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 Ribs, these 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 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

  1. Spray a slow cooker with nonstick spray, and add the ribs. Mix the sauce ingredients (liquids and spices), 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 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 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 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. 

pork ribs made in a crockpot

Crockpot Ribs

5 from 25 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 mins
Cook: 8 hrs
Total: 8 hrs

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).

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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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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73 Comments

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  1. Delicious fall off the bone ribs without the hassle. Love your recipes. Keep them coming! Thank you!5 stars

  2. Erin – I posted the note before we ate them. I ended up moving the ribs to a sheet pan, pouring the rest of the BBQ sauce on them, transported them to the gathering, and warmed them up in the oven with extra BBQ sauce available if needed. Ended up with GREAT RIBS. I’ll try different ribs next time. Thanks for your quick response!5 stars

  3. Is it possible to cut the 4 lbs of ribs into sections of 4-5 individual ribs together, instead of cutting all of them into individual ribs? Will I need to cook them longer? Thanks so much, making these on Thursday or Friday!

    1. Hi Jess, I’ve never made slow cooker ribs without cutting them apart, so I can’t say from experience. That said, after referencing a few other recipes online, leaving them in sections seems to be an option. You might want to check a few of the recipes yourself and adjust the cooking time as needed. I hope you enjoy!

      1. Hi, Erin! I made these yesterday-delish! I decided to cut them into individual ribs, it took quite a bit of work. I made an extra 1/2 cup of sauce, it was awesome! Thanks for this recipe!5 stars

        1. Extra sauce is never a bad idea, Jess! I’m glad you enjoyed the ribs—thanks so much for taking the time to leave this great review!

      2. I always cut into sections and use same cooking time. It’s  also easier to pull the membrane off of the back cutting into sections rather than individual ribs. I also ALWAYS have more than one layer and never had an issue. Just use more sauce. 5 stars

  4. 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. We did need to move some of the ribs around to get them into a single layer in the slow cooker. (We have a 6 quart.) We also used baby back ribs, but a little under 3 pounds. (That was the largest they had at the store.) Definitely going to make this again soon…maybe for Father’s Day!5 stars

    1. Lauren, I’m so glad to hear the recipe was a winner! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your feedback!

  5. I’ve made these, and even used a store-bought bbq sauce when I had limited time. They come out so yummy, and so much easier than the usual way of cooking ribs, which btw, I’ve never done. :)5 stars

  6. I made these for Fathers Day and they were amazing! My 5 year old son who hardly eats meat said “these ribs are better than chocolate”!! This is a new staple in our house for sure.5 stars

  7. I added a little Kahlua because I didn’t have bourbon and I also and some brown sugar outstanding came absolutely outstanding5 stars

  8. I’m trying to double the recipe right now as we speak, so my ribs are in 2 layers, not one. Hopefully they will still turn out amazing. It seems like they are not as “sticky” as yours look in the picture, as the ribs are pretty fatty and a lot of the fat has melted and is in the crock pot as a lot of liquid. My plan is to continue cooking for the 8 hours (probably 8.5) then put on baking sheet with sauce and get a nice stickiness to them. We shall see!

  9. My ribs are tough ,do I need to cook them longer ? Started last night….on high….then now cooking on low for 3 hrs for a total of like 8…tasted one …it’s tough.what did I do wrong ?

    1. Hi Sally, if your ribs were tough, it’s likely that they need to be cooked longer. (But it’s hard to know for sure without being in the kitchen with you!) Every slow cooker seems to be a little different, but I only have experience cooking these on low for 8 hours. I hope they turned out well if you continued to cook them!

    1. Hi Holly! I only have experience cooking the recipe for 8 hours on low, so you are welcome to give it a try but I can’t say for certain the timing would work out. I hope you enjoy if you give them a try!

  10. This is a fabulous way to cook ribs. Foolproof way to cook them.  I cut these delectable little baby backs into sections and put a dry rib rub all over them the night before. I use a fabulous rub recipe that I’ve used for years from All Recipes site.  Then I pull them out of the refidgerator in the am and slather them with your BBQ sauce with some added liquid smoke and honey. I also basted with some of the leftover sauce and broiled them for a few minutes while I was warming the rest of the leftover sauce on the stove. Just awesome ribs. Try that rub recipe from AR.  Gives it a nice flavor. Thanks for sharing this recipe again. Already planning these for my Fourth of July dinner. Now if I could only make a potato salad just as delicious as these :(5 stars

    1. Diane, this feedback is so appreciated! And for a potato salad, this one is my favorite :) https://www.wellplated.com/pesto-potato-salad/.

  11. I’m so happy I found this! My girlfriends mom brought ribs over cause she couldn’t cook them and we didn’t have any pans. So I went a step further and put a dry rub on the ribs and coated them in barbecue. They were the best ribs ever!!5 stars

  12. Oh my goodness! Delicious! Fall off the bone and made enough for two meals for my husband and I. I made Cole slaw and beans on the side. Sooo easy!5 stars

    1. Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review, Diane! I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed this recipe!

  13.  What do you think about using Sweet baby Ray’s barbecue sauce instead of homemade. I made your instant pot ribs last night using that sauce and rub and they were truly awesome! I’m just experimenting with your other recipes and wondered if you need to use a dry rub for the crockpot ribs and if you could use Sweet baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. Thank you so much for the instant pot recipe. 
    Lois

    1. Hi Lois! I’ve never used store-bought sauce for this recipe, but other readers have reported success with it. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes, and I’m so happy you enjoyed the Instant Pot Ribs recipe!

  14. Hello, I’m just wondering if I can put more than one layer of ribs in the crockpot to cook?  We are having a party tomorrow and one rack will not cut it.
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Megan! I have not tried the recipe this way, but other readers have reported success with a double layer. I hope you enjoyed the recipe!

  15. FANTASTICALLY tender and juicy! My wife doesn’t like BBQ sauce so I just use a rub and put some apple juice into the crockpot (I used 6oz, probably only needed 2oz) and, as advertised, these were fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy. While I love my smoker, winter-time in WI makes that a tricky prospect so from now on, the crockpot will come out while the grill hibernates.

    They were the PERFECT SuperBowl food and the set-it-and-forget ease of this recipe left me free to entertain and eat whenever we wanted to.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Burton! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  16. Hi Erin   I made your crock pot BBQ ribs for Super Bowl Sunday. What a hit!!!Everyone  loved them and it made an easy going day for me. Definitely will have them again and again!! Nonna?5 stars

    1. I’m SO happy to hear that these were a hit, Nonna! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!

  17. Delish!! Made it last week. I varied the recipe as follows in case anyone else is interested:

    I used 5 lb. of ribs. I doubled the sauce ingredients, as well as added 8 tsp. of celery seed. I removed from the crockpot at the end of the cook time and placed under the broiler for a few minutes to get some crispiness. My men went WILD over it!!! I also paired it with cabbage steaks (recipe on this site) which were so good! Thank you! Making this again today with baby back ribs! This will be my go to for incredible bbq ribs!5 stars

  18. This is the BEST and EASIEST rib recipe I’ve ever made.
    So flavourful.

    I will be making it over and over again.
    Got rave reviews from the family too5 stars

  19. Another winner from you. Whole family enjoyed them tonight, even the dogs begged haaaard for a taste! :D

    Thanks for all the great eats.5 stars

  20. This recipe worked out really well, the ribs were tender and delicious. I especially loved the bbq sauce which is a stand-alone recipe better than anything I’ve bought in the grocery store, and will use this as my go-to stuff (it’s so easy to make). I ‘might’ try moving the cooked ribs to a hot oven and basting them with the sauce, to see how that would work some time. Many kind thanks for the recipe!5 stars

  21. I made this last night. My boyfriend cleaned his plate. He said he never knew crockpot ribs could taste so good. I am satisfied with how good these came out as well. 5 stars

  22. Hello, I tried recipe with country style ribs  and cooked in crockpot on low for 8 hours.  Sauce was amazing and ribs were falling off the bone but meat was tough.   Just wondering if I undercooked or overcooked or maybe it was type of ribs I used?   Thanks in advance!  

    1. Hi Julie! Country style ribs are a little tougher in general, so I think if you do a cut like baby back next time, you’ll likely enjoy them more. Country style can cook more quickly too, so if you use them again, I’d try cutting the cook time down a bit and see if that helps. I hope you still enjoyed them!

  23. Delicious! The entire family LOVED this recipe. I will NEVER buy another BBQ sauce from the store. Thanks Erin for another fantastic recipe.5 stars

  24. Great weeknight dinner, very quick to put together in the crockpot! Meat was tender and falling off the bone and the bbq sauce was tangy and sweet. Yum!5 stars

    1. Hi Don! I haven’t tried this myself, so you would be experimenting. The removal of the membrane allows the spices to penetrate the meat and also helps the meat become tender. I would cook for the same amount of time, then check it. If the meat doesn’t look as tender as you would like it, then continue to cook until it reaches desired tenderness. Hope this helps!

  25. These are lovely. Made a huge batch yesterday for company and they were a huge hit. Mixed the sauce the day before and believe it benefited from time in the fridge to let flavors meld. Accompanied it with “the salad” from your cookbook with the peaches and arugula and gorgonzola. Also a huge hit. Thanks again for making entertaining so fun Erin.5 stars

    1. Hi Margaret! Thank you so much for being a supporter of my cookbook and here! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!

    1. Hi Jason, I have not tested this recipe with beef ribs, but you could definitely experiment with them. If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!

    1. Hi Susan! I’ve only tested this recipe on low so I am not able to advise how long they would cook on high. If you decide to try them out, let me know how it goes!

  26. I would like a answer on this question.
    How long do you cook per lb baby back pork ribs on low and then high in a slow cooker? Slab Pork Ribs (Bone In)
    Low Cook hours per lb –
    High “ “ “ “. –

    Mike

    1. Hi Mike! I’ve only tested the recipe as written, so I am not able to advise based on per pound on high or low. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  27. Thanks for this recipe for wonderful, delicious, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs! So easy & convenient to make on a busy day – no more standing over the b-b-q, no more burnt or dried out ribs5 stars