Slow Cooker Ribs {The Most Tender Ribs!}

05.26.2018

If you’ve never tried Slow Cooker Ribs there’s no better time than this weekend! Yes these are the perfect summer food but I make these ribs alllll year long since they are cooked in a crockpot! No smoker or grill required here. And guess what? This version is even better.

These ribs are unbelievably tender. We’ve had bad ribs that you have to chew of the bone and that are unfavorably tough. These are anything but. The meat falls right off the bone and melts in your mouth!

Slow Cooker Ribs

Crock Pot Ribs with a Homemade BBQ Sauce

Another thing I really love about this recipe is this homemade bbq sauce. It’s flavored just how I like. It’s lightly sweet and tangy, it’s rich and has good depth, and it’s slightly smokey with a little kick.

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The other great thing is that there will be extra sauce so you can grill chicken the next day and slather it with lots of this bbq sauce.

When in a rush you can use some of your favorite bottled barbecue sauce but I highly highly recommend trying this homemade sauce when you’ve got the time. It’s so easy to throw together it’s just a bit of measuring and simmering.

Slow Cooker Ribs

How to Make These Ribs

  • First you’ll remove that thin whitish, somewhat translucent membrane from the back of the ribs. Here’s a video if you’ve never done it.
  • Then you’ll rinse and dry the ribs and rub a spice rub over them.
  • After that you’ll pour a little water into the slow cooker and add the ribs. If the bones aren’t too wide to wrap the ribs around the inside of the slow cooker and still be able to cover with a lid then do that, otherwise cut the in half and layer one over the other as I had to here.
  • Cover and cook until very tender about 6 1/2 – 7 hours.
  • Meanwhile prepare the sauce by mixing bbq sauce ingredients in a saucepan and simmering 15 minutes to reduce and thicken slightly (chill if ribs won’t be done for a few hours).
  • Remove ribs from slow cooker once cooked, carefully transfer to a wire rack over a rimmed sheet (covered with foil if you hate clean up).
  • Broil on each side about 2 – 3 minutes to slightly caramelize and brown the sauce, serve warm!

Slow Cooker Ribs

What to Serve with Ribs

Crockpot ribs

How Tender do You Like Pork Ribs?

You can adjust the cooking time here based on how tender you like ribs. I like them fall of the bone tender so I cook about 6 1/2 to 7 hours but if you want the meat to stick the the bones it will probably be more like 5 hours.

And those times are just an estimation because every slow cooker cooks a little differently, especially older models. After you’ve tried the first batch then you’ll know exactly what time works perfect for you and just jot that down.

I make these ribs usually once a month and once you try them you’ll know why. Everyone in my family loves them and requests that I make them. I don’t know if meat gets any more tender than this!

Tender slow cooker ribs on plate with loaded baked potato and coleslaw

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Slow Cooker Ribs

5 from 2 votes

This is my favorite ribs recipe, they are melt-in-your-mouth tender and amazingly flavorful! Everyone will love that homemade sauce and you'll love how easy these are to make. When you are short on time a store-bought bbq sauce will work here as well.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 602 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 - 3 1/2 lbs pork baby back ribs
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Barbecue sauce (or use 1 cup store-bought)

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup, such as Heinz Natural (or one without high fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp molasses
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 2 Tbsp steak sauce, such as A1
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Prepared yellow mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Natural liquid hickory smoke flavor (found in BBQ sauce section)
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp Chipotle chili powder or cayenne pepper (then more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Remove then membrane layer from back of the ribs, then if the ribs are too wide to fit sideways along insert of slow cooker then cut ribs in half.

  2. Rinse and dab dry then sprinkle and rub both sides of each portion with spice mixture.

  3. Pour 1/2 cup water into a 6-quart slow cooker. Place ribs over water (one layered over the other if you had to cut in half, otherwise curl around inside of slow cooker insert).

  4. Cover and cook on low heat 6 1/2 - 7 hours or until very tender.

  5. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminium foil. 

  6. Carefully transfer ribs with curved side up to wire rack on baking sheet (I recommend using two pair of tongs or tongs and a turner to lift them, they are super tender).  

  7. Brush with about 1/2 cup bbq sauce (total). Move oven rack 2 levels below broiler and heat broiler.

  8. Broil ribs until bbq sauce starts to set and caramelize, about 2 - 3 minutes (keep a close eye on them).

  9. Remove from oven, carefully turn ribs brush with another 1/2 cup sauce and return to oven and broil about 2 - 3 minutes. Serve warm.

For the bbq sauce:

  1. In a large saucepan combine all bbq sauce ingredients along 1/2 cup water and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Let cool (not that you'll have about 1 cup extra sauce for another use).

  3. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Ribs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 602 Calories from Fat 288
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 32g 49%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Cholesterol 201mg 67%
Sodium 1097mg 46%
Potassium 1162mg 33%
Total Carbohydrates 20g 7%
Sugars 16g
Protein 53g 106%
Vitamin A 11%
Vitamin C 2.9%
Calcium 8.9%
Iron 19.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Slow Cooker Ribs

14 comments

  • Cheri Natho: Does it matter which side of the slab is on the inside of the crockpot and which is facing the wall? May 27, 2018 at 6:43am Reply

    • Jaclyn: The meatier top portion should face toward the crock pot, sorry I should have mentioned that. May 28, 2018 at 4:56pm Reply

  • Brenda Abramson: These look so amazing! But I cannot eat tomatoes- too much ketchup. Help! Any ideas or suggestions on substitutions? May 27, 2018 at 9:25am Reply

  • Kathy: wow! this looks so gooood! fall of the bone meat, finger leakin’ good!

    been thinking of making these for several weeks now and I’m so glad you post this here on your website. I have a question though, can i use more than 1 rack of ribs per cooking? May 27, 2018 at 2:08pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: That should be fine as long as they can fit without overcrowding. Then you may need to add a bit more time. May 28, 2018 at 4:59pm Reply

  • Emily: I have a box of pork rib in the freezer, gotta try this recipe! Thank you for sharing! May 28, 2018 at 3:34am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love this recipe Emily! May 28, 2018 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Debra: This is a great recipe. Very easy to make and they were delicious. I made them with bottled BBQ sauce but maybe one day…..
    Thanks. June 6, 2018 at 6:18am Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you liked them! Thanks for the feedback! June 7, 2018 at 12:08pm Reply

  • Beth: Would this work the same with beef ribs? My husband prefers those June 9, 2018 at 7:42pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes. I hope you both enjoy! June 13, 2018 at 11:39am Reply

  • Kristen: I never made ribs before so when I saw this slow cooker recipe I thought I would give it a try. So glad I did, these turned out great. And that BBQ sauce!! Delicious, I am going to make it all the time. My fave brand was discontinued and I haven’t been able to find a bottle I like. This has replaced all bottled BBQ for me.
    Thanks for all the great recipes, I use your site all the time :) June 10, 2018 at 5:22am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for the great feedback Kristen! June 11, 2018 at 6:15pm Reply

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