Learn how to make these foolproof Barbecue Slow Cooker Ribs that come out fall-of -the-bone tender each time. Use leftovers to make a tasty pork fried rice.
You can also make these pork ribs in air fryer.
The secret to perfect ribs is to cook them in a slow cooker first, baste generously with the sauce and transfer to the oven just for a couple of minutes until the sauce has caramelized and the ribs charred beautifully.
- Ribs - this ribs recipe method works best with pork ribs such as baby back ribs or spare ribs, country-style pork ribs.
- The sauce - I used the classical barbecue sauce but any flavored barbecue sauce will be great too. If you like the ribs on the hotter side, add Sriracha or other similar hot sauce to the mix.
- Garlic - is optional but makes things so much more flavorful!
- If you have more time, marinate the ribs in the barbecue sauce mix the night before. Adds more flavor and tenderness.
- Seasonings - you can make the ribs just with BBQ sauce but for more flavors add spices such as chili powder, herbs, cumin, smoked paprika.
I highly recommend making a double batch of the sauce to use on the ribs the next day or serving with other dishes such as rice. Properly sealed it should keep in the fridge for 3 days.
My few comments on the ingredients + don't forget to read the Tips section!
The full recipe and ingredients can be found in the recipe card below this post.
Oven method - cooking ribs in the slow cooker alone won't yield optimal results; they'll lack a caramelized exterior and won't be appetizing. To achieve this, use the oven for about 5-12 minutes on broil. Alternatively, on a grill or foil at 500°F, brush with sauce, close the lid, and grill for around 5 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and caramelized.
How To Make Fall Off The Bone Ribs
Spray the bottom of a 4.5 quart (or bigger) slow cooker with vegetable oil.
Prepare the ribs. Wash, dry, and remove the skin from ribs (see Tips section) and transfer to slow cooker folding the ribs gently.
Dry Rub. You can also cut the ribs so it will be easier to take them out later. (see Tips) Season generously with salt and pepper.
Mix the BBQ Sauce. In a large bowl combine barbecue sauce, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne.
Pour half of the sauce over the ribs in the slow cooker.
Reserve the remaining sauce for later to brush the ribs.
Slow Cook. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 7 hours until fork-tender.
When cooked, carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil.
Pour the juices from the slow cooker into the bowl with barbecue sauce.
Baste the ribs with sauce. Stir to combine and baste the ribs generously with the sauce (you may not need to use the whole sauce, reserve for later).
Broil and crisp. Broil the ribs in the oven for 10 minutes at 425 Fahrenheit until charred and crisp on the outside.
These ribs are juicy and exceptionally tender - simply pull apart with your fingers!
- Removing the membrane from ribs is optional; some butchers may do it for you. While the skin can add a bit of chewiness, it's a personal preference. For the most tender ribs, use a sharp knife to gently slide between the ribs and the membrane, pulling it out easily. But if you like your ribs on the chewier side leave the skins alone, the flavor will remain the same.
- Cooking time. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 7 hours for my preferred tender and mess-free ribs. Alternatively, cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8-9 hours for very tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
- Dry rub. Rubbing ribs with salt, pepper, and cayenne or chili powder before adding barbecue sauce enhances flavor. Alternatively, mix everything into the sauce and pour it over the ribs.
- In addition, I also love adding Worcestershire sauce (about 2 teaspoons).
- If you have any leftovers make this delicious BBQ Pork Fried Rice!
- Have more time? Make a batch of this homemade barbecue sauce.
My Recommended Equipment
- Basting brush - this is a silicone brush that works great with these Barbecue Slow Cooker Ribs and any other meats as well as pastries. To avoid food contamination ideally, you need two separate brushes for different types of food. A more fancy choice would be natural boar bristles basting brushes that are also widely available.
- 4.5 quart Crock-Pot - I like the size of this slow cooker as it is versatile and good for small family dinners. The ribs fit there without a problem, you only need to fold them gently to fit inside.
Slow Cooker Pork Ribs
- 2 pounds pork ribs
- 2 cups Barbecue sauce
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, optional, minced
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for cooking
- Spray the bottom of a 4.5 quart (or bigger) slow cooker with vegetable oil.
- Wash, dry, and remove the skin from ribs and transfer to slow cooker folding the ribs gently. You can also cut the ribs so it will be easier to take them out later. (see notes) Season generously with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl combine barbecue sauce, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne. Pour half of the sauce over the ribs in the slow cooker. Reserve the remaining sauce for later to brush the ribs.
- Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 7 hours until fork-tender. (See notes)
- When cooked, carefully transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil. Pour the juices from the slow cooker into the bowl with barbecue sauce. Stir to combine and baste the ribs generously with the sauce (you may not need to use the whole sauce, reserve for later). Broil in the oven for 10 minutes at 425 Fahrenheit until charred and crisp on the outside.
- Serve with remaining sauce.
- Slow Cooker I used for this.
- Cooking time. HIGH for 3 hours or LOW 7 hours. This is my preferred cooking time as the ribs become tender and stay on the bone without creating a mess. You can also cook these on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW 8-9 hours which will result in very tender and easily fall off the bone ribs.
- Removing the membrane/skin from the ribs is optional. Some butchers can do that for you or sell ribs that the skin is already removed. The skin can be a little tough sometimes and adds some ‘’chewiness’’ to ribs which in fact is not a bad thing. It is a personal preference how you’d like to do it. By removing the membrane it will guarantee the most tender ribs. How to do it: to remove you’ll need a sharp knife. Slide the knife gently between the ribs and the membrane, pull gently, it should come out easily.
ADD YOUR OWN PRIVATE NOTES
Baby back ribs are cut from the top portion of the rib cage. Baby Back ribs are very tender and lean. Spare ribs are cut from the bottom portion of the ribs. This illustration makes it quite clear.
Avoid slow-cooking the ribs for too long. Monitor them in the last hour; they should be tender and nearly falling off when pressed gently but not completely off the bone, as that would indicate overcooking.
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Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.
Full Nutrition Disclaimer can be found here.