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Slow-Cooker Ribs – juicy, tender and flavorful St. Louis-style pork spareribs slow-cooked then grilled or broiled for the perfect char.
My husband and I are the first to admit that we’re rib-snobs. Personally, I never, ever order ribs in a regular chain restaurant. All we want is the real deal from a smokehouse BBQ joint or specialty food truck. We adore BBQ and have had plenty of moan-worthy meaty ribs in our days. However, as much as we LOVE barbecue, we’ve never moved into the land of home-smokers. I have enough to do without learning a new craft and my traveling husband doesn’t have the time to babysit a smoker for 12-20 hours. I don’t blame him, there’s always so much to do and real deal smoking meats is an art that should be saved for those with amazing passion. We’re just passionate about eating ribs, not smoking them 🙂
Even though we don’t have a smoker, we still want to enjoy amazing, tender, juicy ribs at home.
I’ve been wondering for a long time if you really can get delicious ribs out of a slow-cooker. It makes perfect sense to me. Slow cooking works wonders on fatty meats, especially well marbled pork. I finally came across a slow-cooker rib recipe that sounded completely doable without boiling the ribs in broth or juice. Cook’s Country published a recipe for the cooking method I’ve used here as part of their Slow-Cooker Memphis-Style Wet Ribs. The St. Louis-style ribs are cut in half crosswise, coated in a spice rub then arranged vertically inside the slow-cooker. With the thick ends pointing down and the meaty side against the interior wall of the slow cooker insert, the ribs cook perfectly!
Once the ribs are tender, they’re brushed with barbecue sauce and broiled or grilled until charred.
After removing from the slow cooker, let the ribs rest for 10-15 minutes before placing on a hot, preheated grill for about 10 minutes. We carefully turn the ribs twice on the grill, adding more sauce to ensure we have plenty of flavor and gobs of shiny, sticky, finger lickin’ appeal. Once charred to your liking, remove from the grill, slather with more sauce, tent with foil and wait a tortuous 10-15 minutes before cutting into individual ribs. Done and done! This also works well using the broiler element in your oven. So if it’s raining, snowing or you ran out of bottled gas or forgot to start the charcoal, no worries! Broiling gives these ribs plenty of char-loving flavor and crispiness without going outside.
We made these ribs with our own homemade spice rub (printable recipe below.) For a complete meal serve these Slow-Cooker Ribs with our Super Cole Slaw Recipe and our Easy Honey BBQ Sauce. Bet you’re going to LOVE it all!
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Print the RECIPE!
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 4-5 pounds pork spareribs, St. Louis-style, trimmed (two small racks are best to fit in the slow-cooker)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (see link in notes for recipe)
- Combine all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Using paper towels, pat the ribs dry and then cover both sides with the spice rub. Be sure to massage the spices into the meaty side of the ribs. Cut the rack(s) in half and place them in the slow-cooker vertically with the thick ends pointing down and the meaty side against the interior wall of the slow-cooker. If the ribs are too tall to fit against the wall, tilt them toward the sides of the slow-cooker. Ribs may overlap, this is okay. Cover and cook until ribs are just tender and the meat is pulling away from the bones, about 5 or 6 hours on high or 6 or 7 hours on low.
- Using two sets of tongs carefully remove the ribs to a baking sheet (meaty side up) and allow them to rest about ten minutes.
While the ribs are resting, preheat the grill on high. Using two sets of tongs transfer ribs to the grill with the meaty side facing up. While the bottom of the ribs char, cover the top meaty part with the barbecue sauce. After five minutes, carefully turn the ribs with the sauce side facing down. Brush sauce on the other side. Grill the ribs, turning one more time adding more sauce until the ribs are well charred and the sauce is caramelized, about 10 - 15 minutes. Remove from the grill, tent with foil and allow ribs to rest for 15 minutes. Cut ribs in between the bones to separate. Serve with remaining sauce.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack inside the baking sheet. Adjust the oven rack 3 inches from the broiler element and heat on high. Place the ribs on the rack, meaty side up. Brush the ribs with barbecue sauce and broil until the sauce is bubbling and starting to char, about 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the oven and brush with additional sauce. Tent with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Cut ribs in between the bones to separate. Serve.
If you can find smaller racks it’s much easier to fit them in the slow-cooker. Larger racks will be too tall to rest straight up vertically in the slow-cooker. Tilt the large racks until they fit and you’re able to cover the cooker with a lid. They’ll cook fine tilted so no worries.
Try our homemade Easy Honey BBQ Sauce recipe found HERE
Serve with our favorite no-mayo Super Cole Slaw Recipe found HERE
Cooking method adapted from Cook’s Country.
Here are a few more recipes you might enjoy:
Easy Honey BBQ Sauce – great as a marinade or for basting and slathering on grilled chicken, pork or beef. Try this sauce on our slow-cooker ribs – click HERE to get the recipe for Honey BBQ Sauce.
BBQ Brisket Recipe – making delicious, tender and juicy beef brisket is easier than you think! This easy, fool-proof method is a wonderful way to get exceptional results with very little effort. All you need is a grill and an oven, a good spicy dry rub and some seriously delicious sauce, and I can help you with the rub and sauce! Click HERE to get the recipe for BBQ Brisket.
Enjoy this mayo-free simple cole slaw with a nice bite from the cider vinegar and plenty of flavor from pimentos, onion and chopped green pepper. Click HERE to get the recipe for Super Cole Slaw.
Looking for a few more slow-cooker recipes to entice your hungry family to the table?
The Recipe Critic has a wonderful roundup of the Best Ever Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes to drool over. Mary from Barefeet in the Kitchen has a fool-proof recipe for Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas that I’d love to try! This juicy Slow Cooked Lamb Shawarma recipe from RecipeTin Eats is going to the top of my must-make list! And finally, I can’t wait to try Karly’s Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken recipe. Check it out on her beautiful blog Buns in My Oven. Juicy and flavorful recipes really speak to me.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Tricia