Cooking BBQ ribs in a slow cooker is a great way to enjoy tender, flavorful meat without having to stand over a hot grill all day. With a little bit of preparation and patience, you can create delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs that will be the highlight of your meal. In this guide, we will go over the steps needed to cook BBQ ribs in a slow cooker.
Step 1: Choose your ribs
When choosing ribs, there are two main options: baby back ribs and spare ribs. Baby back ribs are smaller and more tender, while spare ribs are larger and have more meat. Both types of ribs will work in a slow cooker, but you may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the size of the ribs. You can also choose between bone-in or boneless ribs, depending on your preference.
Step 2: Prepare the ribs
Before cooking the ribs, you will need to prepare them by removing the membrane from the back of the ribs. This can be done by using a sharp knife to loosen one corner of the membrane, then using a paper towel to grip the membrane and pull it off. Removing the membrane will help the ribs cook more evenly and make them more tender.
Once the membrane has been removed, season the ribs with your favorite BBQ rub or seasoning blend. You can also add a BBQ sauce or marinade at this point if you prefer.
Step 3: Cook the ribs
To cook the ribs in a slow cooker, you will need to place them in the cooker and add a liquid to help keep them moist. This can be water, broth, or even beer or soda for added flavor. The liquid should come up to about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way up the ribs, but not completely cover them.
Set the slow cooker to low heat and cook the ribs for 6-8 hours, or until they are tender and falling off the bone. If you are using larger spare ribs, you may need to cook them for up to 10 hours. Avoid opening the lid of the slow cooker during the cooking process, as this will release heat and moisture and can result in longer cooking times.
Step 4: Finish the ribs
Once the ribs are cooked, you can finish them off in a few different ways depending on your preference. One option is to remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet. Brush them with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil them in the oven for a few minutes until the sauce is caramelized and sticky.
Another option is to remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place them on a hot grill for a few minutes on each side to get some char and flavor. You can also skip this step and simply serve the ribs straight out of the slow cooker.
Step 5: Serve and enjoy
Once the ribs are finished, it's time to serve and enjoy them! Cut the ribs into individual portions and serve them with your favorite sides, such as corn on the cob, coleslaw, or baked beans. You can also serve them with extra BBQ sauce on the side for dipping.
Cooking BBQ ribs in a slow cooker is a simple and delicious way to enjoy this classic dish without the hassle of grilling. By following these steps, you can create tender, flavorful ribs that will be the star of your meal.