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 crockpot 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.

Step 1: 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. You'll need about 1 cup of sauce in the slow cooker for each rack of ribs. 

Step 2: Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Step 3: Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil lined baking tray. Add more bbq sauce on top. 




Step 4: Broil under a broiler for 3-5 minutes until the bbq 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 5: Enjoy!





66 comments:

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

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    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.

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    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.

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

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

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    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!

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  3. What kind of ribs do you usually use?

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

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  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.

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  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

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  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.

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  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

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    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!

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    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.

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

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

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

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  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.

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  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.

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

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  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?

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

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

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  16. Do you apply any seasonings to the ribs?

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

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  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!

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    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.

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    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!

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

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  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

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    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.

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    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.

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  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.

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    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!

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

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

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

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  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)?

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    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.

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

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

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

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

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    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.

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  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.

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

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

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  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...:)

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

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

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  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.

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    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.

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  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.

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    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.

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

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  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?

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

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    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.

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  35. Any tips on removing membrane on back?

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    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!

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

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