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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. Baby backs, spare ribs, country…this recipe works with any of your favorite cuts.

The BEST slow cooker ribs with BBQ sauce

Why You’ll Love Slow Cooker Ribs

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.

  • Barbecue Paradise. Like my Instant Pot Ribs, these crockpot ribs have the deep, smoky barbecue that you love. When the cooking time has ended, you’ll open your crockpot to find the best slow cooker ribs you’ve ever had.
  • 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 slow cooker does the rest of the work while you go about your day.
  • 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. Ribs in the oven at 200 degrees take 3 to 4 hours, which 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 to go with your ribs).
  • 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.
  • Falling Off the Bone Tender. You can pull them apart with your fingers!

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 —

How to Make Crockpot Ribs

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.)
  • 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 crock pot bbq ribs with Sweet Baby Rays—trust me!

You can also try other spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, and onion powder.

A slow cooker full of crockpot ribs in bbq sauce

The Directions

pork ribs in a slow cooker

1. Add the Ribs to a Slow Cooker. It’s OK to stack them if needed.

whisking homemade bbq sauce for crockpot ribs

2. Mix the Sauce Ingredients. You can make it from scratch or swap storebought.

pouring sauce over pork ribs in a crock pot

3. Pour Half Over the Ribs. Save the rest for serving.

4. Slow Cook. Cook on low for 8 hours, until tender. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce, and DIG IN!

fall off the bone tender crockpot ribs being pulled apart easily with fingers

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 fridge.
  • 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 Tender Ribs

  • 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.
Easy slow cooker ribs recipe cut into individual ribs for a crowd

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.

Crockpot Ribs

4.71 from 101 votes
This easy slow cooker ribs recipe with homemade barbecue sauce makes the BEST fall-off-the-bone tender crockpot ribs. Perfect for a crowd.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours

Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • 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).

Video

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition

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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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.

How Do You Thaw Ribs?

If (like me) you 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.

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.

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.

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 and comes off the bone with light pressure.

How to Remove Membrane?

Rinse the rack of ribs and pat them dry. If your ribs still have the thin, shiny membrane on the back, remove it. (This is easy, don’t worry!) Flip to the back of the ribs over, meat-side down. Wiggle a dull knife (such as a butter knife) between the membrane and the ribs to loosen it. With a paper towel, grip the membrane and pull it away, then discard.

This allows your spice rub or sauces to penetrate the meat and also helps the meat become tender. 

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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103 Comments

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    1. I’m sorry to hear you had trouble with the recipe, Mike. I know it can be so disappointing to try a new recipe and it does not turn out for you. It has worked well for myself (and others) and I wished it would have been a hit for you too.

    2. I’d love to try making this in my new Ninja Foodi Possible Pro cooker. I’m trying to replace my old slow cooker. But would I use the braise function since there’s little liquid?
      Thanks

      1. Hi Debora, I’m not familiar with that cooker so I wouldn’t be able to advise on how to change the recipe or use a different function without having done it myself. If you decide to experiment, I’d love to know how it goes!

  1. I used Pomi strained tomatoes instead of ketchup because it has almost no sodium. Seasonings all low or no sodium. People on low sodium diet can alter the recipe to enable them to enjoy ribs. Hardest thing to do was mix ingredients and pour over ribs. I included cumin, garlic powder and a creole spice which are all no or low sodium. Found lots of other no sodium spices on Amazon. Plain ribs 248 calories and no sodium per 3 ounce serving. My alterations added possibly 50 mg. sodium per serving. Salt not missed. Absolutely delicious.

    This is the best crockpot ribs recipe I have ever found that was easily adaptable for people with dietary issues,5 stars

  2. I made this recipe for dinner tonight. It deserves more than 5 stars! The family gobbled it up and licked the sauce off the plates. Everyone said it was their new favorite meal and they loved the sauce!! I followed the recipe as written and did not change a thing. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  3. These were super easy and GOOD! The meat really did just fall off the bone and was incredibly tender. I will definitely make these again on a day when I need a big meal after being out all day; it was great to come home to this and my pre-made Well Plated black bean & corn salad!5 stars

  4. Excellent! Had not tried cooking ribs before and Labor Day weekend seemed perfect. Super easy and we LOVED them. Enjoyed the homemade sauce too! Thanks for all your great recipes.5 stars

  5. As a kid, I was not a fan of ribs. They were a lot of work, messy and not enough meat on them for all the effort. The same week I came across this recipe, there was a B1G2 offer on ribs. This recipe makes all my ribs issues go away and they are delicious. I have made them 3 times in the past month and a half (the b1g2 deal). Everyone enjoyed them. The first time I made them, I made the sauce. The last two I used store bought sauce. No one noticed the difference.5 stars

  6. I cooked a 4 lb baby back in a crockpot. I dry rubbed them with a simple roll of no in

    Lap
    I dry rubed my baby back ribs overnite in frig. the ribs were 4 lbs put them in my crock pot for 6 hrs on low. they were destroyed.i did not cut the ribs first, l stood them vertical on the sides & put a l/2 cut onion and 3 cloves
    Of sliced garlic & 1/2c water what did I do wrong?

    Mike M

  7. This was incredible! My husband and I agreed they were the best ribs we’ve had. Thanks for an excellent recipe! Love the barbecue sauce too!5 stars

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