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Crock Pot Ribs are seasoned with a dry rub and basted with barbecue sauce for a flavorful, easy dinner recipe that’s perfect on busy weeknights! This all-day slow cooker recipe transforms the pork ribs into tender, fall-off-the-bone meat that melts in your mouth — with only 10 minutes of prep!

An overhead image of BBQ ribs cut up on a cutting board, slathered with BBQ sauce and served alongside pieces of cornbread.
Table of Contents
  1. Best Type of Ribs to Make in the Slow Cooker
  2. Ingredients for the Best Crock Pot Ribs Dry Rub 
  3. How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Ribs
  4. How Long to Cook Crock Pot Ribs
  5. How to Store Crock Pot BBQ Ribs
  6. What to Serve with Crock Pot Ribs
  7. Crock Pot BBQ Ribs Recipe Tips and Variations
  8. More Crock Pot BBQ Recipes to Try
  9. Crock Pot Ribs Recipe

It may not be summer grilling season, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a homemade barbecue feast! This easy slow cooker ribs recipe gives you that smokehouse restaurant taste in the comfort of your own home.

Best Type of Ribs to Make in the Slow Cooker

I prefer St. Louis-style pork ribs, but this recipe and cooking method will also work for baby back ribs, spare ribs, and country-style pork ribs. St. Louis-style ribs are cut from the belly of the animal after the belly is removed and are meatier than the baby back ribs. These St. Louis-style ribs have a higher amount of fat, which makes them really flavorful and ideal for slow cooking.

By contrast, country-style ribs are cut from the blade end of the loin close to the pork shoulder. They contain no rib bones, but instead contain parts of the shoulder blade.

Two ribs served on a blue and white plate with a dish of coleslaw and two squares of cornbread.

Ingredients for the Best Crock Pot Ribs Dry Rub 

Since the slow cooker adds liquid (condensation) to the ribs and sauce, I find that a dry rub is really necessary in order to give the meat a lot of flavor. Otherwise, you end up with a watered-down barbecue sauce and not much else! Here are the simple ingredients for a delicious homemade dry rub that will tenderize the rack of ribs and pack them with flavor.

  • Brown sugar: adds sweetness that balances out the spice.
  • Chili powder: for that hearty, spicy flavor.
  • Kosher salt & black pepper: to enhance the flavors of the meat and other spices.
  • Cumin & smoked paprika: contribute a smokey flavor.
  • Garlic powder & onion powder: aromatic flavors that tenderize the meat.
A close up image of a small glass bowl holding a mixture of spices that make up a BBQ dry rub.

How to Make the Best Slow Cooker Ribs

If you want the most fall off the bone tender rack of slow cooked ribs, follow these steps! You can have an easy weeknight dinner with minimal effort. You may never even wait for grilling season again after you try this recipe.

  • Prep the rack of ribs by removing the connective tissue membrane along the back of the ribs. 
  • Pat the ribs dry with paper towel and rub the seasoning mixture on both sides of the ribs. 
  • Arrange the seasoned ribs in the slow cooker. You may need to cut the ribs up into smaller portions to fit into your crock pot.
  • Pour the barbecue sauce into the slow cooker with the ribs, making sure cover all surfaces of the ribs.
  • Cover the crock pot and cook on LOW for 9-10 hours.
An overhead image of a raw rack of ribs in a slow cooker, seasoned with a homemade dry rub.

Can you put ribs in slow cooker without liquid?

Yes, you don’t need any additional liquid to cook these crock pot ribs. The condensation from the slow cooking, along with the sauce and juice from the ribs will provide plenty of liquid during the cooking process. 

How do I get a smokey flavor in crockpot ribs?

Adding liquid smoke along with your favorite BBQ sauce is the best way to achieve a smokey flavor when cooking ribs in a slow cooker. While it’s impossible to recreate the smokey flavor of barbecue ribs that are actually smoked over real wood outside, the combination of smoked paprika (in the rub) and the liquid smoke give this Crock Pot version some nice smokey taste!

A bottle of Stubb's Original BBQ sauce sits on a wooden tabletop, backlit by bright white light.

How Long to Cook Crock Pot Ribs

Pork ribs are best when cooked low-and-slow because this method allows the tough meat fibers to break down and become tender and juicy. The fat on the ribs also helps to keep the meat moist and tender as it cooks over a long period of time.

Cook the ribs in the slow cooker for 9-10 hours on LOW. If you’re using baby back ribs instead of the St. Louis-style or country-style ribs, you may need to decrease the cooking time to about 8 hours on LOW (to account for the smaller ribs).

You know the ribs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 190 to 203°F, because the collagens and fats melt at this temp and make the meat more tender and juicy.

How long do you slow cook ribs on HIGH in a crock pot? 

If you don’t have time to let the crock pot ribs cook all day, you can set your slow cooker to high and cook the ribs for 4-5 hours. However, slow cooking ribs on high can easily be overcooked and end up mushy. So, if you want the BEST slow cooker ribs, low and slow is the way to go.

Can I cook boneless pork ribs in the crock pot? 

You certainly can use boneless pork ribs; just be aware that they may take longer to cook because boneless ribs are thicker with more meat. 

How to Store Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

Leftover ribs should be stored wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in an airtight container. Leftovers will last in the fridge for 3-4 days or stored in the freezer for up to three months. 

  • How to Reheat: the easiest method for reheating slow cooker BBQ ribs is in the oven, wrapped in foil on a baking sheet. Reheat to an internal temperature of 130-140 degrees F.
  • Can you cook frozen ribs? No, you should allow ribs to thaw completely before cooking. Frozen ribs will not cook evenly, leaving too much room for overcooking. 
Sliced BBQ ribs sit stacked on a cutting board, with a small dish of BBQ sauce in the background.

What to Serve with Crock Pot Ribs

What sides go with ribs? Ribs pair perfectly with just about any of the classic Southern sides. Here are some of our favorites:

Crock Pot BBQ Ribs Recipe Tips and Variations

  • Play with the seasonings in your homemade dry rub to suit your tastes. Spicy additions like cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes will add some heat. Cinnamon or cocoa powder adds a depth of flavor that plays well with the smoky flavors of BBQ. Mustard powder adds a bit of a tang that pairs well with just about any BBQ sauce.
  • While we prefer St. Louis-style ribs, you can also use this recipe with baby back ribs and country-style ribs. If using baby back ribs, decrease the cooking time to 8 hours on LOW to account for the smaller ribs.
  • If you can’t find St. Louis-style ribs at your store, you can use pork spare ribs and trim them to be St. Louis ribs. There’s a great tutorial on how to trim your own spare ribs at home.
  • We like Stubbs Original Barbecue Sauce which is slightly spicy and not too sweet, but you can use any barbecue sauce that you prefer. You can also make your own barbecue sauce at home or try a homemade BBQ sauce with Coke or even root beer!
Crock Pot BBQ ribs served on a plate with two slices of cornbread and a small serving of coleslaw.

More Crock Pot BBQ Recipes to Try

Close overhead shot of Crock Pot Ribs on a cutting board with basting brush and barbecue sauce

Crock Pot Ribs

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 9 hours
0 minutes
Total: 9 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 553.2 kcal
Crock Pot Ribs are seasoned with a dry rub and basted with barbecue sauce for a flavorful, easy dinner recipe that's perfect on busy weeknights!

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lbs. St. Louis-style pork ribs (or substitute with baby back ribs or country-style ribs)
  • 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke, optional

BBQ Dry Rub

  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  • Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, chili powder, salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.
    1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • Prepare the ribs by removing the shiny, thin membrane that covers most of the backside of the ribs. To do so, use a knife or fingernail to pry up a corner of the thin membrane from one edge of the ribs. Grab that with a paper towel (for grip) and slowly pull it up. Once a good portion of the membrane is free, you should be able to pull the rest off in one quick motion.
    3 lbs. St. Louis-style pork ribs
  • Pat the ribs dry and rub the seasoning mixture onto both sides of the ribs. Place ribs in slow cooker.
  • Pour barbecue sauce and liquid smoke (if using) over the ribs. Cover and cook on LOW for 9-10 hours.
    1 ½ cups barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving, 2 teaspoons liquid smoke, optional

Notes

  • Play with the seasonings in your homemade dry rub to suit your tastes. Spicy additions like cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes will add some heat. Cinnamon or cocoa powder adds a depth of flavor that plays well with the smoky flavors of BBQ. Mustard powder adds a bit of a tang that pairs well with just about any BBQ sauce.
  • While we prefer St. Louis-style ribs, you can also use this recipe with baby back ribs and country-style ribs. If using baby back ribs, decrease the cooking time to 8 hours on LOW to account for the smaller ribs.
  • If you can’t find St. Louis-style ribs at your store, you can use pork spare ribs and trim them to be St. Louis ribs. There’s a great tutorial on how to trim your own spare ribs at home.
  • We like Stubbs Original Barbecue Sauce which is slightly spicy and not too sweet, but you can use any barbecue sauce that you prefer. You can also make your own barbecue sauce at home or try a homemade BBQ sauce with Coke or even root beer!

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 553.2kcalCarbohydrates: 17.8gProtein: 34.2gFat: 36.2gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 1213.8mgPotassium: 35.1mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 10.3g
Keyword: Crock Pot Ribs, slow cooker ribs, st. louis style ribs recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. Diane says:

    Can I substitute a 3pound pork roast for the ribs

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Diane! I’m not sure. I would use the cooking directions from this post for a pork roast in the Crock Pot: https://www.theseasonedmom.com/crock-pot-pork-roast/ You can then switch out the seasoning and barbecue sauce to have it taste more like the ribs. 🙂

  2. Daryl says:

    I have a question…do stand the ribs up or lay them down? thank you so much for all youre help..

    1. Blair Lonergan says:

      Hi, Daryl! I lay them down flat, cutting them if needed to fit in the slow cooker. Hope you enjoy!