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Crockpot ribs are guaranteed to be fall off the bone tender. Learn the secrets for making the best slow cooker ribs including instructions for prepping the meat, giving it a good dry rub, and finishing them off for restaurant quality perfection. 
 
Bird's eye view of Sliced Ribs on a marble countertop.

You want your ribs to be fall-off-the-bone tender. The crockpot is a great choice. BUT, how do you go from the ugly mess of the slow cooker to beautifully caramelized fall of the bone ribs?

If you just throw ribs and bbq sauce in a slow cooker for 8 hours, you’ll get some fall-off-the-bone ribs, but they’ll be kind of funky and unappetizing. The bbq sauce won’t have caramelized at all, and the liquids in the meat will have produced a really runny bbq sauce liquid.

We find the crockpot to be the easiest method to cook ribs and it is my go-to method, especially when cooking for a crowd. Combine the ease of the crockpot with my easy secret tip and you’ll have yourself some pretty dang amazing ribs.

 

THE SECRET TO CROCKPOT (SLOW COOKER) RIBS

  1. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. See the video for an easy demo. Just slide your fingers around the side to loosen it up and rip it right off.
  2. Give the ribs a dry rub. This step is optional. Some people like a good dry rub first for additional flavor.
  3. Put your ribs in the crockpot
    . Lather them with barbecue sauce. You can use a homemade sauce like my Raspberry-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce for ribs or a store-bought bottle. Just remember to save a little bit for later.
  4. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The more racks in the pot, the longer you’ll need to cook.
  5. Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil lined baking sheet
    . Add more barbecue sauce on top.
  6. Broil under a broiler for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Alternately you could wrap them in foil and throw them on a heated grill for the same effect. I sometimes do this for crowds and picnics. This keep the ribs warm until ready to eat and makes it easy to pass out portions. Enjoy!
Removing the Membrane from Ribs

Layer Ribs in Slow Cooker

Remove Ribs from Crockpot

Broil Slow Cooker Ribs in Oven

What kind of ribs should I use to make slow cooker ribs?

This recipe and method will work best with pork ribs including: baby back ribs, spare ribs, St. Louis style ribs, and country style pork ribs. For beef short ribs try my slow cooker short rib recipe or my recipe for classic braised beef short ribs. If you have a smoker we also highly recommend these Smoked Beef Ribs.

Sliced ribs on a white plate.

Can I finish my crockpot ribs on the grill instead of the oven?

Our secret to crockpot ribs is to caramelize the ribs under the broiler setting in your oven. Another option is to put them on the grill to get that extra caramelization. If you choose to use the grill, put them straight onto the grill (or onto a piece of aluminum foil) over high heat (500 degrees). Brush them with additional barbecue sauce and then close the lid. Let them grill for about 3-5 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize.

PRO TIP: One of the best tips for making ribs in the crockpot is to use a crockpot liner. These BPA-free plastic bags line your crockpot, making clean up a breeze! No more scrubbing out caramelized, burnt on sauce! They are awesome. You can find them in your grocery store near things like aluminum foil and plastic bags. They are a huge time saver.

Close up of a rack of cooked slow Cooker Ribs

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Close up of a rack of cooked slow Cooker Ribs
Crockpot ribs are guaranteed to be fall off the bone tender. Learn the secrets for making the best slow cooker ribs including instructions for prepping the meat, giving it a good dry rub, and finishing them off for restaurant quality perfection. 
Ingredients
  • 2 racks baby back ribs or pork spare ribs
  • 2 cups barbecue sauce

Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
Instructions
  • Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. Just slide your fingers around the side to loosen it up and rip it right off.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the ingredients for the dry rub. Rub this mixture generously over the outside of the ribs to coat. 
  • Put your ribs in the crockpot. Drizzle on 1 1/2 cups of barbecue sauce, reserving 1/2 cup for later. 
  • Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The more racks in the pot, the longer you'll need to cook.
  • Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil lined baking sheet. Add the reserved barbecue sauce on top.
  • Broil under a broiler for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Alternately you could wrap them in foil and throw them on a heated grill for the same effect. 
Notes
Another option is to put them on the grill to get that extra caramelization. If you choose to use the grill, instead of placing them under the broiler in step 5, put them straight onto the grill (or onto a piece of aluminum foil) over high heat (500 degrees). Brush them with additional barbecue sauce and then close the lid. Let them grill for about 3-5 minutes, until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize.

Nutrition

Calories: 208kcal | Protein: 21g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 69mg | Potassium: 351mg | Vitamin A: 10IU | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 0.9mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Crockpot Ribs
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April 12, 2020 3:50 pm

5 stars
OMG I’m not a cook,-and due to the 2020 quarantine epidemic I’m home alone …keeping a positive attitude I was craving ribs and found this recipe.. My ribs turned out AMAZING!!! Thank you stayathomechef .. for making my stay at home a memorable experience..

Tiffany
May 2, 2020 10:41 pm

5 stars
I used mckormicks bbq seasoning on the ribs and then sweet baby rays bbq sauce. Omg! They are fall off the bone ready after 12 -14 hours in the crock pot on low. I’m a nurse so I usually work 12 hour shifts, so when I get home I throw them on a cookie sheet throw some more bbq sauce on them and in the broiler they go! The bones literally just fall right out! I use 3 slabs from sams club so I cook them a little Longer then the recipe. You won’t be disappointed!!!

Jackie
August 15, 2020 12:57 pm
Reply to  Tiffany

Thanks Nurse!

May 1, 2020 5:37 am

5 stars
The broiler trick is perfection! I was intimidated to cook ribs for the longest time, but this crockpot method made it approachable and easy. I do this every few months now for a treat with our own special rub and favorite BBQ sauce, and everyone looks forward to it!

DM
April 15, 2020 4:56 pm

5 stars
Baby back ribs:
Really tender and juicy! The only difference, cooked on high for 5 hours.
Thank you so much for posting your recipe.

LEE (LEEMO) SCHIFF
May 20, 2020 7:00 am

Just had this rib recipe last night. At 8 hours slow cook, the ribs came out almost totally off the bone, more like mush.

Flavor was good, but think would reduce cook time to 6 hours,and add more if needed. I like to bite into my ribs

June 22, 2020 8:24 pm

That’s the way I like mines to😋😋😋

August 9, 2020 4:05 am

I had the same disappointing results. Followed recipe to the tee and an epic fail!

Pams Cell
September 21, 2020 3:18 pm

I did the same and ours were mush off the bone. Tasty but didn’t appeal to the eye very much 👁

Katie McCool
July 23, 2020 9:15 pm

5 stars
I cooked the ribs overnight in my crock pot (9 hrs on low) and then put them in the fridge. I took them out 25 mins before finishing them in the oven. I know it’s not recommended to refrigerate before the oven, but I did have success – my husband says they were the best ribs he’s ever had! Thank you for a great recipe, with ingredients I always have on hand. Your video is clear and easy to follow. Wow, do I ever appreciate people like you who share your talents with the rest of us 🙂

Mary Jane Hinde
July 15, 2019 4:57 pm

5 stars
this is a very good way to make ribs, and easy!!!! I am not a good cook, nor do I have mnay dishes that I consider to be my best dish. Thanks for an easy recipe, and delicious!!

Pat Donohue
April 25, 2020 4:54 pm

5 stars
Made the ribs tonight and they were a huge hit. I only cooked them on low for 8 hours. Next time I am going for 10 hours because we like fall off the bone ribs. If you like to pick up the bone and eat then the 8 hours is perfect.

April 25, 2020 9:20 am

5 stars
Been searching for a great rib recipe for a long time and I believe I have found it! Delicious and easy.

April 10, 2020 6:21 am

5 stars
Best Ribs Recipe EVER…………

August 20, 2020 5:50 pm

Rachel, I have made these twice now. So good and right on! Love your videos! You are very good at your demonstrations. Thank you so much for all the time you take!❤️🙏

Colleen Hawkins
June 22, 2020 11:28 pm

5 stars
Super easy & delicious! This will be how we make our ribs from now on! I I did not have crockpot liners, used parchment paper instead….still easy to clean afterwards. Also, I used our own homemade Jack Daniel BBQ sauce. Fall off the ribs yummy!!

Milette
May 11, 2020 10:21 am

I tried this and my family loved it and wanted me to make it again!!! Ty for sharing, love your recipes.

Virginia LaGrange
April 28, 2020 1:46 pm

5 stars
My family loved these! This will be our go to rib recipe!

Bill
March 10, 2020 4:08 pm

Finally a way to prepare “fall of the bone” ribs. I found 10 hours and even 8 hours on low was too long and ribs fell apart. I have backed off to 6 hours on low and ribs are done and hold together and meat tenderly falls off bones. Now I am experimenting with different prepared rubs. I use Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. Some readers have criticized the high fructose corn syrup in Ray’s sauce but read the scientific studies folks and don’t be ignorant regarding high fructose corn syrup. No better nor worse than sugar for a sweetener.… Read more »

Jeanne
April 7, 2020 12:59 pm
Reply to  Bill

Yes! I found 8 hours was much too long, too. Since I finish them off on the grill they were all falling apart. I’m making them tonight and decided to try 6 hours on low.

Linda hkll
April 14, 2020 12:03 am
Reply to  Bill

We love SWEET BABY RAY’S ! Perfect!

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