Easy slow cooker pork ribs with a homemade smoky barbecue sauce are made in the Crockpot and then finished off under the broiler for the ultimate ribs recipe.
Honestly, if you’re not making ribs in the slow cooker, this recipe will change your life. I swear, these ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender and loaded with flavour.
I’ve had a bit of a love-hate relationship with ribs over the years, but I think I’ve finally cracked the code and fallen in love with this crowd-pleasing favourite. It starts with a dry rub that is made with a combination of chili powder, salt, paprika and my secret ingredient, dried mustard powder. The mustard powder adds a bit of a tang to the rub and balances with the sweetness from the paprika.
There are dry rubs out there with hundreds of ingredients, and you can get as complicated as you like, but I’m all about simplicity. Big flavour is a given, but a small ingredients list is a must.
This has always been my style; simply, fresh and flavourful, but as I mentioned in my last post, I’m even more inspired after working my way through the Chez Panisse cookbook. I’m not quite finished yet (who has a ton of time for reading these days?) but I’m really loving this little culinary deep-dive I’m doing right now, I was inspired by this piece on must-read cookbooks in the New York Times.
These pork ribs and definitely simple and flavourful, I’m not sure that you can really describe ribs as fresh, but you could easily serve this with a salad and call it a day! This recipe also has a homemade barbecue sauce, which may sound like an unnecessary step, but this sauce takes just five minutes and is 100% worth it.
You could use your favourite bottled barbecue sauce, but I think you should live a little and make your own. The secret ingredient for the barbecue sauce is liquid hickory smoke. If you can’t find liquid smoke, you could always add a teaspoon or so of smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder or chipotles in adobo sauce.
Try this with: Chopped Salad with Blue Cheese
When you think slow cooker, you probably don’t immediately associate it with the summer. But the truth is, other than a barbecue, a slow cooker should be your best friend in the summer. You don’t have to heat up your kitchen with the stovetop or oven. While a slow cooker does become hot to the touch, it doesn’t actually heat up your kitchen. It’s magical! Plus, you can set it and forget it, and head out for the day and come back to dinner that’s ready to go.
When I was testing this recipe, I tested making ribs both on high for four hours and on low for eight. They were both delicious, but I actually preferred the 4-hour ribs! Once they are done, I brush them with barbecue sauce and then they get broiled in the oven for a few minutes.
Slow Cooker Pork Ribs
- 1 rack of pork ribs, side or back are fine
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp reserved dry rub
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- Remove the membrane from the ribs and trim off any excess fat. Mix spices together for dry rub, remove 1 tsp and reserve for BBQ sauce. Rub remaining spice rub all over both sides of ribs.
- Add 1/4 cup of water to slow cooker, then add ribs. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. (I prefer to cook on high for 4 hours).
- In a small pot heat all ingredients for BBQ sauce over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook for 3-5 mins, stirring frequently so it doesn't burn. Remove from heat
- Carefully remove ribs from slow cooker, discard excess fat + liquid. Brush with BBQ sauce. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and broil for 2-4 minutes (check frequently as it can burn quickly depending how hot your broiler is).
Let me know if you give these slow cooker pork ribs a try in the comments below.