Slow Cooker Ribs


See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.


These Slow Cooker Ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, seasoned with a delicious dry rub and slathered with BBQ sauce. This easy ribs recipe is the best way to make BBQ ribs!

slow cooker ribs with bbq sauce on a wood cutting board with bbq sauce spoon

I love using my slow cooker to make meals for my family. It’s convenient because you can prep dinner early in the day, and meats become especially tender after cooking all day in the crock pot. My favorite slow cooker meals include Pork Carnitas, Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Crockpot Whole Chicken and these Slow Cooker Ribs.

Ribs are perfect for cooking in the slow cooker. The low and slow cooking process, seasoning rub and BBQ sauce all work together to make these slow cooker ribs incredibly tender and flavorful. After slow cooking, you can put the ribs under the broiler in the oven to get those charred, caramelized edges that we all love.

These slow cooker BBQ ribs are a perfect addition to a summer BBQ menu, along with grilled chicken, macaroni salad, coleslaw, potato salad and fruit salad. Or try them for Sunday dinner served with Instant Pot corn on the cob, broccoli salad and biscuits

bbq pork ribs on wood cutting board with jar of bbq sauce

What Kind of Ribs are Best for Slow Cooker Ribs?

I like to make this ribs recipe with baby back pork ribs because they are meaty and become ultra tender in crock pot. Spare ribs or St. Louis style spare ribs are also good options. Spare ribs may take longer to cook, so adjust the cook time as needed.

Slow Cooker Ribs Ingredients

The ingredient list for this recipe is short and simple! Find the full recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions below.

  • Pork Ribs: Baby back, spare ribs or St. Louis style ribs.
  • Dry Rub: The dry rub is a combination of paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper. You can use sweet or smoked paprika depending on your flavor preferences. My pork rub is also a delicious seasoning for ribs.
  • BBQ Sauce: Use your favorite store bought BBQ sauce or try my sweet and tangy homemade BBQ sauce.

How to Cook Ribs in a Slow Cooker

To prep ribs for the slow cooker, start by removing the thin white membrane along the back of the ribs (if there is one). Then cut each rack of ribs into two pieces, or as needed to make the ribs fit in your slow cooker. 

rubbing dry rub on pork ribs

Combine the seasonings and rub the mixture over all sides of the ribs. Place the ribs in the slow cooker, with the meaty side facing up. Pour BBQ sauce over the ribs, reserving some sauce for after slow cooking. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, or until ribs are tender.

uncooked ribs in slow cooker with bbq sauce

At this point, you can serve the ribs as is with extra BBQ sauce, but I like to broil them for a few minutes to char the edges and caramelize the BBQ sauce. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up. Place the ribs on the baking sheet and brush them with BBQ sauce.

brushing slow cooked ribs with bbq sauce before broiling

Put the ribs in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes, until the BBQ sauce begins to caramelize. Then serve with more BBQ sauce and enjoy!

close up showing tender ribs next to spoon of bbq sauce

How to Remove the Membrane from Ribs

A rack of ribs often has a thin white membrane along the back. If you don’t remove the membrane, it will become tough after cooking and it can prevent the seasonings from fully flavoring the meat. 

It is often easy to pull the membrane off with your fingers. If it is more firmly attached, you can run a butter knife under the membrane and then use a paper towel to grip it and pull it off.

How to Reheat Ribs

If you have leftover ribs, they are easy to reheat in the oven. Place the ribs in a baking dish and brush them with BBQ sauce to keep them moist. Cover the dish with foil to keep the ribs from drying out. Reheat in a 250° F oven for 15-30 minutes, or until the ribs are heated through to at least 145° F. Heating the ribs slowly at low heat helps to keep them moist.

cooked ribs brushed with bbq sauce

You might also enjoy my Instant Pot Ribs and Crock Pot Pork Chops. See all of my Slow Cooker Recipes.

Slow Cooker Ribs

These Slow Cooker Ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender, seasoned with a delicious spice rub and slathered with BBQ sauce. After slow cooking, you can broil the ribs to char and caramelize the edges. This easy ribs recipe is the best way to make BBQ ribs!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword bbq ribs, crock pot ribs, ribs recipe, slow cooker ribs
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Servings 8 servings
Calories 418kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (3-4 pounds)
  • 4 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • cups BBQ sauce (divided, plus more for serving if desired)

Instructions 

  • If the ribs have the thin white membrane along the back, remove it. It is usually easy to pull off with your fingers, but if not you can run a butter knife under the membrane and then use a paper towel to grip it and pull it off.
  • Cut each rack of ribs into 2 pieces or as needed to fit all of the ribs in your slow cooker.
  • Combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub this dry rub mixture over the ribs.
  • Place ribs in slow cooker, meaty side up.
  • Pour 1 cup of the BBQ sauce evenly over the ribs, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup for after slow cooking.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours, or until ribs are tender.

Optional: To Char the Edges and Caramelize the BBQ Sauce

  • Preheat broiler to 450° F. Place ribs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush ribs with remaining ½ cup BBQ sauce.
  • Place ribs under the broiler for 3-6 minutes, until the ribs begin to char on the edges and the BBQ sauce begins to caramelize. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn.
  • Serve ribs with additional BBQ sauce, if desired.

Notes

  • Spare ribs or St. Louis style spare ribs may also be used in this recipe. Spare ribs may take longer to cook, so adjust the cook time as needed.
  • To reheat ribs: Place the ribs in a baking dish and brush them with BBQ sauce to keep them moist. Cover the dish with foil. Reheat in a 250° F oven for 15-30 minutes, or until the ribs are heated through to at least 145° F. Heating the ribs slowly, covered, at low heat helps to keep them moist.

Nutrition

Calories: 418kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 1116mg | Potassium: 518mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 719IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 2mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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