Crockpot Ribs {How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Ribs} – Wellplated.com

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Meet the most fall-off-the-bone tender, no oven, I-think-I’m-gonna-need-a-bigger-bib Crockpot Ribs. Do yourself and every rib lover in your life a finger-lickin’ favor: put a batch in your slow cooker. TODAY.

The BEST slow cooker ribs with BBQ sauce

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The original catalyst for this easy crockpot ribs recipe was Ben’s enthusiasm for all things barbecue.

Combine that ardor with my love for simple, hands-free cooking in the slow cooker, and we’ve got ourselves a match made in heaven.

Like my Instant Pot Ribsthese crockpot ribs have the deep, finger-licking-good flavor that you love, and the work happens in the background while you go about your day.

  • After only 10 minutes of prep, you can let the slow cooker do the rest of the work.
  • When the cooking time has ended, you’ll open your crockpot to find the best slow cooker ribs you’ve ever had.

These tender ribs are ideal for game day parties, easy weeknight dinners, or anytime you’re in the mood for something undeniably delicious.

Tasty crockpot barbecue ribs cut into individual pieces

5 Star Review

“We made these yesterday and they came out perfectly! The meat was so tender and was falling off the bone. It was super easy to prep before heading off to work.”

— Lauren —

In addition to being one of the best crock pot recipes to come out of my kitchen in a long time, these slow cooker ribs have a full rack of winning qualities.

  • The prep is quick and easy. You’ll need less than 10 minutes to get them sauced and in your slow cooker (perhaps only this Shredded Chicken Sandwich recipe is easier).
  • The BBQ Sauce is homemade. Seriously once you go with homemade BBQ, there’s no going back (this is my favorite from-scratch Barbecue Sauce recipe).
  • Keep the oven off. Wondering how long to cook ribs in the oven at 200 degrees? Three to four hours! To me, that is a looooong time to have my oven running. The slow cooker will keep the house cool and the oven available if you need it for other endeavors (like making a side of this Beer Bread).
  • Less risk of overcooking. While I adore the flavor of meat made on the grill (hello, Grilled Chicken Breast)how long to cook ribs on the grill is challenging even for pit masters. Keep it simple and let the slow cooker do the work.
  • Super smells. By the time the crock pot ribs are done cooking, your entire kitchen will smell like slow-cooked BBQ paradise. (Currently asking myself why there isn’t a BBQ-scented candle…)
Easy slow cooker ribs recipe cut into individual ribs for a crowd

How to Make Crockpot Ribs

Get ready because you’re about to make the BEST slow cooker ribs with homemade barbecue sauce.

For tender, juicy crockpot ribs every time, all you need is a rack or two of your favorite pork ribs (my vote will always be for baby back) and a few pantry staples. So easy!


The Ingredients

  • Pork Ribs. This crockpot ribs recipe will work for any style of pork ribs. We did baby back ribs, but country-style ribs or spare ribs could be used too. I haven’t tried crock pot boneless ribs or beef ribs yet, but I see no reason why those wouldn’t work so feel free to experiment. (Just save the pork shoulder or pork butt for Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.)

How to Thaw Ribs

If you’re like me and often forget to thaw your meat ahead of time, don’t worry. Crockpot ribs can still be in your (near) future. Here’s how you can thaw ribs quickly and safely.

  1. Keep your ribs in their packaging or in a sealed ziptop bag. Fill a large bowl with cold water, and submerge your ribs in the water, adding something on top of them to keep them from floating to the top.
  2. Leave the ribs for about 30 minutes, then check to see if they are thawed. If they are still frozen, drain the water and refill with fresh cold water.
  • Ketchup. A key ingredient in our BBQ sauce. While I’m not usually a fan (true confession), here it adds thickness and sweetness (so there’s no need for brown sugar).
  • Molasses. Another essential element in our sweet, sticky sauce (also key for this crockpot Pulled Chicken Sandwich recipe).
  • Apple Cider Vinegar. To add tangy flavor and acidity to balance the sauce.
  • Hot Sauce. For a little bit of heat.
  • Spices. Spices are the final component that takes our BBQ sauce to the next level. This recipe uses a combination of chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Substitution Tip

While I will always encourage you to use a from-scratch sauce, you can also make crockpot ribs with a store-bought sauce too. Nobody will ever complain about crockpot ribs with Sweet Baby Rays—trust me!

A slow cooker full of crockpot ribs in bbq sauce

The Directions

  1. Spray a slow cooker with nonstick spray, and add the ribs. Mix the sauce ingredients, and pour half of it over the ribs.
  2. Cook on low for 8 hours, until tender. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce, and DIG IN!

How Do You Know When Ribs are Done in Slow Cooker?

  • Thermometer. Ribs are safe to eat at 145 degrees F, but the temperature should be at 190 degrees F or higher to ensure the most tender meat. You can use an instant read thermometer to check the exact temperature.
  • Color. When done, the meat in the middle should be white, and there shouldn’t be any pink juices.
  • Bones. Check your ribs to see if the meat has drawn back from the bone. When done, the meat will expose some of the bone at the thin end of the ribs.
  • Flexibility. Your ribs should be flexible but not falling apart. When you think your ribs are done, grab one end with a pair of tongs and pick them up. The ribs should bend towards the ground without falling apart.
  • Tenderness. Gently insert a toothpick between two of the bones. If the toothpick goes in easily, then the ribs are done.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Leftover ribs may be stored, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • To Freeze: Cooked crockpot ribs may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before warming.
  • To Reheat. Warm the ribs in a slow cooker on LOW until heated through. You may also warm in a large, covered, saucepan on the stovetop over LOW heat or in the microwave in a covered container until heated through. I suggest adding a bit of water and/or barbecue sauce to the ribs before warming to prevent them from drying out.

What to Serve with Crockpot Ribs

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Programmable Slow Cooker. This one switches to warm when done so food doesn’t overcook.
  • Pastry Brush.Perfect for brushing the ribs with plenty of sticky sauce.
  • Mixing Bowl. For stirring together all of that finger-licking good BBQ sauce.

The Best Slow Cooker

This 6-quart crockpot has the multiple programmable features, plus an easy locking lid for carrying to potlucks.

pork ribs made in a crockpot

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

What was once reserved for weekend summer cookouts, now you can enjoy tender ribs any night of the week thanks to this easy slow cooker ribs recipe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Make Crockpot Ribs Without Cutting Them Into Individual Ribs?

I’ve never made slow cooker ribs without cutting them apart, so I can’t say from experience. That said, several readers have reported leaving the racks partially intact, so seems to be an option. I would keep an eye on them as they cook since they may need a bit longer to cook if not cut into individual ribs.

Can You Cook Frozen Ribs in a Crockpot?

No, do not place frozen ribs in a crockpot. Frozen meat will begin to thaw in the slow cooker and may spend too long at room temperature, rendering it unsafe to eat.

Can You Stack Ribs in a Slow Cooker?

Yes. While I have not tried the recipe this way, other readers have reported success with a double layer of ribs in a single crockpot.

Can You Slow Cook Ribs too Long?

Yes. Believe it or not, you can overcook ribs in a slow cooker. That’s why I recommend cooking them low and slow and keeping an eye on them towards the end. You’re looking for meat that’s tender al comes off the bone with light pressure.

  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork ribs cut into individual ribs (spare ribs, baby back, or country-style will all work with this method; I used baby back)
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Spray a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the ribs in an even layer.

  • In a small bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the ketchup, molasses, vinegar, hot sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

  • Pour half of the sauce over the ribs, then cover the sauce bowl and save the rest in the refrigerator.

  • Cover the ribs and cook on LOW for 8 hours, until they are cooked and ultra-tender. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce (I like to warm up the extra sauce for serving too).

  • STORE-BOUGHT SAUCE: You can also make crockpot ribs with store-bought sauce, like Sweet Baby Rays, if you prefer. Simply swap the homemade bbq sauce ingredients for 1-2 cups of your favorite premade variety and cook as directed in the recipe.
  • TO STORE: Leftover ribs may be stored, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
  • TO FREEZE: Cooked crockpot ribs may be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before warming.
  • TO REHEAT: Warm the ribs in a slow cooker on LOW until heated through. You may also warm in a large, covered, saucepan on the stovetop over LOW heat or in the microwave in a covered container until heated through. I suggest adding a bit of water and/or barbecue sauce to the ribs before warming to prevent them from drying out.

Serving: 1(of 6), without additional sauceCalories: 579kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 29gFat: 43gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 148mgPotassium: 731mgFiber: 1gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 203IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 62mgIron: 3mg

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