Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (2024)

Slow Cooker Ribs are super tender and easy to make. With little effort, you will have the most incredible melt-in-your-mouth ribs. Cooked in a delicious homemade BBQ sauce, this dish is far better than at any restaurant.

Slow cooker recipes are our favorites because they are tasty and easy to prepare. These delicious ribs are cooked perfectly in it resulting in tender, fall-off-the-bone baby back pork ribs. They are covered in a delicious barbecue sauce with caramelized edges. I like to pair them with some corn on the cob, roasted potatoes, or some baked beans.

Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (1)

Crock Pot Barbecue Ribs Recipe

I have already shared with you these oven-roasted barbecue ribs which are cooked in my favorite bbq sauce. But I have to admit, that if you are looking for bone tender ribs, then cooking them in the crockpot is the best way.

These crockpot ribs are perfectly cooked every time we make them. It is a great recipe because they’re cooked in the crock pot on low heat, and over a longer period of time. This results in moist, juicy, and flavorful ribs.

I like coating them with the spice rub and then using extra bbq sauce prior to cooking. The crockpot does all the work, and anyone can easily master this recipe. Also, it requires a few simple ingredients, and only 15 minutes to prepare. Then, simply set the cooking time and place them inside the pot for a perfect Sunday dinner or game day.

This homemade pork recipe will work with any kind of ribs. Usually, we go with baby back, because we are just so used to are always available at our local grocery store.

However, country-style or spare ribs will work just as well. Once slowly cooked, we brush them with the delicious homemade barbecue sauce. Then, we broil them for an extra 3-4 minutes. This makes them the best slow cooker ribs with crispy skin on the outside, and nice caramelized edges.

Ingredient lists:

You will need the following ingredients:

  • Rack of ribs: Feel free to use your favorite type. Baby back, spare ribs, or country style pork ribs are all great to cook in the crockpot. So, go with what you have on hand or like the most.
  • Dry rub: Made with brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper.
  • Homemade barbecue sauce: Made with ketchup, sweet chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, garlic powder, liquid smoke, and red pepper flakes.

How to make the best slow cooker ribs?

  1. First, remove the thin membrane (see the steps below).
  2. Next, cut the rack into a few sections, based on how you prefer to eat them.
  3. Then, in a small bowl, mix the rub ingredients to season the meat. Simply, sprinkle the dry rub evenly over the meat.
  4. Pre-bake them for about 10 minutes on each side if you have time. This will lock in the juices and render some of the fat.
  5. Lastly,add the ribs to the slow cooker, and pour the barbecue sauce all over them to evenly coat them. Then, cover and cook. Also, if you are not a fan of BBQ sauce, skip this step, but coating them with homemade sauce gives them a rich and delicious flavor.

How long to cook ribs in a crock pot?

Cooking time will vary based on preferences. As a general rule, the longer the cooking time the juicier and more tender the meat will be. For the best result, cook them on a low setting for 7-8 hours, or on a high setting for 3-4 hours.

This will result in soft but stay on the bone meat.

Also, cooking them on LOW for 9 hours, or HIGH for 5 hours, will result in super tender and fall apart meat. Once done cooking, baste them with extra BBQ sauce and broil for additional 3-4 minutes until perfectly brown.

Baby back ribs vs spare ribs

As stated above this recipe works with both types. Therefore, go with your favorite choice.

Just remember that baby back ribs are smaller in size and also shorter compared to spare ribs. This means a rack of them will feed fewer people (about 2-3 people), but at the same time are a bit more tender and leaner.

On the other hand, spare ribs have more meat on them and also more fat. This adds extra flavor when cooked. A rack of spareribs will feed about 3-4 people because they are also large in size and are meatier.

Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (3)

How to make the homameda barbecue sauce mixture?

You can use store-bought sauce to coat them, but our homemade version is finger-licking good! All you need is to mix the sauce ingredients together till they are smooth.

How to remove the thin membrane from the ribs before cooking?

Some racks are sold with the membrane already removed. In that case, you do not have to worry about this step. But, if the membrane is still attached, it is best to remove it, as it will result in more flavorful and tender meat.

  1. First, just flip the ribs so the meaty side part is face down.
  2. Then, slide your fingers under the membrane and rip it off.
  3. You can use a paper towel to hold and yank it off.

Instant Pot Barbecue Ribs

Making this recipe in the Instant Pot will save you a lot of time. Yet, you will end up with the same juicy and fall of the bone-tender meat.

It is also a great alternative for a quick dinner, especially during busy weeknights. Since the meat is cooked under pressure, the cooking time is drastically reduced. You can check the full Instant Pot Ribs recipe here.

What to serve with them?

Here are some great side dishes to go with crock pot bbq ribs:

  • Classic Potato Salad Recipe [video]
  • Homemade Coleslaw Recipe [Video]
  • Crispy Air Fryer Onion Rings [Video]
  • Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries [Video]
Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (8)

Storing instructions:

  • Refrigerate:Once cooked, make sure they are completely cooled down. Then transfer them into an airtight container or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. They will maintain the best quality if properly stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: I would not recommend freezing because the glaze will not hold well. However, if you still want to freeze them, use a freezer-safe dish. Then, freeze them for up to 3 months.
  • Reheat: Feel free to reheat them in the microwave for a few minutes until fully warm. Alternatively, place them on a baking sheet and pop them into a preheated oven at 375 degrees F, and cook them for about 5-10 minutes till warm.

More slow cooker dishes to try:

  • Slow Cooker Lamb Stew Recipe [Video]
  • Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs
  • Crockpot Chicken and Rice [Video]
  • Slow Cooker Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Cooking tips:

  • Brown sugar is essential for the bbq sauce. Therefore, try not skipping it.
  • Also, I would say that one of the main ingredients here is garlic powder. It gives quite a lot of flavor to the whole dish. So, do not skip it.
  • In addition, feel free to use other seasonings as well, such as chili powder, or ranch seasoning.
  • Remember to place ribs UPRIGHT in the slow cooker when cooking. Then, you the homemade bbq sauce over them.

Slow Cooker Ribs

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time9H
  • Servings 6 servings


  • 2 racks baby back ribs

Dry Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional

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  • Spray the inside of a 6-quart crockpot with cooking spray. Set aside.

Dry Rub:

  • Add all the ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk together.

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.

Prepare and Cook Ribs:

  • Remove membrane from ribs and discard. See posts for detailed instructions on how to remove it.

  • Rub the dry rub all over the ribs.

  • Arrange in the crockpot and pourhalf of the bbq sauce on top.

  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours or on High for 5 hours.


  • Once the ribs are tender, transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil.

  • Brush remaining BBQ sauce on top and broil for 5-10 minutes.

  • Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts

Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (13)
Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe (2024)


Do ribs in slow cooker need liquid? ›

Don't worry that the ribs go into the slow cooker without liquid; the heat is gentle enough that the ribs do not burn, and the meat releases liquid as it cooks, so it braises in its own spiced juices.

What liquid is best for ribs? ›

You may, if desired, spritz or mop your ribs while smoking with a liquid of your choice. Apple juice or cider, butter, Dr. Pepper, apple cider vinegar, beer… there are plenty of options.

Should you flip ribs in slow cooker? ›

This step is really important and if you skip it your slow cooker ribs will not be as tender. But it's super easy to do! Just flip the rack of ribs over so that you are looking at the bottom side.

Why are my ribs not tender in slow cooker? ›

There's no need to cover your ribs in liquid when slow cooking them. Add a bit to the bottom of the crockpot to keep things steamy inside the crockpot, but you won't cover the ribs. Why are my ribs not tender in the slow cooker? Ribs that aren't tender are usually a result of undercooking.

What liquid do you put in a slow cooker? ›

To ensure the dinner cooks correctly and doesn't get soggy, decrease the amount of liquids you add. Usually only ½ to 1 cup of liquid does the trick. And, for extra flavorful results, try using liquid like broth, wine, or juice, instead of just plain water.

Can you cook ribs too long in a crockpot? ›

Yes. Believe it or not, you can overcook ribs in a slow cooker. That's why I recommend cooking them low and slow and keeping an eye on them towards the end. You're looking for meat that's tender and comes off the bone with light pressure.

What is the 3 2 1 rule for ribs? ›

Essentially, 3 2 1 ribs go like this: 3 hours of smoking the ribs directly on the pellet grill. 2 hours wrapped in foil, still cooking on the grill. 1 hour of cooking, unwrapped and slathered in barbecue sauce.

What is the 3 3 1 rule for ribs? ›

The 321 Rib Method is a popular method used in the preparation of ribs. This technique calls for 3 hours of smoking, 2 hours of wrapping, and 1 hour of cooking. The ribs are first smoked at a low temperature to give them the smoky flavor that many people love.

What is the secret to juicy ribs? ›

Be sure to wrap the foil tightly to lock in moisture, as the steam from the ribs helps tenderize the meat, imbuing it with its own porky flavors. This is pork on pork, and one of the best ways to ensure the juiciest results. Another is the simple glaze you then prepare on the stovetop.

Why are my slow cooked ribs tough? ›

If your ribs are chewy, you either forgot to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs or you didn't cook them long enough. If your ribs are dry, you likely cooked them too hot and fast. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to fix dry and chewy ribs.

What happens if you slow cook ribs too long? ›

Cooking any kind of meat for too long will usually leave it dry, tough, and utterly unappealing. In all honesty, cooking BBQ ribs to perfection is something of an artform. It's not something the home chef does very often, and overcooking the ribs is a common way to disappoint yourself when you sit down to eat.

How do you get super tender ribs? ›

Cover the ribs with aluminum foil. Bake the ribs at a low temperature (275°F) for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours or until they are tender. Slather the baked ribs with barbecue sauce, and then broil (or grill) the ribs for a few minutes until the sauce is caramelized.

Is it better to cook ribs on high or low? ›

The lower the meat's temperature, the less moisture it loses, but the longer its connective tissue takes to dissolve, too. You can get very juicy ribs by cooking them at 135 degrees, but making them tender takes two or three days. At 160 degrees, you get tender ribs in 10 to 12 hours.

What sides go with ribs? ›

When it comes to ribs, there's the hot sides we always love—mac and cheese, baked beans, grits, and collard greens. But we also like offering cool and fresh pairings for the steamy main dish, like deviled eggs and potato salad, especially when the summer heat tends to be overwhelming—your guests will thank you.

Can you put pork in slow cooker without liquid? ›

How much liquid do you put in pulled pork? If your cooking it in a slow cooker, then none. Just add an onion and maybe a green pepper. The liquid from them will not only help flavor the meat, but will also add more than enough liquid to keep it moist.

Can you put meat in a slow cooker without liquid? ›

Water or liquid is necessary to create steam. When cooking meat or poultry, the water or liquid level should cover the ingredients to ensure effective heat transfer throughout the crock. Some manufacturers of slow cookers recommend adding liquid to fill the stoneware 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Do I need to add liquid to slow cooker pork? ›

You don't need much liquid to slow cook pork since it releases juices while cooking when using the low setting. I use just enough to flavor the pork along with the reserved juices of the pork and serve the extra BBQ sauce on the side. If you wish to add liquid, you can add 1 cup of chicken broth.

What happens if you don't put liquid in a slow cooker? ›

Not adding enough liquid can lead to burning.

"It's important to add enough liquid to ensure the bottom of your dish doesn't burn."


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