Friday, April 12, 2013

The Secret to Crockpot Ribs (Slow Cooker)


You want your ribs to be fall-off-the-bone tender. The crockpot is a great choice. BUT, how do you go from this ugly mess:



To this?



Well I can tell you that if you just throw ribs and bbq sauce in a slow cooker for 8 hours, you'll get some fall-off-the-bone ribs, but they'll be kind of funky. The bbq sauce won't have caramelized at all, and the liquids in the meat will have produced a really runny bbq sauce liquid. I've seen the method out there of lining the ribs around the edge of the crockpot so that it caramelizes from the heat of the pot itself, but it just doesn't work for me because I almost always make more than one rack at a time. I find the crockpot to be the easiest method to cook ribs and it is my go-to method, especially when cooking for a crowd. Combine the ease of the crockpot with my easy secret tip and you'll have yourself some pretty dang amazing ribs.

Check out this video for a quick demo:




Step 1: Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. See my video for an easy demo. Just slide your fingers around the side to loosen it up and rip it right off.

Step 2: Give the ribs a dry rub if you want. This step is optional. Some people like a good dry rub first for additional flavor.

Step 3: Put your ribs in the crockpot . Lather them with bbq sauce. You can use a homemade sauce or a store-bought bottle. If you are going store-bought I recommend using Sweet Baby Ray's. Just remember to save a little bit for later. 

Step 5: Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. The more racks in the pot, the longer you'll need to cook.


Step 6: Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil lined baking tray. Add more barbecue sauce on top. 










Step 7: Broil under a broiler for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce starts to bubble and caramelize. Alternately you could wrap them in foil and throw them on a heated grill for the same effect. I sometimes do this for crowds and picnics. This keep the ribs warm until ready to eat and makes it easy to pass out portions. 



Step 8: Enjoy!



More Slow Cooker Recipes:

   


86 comments:

  1. Love Ribs from the crockpot and like the idea of grilling after to keep warm and crystallize the sauce. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can I just cook 3 ribs at a time in a slow cooker and how should I cook it and what should I add besides BBQ sauce, I'm new to the slow cooker thing but so far LOVE it more than any other method of cooking. I have 3 huge ribs and I only want to cook for one person (me) so I hope this is possible. Thanks.

      Delete
    2. I also find that if you flip the ribs over and remove the membrane that is underneath you'll get the flavor soaking into both sides of the ribs.

      Delete
    3. "How much for just 1 rib?" -Chris Rock (I'm gonna get you sucks)

      Delete
    4. Lol!!! Chris rock!

      Delete
  2. Can I turn it on high to cook for a short time? Or will that change the whole process?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have done it that way. I find that the very most tender ribs come from cooking it for a long time on low, but I do use high in a pinch. They will be good, they just may not fall off the bone. You can tell from the pictures above that there are some empty bones...the meat literally fell off the bone when I removed it!

      Delete
  3. What kind of ribs do you usually use?

    ReplyDelete
  4. Replies
    1. When you cut the racks in half, do you layer them on top of eachother with bbq sauce in layers?

      Delete
  5. Baby Back Ribs or Spare Ribs portioned into a St. Louis cut are great. Depends on if you want to do some prep work or not. I've always smoked ribs and decided to try the crockpot while I was at work (Since I really wanted ribs, but don't have enough time in the day to work and smoke ribs). The cook times where awesome and the meet fell right off the bone. I used Oklahoma Joe's Medium BBQ sauce and it turned out amazing.

    ReplyDelete
  6. can you slow cook the ribs in a crock pot as noted in the directions and grill a few hours later? I was wondering because we are driving to my husbands dad's house for the 4th and it happens to be his dad's birthday as well.... the drive from our house is about 1.5 hours maybe two hours depending on traffic. I thought I could slow cook at home and transport in the crock pot and put on the grill when we are almost ready to eat. Let me know if you don't think this is a good idea. Thanks so much!!!! - Katie

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes! I've actually done that before. I cooked them in a crockpot, wrapped each rack in foil and refrigerated. Then when I was ready (2 hours later), I smothered each rack in BBQ sauce and put them on the grill to reheat and caramelize. It slightly alters how fall-off-the-bone tender they are, but they are still pretty darn amazing. Don't put them on the grill for too long because you will risk drying them out.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Do you add water to them? Are there different flavors of baby rays BBQ sauce? Mine is hickory & brown sugar or famous Dave's sweet & zesty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do not add water! Sweet Baby Rays has several different flavors. I'm a big fan of their just plan BBQ sauce and their Chipotle. Just use whatever BBQ sauce you like best!

      Delete
    2. With your bottled BBQ sauce, I don't have an absolute favorite, I add (to taste) ketchup, yep, ketchup. Not only does it enhance the BBQ sauce flavor but it nicely stretches out the quantity of your sauce, try it on one rib and see for yourself.

      Delete
    3. Can I just cook 1 rib just 1.lol

      Delete
  9. These came out perfectly. Thanks for the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Can I put 2 racks in at the same time? Each cut in half to fit of course.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Yes. I cut mine in half and just this week was able to fit 3 racks in with room to spare. It can be helpful to rearrange them half-way through cooking when the crockpot is that full. That way the ones on the top will get the same amount of time down in the natural simmering liquids.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just placed my 4 ribs in the crock pot and I am about to take a nap. Thanks for the tips and I am confident that I will enjoy the outcome.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Making this ribs right now cant wait for my spicy bbq ribs thanks for the tips.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm sorry if this is a silly question but can you start this from semi-frozen and if so how much longer would they need?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a silly question! Yes, you can start from semi-frozen. Add 1 hour.

      Delete
  15. Can I do this with frozen ribs? Will it take longer?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Do you apply any seasonings to the ribs?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I don't personally apply any seasonings. You still could if you wanted to switch things up a bit.

      Delete
  17. Just a note~ I put these in this morning, on high, and got off a work a little later than I anticipated so they were in for 9 hours and burnt to a crisp. So definitely no more that 6 or so hours. I think if I had put them on low with maybe a little water or chicken broth in the bottom they would have been ok. The top slab was pretty tasty though. I will definitely try them again! Thanks so much for posting this awesome recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eek! I'll admit I've done that myself. I never recommend high because I've never had a great experience that way. Even if you use high and decrease the time, the result just isn't the same. It needs that low, slow cook time.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Rachel! Funny, about half way to work I thought, hmmmm I should have cut those down...... Will definitely take your advise next time. Thanks much for your response!

      Delete
  18. Hi Rachel, I have 3lbs of country spare ribs. How long on low. Thank you. Patricia. flyingmonkeys@optonline.net

    ReplyDelete
  19. Do you recommend cooking ribs as a rack?

    I ask because I've always cut my ribs up individually, simmered with peppercorns and bay leaf, then slathered with bbq sauce and marinated overnight. Next day I bake for 1 hour.

    My rationale for individual ribs is that I'm omitting a really messy step of cutting them up when they're covered in bbq sauce. Is this a bad idea? Should I cook them as a rack?

    This'll be my first try to do ribs in my beloved 30-hr-old orange Rival crock pot. So glad I stumbled on this site!

    Lana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I cut my racks in half so that they will fit in my crockpot, however I wouldn't recommend cutting them individually, especially in the crockpot. The crockpot makes the meat so tender that the only reason they even have a chance at staying together is that they are still in at least half-rack form. If they were individual the bones would all just fall out. It'd still be edible and tasty, but your presentation would be absolutely shot.

      Delete
    2. Never pre-cut your ribs. If you have to cut a rack in half, that's fine. But, cutting each rib, lets all the moisture in the meat bleed out when it cooks.

      Delete
  20. Brine! Makes the best ribs by far. One Rack placed in a foil lined cookie tray - cover cookie tray with foil (don't wrap ribs in foil) - place 4-5 ice cubes in cookie tray before covering @ 275 deg. F. for 3 hrs in a regular oven (yes, I've tried the crock pot method too, but the oven works just fine and is quicker) - place 4-5 ice cubes in cookie tray before covering. I regularly brine my ribs overnight - 2 tsp. of kosher salt/rack o' ribs, in enough water to fully submerge ribs (can use plastic bags also to contain the brine/ribs). When ready to cook ribs, rinse off ribs with cold water, pat dry w/ paper towel, and apply favorite dry rub, both sides - do not cook with sauce at this point! Follow above cooking instruction, and when done, apply favorite BBQ sauce to ribs, and throw in oven, uncovered for 5-10 to caramelize the sauce. I've done ribs a million ways, and using brine really transforms the ribs into a truly transcendental ribby experience - this method is quick and produces sublime result......PS, try to find a BBQ sauce that does not have high-fructose corn syrup - you deserve better than that crap.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing a non-crockpot alternative for anyone who might be looking for that. While I have used quite a variety of methods, this slow cooker method is by far the easiest and least intimidating method, particularly for those who have never made ribs before. The result is still far superior to chain restaurant ribs, grocery deli, and....eek...frozen. This post is the secret to slow cooker ribs, not the secret to ribs in general. Thanks for sharing though!

      Delete
  21. First time am going to try crock pot way but, do you add any liquid to crock thanks

    ReplyDelete
  22. No, do not add any liquid. The ribs and bbq sauce provide more than enough liquid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1st thank you for the quick reply will try today can't wait thanks Randy

      Delete
  23. i was wondering if they can be done in the crock pot ahead of time, (say the day before the crowd arrives,) and then, the day of the BBQ, just put them on to cook say, 1/2 hour wrapped in foil?? They shouldn't dry out if kept in the foil, do you think? They look scrumptious, say how do you remove the membrane (underneath part)?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Having done this, I would say they aren't as good the day after, but they are okay. I don't do anything with the membrane. It breaks down quite well on its own in the slow cooker.

      Delete
  24. What about boneless bbq ribs done in the crock pot?? same way??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Country style boneless ribs would cook the same way.

      Delete
    2. Just about any pork will do, I used pork chops last time, they were great!

      Delete
  25. What internal temperature should they be? The cooking time says 6-8 hours. How do you know when they are done?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Technically ribs are considered done when they reach 145 degrees. That would probably be a pretty tough rib though and I wouldn't eat it. You'd easily reach that temperature within a few hours. So with ribs you don't need to be worried so much about the internal temperature as you do the texture. They will most likely have reached a fall-off-the-bone state after 8 hours.

      Delete
  26. Thanks for the recipe! Looking forward to trying it soon. Gotta go with jokermtb (Oct. 21 post) on two points: 1) BRINE! 2) Find a sauce without high-fructose corn syrup. That's one of the most toxic substances you can put in your body. I won't allow one molecule of it in my house. There are several non-HFCS sauces out there, as well as many recipes to make your own sauce using a healthier sweetener, such as brown sugar, honey or even pure maple syrup.

    ReplyDelete
  27. How much BBQ sauce did you pour over the ribs into the slow cooker?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, about 2 cups. Just enough to smother them.

      Delete
  28. WOW! The best ribs I've had yet but didn't use the Sweet Baby Ray's you like so much. The ingredients show Ray's containes Corn Syrup, Don't ever eat stuff with corn syrup as a sweetner,
    they are from GMO's used in corn. I used all natural "Weber real molasses BBQ" Contains No Corn Syrup. Thanks for the great meal...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, use "Weber with no GMO's" for a more healthy meal...

      Delete
  29. How long would you cook 9 pounds of country style spareribs for?

    ReplyDelete
  30. where is the "secret" you speak of? You use someone else's bbq sauce and then cook the ribs for 6-8 hours. How in the world did you discover this ? shhesh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "secret" is to broil them. Whether you make your own BBQ sauce or use store bought, the secret to slow cooker ribs is to finish them off under a broiler or on the grill. I have three different barbecue sauces in my upcoming cookbook set to launch in September to satisfy your homemade sauce needs.

      Delete
  31. Do you think I can apply a dry rub to the ribs, instead of bbq sauce. Then put in the crock pot and add the bbq sauce at the end just before broiling. If anyone has done it this way, let me know. I think that is how I want to make them in the crock pot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, you can. It is a common misconception that liquid is required in a slow cooker. You'll be just fine with a dry rub.

      Delete
  32. I just made this today. It was excellent!!

    ReplyDelete
  33. My very first attempt at cooking with a crock pot was Barbecued Spareribs and they were the best ribs I have ever had in a long time--sorry microwave:) Anyway they have beef short ribs on sale at our grocery store--can I do your recipe in a 3.5 oval slow cooker with these type of ribs?

    ReplyDelete
  34. you say Broil or on the grill..can you grill them in the oven too??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure I understand your question. You can broil them using the broiler setting on your oven or you can put them directly on a grill for a few minutes. Either one will caramelize the barbecue sauce which is the effect you are going for.

      Delete
  35. Any tips on removing membrane on back?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can go ahead and rip it off. Sometimes I remove it and sometimes I am lazy and don't. Apparently I don't mind it!

      Delete
  36. thank you for the tips. my family devoured the ribs. btw...she said 8 hrs. why does everyone keep asking the same questions?

    ReplyDelete
  37. It shouldn't matter if you line the bottom of the crock pot with foil, should it? I would think (or hope) that would help cut down the caked-on mess afterwards. Shouldn't affect the heat or taste. Hoping for a second opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It will be absolutely fine if you line it with aluminum foil. And yes, it does help on the mess. I actually just made them today and used a crockpot liner, but I have been known to use aluminum foil as well.

      Delete
    2. Something about lining the crock pot.I hope that would mean lining the outer part where the elements are and not in the pot with your ribs.

      Delete
  38. I have done ribs in a slow cooker and the results are every bit as good as you predict. My question is how far ahead can one wiseyl cook the ribs? A few hours? A day? Or two? Will the taste degrade if they're cooked a day or two ahead and held in the frig in foil until grilling?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the taste and more importantly the texture degrades. It would be very much like eating leftover ribs which are not that great. I wouldn't cook them in advance at all and with the slow cooker method you already get 8 or more hours ahead of your event so I don't see a need to.

      Delete
  39. Amazing! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I read that you should cook the ribs in the oven for 15m per side first to get rid of the fat. Is that true? Also what do you think of a brine?

    ReplyDelete
  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  42. I do a variation on this recipe that you might find interesting--it creates a rib that is very similar to the Texas Roadhouse restaurant ribs. I put a cup of water in the crockpot first, then add about 2 or 3 tablespoons of liquid smoke per rack to the water. I then cut up my pork ribs and apply a good rib rub to them, then add to the pot on top of a small rack of some kind to keep them from soaking in the liquid smoke water. I then cook on low for 8 hours, remove the ribs, and place them in a container in the fridge for a couple of hours to cool them down. (Cooling them down not only makes them easier to handle, but also keeps them from overheating and drying out under the broiler.) The final step is to lather them up with BBQ sauce and caramelize them under the oven broiler.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I am going to try this.

    You know what is weird? I one time made ribs in the crockpot, just broiling them for 15 mins each side before hand and putting them in the crockpot with BBQ sauce, on low for 8 hours.

    And the sauce *did* caramelize without needing to put them in the oven and they were the most fantastic ribs I ever had in my life, before or since.

    And I told a bunch of people and they all made them that way and all agreed they were the best ribs, ever.

    However, any time after that when I tried it, it *never* worked out again. They didn't caramelize and were kind of dry and just plain wrong and I tried so many times and gave up.

    But I searched today and this recipe is pretty much what I'd imagine should work. I just don't get why the magic happened for me that one day but never again, and yet did for everyone I told about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carol, you aren't crazy. Sometimes the sauce can caramelize in the slow cooker, but it depends on how long they have been in there, what kind of sauce it was, and how full the slow cooker is. Broiling them ensures the magic happens every time!

      Delete
  44. My name is Carol from North Central Illinois. Making ribs for the first time ever. It's sad. We've been married 43 years and never even thought to try ribs. We usually went to Famous Dave's when we wanted ribs. Now that I'm not in the work force, I have more time to try new things in the kitchen. I'm using this recipe. Got my fingers crossed. I'll let you know how they came out. I decided to cut a Vidalia in chunks and throw them on top of the ribs. We'll find out soon. Thank you for the recipe.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I have used your recipe for Countrystyle Pork Spare Ribs......diced up a whole yellow onion, through that in the crockpot, washed off ribs, placed them in pot, splashed soy sauce on them, a little garlic/pepper, 3/4 bottle of Sweet Baby Rays, put a lid on it and forget about it for 8 hours........my Father's Day treat to myself and daughter! Thank you for all your insight on cooking, you answer all the question's , before I can even ask them.......♥

    ReplyDelete
  46. Hi I'm Linda from Australia, thanks so much for this recipe, ribs are cooking at this minute, smell divine cant wait to devour them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for saying hello Linda! I hope they are absolutely fabulous for you!

      Delete
  47. Hello, I have a few questions -- is there any great BBQ sauce out there that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup? Also, could I cook the ribs in crockpot the day before, refrigerate overnight & have my husband put them on the grill for July 4th party? He wants to know how high the heat should be & is concerned that all the sauce will make them flame up (gas grill). Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wouldn't recommend refrigerating them overnight. I don't claim to understand all the chemistry behind it, but the texture of the ribs will change if you refrigerate them and then try and reheat them. They are edible, but not nearly as good. I usually wrap them in aluminum foil when putting them on the grill, but you could just lay down a piece of foil to ensure that no ribs or sauce slip between the cracks. I just do it on a high flame for a few minutes. Doesn't take long at all. You just want that sauce to caramelize a bit.

      Delete
  48. how long can I cook it on HIGH?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do not recommend cooking ribs on high. They will "cook" but they won't be tender. The low and slow cooking process is the key.

      Delete

Printfriendly

ShareThis