Sunday, January 28, 2018

Easy Crockpot Ribs

Before I go any further, I need to clarify something.  I have a smoker - multiple smokers actually.  I also have multiple grills.

So, you may (rightfully) ask, why am I cooking ribs in a crockpot?

Excellent question.  There are multiple parts to the answer:
  1. Weather.  Sometimes the weather just doesn't want to cooperate.  I'm not fond of cleaning off the snow to use my outside equipment.  Same holds true with rain.  I'll use the smoker/grill when it's lightly raining but not when it's pouring.
  2. Convenience. There are times when it's just easy to pop the ribs in the crockpot and walk away for awhile. 
  3. The number one reason? I have a cooking blog and I know not everyone is as lucky as me and has a smoker. 
Also, since I have a small BBQ sauce company on the side, I'm frequently asked by customers how they can make ribs to use our sauces and rubs WITHOUT a smoker.

This is one way to do it.  I know there are several recipes out there.  Some use root beer, some use Dr. Pepper, yet others use fruit jams.  This one uses apple juice.  Oh yeah, and BBQ sauce.

Of course, I'd love you to use my BBQ sauce, but the truth is that any sauce you like will work.  If you should want to try our sauce, you can find it here.

And for the inevitable question, do they taste as good as using a smoker?  In my opinion, no.  BUT (and it's a huge but) you can make them without having to invest in an expensive piece of equipment you may have no interest in or no place to put.  They also have the advantage of being very good, simply without the added smoke flavor.

Now, on to the recipe.


  • 1 rack pork ribs (2-3 pounds)
  • 2-3 tbsp rub* (I use my Pork and Poultry Rub, but any rub you like will work.)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce (For this, I used our Sweet and Mild sauce.  We have 11 sauces available ranging from mild to very hot.  You can use any sauce you like and it will work fine.)
*If you prefer, you can use salt and pepper instead of a rub.  Simply sprinkle however much you'd like on both sides of the ribs in place of the rub.


  1. Turn the broiler on in your oven to preheat.  
  2. Ribs frequently have a membrane on one side.  You can choose to leave this on if you'd like, but I always remove it.  It helps the rub to penetrate the meat and gives a better flavor.  To remove it, the best way is to grab one edge of it and simply pull it off.  It can be difficult to grab but it's much easier if you use a paper towel.  If you make a lot of ribs, you can actually purchase a tool that will make the job of removing the membrane much easier.

    Membrane on the ribs
    Tool for removing membrane.  Grabbing with a paper towel works just fine.
  3. After you remove the membrane you can trim the ribs if you choose.  There will be no difference in taste either way.

    Ribs trimmed and ready to be rubbed.  Trimming is NOT necessary
    The meat that was trimmed off is above and to the right and will also be cooked
  4. After you trim the ribs (optional), you are ready to use your rub.  Simply sprinkle a fairly heavy coating on both sides of the ribs and rub it into the meat.  If you prefer to use salt and pepper instead, do the same thing with it.

  5. Put the ribs on a lipped pan.  You can use a sheet of parchment paper or foil to line it to facilitate cleanup if you'd like.
  6. Put the pan in the preheated oven for five minutes.
  7. Flip the ribs over for an additional five minutes.

  8. If you use a crockpot liner, this is the time to put it in.  If you'd like to try one, you can find them here
  9. Pour the apple juice in the crockpot (with or without the liner).
  10. Remove the ribs from the oven.
  11. Put the ribs in the crockpot with the apple juice. You may have to cut the ribs for them to fit, depending upon the size of your crockpot.
  12. Pour one cup of BBQ sauce over the ribs.

  13. Cover the ribs and cook on HIGH setting for four hours.  You can cook them for 6-8 hours on low if you prefer.  If you do, the texture of the meat will become somewhat "mushy" though the taste will be the same.

    Ready to come out of crockpot
  14. After the four hours is up, carefully remove the ribs and place on a lipped pan.
  15. Turn the oven to 350.
  16. Using the 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce you have left, spread it over both sides of the ribs.

  17. Put the ribs in the oven for about 15-20 minutes.  This will "tighten" up the sauce and give them a wonderful flavor and a better appearance.

  18. Remove the ribs from the oven and serve.

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