Mar 9, 2023

Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe

If you're looking for a delicious, yet easy Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe, you've found it! Juicy St. Louis-style ribs are seasoned with a savory dry rub and cooked low and slow in a homemade BBQ sauce for fall-off-the-bone tender ribs with a sweet and tangy flavor.

As easy as it is, you're sure to impress everyone with your BBQ skills! These are the best slow cooker ribs for game day or to add to your weeknight dinner rotation. St. Louis style slow cooker ribs served on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, ready to be enjoyed. Tender, juicy ribs with a savory BBQ glaze, cooked to perfection and presented on a clean, white background

Slow Cooker Ribs

If you're as much of a fan of tender, juicy, fall-off-the-bone ribs as I am, then you are going to love my easy slow cooker ribs recipe. Not only is it simple to make, but cooking ribs in a slow cooker is a fool-proof way to cook perfect ribs every time.

Slow cooking ribs helps them absorb all the flavors of your rib dry rub and sauce, so by the time they're ready to serve, they're bursting with flavor.

Not to mention, they're incredibly versatile - so you can serve them any way you like, with BBQ sauce, honey garlic glaze, or even over a bed of mashed potatoes with the gravy from the bottom of the slow cooker!

My favorite part about this recipe is how convenient it is: set it up in the morning, and come home to an effortless dinner. You don't have to check on them, so there's no extra work, and since they're made all in one pot, the cleanup couldn't be easier. I guarantee you're going to love making ribs in the slow cooker - and your taste-buds will thank you, too!
Juicy and tender St. Louis style slow cooker ribs, covered in savory BBQ sauce, plated on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and ready to be devoured

What are St. Louis style ribs?

St. Louis style ribs are pork spare ribs that have been trimmed to remove the sections with excess cartilage, leaving a rectangular section of ribs with meat full of fat that melts into the ribs as they cook, resulting in tender, fall-apart ribs.

The difference between St. Louis style ribs and other types of ribs is in the quantity of meat and the fat content. Baby back ribs have more meat to bone ratio, but St. Louis ribs are longer and fattier than baby back ribs, making them much more flavorful. They're also easier to cook than regular spare ribs, because the tougher parts have been trimmed away.

Although I use St. Louis Style Ribs for this slow cooker ribs recipe, baby back ribs or spare ribs also work well, or you could even use boneless country-style pork ribs if you prefer. This is part of what makes my recipe for slow cooker ribs so versatile: you can mix-and-match all parts of the ingredients to put together a dish you love.

Crockpot Ribs Ingredients

  • Ribs - St. Louis style ribs, spare ribs, or baby back ribs
  • Dry rub - chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, salt, & pepper
  • Barbecue sauce - ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, dried oregano, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce (optional)
I use a homemade dry rub and barbecue sauce to really jazz up this slow cooked ribs recipe, and I definitely recommend giving both a try. It's easier than you might think to whip up your own BBQ sauce, and even easier to prep your own seasoning, and the difference in flavor is spectacular.

How to Remove Rib Membrane

  1. On a cutting board, flip the ribs over so the membrane is facing up.
  2. Use a butter knife to loosen the corner of the membrane.
  3. Then, use a paper towel to grip the loosened membrane and carefully pull it off the rack in one piece.
Before cooking St. Louis style ribs, you might need to remove the tough membrane on the underside of the rack if it wasn't already removed by the butcher. Removing the membrane from the rack of ribs is an important step in preparing them for grilling, smoking, or slow cooking; otherwise they won't be as tender, so take your time and enjoy the delicious results. This process can be tricky at first, but with a little practice, you'll get the hang of it!

How to Slow Cook Ribs

Uncooked St. Louis style ribs arranged on a baking sheet, waiting to be seasoned and slow cooked to perfection. Raw meat on a clean dark surface, ready for preparation

Step 1: Prep the Ribs

  • Remove membrane (see above)
  • Cut the rack in half as needed to fit in slow cooker
Before you can start slow cooking ribs, you need to prep them not only to fit your slow cooker, but also to remove the tough membrane on the underside of the ribs. Thankfully, it only takes a little bit of work to do. See above for the exact steps to remove the rib membrane. Once you've removed it, cut the rack in half, if needed, to fit your cooker.
Seasoning mixture on a white plate, next to raw St. Louis style ribs arranged on a baking sheet. Ingredients ready to be mixed and rubbed onto the meat before slow cooking

Raw St. Louis style ribs covered in a dry seasoning rub, ready to be slow cooked. Meat on a baking sheet, coated in a flavorful dry spice mixture, waiting to be cooked to perfection.

Step 2: Seasoning the Ribs

Use my Chili Rub Seasoning for the most amazing flavor results with these slow cooker BBQ ribs! Although you can use your favorite ribs seasoning if you're in a pinch, I highly recommend giving this rub a try. It's a mixture of chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Give the ribs a nice coating on all sides and pat it down to properly season them.

Step 3: Sear the Ribs

Before placing them in the slow cooker, you'll want to sear your crock pot ribs. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Once ready, add the ribs to a foil-lined sheet pan and place them in the oven for 30 minutes to render the fat and sear the meat.
Various ingredients being mixed together in a glass bowl to make BBQ sauce, placed on a rustic wooden table. Ingredients include ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and spices, ready to be stirred into a sweet and tangy sauce.

Step 4: Prepare Homemade BBQ Sauce

My homemade BBQ sauce for ribs uses a mixture of ketchup, chili sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, oregano, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. The results will blow you away - this is the easiest sauce ever to make, and the taste is incomparable! If you don't have time to make your own sauce - although it's quick and easy - or if you prefer to use your favorite store-bought version, you will need 3 cups of sauce to match the quantity made with this recipe.
Seared St. Louis style ribs in a slow cooker, smothered in homemade BBQ sauce. The meat is seared to perfection and coated in a delicious, savory sauce, with the slow cooker resting on a rustic wooden table

Step 5: Transfer to Slow Cooker

The next step is to transfer the ribs from the oven to the slow cooker and coat them with BBQ sauce. Brush them all over with the sauce for best results.

Slow cooker filled with St. Louis style ribs, with the lid on, gently cooking the meat to perfection. The slow cooker is resting on a rustic wooden table, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Step 6: Slow Cook the Ribs

Now, all you have to do is wait! Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until the ribs are nice and tender.

Juicy and tender St. Louis style slow cooker ribs, covered in savory BBQ sauce, plated on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and ready to be devoured.

Step 7: Char the Outside (Optional)

Once the ribs are done cooking, I highly recommend adding them back to a foil-lined sheet pan and placing under the oven broiler for about 5 minutes until they're slightly charred. This will give you the best slow cooker ribs with a beautiful, sticky char.

Tips for Slow Cooking Ribs

  • Don't skip the first sear in the oven. It's necessary for tender, flavorful ribs. Slow cooking ribs without searing them first just won't give you the results you're looking for. If you don't want to bake them, you could sear them in a pan, but I find baking them much easier and less of a hassle to clean up after.
  • Although you can use any seasoning and BBQ sauce you want, give my homemade versions a try for flavor that will surprise you.
  • Broil the ribs after slow cooking them for an incredible boost to flavor. You just can't beat the sticky char from broiling ribs!

Slow Cooked Pork Ribs FAQs

Do you put liquid in the slow cooker for ribs?
The only liquid you need to add to the slow cooker when slow cooking ribs is the BBQ sauce. Pour the sauce generously over the ribs in the pot, and turn them over to coat them completely.

How long do ribs take to slow cook?
On low, ribs take 6-8 hours to cook in the slow cooker. I do not recommend cooking them on high as the results will not be as tender as you need for St. Louis style ribs.

Can ribs be overcooked in slow cooker?
If you cook ribs for too long, even in the slow cooker, they will dry out and become tough. However, slow cookers are a little more forgiving than other methods like grilling. This is why you should not cook them on high. As long as you leave them in for at least 6 hours on low, they will be nice and tender and not overcooked.

Storing Leftover Ribs

Store leftover ribs in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days and reheat gently in the oven, slow cooker, or microwave. I recommend adding extra BBQ sauce when reheating to keep the ribs moist and covering them in foil if you're reheating them in the oven.

You can also freeze leftover ribs for up to 3 months. Let them cool first, then add them to freezer-safe bags with the air pressed out or tightly wrapped in foil. Label with the freezing date, then store. When you're ready to enjoy them again, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator first.

Slow cooker pork ribs are delicious with all vegetable BBQ sides, like corn and green beans, and are amazing with potato and pasta salads or a simple side of baked beans. Try making extra BBQ sauce for dipping, too! Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe
Dinner, Slow Cooker Recipes
Yield: 8
Author: Life Tastes Good
Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe

Slow Cooker Ribs Recipe

Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 8 H & 30 MTotal time: 8 H & 45 M
There's nothing better than a tender slab of fall-off-the-bone barbecue ribs. Slow cookers are experts at tenderizing tough cuts of meat. We show you how to cook ribs yourself in the slow cooker.


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 pounds St. Louis style spareribs
Homemade BBQ Sauce
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a sheet pan with foil. Remove membrane on back of ribs if not already done. Cut slab of ribs in half as needed to fit in your slow cooker. Place ribs on foil lined sheet pan and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Mix well and rub all over meaty side of ribs.
  3. Place ribs in preheated oven and brown in oven 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the 2 cups ketchup, 1 cup chili sauce, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 2 tsps dried oregano, 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of hot sauce. Place ribs in slow cooker. Pour sauce over ribs, and turn to coat.
  5. Cover and cook on Low 6 to 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.
  6. Optional: Place ribs back on the foil lined sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes to get a little char on the ribs for even more flavor.


  1. Be sure you check to see if your ribs have the membrane intact and remove it before cooking
  2. If you are using your favorite store-bought BBQ dry rub, use 3 tablespoons
  3. If you are using your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce, use 3 cups
  4. Don't skip the first sear in the oven. It's necessary for tender, flavorful ribs
  5. I highly recommend the optional step of broiling the ribs after slow cooking for an incredible boost to flavor

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

37.48 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

12.02 g

Carbs (grams)

39.38 g

Fiber (grams)

1.68 g

Net carbs

37.69 g

Sugar (grams)

31.65 g

Protein (grams)

26.42 g

Sodium (milligrams)

1486.17 mg

Cholesterol (grams)

127.01 mg

Nutrition label disclaimer: Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.

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