them from frozen.

TheCooking Method

The oven and grill are two popular ways to cook ribs. How you plan to cook the ribs impacts the time:

  • Oven – The oven provides a slow, even heat ideal for breaking down the collagen in ribs. Cooking frozen ribs in the oven takes longer, around 4-6+ hours depending on the cut.
  • Grill – The grill can cook ribs faster via direct high heat. Expect 3-5 hours for frozen ribs cooked on a grill. Keep a close eye to avoid burning.

The Weight andThickness

Heavier, thicker slabs of ribs will naturally take longer to cook than lighter, thinner ribs:

  • 2 pounds of ribs – Plan for at least 4 hours oven time, 3 hours grilling
  • 3-4 pounds of ribs – Allow 5-6 hours in the oven, 4 hours on the grill
  • 5+ pounds of ribs – May need 6+ hours in the oven, 5 hours grilling

TheCooking Temperature

Cooking ribs low and slow is key, but the exact temperature impacts total cook time. Here are common temperature guidelines:

  • 225°F-250°F – The lowest oven range for ultra slow cooking. Can take 6+ hours for frozen ribs.
  • 250°F-275°F – Allows ribs to become tender without drying out. Aim for 4-6 hours.
  • 300°F-325°F – Higher oven temp to speed things up a bit. Cook for 3-5 hours.
  • 350°F+ – Only recommended for the grill, not the oven. Cook frozen ribs for 2-4 hours.

Cooking Straight from Frozen

For the most hands-off method, you can cook frozen ribs straight from the freezer. They will just take quite a bit longer. Here are the approximate oven cook times:

Rib Type Cook Time from Frozen
Baby Back 6-8 hours
Spare Ribs 8-10 hours
Country-style 10-12 hours
St. Louis 6-8 hours

You’ll want to use a lower oven temp (225°F-250°F) for this extended cook time. The ribs should be very tender and fall off the bone after cooking low and slow for so many hours.

Thawing First

For faster cook times, thaw ribs in the refrigerator before cooking. Here are thawing guidelines:

  • Refrigerator thawing – Let ribs sit in the fridge for 24 hours. This slower thaw helps ribs retain moisture.
  • Cold water thawing – Submerge ribs in cold water for 2-3 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.
  • Microwave thawing – Defrost frozen ribs for 5-7 minutes per pound on 30% power. Watch closely to avoid cook spots.

Once thawed, ribs will cook much faster. Here are approximate oven and grill cook times after thawing first:

Rib Type Oven Time Grill Time
Baby Back 4-5 hours 3-4 hours
Spare Ribs 5-6 hours 4-5 hours
Country-style 6+ hours 5+ hours
St. Louis 4-5 hours 3-4 hours

Quick Thaw Options

If you’re short on time, there are some quicker thawing options to reduce the cook time:

  • Cold water thaw – Let ribs sit submerged in cold water for 30-60 minutes, changing the water every 15-30 minutes.
  • Microwave thaw – Microwave frozen ribs for 2-4 minutes per pound on 30% power. Check often to avoid cooking.
  • Partial thaw – Let ribs thaw in the fridge for 4-8 hours before cooking. This shortens the time while still allowing a partial slow thaw.

While quick thawing is convenient, it can result in uneven cooking and dried out ribs. For best results, go fully thawed or frozen.

Key Tips for Cooking Frozen Ribs

Follow these tips for successfully cooking pork ribs straight from the frozen state:

  • Use a meat thermometer to check doneness. Ribs are done between 195°F-205°F.
  • Spray ribs with oil or coat in rub before cooking to improve browning.
  • Cook at a low temp (225°F-275°F) to allow connective tissue to break down.
  • Add liquids like broth or apple juice to the pan for moisture.
  • Allow ribs to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing for juicier meat.
  • To avoid drying out, do not cook ribs from frozen at temps above 325°F.


Cooking delicious, tender pork ribs from a fully frozen state is doable with the right technique. The key is using a low oven temp (225°F-275°F) and allowing for extra cooking time, anywhere from 4-12+ hours depending on the cut. For faster results, thaw ribs first before cooking. With the right time and temperature, you can enjoy melt-in-your-mouth ribs straight from the freezer.