Crockpot Ribs are an easy way to make the most delicious pork ribs for any occasion. This slow cooker ribs recipe is so simple! You can cook these crockpot BBQ ribs stress-free, and they’ll come out super tender and flavorful. Find out how to cook fall-off-the-bone ribs in a crockpot, and serve them on game day, at BBQs, or at any get-together that needs a delicious dish.
What’s in This Crockpot Ribs Recipe?
- Pork Ribs: Use St. Louis-style pork spare ribs or baby back ribs for this recipe.
- Paprika: We like smoked paprika, but regular paprika also works.
- Brown Sugar: Adds a touch of sweetness to the sauce.
- Salt + Pepper: Enhance the natural flavor of the pork.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: Add a touch of heat.
- BBQ Sauce: Use your favorite store-bought sauce. We like Blue’s Hog original.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Only use this is the BBQ sauce you choose is on the sweeter side. It will help balance the flavor.
Notes from the Test Kitchen
There is a difference in weight with ribs. Baby Back ribs weigh about 1½ pound per rack and St. Louis-style spareribs weigh about 3 pounds per rack. (To confuse the matter even more, commercially packaged “baby back” ribs are sometimes mislabeled St. Louis-style spareribs.) To help you understand the difference, here is a terrific article explaining the difference. Whichever ribs you choose, you can’t go wrong. Both are equally as delicious.
You will need to cut the ribs a bit to make them fit in the slow cooker. It’s easy to just eyeball it as you work them into the cooker. Make sure you remove the silver membrane before cooking! When done cooking, simply slice between the bones and serve with extra BBQ sauce!
Pork ribs should reach an internal temperature of at least 145°F before consuming. However, we will be cooking them to a higher temperature to make sure they’re super tender. We want them closer to 195°F.
Variations on Slow Cooker Ribs
You can use just about any kind of BBQ sauce in this recipe, from St. Louis to Carolina gold to Alabama white. If you’re using a sweeter BBQ sauce, I recommend adding in some apple cider vinegar to help balance out the flavor. And if you’re looking for a slightly different flavor, try my pork dry rub recipe!
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No matter when you serve these, make sure you add in some Cheesy Texas Toast, BBQ Baked Beans, Creamy Homemade Coleslaw, Instant Pot Potato Salad, or a Perfect Baked Potato. You can’t go wrong with some Cornbread either!
How to Make Crockpot Ribs Step by Step
Prep the Ribs: Set the slow cooker to low and spray with nonstick cooking spray. (I always spray the underside of the lid to help with cleanup.) Remove the silver membrane from the back of 6 pounds of St. Louis-style pork ribs. Here’s a video with instructions. (You might have bought ribs with the membrane removed, and if so, skip this step.)
Make the Spice Rub: In a small bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper, and ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes. Rub the dry-rub mix evenly over the ribs.
Brush with Sauce: Brush both sides of the ribs with 24 ounces (1 jar) of barbecue sauce and set the ribs in the slow cooker standing upright with the meaty side against the inside wall, of the slow cooker.
Cover the Ribs: Pour the remaining barbecue sauce over the ribs. If using a sweet sauce, pour the ¼ cup of applke cider vinegar over the ribs.
Cook the Ribs: Cover and cook on low 5-6 hours or until the meat is fork-tender.
Serve the Ribs: Serve with additional store-bought barbecue sauce or strain the juices, from the pan, through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer 15-20 minutes or until the mixture has reduced to 2 cups. To serve, slice the meat between the bones and serve with barbecue sauce.
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftover crockpot ribs tightly wrapped in aluminum foil in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat wrapped in foil in a pan in a 250°F oven until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 130-140°F.
How to Freeze
Freeze crockpot ribs tightly wrapped in aluminum foil in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
The silver skin/membrane on the back of the ribs will make them super tough and rubbery when cooked. It also acts as a shield and will prevent seasonings from fully penetrating the meat (and we want them to be well-seasoned!). So you absolutely want to remove it.
To keep these ribs from drying out, we cook them low and slow! I do not recommend attempting this recipe on high heat.
Yes, it is possible to overcook ribs, which would turn the meat into mush. Cooking them on the low setting is ideal to prevent this from happening. Just check on them regularly towards the end for doneness.