The most crazy-tender, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs you’ve ever tasted; made in your slow cooker! These SLOW COOKER RIBS couldn’t be easier to make, and the end result will knock your socks off!
Slow cooker ribs are one of our favorite dinners because they are one of those restaurant-quality meals that require hardly any work on your part. We often have them for Sunday dinner so that I can throw them together in the morning and we have a nice meal to eat by dinnertime.
What I LOVE about Slow Cooker Ribs:
I’ve experimented with many methods for making ribs and I’ve decided they are simply best in the slow cooker because…
- Incredibly tender. Ribs cooked in the oven or on the grill can be dry or chewy, but not this recipe!
- EASY. Slow cooking ribs is by far the easiest and most fool-proof method I’ve tried for cooking ribs. It’s basically a dump-it-and-forget-it recipe that turns out amazing EVERY time. Even if you’ve never seen a rib in your life, you just can’t mess this recipe up. Plus, I have step-by-step photos and a video to help.
- Low maintenance. Just 15 minutes to prep, and you don’t have to babysit them at all while they cook. Perfect for an awesome weeknight meal, or a relaxing Sunday dinner.
A note about the RIBS:
You can use baby back ribs, spare ribs, or country-style ribs for this slow cooker recipe. I am partial to baby back ribs. Costco sells a three-pack of baby back ribs that are high quality, well priced, and just delicious. I love to use one rack and freeze the others for another day.
Remove membrane from the back of ribs. Depending on where you buy your ribs, they may still have the white, shiny membrane connective tissue on the back (bone side) of the ribs. For extra tender, flavorful ribs, you should remove this membrane. Just flip the ribs so the top (meaty part) is facing down. Slide your fingers under the membrane and rip it off. No special skills needed here, just use your fingers to yank it up and off the ribs.
I should add that I have forgotten this step before, and it’s not a huge deal–the slow cooker usually tenderizes the ribs enough that it’s easy to eat, BUT it can be chewy, and it’s easy to remove. It’s up to you.
Slow Cooker Pork Ribs in 5 steps:
1. Cut the rack in half or in sections. You can also curl the rack of ribs along the outside of the slow cooker, if you want. I’ve found that sometimes the lid doesn’t fit perfectly when I do that, so I often cut the rack in half, or into a few sections and stack them on top of each other in the slow cooker.
2. Season Ribs. Season the ribs generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Rub garlic powder, onion powder and brown sugar onto both sides of the ribs. Lay them on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or foil.
3. Quick Pre-bake. Bake the ribs for 15 minutes on each side to seal in the juices and render some of the fat. You could also throw them on the grill on HIGH for 5 minutes on each side.
4. Add to slow cooker. Any slow cooker that’s 5 quart or larger will work. Layer the ribs in the bottom of your slow cooker or curl the rack around the inside. Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours. If you cook them for longer than 7 hours they will still taste amazing, but the meat will be completely falling off the bone.
5. Serve. As the ribs slow cook in the BBQ sauce the sauce will get really thin. Before serving them, I like to baste them again in some more thick, delicious bbq sauce. You really can’t have too much sauce! YUM. Serve them with any of the sides suggested below!
Some ideas to serve Ribs with include:
- Corn on the cob (I love to cook mine in the instant pot).
- Potato salad
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Vegetables
- Homemade Rolls
- Classic Wedge Salad
Slow Cooker Ribs
- 3-4 pounds pork ribs (*see note below)
- 32 ounces barbecue sauce (*see note)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Season the ribs generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Rub garlic powder, onion powder and brown sugar onto both sides of the ribs.
- Line a large baking sheet with tinfoil or parchment paper. Bake the ribs on prepared pan for 15 minutes.
- Flip the ribs to the other side and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Layer ribs in your slow cooker.
- Smother them in barbecue sauce, reserving some sauce for serving later.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 3- 3.5 hours, or LOW for 6 - 7 hours. Serve warm with extra barbecue sauce.
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I originally shared this recipe October 2017. Updated November 2019 with additional instructions.