Easy baby back ribs smothered with a homemade dry rub and sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Cooked to perfection in the crockpot and fall-off the bone delicious. These are the best slow cooker ribs!
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Easy BBQ Ribs in Slow Cooker
Today I’m sharing one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. These baby back ribs are made with a delicious homemade rib dry rub and a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. If you don’t have the time or an outdoor smoker or grill, this slow cooker ribs recipe is perfect. It’s simple and still has tons of flavor. They are lip smacking good!
I love that you can throw all of the ingredients in the crockpot and forget about it! These ribs taste amazing and will leave people thinking you slaved away in front of the smoker all day.
The homemade rub gives them that delicious smoky flavor and the tangy barbecue sauce is absolutely to die for. Just as perfect for weeknight dinners or game day!
The best slow cooker ribs have simple ingredients that consist of the pork, the dry rub and the sauce.
- Pork ribs: Baby back ribs are the most popular choice although spare ribs or St. Louis style could be used but may take longer to slow cook.
- Dry rub: My dry rub for ribs contains paprika, brown sugar, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, Italian seasoning and cayenne pepper.
- Homemade BBQ sauce: I prefer making my own homemade BBQ sauce, but you can easily use store-bought if preferred. This homemade version is a sweet and tangy mixture of ketchup, molasses, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.
Best Ribs to Use
I personally prefer pork baby back ribs. This cut of meat is marbled with fat to give them a nice flavor and can hold up to the low and slow cooking process in the crockpot. I bought about 4 pounds and used a sharp butcher knife to section the rack of ribs into six pieces.
Just don’t confuse pork ribs for beef short ribs! Beef is better suited for braising like in these beef short ribs.
How to Make Slow Cooker Ribs
There are two main steps to this crockpot ribs recipe! Oven baked ribs first get a nice crust and flavor then are transferred to the slow cooker to finish.
- Add dry rub and bake. Rub the meat with the homemade dry rub, generously covering both sides. Then bake ribs in the oven at 400°F for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. This helps seal in the flavors and gets a nice crust on the outside.
- Layer sauce and pork . While they are baking in the oven, make the homemade barbecue sauce on the stove top then layer the sauce and meat in a large crockpot.
- Cook in slow cooker. Layer the sauce and meat in a large crockpot. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until they are fall off the bone tender.
- Brush with additional sauce. Remove ribs from slow cooker and brush with additional sauce or use the sauce for dipping.
Tips for Best Fall of the Bone Slow Cooker Ribs
- Sear the meat first. Although it’s an extra step, searing the meat in the oven for about 30 minutes before adding to the slow cooker is a must! It caramelizes the exterior of the ribs, adding a flavorful brown crust that you can’t get just from slow cooking on it’s own.
- Rotate in slow cooker. Once the ribs begin slow cooking, there’s not much left to do. Just remember to rotate the meat every few hours while cooking so that it cooks evenly on all sides.
- Brush with extra sauce. After the crock pot ribs are done cooking, give them an extra brush with sauce right before serving. Your guests will thank you for the lip smacking goodness!
5 star review
“These ribs are DELICIOUS! So tender and I loved using the slow cooker to make them. Huge hit!“– Erica
Favorite Sides for Serving
There are so many side dishes that will pair perfectly with these crockpot ribs, but below are a few of my favorites.
- Homemade mac and cheese
- Mashed potatoes
- Corn on the cob
- Pasta salad
- Potato salad
- Sweet cornbread
Yes! The dry rub is what helps make this recipe so delicious. It’s gives them a delicious smoky flavor and pairs perfectly with the tang from the BBQ sauce. I prefer a little spice so I add cayenne to mine, but you could easily leave it out (like I did in my favorite steak rub) for a more mild flavor.
Ribs are considered cooked through when they reach an internal temperature of 145°F, however I like my internal temp to be a bit higher. I’ve found that when mine reach an internal temp of about 190°F to 200°F, they are more tender, juicy and fall off the bone tender ribs.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. Reheat only until warm in the microwave being careful not to cook them as they will turn tough.
Yes. Completely cool then store in a freezer bag up to two months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating until warm.
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Slow Cooker Ribs
- 4 pounds pork baby back ribs
- 1 ½ Tablespoons paprika
- 1 ½ Tablespoons light brown sugar , packed
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoons onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional for more heat)
- 2 cups ketchup
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ cup light brown sugar , packed
- ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoons reserved Spice Rub (from above)
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prep ingredients. Rinse and dry ribs, remove silver lining and then cut into 6 pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the spice rub ingredients. Remove 1 Tablespoon of the rub to use in the barbecue sauce.
- Rub both sides of the ribs with the spice rub then place ribs on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping half way through to sear the meat.
- While the ribs are baking in the oven, add the barbecue sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce and refrigerate to use after ribs are cooked.
- Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Add a thin layer of barbecue sauce to the bottom of the slow cooker, followed by the meat. Layer sauce and meat until ribs are evenly coated.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or on LOW for 7-9 hours OR cook until ribs are fall off the bone tender. Rotate ribs once during cooking so they cook evenly.
- Remove from slow cooker and brush with reserved barbecue sauce or use sauce for dipping.
Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.
Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!
Recipe contributed by The Casual Craftlete for I Heart Naptime.