These Slow Cooker Spare Ribs are an easy way to make tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone pork ribs for game day, BBQs or lazy weekends at home. They are cooked with a simple dry rub, smothered with BBQ sauce and then finished in the oven to give them delicious crispy edges.
- Slow Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs
- Ingredients in Slow Cooker Spare Ribs
- How to Cook Spare Ribs in a Slow Cooker
- BBQ Ribs Frequently Asked Questions
- What to Serve with Ribs
- Variations for Slow Cooker Spare Ribs:
- Tips for Cooking Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs
- Storing and Reheating Pork Ribs
- Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs Recipe
- More of the Best Crock Pot Recipes
Slow Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs
This Slow Cooker BBQ Spare Ribs recipe is about as stress-free as it gets. All you need to do is prep your pork ribs, coat them with a simple dry rub, cover in BBQ sauce and let the crock pot do the work.
The other reason we like slow-cooking pork ribs is because that low and slow cooking time gives you the most juicy, tender meat. To finish, I like to toss the slow-cooked ribs into a high oven for about 10 minutes to caramelize the sauce and get the edges crispy.
Ingredients in Slow Cooker Spare Ribs
- Pork Spare Ribs - try and select spare ribs that have nicely marbled fat and those that aren’t cut too close to the bone (aka “shiners”). Sometimes at the grocery store you will find spare ribs sealed in packages. Those are perfectly fine - just try and avoid meat that you know has been frozen.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder add a nice sweet garlic and onion flavor to your dry rub. Other spices that taste great are smoked paprika, celery salt and even a little cayenne pepper.
- Salt and Pepper
- Barbecue Sauce - use your favorite brand of store-bought barbecue sauce. I like to use Sweet Baby Rays.
How to Cook Spare Ribs in a Slow Cooker
- Prepare ribs. To prepare the ribs, first remove the membrane. Pat dry with a paper towel, then cut the ribs in half.
- Rub with spices. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the dry rub on the spare ribs coating all sides, then place half of the ribs in the slow cooker.
- Cook. Add about ½ cup of BBQ sauce, spreading with a spoon to cover, then add the remaining ribs and another ½ cup of BBQ sauce to cover. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or 3-4 hours on high.
- Finish in the oven. When the ribs have almost finished cooking, preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Place the ribs onto a baking sheet and slather the rest of the BBQ sauce over the top. Bake ribs in the oven for 8-10 more minutes or until the BBQ sauce is caramelized and the ribs are crispy on the edges.
- Serve. Remove from the oven and serve with extra BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
BBQ Ribs Frequently Asked Questions
While they are both pork ribs, the biggest differences between spare ribs and baby back ribs are where they come from on the animal and how fatty they are. Spare ribs are cut from the belly side and baby back ribs are cut from the upper ribs. Because of this, spare ribs - often known as St. Louis-style spare ribs - tend to be fattier and more flavorful.
Cooking spare ribs in a crock pot will take about 6-7 hours on low or about 3-4 hours on high heat. The cooking time will depend on how many you are cooking at a time and how big they are.
If you have followed the instructions and cooked your ribs for the recommended times and you notice they are tough, keep cooking for about 30-60 minutes and check again. Tough ribs usually indicate that they haven’t cooked long enough for the tougher cartilage to break down.
What to Serve with Ribs
- Creamy coleslaw: A cool, creamy coleslaw is the ultimate side dish for BBQ ribs. The crisp texture and tangy flavor balance out the rich, smoky flavors of the meat.
- Baked beans: Slow-cooked, savory baked beans are a classic BBQ side dish that pairs perfectly with fall-off-the-bone ribs. The sweetness of the beans balances the heat of the spice rub, creating a perfect harmony of flavors.
- Garlicky mashed potatoes: Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes with a hint of garlic add a comforting, home-style touch to any BBQ spread.
- Mac and cheese: No BBQ meal is complete without a side of rich, creamy mac and cheese. The cheesy goodness of this classic comfort food is the perfect complement to smoky, saucy ribs.
- Grilled vegetables: Grilled veggies like zucchini, bell peppers, and onions add a fresh, healthy touch to any BBQ spread. Their smoky flavor and tender texture pair perfectly with juicy, flavorful ribs. Try these Grilled Veggie Kabobs.
- Grilled Pineapple- This can be served as a side dish or as a dessert topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
- Garlic bread: Crispy, buttery garlic bread is a delicious side dish that pairs perfectly with saucy, tender ribs. Its savory flavor and crunchy texture make it the ultimate comfort food.
- Sweet potato fries: Sweet potato fries are a healthy, delicious alternative to traditional fries that pair perfectly with flavorful, saucy ribs. Their sweet, caramelized flavor complements the savory meat perfectly.
Variations for Slow Cooker Spare Ribs:
- Asian Style: Add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger to create a flavorful Asian-inspired dish.
- Barbecue: Coat the ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce and let them slow cook for a classic and delicious meal.
- Spicy: Add some heat to your ribs by including chili powder or hot sauce in the mix.
- Honey Garlic: Combine honey, garlic, soy sauce, and a touch of brown sugar for a savory and sweet dish.
- Bourbon: Mix together bourbon, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce for a flavorful and boozy meal.
- Mango: Blend together mango, lime juice, and cilantro to create a tropical and tangy flavor profile for your ribs.
- Mustard: Use mustard, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar to create a tangy and savory flavor that is sure to be a hit.
Slow cooker spare ribs are a versatile and delicious meal that can be prepared in a so many ways. Whether you prefer a classic BBQ flavor, or want to try something new and exciting, the possibilities are endless. By utilizing a slow cooker, you can create fall-off-the-bone tender ribs every time. Experiment with different flavor combinations and find your perfect match.
Tips for Cooking Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs
- Choose the right ribs: When cooking spare ribs in a slow cooker, it's important to select the right type of ribs. Look for well-marbled ribs that have a good balance of meat and fat. This will ensure tender and flavorful ribs.
- Prep the ribs: Before cooking the ribs, it's important to remove the membrane on the back of the rack. This can be done by gently sliding a knife under the membrane and then pulling it off. Removing the membrane allows the flavors to penetrate the meat more effectively.
- Season the ribs: To enhance the flavor of the ribs, season them with a dry rub. You can use a combination of spices such as paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Massage the dry rub into the meat, making sure to coat it evenly.
- Cook on low and slow: Slow cookers are designed to cook food at a low and steady temperature, so it's important to set the slow cooker to low heat. This will help to break down the collagen in the ribs, resulting in tender and juicy meat. Cook the ribs for 6 to 8 hours for the best results.
- Cook until Tender- Ribs are safe to eat at 145 degrees F, but the temperature should be at 190 degrees F or higher to ensure the most tender meat. you want them tender without the meat falling off the bone.
- Finish In the Oven-on the grill: Once the ribs are cooked in the slow cooker, you can give them a final touch of sauciness by finishing them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Brush them with more barbecue sauce and cook for a few minutes on each side, until they develop a nice char.
- Rest and serve: After grilling, it's important to let the ribs rest for a few minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to redistribute within the meat, resulting in more flavorful and tender ribs. Serve the ribs with additional barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.
Remember, cooking ribs in a slow cooker requires patience and time. But the end result is well worth it - tender, juicy, and flavorful pork spare ribs that will leave everyone wanting more.
Storing and Reheating Pork Ribs
- Refrigerator: store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Freezer: freeze ribs along with some of the sauce in freezer bags for up to 2 months.
- To reheat on the stove: pull your Slow Cooker Spare Ribs out of the fridge about 30 minutes - 1 hour before you plan to serve and spoon any hardened fat off of the top. Place in a pot or skillet and simmer on low until warmed through.
- To reheat in the oven: transfer ribs to a dutch oven, cover and warm in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes - 1 hour, or until warmed through.
Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs Recipe
- 4 pounds Spare Ribs
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- 2-3 cups BBQ Sauce
- To prepare the ribs, first remove the membrane. Pat dry with a paper towel, then cut the ribs in half.
- In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the dry rub on the spare ribs coating all sides, then place half of the ribs in the slow cooker.
- Add about ½ cup of BBQ sauce, spreading with a spoon to cover, then add the remaining ribs and another ½ cup of BBQ sauce to cover.
- Cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
- When the ribs have almost finished cooking, preheat an oven to 425 degrees. Place the ribs onto a baking sheet and slather the rest of the BBQ sauce over the top.
- Bake for 8-10 more minutes or until the BBQ sauce is caramelized and the ribs are crispy on the edges.
- Remove from the oven and serve with extra BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
More of the Best Crock Pot Recipes
- Crock Pot Cheesy Chicken and Rice
- Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
- Crock Pot Cilantro Lime Chicken
- Homemade Beef Stew
- Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken
- Meat Sauce
- More Pork Recipes
- More Slow Cooker Recipes
- More Game Day Recipes
This stress-free recipe for Slow Cooker Spare Ribs is an easy way to make perfectly tender pork ribs. They are cooked with a simple dry rub, smothered with BBQ sauce and then finished in the oven to give them delicious crispy edges.