Slow Cooker Ribs

I remember when I was much younger trying many times, always unsuccessfully, to cook ribs on a barbecue grill. Either the flame was too hot and the ribs burned to a crispy, unappetizing, black piece of carbon, or the fire was too cool and the ribs sizzled away for hours becoming tough and unappetizing in the process. I finally gave up trying and BeeBop and I just visited our local barbecue place any time we had a craving for some of that barbecued goodness.

Until…I read an article somewhere about using your slow cooker to produce tender, perfectly cooked ribs. It seemed quite logical to me. Give the ribs a head start in the oven then finish them off in the slow cooker! I was game to give it a try and the above is what I wound up with. Luscious, fall-off-the-bone tender, spare ribs!  Here’s what you do:

ribs_onpan

Cover a baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and spray well with cooking spray. Cut the ribs into serving sized pieces, 1 or 2 ribs per piece. Salt and pepper well on both sides.

ribs_outofoven

Place the ribs in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes until they have obtained a light golden brown color.

ribs_1stlayer

Place a single layer of ribs in your slow cooker. Spoon over about 1/2 cup barbecue sauce of your choice.

ribs_2ndlayer

Continue layering ribs and sauce. Notice the sauce I’m using above? This is my family’s barbecue sauce. The recipe has been handed down for several generations and I truly don’t know anyone else who makes the same sauce as ours. It is a vinegar and tomato based sauce and we really enjoy it, although it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. You just use whatever recipe or purchased brand you like best!

Cover the slow cooker and cook on the lowest heat setting for approximately 6 hours. Be sure to stir the pot once during the cooking time to prevent the sauce and ribs from burning.

ribs_finalhorz

I used spareribs for this recipe, but I expect it would work equally well for baby backs. Easiest method I’ve ever seen for cooking ribs!

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Ribs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Luscious, fall-off-the-bone tender, spare ribs from your slow cooker.
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs. pork spareribs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups barbecue sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the spareribs into serving size pieces, about 1 or 2 ribs per piece. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes until ribs obtain a light golden brown color.
  4. Remove from oven and transfer to a large slow cooker. Layer the ribs adding barbecue sauce to each layer as you place them in the cooker. When filled, place the cover on the slow cooker and turn it to the lowest heat setting.
  5. Cook for approximately 6 hours, stirring ribs and sauce once during the cooking time.
Notes
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Comments

  1. says

    I just posted a BBQ ribs recipe too! I used the oven and braised the ribs for about 2 hrs before broiling. Slow-cooking the ribs first is definitely the way! Yours looks really good!

  2. says

    Oh my gosh! I hope Doud’s has ribs. We actually brought a crock pot up here that was mama’s. Can’t wait to try these. Your family sauce looks like what my daddy used to make up. He’d take anything that happened to be in the frig and mix it together. It always turned out tasting the same, whatever he put in it. Yummy! Good memories!

  3. says

    About that family barbecue sauce? Could you share that recipe with me? I went to an Arthur Bryant’s barbecue house recently and their house sauce was wonderfully vinegary. I want to try your sauce and then use it (sorry!) to work on my own. Do you mind?

  4. says

    Thanks everyone for stopping by and for the nice comments on the ribs! To those that asked about the sauce — I’m afraid several generations of Taylors would rise up in protest and haunt me through eternity if I gave up the recipe for that sauce. It really is the one and only recipe that I have that I just can’t share.

    • says

      No, a slow cooker is an electrical applicance that cooks at a low temperature for a long time. Usually the brand name is “Crock Pot.”

  5. says

    I love using my slow cooker, it really unlocks the true flavor of different kinds of meats. your ribs look like they are loaded with flavor . I know they must be tender and the meat falls right off the bone.

  6. neena says

    You are sooo right about the Taylor barbeque sauce. I would be afraid of the deceased Taylor’s reaction, but not as afraid of the present faimly’s wrath. That sauce is famous in our neck of the woods.

  7. lisa says

    My family loved the ribs! Finally something everyone will eat and it couldn’t of been any easier to make. Thanks so much :)

  8. Olivia says

    I was looking for a method of cooking ribs in a slow cooker when I came across your blog. I liked how you had photos of your process and thought it looked good so I decided to try it with baby back ribs. I used this recipe (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/pulled-pork-sandwiches-with-homemade-bbq-sauce-recipe/index.html) for the bbq sauce, and only had to cook the ribs about 20 minutes in the oven to lightly brown them. Other than that everything was as promised. 6 hours on low in the slow cooker, and they were FANTASTIC. Absolutely some of the best ribs I have ever had. Thank you so much for posting this!

  9. says

    Wow what a great idea. Will have to give that a go. We love ribs in our house. Not sharing your family’s secret sauce then? It’s great to have these special recipes that are handed down.

  10. Jeannine says

    What Size cockpot are your receipts made for? Out would help to know how many pounds of ribs for what size cockpot

    • says

      Jeannine – I used two racks of ribs in this recipe. I cut them into individual servings before putting them in the crockpot.

  11. Mary M says

    I have used this method myself! I do turn the ribs in the oven after 30 minutes and continue for 15 more minutes. For bbq sauce, Cattlemen’s is my favorite. I have also found that putting some coils of aluminum foil at the bottom of the slow cooker helps keep the bottom ribs out of the bottom of the pan so you don’t have to stir them to keep them from burning. I also like to coat the ribs before putting them in the slow cocker so that both sides of the ribs have a coating!

  12. Spikeygrrl says

    Has anyone tried starting these in the slow cooker and finishing them on the grill? What did you do and how did it turn out?

    Oven-braising then grilling is the technique used for ribs in many high-end steak & chop houses; I already do a version of this at home but I’d love to replace the oven-braising step with using the slow cooker instead.

    Thanks in advance for all responses!

    • Mary says

      If the Taylor family BBQ sauce recipe is as good as it is sounding , and you can’t for fear of ‘death’ or worse, share the recipe…..why don’t you guys consider bottling and selling the already made sauce? Sounds like a win-win situation to me. : – )

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