02 February 2012

Double Take: Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs

Barbecue Ribs, Golden Macaroni and Cheese, and Broccoli

There is something ridiculously satisfying about ribs. And I love to cook them. In Winston-Salem, I learned to grill ribs. In Germany, I learned to oven cook ribs. In Nashville, I've learned my favorite way to make ribs: a slow cooker/broiler combo.

I had issues with flare-ups on the grill, leading to the ribs cooking unevenly. When you cook them in the oven, the temperature is controlled, there are no flare-ups, but you also lack the crispy crunch on the outside of the ribs. Who doesn't like a little char?

You don't really need a cleaver to cut these, but it's fun anyway!
By combining the slow cooker method with a trip under the broiler, these ribs turn out perfect every time! And as long as you like your barbecue sauce, you are good to go! I'm working on finding the right barbecue sauce for our tastes. For this experiment, I used Jack Daniels Original barbecue sauce. Do you have a favorite?

These ribs are delicious served up with Golden Macaroni and Cheese and a green vegetable of choice. I recommend fried okra or green beans. Or collard greens. Or all of the above. Mhmm, green vegetables.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Ribs
adapted from Mmm is for Mommy and America's Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution
serves 2

Vegetable oil spray 
1½ Tbsp sweet paprika (Hungarian)
1 tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed 
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper
2 lbs pork (baby) back ribs - leave the membrane on the ribs to help hold them together
1 cup barbecue sauce (your favorite)


  1. Spray the inside of the crock pot with the vegetable oil spray. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix together paprika, brown sugar, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Rub this mixture all over both sides of your ribs well. Arrange ribs in the slow cooker by standing them up against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot. 
  3. Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs, cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low (I did 6 hours and they were perfect).
Six to Eight Hours Later:
  1. Very carefully (as they are incredibly tender) remove the ribs to a baking pan which you have lined with foil and put a rack on, bone side up. Set to the side. 
  2. Skim any fat that has risen to the top and strain all of the remaining juices from the slow cooker through a mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Bring to boil and allow to simmer and reduce by about a third, approximately 15 minutes. 
  3. Put your oven's broiler on to heat up and make sure that there is an oven rack about 10 inches below the broiler element. When the broiler is preheated, brush the ribs with sauce and broil for 3 minutes. Take them out and very carefully flip them over, brush with sauce and broil again, meat side up, for approximately 6 minutes, taking them out every two minutes to baste with more sauce. Serve any remaining sauce on the side with the ribs. 
Yep, that's all the liquid you need.
I had to change up the times a bit because my broiler was extra hot. If your ribs are not getting super charred in two minutes, feel free to up the time to three minutes between batches of sauce. The broiling step really does elevate the ribs. I tried them before broiling so I could let you know if all the extra work is worth it. It is. Indeed, it is. The caramelization of the sauce just gives it that extra umph. They were boring without it. 

These-are-really-good: 1 vote!
I-like-the-method-but-I'll-keep-looking-for-the-perfect-BBQ-sauce: 1 vote! 

Just a gentle nudge is all it took to pull out the bone. 
To see Tabitha's take on Slow Cooker Ribs, head on over to Double the Garlic


  1. I'm impressed and amazed that your ribs weren't falling off the bone. I wonder if some crockpots have a higher low temp or if there's a relationship with having less liquid and the meat holding to the bones better. My bones were completely separated from the meat in the basting solution within the crockpot. Do you suppose that's more a function of liquid or temperature?

  2. Sweet Baby Ray's is the BBQ sauce of choice around here. But while we love our ribs, I think Oklahoma brisket might be my favorite barbeque.

  3. @ Tabs: My ribs had a pretty strong membrane holding them together. And they only sat in the heat for 6 hours. Perhaps it's a function of meat type and temperature and liquid?

    @ Kris: Oh, I failed to try the brisket when I was in Oklahoma. I've been so indoctrinated into pork and ribs that it rarely occurs to me to try something different!


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