Slow Cooker Ribs, the new normal way you need to cook ribs at home! The best part, this Slow Cooker Rib recipe is fall off the bone perfection in every way.
Cooking Ribs in Slow Cooker
With everything going on in the world right now, I like most, need a vacation.
Since a vacation is unlikely to happen in the near future, I have had to get creative with ways to give myself a break…and honestly, what better way to do that than letting your dinner cook itself?!
I love making oven baked ribs, but slow cooker recipes are a life saver when you’re in a funk and don’t feel like cooking dinner. They’re also great for when you’re cooking for a crowd on game day or even easy weeknight dinners.
This easy barbecue ribs recipe is the perfect set-it and forget-it until dinner time recipe. Slow cooking really does yield the best ribs.
If you are looking for bone tender ribs, smothered in bbq sauce, that has the perfect glaze then this is going to be a great recipe for you!
Crockpot Ribs Recipe Ingredients
The ingredient list for crockpot ribs is fairly standard with the exception of baby back ribs and apricot preserves.
- Baby back ribs – pork ribs that are generally pretty meaty and the perfect choice for crock pot ribs. Spare ribs are different than back of the ribs, so keep that in mind. The kind of ribs matter.
- Paprika – You can use either smoked paprika or regular, depending on taste.
- Brown sugar – light or dark, depending on how deep you like your molasses flavor.
- Garlic and onion powder – I like to keep my seasoning flavors pretty simple, and then take things up a notch with the sauce. Garlic powder and onion powder do a great job of that.
- Chili powder – use a chipotle or ancho for a fun flavor variation!
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper – use a coarse salt, if not Kosher. These are less salty and have less sodium. If you do use a table salt, reduce to 1/4 teaspoon. Freshly ground pepper packs a lot more punch.
- Barbecue sauce – Use your favorite! I like my cran-blueberry, but my mom’s recipe, cola and chipotle honey are also good bets.
- Apricot preserves – Balances the sweet with spicy. Use any leftovers to make my favorite asparagus recipe. Other sweet fruit jams can also be used, even my cherry jam.
How to Cook Ribs in Crock Pot
You are going to love how easy it is to make these ribs in the Slow Cooker!
- Remove membrane. Remove membrane from ribs and discard. Refer to the “how-to” section in this post for tips on removing the membrane.
- Season the ribs. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Add to slow cooker. Generously season the ribs and rub the seasoning in using your fingers. Place ribs in the slow cooker.
- Cook. Cook the slow cooker ribs. In another small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce with the peach preserves and cover the ribs with half the sauce. Cook the ribs on low for 7 hours or high for 3 hours. For those perfect “fall off the bone” ribs, cook on low for 9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- Preheat broiler. When the ribs are finished, preheat the oven broiler on high. Carefully transfer the ribs from the slow cooker to a tin foil-lined baking sheet.
- Baste. Pour half the juices from the slow cooker into the bowl with the remaining sauce, mix, and baste the ribs with half the sauce.
- Broil. Place the baking sheet on the top rack and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until they begin to char around the edges. Serve with the remaining sauce.
Pro Tip: If you don’t have apricot preserves, you can sub with peach and your slow cooker ribs will be just as tasty!
Removing the membrane for Crock Pot Babyback Ribs
Removing the membrane of ribs is an essential step to rib making, but especially if you are looking for that perfect fall off the bone, can’t stop eating them ribs!
When you leave the membrane on, it keeps the seasonings and smoke from penetrating the meat.
When you take the membrane off it has a very unpleasant leathery skin texture to the ribs.
You may be able to buy a rack of ribs with the skin already removed, but you probably won’t know this if they are packaged until you open the packaging.
- Start on one end of the rack of ribs, slide a knife under the membrane and over a bone.
- Lift and/or loosen the membrane until it tears.
- Grab the edge of the membrane and pull it off. It helps to hold the membrane with a paper towel.
The membrane may come off in one whole piece or you may need to remove and pull it off in smaller pieces.
How Long to Cook Ribs in Crock Pot
If you are in a time crunch that does not allow you to cook the recipe for as long as required, the slow cooker can be turned up to the high setting and cooked at a reduced time.
However, it’s best to cook less tender cuts of meat on low for a long period of time. This gives you that tender fall off the bone dinner you are looking for!
If you’re short on time, you can cook them on high for three hours.
When you are cooking slow cooker ribs “slow and low” in a sealed chamber, it keeps in the moisture and the nutrients that can be removed when cooking at high temperatures.
Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe Variations
- Make it healthier – You can sub brown sugar for monkfruit sweetener, BBQ sauce for Whole30 approved BBQ sauce and apricot preserves for fresh diced and smashed apricots.
- Smoky – Add a few dashes of liquid smoke to the slow cooker for a unique and tasty smoky flavor.
- BBQ sauce – Everyone has their favorite bbq sauce, so feel free to use it or play around with a new one. You can always buy store-bought sauce at the grocery store (my favorite is Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce), or try making your own homemade barbecue sauce.
- Spicy – If you like a little it of spice to your slow cooker pork ribs, try adding a little bit of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes into the mix.
What to Serve with this Crock Pot Ribs Recipe
Storing and Reheating Crockpot Ribs
Storage: You can store leftover crock pot bbq ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Freezing: You can also freeze the leftovers. I recommend wrapping them tightly in foil, and then placing in a freezer bag. They will stay for about three months.
Best way to reheat Crockpot Ribs
There are several ways to reheat ribs.
1. Oven method: Preheat your oven to around 250°F (120°C). Wrap the ribs tightly in foil, place them on a baking sheet, and heat them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes until they are heated through
2. Grilling method: Preheat your grill to medium heat. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce to prevent them from drying out and place them on the grill. Cook for about 5-10 minutes per side, basting with additional sauce if desired, until the ribs are heated and have a slight char.
3. Stovetop method: Place the ribs in a skillet or large pan with a small amount of liquid, such as broth or water. Cover the pan and heat over medium-low heat, flipping occasionally, until the ribs are heated through. This method helps retain moisture.
4. Microwave method: This method is quick but can result in slightly less desirable texture. Place the ribs on a microwave-safe plate, cover them loosely with a damp paper towel, and microwave in short intervals, flipping them and checking for doneness frequently.
Be cautious not to overheat the ribs as they can become dry. Monitor the temperature closely and adjust the heating time accordingly to ensure they are heated through without drying out.
Crockpot Ribs Recipe FAQs
The slow cooker should do this naturally since it doesn’t allow moisture to level the cooking cavity. Make sure you cook your ribs with enough moisture to allow this to happen.
Slow cooker ribs can turn out tough if they are cooked for too long, as the prolonged cooking time can break down the connective tissues and result in dry and chewy meat.
This can also be a result of poor quality meat.
More BBQ Recipes
Crock Pot Ribs Recipe
- Remove membrane from ribs and discard. Refer to the “how to” section in this post for tips on removing the membrane.
- In a small bowl, combine the paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Generously season the ribs and rub the seasoning in using your fingers. Place the ribs in the slow cooker.
- In another small bowl, combine the BBQ sauce with the peach preserves and cover the ribs with half the sauce. Cook the ribs on low for 7 hours or high for 3 hours. For “fall off the bone”, cook on low for 9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- When the ribs are finished, preheat the oven broiler on high. Carefully transfer the ribs from the slow cooker to a tin foil lined baking sheet.
- Pour half the juices from the slow cooker into the bowl with the remaining sauce, mix, and baste the ribs with half the sauce. Place the baking sheet on the top rack and broil for 5-10 minutes, or until they begin to char around the edges. Serve with the remaining sauce.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.