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Slow Cooker Ribs

Two things that conflict with me, ribs and slow cookers. Yes, I am one of those people that love ribs even mediocre ribs. I’ve made ribs in the oven and, of course, on my Weber grill. I even have done a combination of grill and oven with the ribs. When it comes to slow cookers I have persistent view of a good idea with little benefit. Slow cookers, to me, are the idea that sounds good but doesn’t pull it off. Don’t get me wrong, I have had some nice meals from slow cookers, but they are few. Most are average and fail just about when they are going to be good. I guess they’re good for dips, certain soups, and chili? My wife has combined the two, ribs and the slow cooker, and the results are less than satisfying. You usually end up with dry meat sitting in an ocean of liquid. So, when it gets too cold out my rib season is done and I wait for next year. That is until I bumped into this method of making ribs. I was surprised at how well the ribs tasted. Now you do need an oven to finish off the ribs and can run the risk of overdoing it in the oven. The ingredient recipe is less important than the method of cooking the ribs. You can apply your favorite rub and bbq sauce or use what I provide in the recipe. The first time I made this I used my own rub and Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce as I didn’t have time to make my own sauce. Today’s ribs will be the recipe’s rub and Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce again. I don’t have enough of the ingredients to make my own sauce. Feel free to use your own or one of the rubs I posted a while ago. As for the sauce, I do have one version of bbq sauce that I use if you should want to try it.


  • Ribs
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons pepper
    • 2 teaspoons onion powder
    • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
    • 5 – 6 pounds pork spareribs (2 racks, 2 1/2- to 3-pounds each), preferably St. Louis-style, trimmed and each rack cut in half
  • BBQ Sauce
    • ¾ cup ketchup
    • 6 tablespoons apple juice
    • 2 tablespoons molasses
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
    • 1 teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke


  1. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Remove excess fat off of the ribs and remove the membrane that is on the ribs. It is not necessary, but it does help with the eating experience. Cut the ribs into portions in order that they fit better in the slow cooker. Pat the ribs try and coat the ribs with the rub, but be sure to reserve one tablespoon of the rub for barbeque sauce if you make the sauce posted above.
  3. Arrange ribs vertically with thick ends pointing down and meaty side against interior wall of slow cooker (ribs will overlap). Cover and cook until ribs are just tender, 5 to 6 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.
  4. While the ribs begin their cooking in the slow cooker, whisk ketchup, apple juice, molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, pepper, liquid smoke, and reserved 1 tablespoon spice rub together in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)
  5. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set wire rack in sheet. Using tongs, transfer ribs, meaty side up, to prepared rack. Let ribs sit for 10 minutes to allow surface to dry out.
  6. Adjust oven rack 3 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Liberally brush ribs with 1/2 cup sauce and broil until sauce is bubbling and beginning to char, about 4 minutes. Remove ribs from oven, brush with remaining ½ cup sauce, tent with foil, and let rest for 20 minutes

NOTES: You may want to double your rub if you have a lot of ribs or are heavy handed with the rub like me. It is recommended that you try to find ribs of equal shape for a more even cooking, but I’m too lazy for that. Eating ribs are all that is on my mind, and I don’t care which type of ribs I buy. You will also notice I cut my ribs into serving sizes. For me, it is easier to do it up front that after the ribs have been cooked and sauced.

The keys to this version of ribs is the elimination of the idea of placing liquid in the slow cooker and broiling the ribs after the slow cooker. A huge downside to this method is you can only make two racks. Personally, that is barely enough for me. Shame I have to share and thank God the oldest son is several states away at this time.

When it comes to eating ribs not made on the grill this is the version I like the best. My wife, who may be divorced from me if she persists in this thought, states she likes this better than the ribs on the grill. I just can’t fix her, but she is right that these ribs are actually good. If you have a hankering for ribs in the winter then give this a try. I recommend this method of making ribs.

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