These slow cooker ribs might just be the EASIEST ribs recipe ever. They’re fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy, full of flavor, and so simple!
Ribs are one of those things we only make a few times a year, but savor every bite when we eat them. For the amount of meat you get off the bones, they’re more expensive per pound than most other cuts of meat, so it’s extra depressing to me when they don’t turn out well.
That’s why I love making them in a slow cooker! Cooking your ribs in a slow cooker for a few hours before finishing them under the broiler (or on a grill!) gives you that fall-off-the-bone texture, amazing bubbly sauce and crispy exterior.
This crock pot ribs recipe is pretty much fail-proof. It’s great whether you own a grill or not, and for those times when it’s just too rainy (or hot) to stand out and grill, you’d rather spend your time in the pool than hovering in the kitchen, or you live in an apartment with grill restrictions (like we did for years).
Here’s what you need to make these fall-off-the-bone crockpot ribs…
Here’s What You need To Make Crock Pot Ribs:
- Pork Ribs. We recommend baby back ribs or loin back ribs.
- A Quick Rub. We use brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika for our rib rub. It’s savory and sweet and pairs perfectly with barbecue sauce! (You can absolutely add salt, but I find the barbecue sauce usually has enough!)
- Barbecue Sauce & Cider Vinegar. After the spice rub, we slather the ribs with barbecue sauce. One secret trick for the best flavor is to add a little apple cider vinegar to the barbecue sauce before slow-cooking. Since the sauce will be cooking a long time, the extra acidity keeps the flavor of the sauce nice and vibrant.
- More Barbecue Sauce. Then, after slow-cooking, I like to add one more layer of barbecue sauce before we caramelize and finish the ribs under the broiler.
A Slow Cooker. We usually use this slow cooker–it’s pretty, inexpensive, and reliable. If you’re looking for something with a few more bells and whistles, this one is pre-programmable and comes with lid clips to keep the lid in place while you transport it (perfect for potlucks!).
How To MAke Slow Cooker Ribs, Step By Step:
- Prepare The Ribs. If your butcher or grocery store hasn’t already, remove the silver skin (thin membrane) on the back side of the ribs using a sharp knife. Using a paper towel can help you get a better grip with your fingers once you get it started with the knife.
- Cut In Half. Use a sharp knife to cut the rack of ribs in half.
- Dry Rub. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Whisk until well blended. Pat ribs dry with paper towels and coat the tops with spice rub. If you have time, you can apply this dry rub up to 1 day in advance. (Keep ribs covered in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them)
- Layer & Add Sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the barbecue sauce with 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar. Place one half of the rack of ribs into the crock of your slow cooker. Cover with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce/vinegar mixture. Add the second half of the ribs and cover with 1/2 of the barbecue sauce/vinegar mixture. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Cook the ribs on LOW 7-8 hours or HIGH 3-5 hours. My favorite is about 4 hours on HIGH, which gives the ribs a fall-off-the-bone texture. If you like your ribs a bit more chewy or sturdy, you can pull them out closer to the 3 hour mark.
- Preheat broiler & Prep The Ribs. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment papr. Carefully transfer the ribs to the baking sheet (they’ll be very tender!). Brush generously with the remaining 1 cup of barbecue sauce.
- Broil the ribs in the oven 5-7 minutes, or until sauce is bubbly and a bit thickened. Watch carefully as some broilers run hotter than others! If desired, you can brush them with more sauce and put them in for another few minutes.
- Slice & Serve. Cut into individual or manageable sections and enjoy hot from the oven. Store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days.
what’s on the side?
Now that we’ve got the ribs part of the meal covered, it’s time to think about sides. There are all kinds of side dishes to serve with ribs, depending on whether you’re eating them for a regular weeknight dinner, game day nosh, or a weekend cookout. But here are some of our go-tos that go beyond corn on the cobb and sliced watermelon:
- Twice Baked Potatoes. Fluffy mashed potatoes get tucked into crispy potato skins & topped with goodies. They’re INCREDIBLE and such a crowd pleaser!
- Broccoli Bacon Salad. This always disappears at barbecues and cookouts!
- Cilantro Lime Slaw. I love how light and fresh this slaw is next to the hearty, savory ribs.
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes. These are my all-time favorite mashed potatoes. They’s SO easy to make and taste amazing.
- Seasoned Green Beans. I love how light and lovely these veggies are! So great with ribs.
- Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries. If you’re a sweet potato fan, you HAVE to try these crispy-baked fries! They’ve got the most incredible seasoning. You’ll never get over it!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Slow COoker Ribs:
PREP RIGHT. People on cooking shows always say “have your butcher do blah blah blah,” but I don’t have a butcher that I’m on first-name terms with. So, if you (like me!) usually have to do this kind of thing yourself, read on! If the store hasn’t done it for you, you’ll need to remove the silver skin on the underside. This video is a great visual for that, but I have written instructions below.
BEAT THE HEAT. I actually put my slow cooker on my back patio or in my garage to cook! It doesn’t heat up my kitchen, and saves me counter space for all the other things going on in my kitchen. It’s the best.
FOR A GREAT FINISH. You can absolutely pop these on the grill for a few minutes instead of under the broiler. My mother-in-law does this and it’s delicious.
ADD SOME SMOKE! For a more smoky flavor in these slow cooker bbq ribs, you can add a few drops of liquid smoke to the water in the slow cooker or add a drop to your barbecue sauce. It does a decent job mimicking that classic smoky taste!
LET’S TALK ABOUT SAUCE. My favorite GF/DF barbecue sauce is Bone Suckin’ Sauce (which uses molasses and honey as sweetener). We also love Stubb’s Sticky & Sweet. You can opt for low-sugar, paleo, or homemade barbecue sauce, too if you prefer!
⭐ Don’t forget to leave a star review and comment below when you make our Slow Cooker Ribs recipe. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!Print