Slow Cooker Ribs

by Lana Stuart on August 7, 2009 · 34 comments

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:


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.


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


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


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.


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!


Slow Cooker Ribs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Luscious, fall-off-the-bone tender, spare ribs from your slow cooker.
  • 4 lbs. pork spareribs
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups barbecue sauce
  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.
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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 My Food and Life Encounters August 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm

This looks fantastic. I absolutely love your posts and site.


2 jenn (Bread + Butter) August 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm

Sweet!! I’ve got to start using my slow cooker again. When you say “Lucious, fall-off-the-bone tender, spare ribs.” I’m there. Those looks so good right now.


3 Cookin' Canuck August 8, 2009 at 12:16 am

Wow, these are gorgeous! I love using my crockpot for an easy meal, but have never considered cooking ribs in it. Great idea!


4 pigpigscorner August 8, 2009 at 9:36 am

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!


5 Brenda August 8, 2009 at 10:29 am

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!


6 cara_mia August 8, 2009 at 11:30 am

Any chance you’d share your barbecue sauce recipe?


7 Marti August 8, 2009 at 11:46 am

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?


8 sara August 8, 2009 at 2:34 pm

Ooooooooooooooh, this looks so amazing! I love ribs but they always seem like so much work…this method sounds perfect!


9 Lana August 8, 2009 at 4:24 pm

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.


10 Rachel 'Tha Pizza Cutta' Joyce August 8, 2009 at 9:02 pm

NanaLana, you make my jowls water! I need some of those ribs! I also have a question, is a slow cooker the same thing as a dutch oven? Thanks!


11 Lana August 8, 2009 at 9:10 pm

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.”


12 peabody August 8, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Mmm, ribs. So good.


13 Jessie August 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

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.


14 neena August 11, 2009 at 10:45 am

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.


15 Amy J September 7, 2009 at 12:08 pm

These look so good. Great choice for a Labor Day cookout!


16 Culinary Cory October 14, 2009 at 10:46 pm

These look absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing the link on Food Bloggers.


17 Lana October 15, 2009 at 5:48 pm

You’re welcome! I hope you’ll try them and let me know how they worked out for you.


18 lisa October 26, 2009 at 8:03 pm

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


19 Lana October 27, 2009 at 4:06 pm

I’m so glad you all liked it! Nothing makes me feel better than when someone tries one of my recipes and they really like it.


20 Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker January 16, 2010 at 2:37 am

These look so good I have to make them, but it’s 1:30 AM maybe I should make them now and have ribs for breakfast?


21 Olivia January 25, 2010 at 9:58 pm

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 ( 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!


22 Lana January 25, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Hi Olivia – I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe. It’s a great, easy way to make ribs, isn’t it?


23 Marcie February 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

Hey Nanna Bananna~

Just saw the slow cooker rib recipe. Man, that one looked great. Gonna try it~ Thanks


24 Heather Davis May 25, 2010 at 1:16 pm

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.


25 Megan May 26, 2010 at 12:45 pm

OK, I’m doing ribs your way! They look awesome.


26 Jeannine July 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

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


27 Lana July 3, 2011 at 6:50 pm

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


28 Mary M July 5, 2012 at 12:19 pm

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!


29 Katrina May 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Going to have to make these. I just saw ribs on sale this week at one of our grocery stores, too.


30 Spikeygrrl June 3, 2013 at 9:25 pm

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!


31 Mary May 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm

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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