BBQ Crock Pot Ribs

crockpot bbq ribs on a plate

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

  • Total: 8 hrs 20 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 8 hrs
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
  • Yield: 1 rack

Making ribs in the crockpot is a great alternative to long intensive smoking. You can do this process in any weather. It won’t heat up your kitchen, or require you to go outdoors! These ribs will completely fall off the bone, and juicy. They even have a smoky taste, just like they’ve been properly smoked from adding a little liquid smoke. 

The rub is sweet and spicy and gives so much flavor to the ribs. Pick your favorite barbecue sauce to finish off this dish. A sweet, Kansas City style one goes super well with the rub, but don't be afraid to go spicy either. The ribs are finished in the oven with a quick trip under the broiler to caramelize the barbecue sauce. This creates a sweet and sticky finish for this dish. Serve these with your favorite barbecue sides like macaroni and cheese, cornbread, or collard greens.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack spare ribs
  • For the rub:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onions powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather your ingredients.

    ingredients for crockpot ribs
  2. Trim the rack of ribs. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs using a butter knife to wedge between the membrane and bone. If you don’t remove this the ribs will not be able to fall off the bone.

    Combine the rub ingredients and coat both sides of the ribs with the rub.

    ribs rubbed with dry rub on parchment paper
  3. Add the ribs to a 4 quart or larger crock pot insert. Place the ribs around the edge of the slow cooker, leaving an opening in the center. Pour the apple cider and liquid smoke into the opening. Place the insert in the crockpot and cook, covered on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. 

    ribs in crockpot
  4. Carefully remove the ribs from the crockpot when they have reached the internal temperature of 165F. Place the ribs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Set your oven to broil and place the rack in the upper (but not too high!) part of the oven.

    cooked crockpot ribs on a sheet pan
  5. Brush the top of the ribs with the barbecue sauce. Place the ribs under your broiler for about 5 minutes or until the sauce has caramelized.

    ribs covered in bbq sauce
  6. Allow the ribs to rest for 5 minutes and then cut and serve. Serve with more barbecue sauce if desired.

    ribs broiled under a broiler

Recipe Tips

Make sure to follow our guide to trimming spare ribs so you have the best possible outcome. You’ll need to…

  • Trim off the skirt.
  • Remove the membrane.
  • Trim the rib tips.

If you are looking to cook the ribs quicker, make sure to set your slow cooker high and you can cook it in half the time.