Fall Off The Bone Ribs in Crock Pot

Readers agree these 15 minute prep Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs are “absolute perfection,” “flawless,” “fall right off the bone” and “are just so easy that’s there’s no excuse to not make ribs.”  They receive rave reviews every time thanks to the paprika-chili spice rub and homemade barbecue sauce spiked with a few secret ingredients that elevate it to “INCREDIBLE!” So, I’ve if you’ve been intimidated or skeptical about crock pot ribs, follow this easy recipe full of tips and tricks for “THE BEST ribs [you’ve] ever had!”

How to cook BBQ Ribs in a Crockpot

Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs


 

These Slow Cooker Ribs are deliciously mind blowing

  • LITERALLY FALL-OFF-THE-BONE TENDER. The slow cooker method ensures the ribs fall off the bone while still remaining incredibly juicy.
  • I COULD DRINK THE SAUCE.” The sauce is perfectly sweet, tangy and little spicy infused with some of the spice rub (no double work!), liquid smoke to imitate the grill and blackberry preserves for an exciting depth of YUM.
  • BETTER THAN GRILLED. “I think I need to put my grill for sale on Craigslist lol.”
  • MAKE ANY TIME OF YEAR. Rain or snow, these crockpot ribs are the answer to any potluck, get together or game day!
  • MAKE AHEAD FRIENDLY. For the stress-free win.
ingredient icon

What you’ll need for Crockpot Ribs

This Crockpot baby back ribs recipe is so easy to make! It features a homemade rib rub and homemade BBQ sauce. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (measurements included in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  • Baby back pork ribs: You’ll need roughly 4 pounds of ribs to make this recipe which you’ll cut into 6 sections. If the membrane is still attached on the back, you’ll need to remove it by using a knife to lift a corner, gripping it with a paper towel for better grip, then peel it off – hopefully in one piece!
  • Dried herbs and spices: The homemade rib rub is made up of paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, ground chipotle pepper, onion powder, dried thyme, cayenne, salt, and pepper. SO much flavor!

BBQ Ribs Sauce

This homemade BBQ Sauce recipe comes together very quickly with just a handful of ingredients. You will need:

  • Ketchup: Look for organic ketchup or one that isn’t sweetened by high-fructose corn syrup if possible.
  • Apple cider vinegar:  This adds the balancing tang to offset the sweetness.
  • Molasses:  This adds rich, thick smoky-sweet undertones and is a BBQ Sauce must!  Make sure you are using unsulfured  molasses and NOT blackstrap molasses.  Unsulfured molasses is the finest quality and only a small amount of sugar has been removed from the first boiling.
  • Brown Sugar:  This sweetens the sauce and helps deepen the molasses flavor.
  • Blackberry preserves: This secret ingredient adds sweetness with depth instead of using all brown sugar.
  • Liquid smoke(it really is liquid smoke!) imparts a wonderfully smoky flavor that elevates the BBQ Sauce to an other realm.  It is created by capturing smoke as it rises through a combustion chamber filled with wood chips to a condenser.  In the condenser, the smoke cools and forms a liquid, thus liquid smoke.  (thank you Wikipedia).  It is a very common ingredient and should be easy to find next to the barbecue sauces in your grocery store.
  • Seasonings: Smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, ground chipotle pepper, onion powder, ground mustard, dried thyme, salt, and pepper infuse the barbecue sauce with classic flavor with hints of smokiness and heat.  You can use more or less chipotle chili powder depending on how spicy you like it.
Picking up a rib form Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs.

BBQ Ribs Recipe substitutions

  • If you can’t find blackberry preserves, I’ve had readers comment they have also used strawberry preserves, raspberry preserves, fig preserves and apple jam with success. 
  • You can use any brown sugar you have on hand – light, medium or dark. 
  • You can use granulated sugar or honey if that’s all you have on hand but, in this case, I would reduce the sugar by a tablespoon or two and add extra molasses in its place.  You can also use a blend of sweeteners.
  • If you’re out of ketchup, you could try substituting with tomato sauce, but you will need to add some extra vinegar and sugar to compensate for the flavor of the ketchup.

How to make Crock Pot Ribs

Let’s take a closer look at how to make Crock Pot Ribs with step-by-step photos (full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):

  1. These baby back ribs are heads above the rest because they are slathered in the most incredible rub and barbecue sauce to create layers of restaurant (or better than restaurant says Patrick) flavor.
  2. After you spice rub your ribs, you bake them for 15 minutes on each side to seal in the juices and render some of the fat.  
  3. Meanwhile, whisk up your tantalizing barbecue sauce that is sweet and tangy and just right which is a simple mixture of ketchup, molasses, brown sugar and my secret ingredient, blackberry preserves which balances out the acidity with subtle sweetness.
Adding the rub to the Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs.
Showing how to make Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs in the crock pot.

BBQ Ribs Recipe Tips

  • Use all the spices: The slow cooker ribs dry rub recipe makes quite a bit but you are going to want to use all of the blend for perfect flavor packed ribs. Not too spicy, not too sweet, but just right — or so said my parents who dropped by and polished off the leftovers.
  • Coat thoroughly: I like to dip each rib piece in the spice mix, front and back, then rub the mix all over with my hands.
  • Use the HOMEMADE BBQ Sauce: Many readers have since commented that this is their favorite barbecue sauce ever — so whatever you do, don’t skip this barbecue sauce — it truly makes these ribs spectacular!  I love it so much I have also used a version of it in my Crockpot BBQ Chicken  and my BBQ Beef Brisket  Sandwiches – you don’ want to miss it!
  • Simmer the sauce gently: This melds the flavors and slightly thickens the sauce – it does not need to be anything more than a gentle simmer.  Simmer the sauce on low to reduce splattering as this sauce likes to sputter or use a splatter screen.
  • Cook until tender: If the ribs aren’t fall off-the-bone-tender, they simply need longer to cook. Even 30 minutes can make a difference between tender ribs and “fall off the bone” ribs.

Sauce Variations for Ribs in Crock Pot

The most important (and best!) part of making homemade barbecue sauce from scratch is how adaptable it is. You can adjust the homemade BBQ sauce in this Crockpot ribs recipe until it’s perfect for you.  Here’s how:

  • Make it sweeter:  add more brown sugar.  I suggest you simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, taste and add additional sugar at this time if desired (and not right off the bat); continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  
  • Make it tangier:  add additional apple cider vinegar at the end of simmering.
  • Make it smokier:  add additional liquid smoke, ½ teaspoon at a time.  
  • Make the seasonings your own: Like more garlic? Use more garlic.  Like more mustard? Use more mustard. You can adjust all of the seasonings to suit your tastes and even add additional seasonings such as oregano or parsley.
  • Make it thicker:  simmer the sauce for upwards of 15 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency, however, it is already gorgeously thick after 15 minutes so I don’t think you’ll find this necessary. 
Cut Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs.

What to serve with BBQ Ribs

Fresh cooked Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs.

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15 minute prep Fall-Off-the-Bone Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs that everyone goes crazy for! They are slathered in the most incredible rub and barbecue sauce for amazing restaurant flavor. My husband says they are better and more tender than any restaurant!

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

15 minute prep Fall-Off-the-Bone Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs that everyone will go crazy for!  These Slow Cooker Ribs are SUPER easy, flavorful, and so touchdown tender you will be making them again and again!  They have tons of rave reviews claiming these Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs are better than any restaurant with the best homemade barbecue sauce ever! 
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 5 hours 15 minutes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds baby back pork ribs

Spice Rub

Barbecue Sauce

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • Cut ribs into 6 sections then rinse and pat dry.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together Spice Rub ingredients. Remove 1 tablespoon Spice Rub to use in your barbecue sauce. Rub all remaining Spice Rub evenly all over the meat then place ribs on prepared baking sheet. Bake ribs for 15 minutes ON EACH SIDE (30 minutes total) to sear meat.
  • Meanwhile, add all of the Barbecue Sauce ingredients to a medium saucepan and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove 1 ½ cups barbecue sauce and refrigerate to use after ribs are cooked.
  • Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray then add a thin layer of remaining barbecue sauce, followed by ribs. Layer sauce then ribs until complete, tossing to coat as needed to ensure ribs are evenly coated in barbecue sauce.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours or on LOW for 7-9 hours OR cook until ribs are fall apart tender. Rotate ribs once during cooking so they cook evenly. Cooking time may vary between slow cookers.
  • When ribs are tender, remove from slow cooker and brush with some Reserved Barbecue Sauce if desired or use sauce for dipping. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

  • It might like seem like a lot of seasoning, but you should use all of the Spice Rub for 4 pounds of meat for optimal flavor.
  • Liquid smoke can be found next to the barbecue sauce in most grocery stores. It adds a wonderfully smoky flavor.
  • I like to dip each rib piece in the spice mix, front and back, then rub the mix all over with my hands.
  • Storage: Let the crock pot ribs cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container.  Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To freeze, seal cooled ribs in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in fridge overnight and reheat as desired.  Reheat over low in the slow cooker or in the microwave at 30-second intervals.
 

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251 Comments

  1. Alicia says

    Hi!! Hoping to start these tomorrow morning – but not able to find seedless blackberry preserves! I am also not seeing seedless raspberry preserves. Although I am sure there is a difference between preserves and jam I don’t know what it is. Eek! What can I use?? PS huge fan of your recipes!

    • Jen says

      Hi Alicia, readers have commented that they have also used fig and raspberry preserves with success. If you can’t find any, then you can make the BBQ without it then add additional sugar to taste. Good luck!

      • Alicia says

        I made these today and used seedless blackberry jam! Also I made your kicked up potato salad. Huge hit! Thank you. Stay well.

        • Jen says

          I’m so pleased they were both winners, thank you Alicia!

  2. Dawn says

    Hi Jen,

    We’ve added this as another favorite recipe of yours! So yummy! My son is coming home to visit so I’m
    Making extra because he loved it the first time around! Quick question about ribs with bones vs without bones. I thought I’d try the boneless but I wonder if I should adjust the cook time. Do you have any thoughts on this!

    Thanks so much!

    Dawn

    • Jen says

      Hi Dawn, I’m so pleased these Barbecue Ribs are a favorite! I honestly have never made boneless ribs, so I would just make sure to check them. Another recipe I just googled says to cook boneless ribs: “Cover and cook for 5-6 on high or 6-8 on low, depending on your slow cooker, until fork tender.” Good luck!

  3. Michelle says

    Hello! Your recipe calls for “ground chipotle pepper.” Is that the same as chipotle chili pepper? You have introduced me to so many great spices! Thank you for your wonderful recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Michelle, I’m honored you’re enjoying my recipes! Yes ground chipotle pepper and chipotle chili pepper are the same as long as it is a powder in a jar. Enjoy!

  4. Sam says

    I’ve been making this recipe for months now, and it’s fantastic- The past few runs of this, I’ve swapped out the ribs for Boneless Pork Butt, and turned it into pulled pork- it works -fantastically-. I butterfly the pork butt, apply the spices and bake them on 15 mins a side like the ribs would be, then slow cook for 8 hours on low. Then I just take a fork to the meat to shred it, when I add the other half of the sauce.

    My only other alteration is the jam in the sauce – I experimented a bit with different ones but stumbled across apricot preserves and it throws it to a whole nother level!

    Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you for your awesome comment Sam and for sharing your expertise with using this recipe for pork butt – sounds fantastic!

  5. Katherine says

    Love your recipes
    Can you use apricot preserves in the BBQ Sauce?

    • Jen says

      Hi Katherine, yes, it should work great. I haven’t personally tried it but other readers have used it with success.

    • Wendy says

      Wouldn’t the ribs be sitting in the fat while cooking?

      • Jen says

        I would follow the recipe as written – they turn out perfectly!

  6. Peggy says

    Hi Jen. Love your recipes! I have made these ribs at least 5 times this year. I was wondering what size crock pot you would recommend if I increase the amount of ribs to 6lbs? I don’t want to overstuff the pan.

    • Jen says

      That is awesome Peggy, I’m so pleased they are a favorite! I don’t know if 6 lbs of ribs will fit comfortably into a crockpot. I use a 7 qt. could probably stuff them but it would be tight. You are probably better off to use two crockpots and then they will also cook more evenly. Good luck!

  7. Nancy says

    Just had these bbq ribs for dinner and once again your recipe didn’t disappoint. Outstanding recipe and very easy. I loved the bbq. I made it exact to recipe but can see from your comments that it would be so easy to tweek if you wanted a different taste. Thank you again for another keeper recipes!!!!

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome Nancy, I’m so pleased it was another winner! The barbecue sauce is amazing on everything!

  8. Jenna says

    I have made these ribs a few times now and they are just absolute perfection. They are so delicious, they fall right off the bone and they are just so easy that’s there’s no excuse to not make ribs. I have gotten rave reviews from everyone who has tried them and I will never look for another recipe again. They are just flawless.

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to write such a glowing review! I’m thrilled you’ve found the perfect ribs recipe!

  9. Robyn says

    I am trying to figure out a way to freeze these for my son who is away at college. He L.O.V.E.S. This recipe! Do you think it would work if I prep them with the rub and sear them in the oven, then freeze, and then he could toss them in his crockpot to finish cooking? And I could freeze a package of the sauce as well.

    • Jen says

      You are the sweetest Mom! Yes, I think that method would work perfectly!

      • Melissa says

        Can you explain is it better to sear them before freezing or is it better to sear after freezing? I’m fairly new to this process.

        • Jen says

          Hi Melissa, it is better to sear before freezing, otherwise, you are just freezing raw meat 😉

  10. Leslie says

    If I want to use one of my favorite bbq sauces instead of yours, how many cups would say your bbq sauce makes for the recipe? I might make yours but I also might want to make it quicker.

  11. Jan Boland says

    I have never made ribs before. Are these known as ‘country style’ pork ribs or how will they be labeled at the grocery store? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      No they are not the same. They will be labeled: spareribs or baby back ribs
      If you aren’t sure, I would ask the butcher at the grocery store. Good luck, you got this!

  12. Lori Miller says

    Love your website. The recipes are out of this world! Thank you so much.

    • Jen says

      You’re so kind to take the time to make my day, thanks Lori!

  13. Betty says

    Looking forward to making these! Should I put under the broiler for a couple minutes to give them a bit of a char or is this not necessary?

    • Jen says

      Hi Betty! It is not necessary but if you want some char on your ribs, go for it! Hope you enjoy!

  14. Peggy says

    I don’t have black berry preserves. Can I used homemade black berry freezer jam?

    • Jen says

      That jam sounds delicious! I haven’t tried it with jam, but you could experiment!

  15. Kurt Kopsa says

    I would like to make this using an instant pot. Any idea on what setting and how long to cook it?

  16. Dana says

    Your recipe sounds delicious, and I can’t wait to try it!! It’s just me and my husband, and we wouldn’t usually use that many ribs. Would I adjust the cooking time if I have fewer ribs?

    • Jen says

      Thanks Dana, I hope you love it! The cooking time should be close to the same, maybe check an hour or so earlier. Enjoy!

  17. Lori K. says

    Fabulous recipe! The sauce is lip smackingly good… it was a little sweeter than I prefer, so next time I’ll simply back on the brown sugar, but I loved the balance and depth of flavors. Can’t wait to make it again!

    • Jen says

      I’m so glad this will be a repeat! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

  18. Stacy Nichols says

    Hi Jen. I have tried a lot of your recipes and loved all of them. I was wondering if after applying the spice rub if I could wrap in foil and marinate overnight?

    • Jen says

      Thanks for making my recipes! Yes, you can absolutely do that!

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