Tender And Juicy Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot Ribs

By:

Meathead

In the mood for barbecue-style low-and-slow pork ribs but can’t cook outdoors due to extreme cold, a lack of fuel for your cooker, or other factors? A slow cooker or instant pot-type pressure cooker are capable of producing very tasty ribs indoors.

Now let’s get one thing absolutely straight. Slow cooker ribs can be quite delicious, but they are an entirely different animal than slow roasted BBQ ribs on a grill, smoker, or even in your kitchen’s oven. There is a big difference between meats cooked in dry heat with warm air and in a wet environment like a slow cooker, instant pot, or stew pot. Wet cooked meats, also called stewed or braised, can be very moist and tender, but it is still possible to overcook and dry them out.

The core concept is to cook the meat in a closed pot over a low temp in a flavorful liquid that covers the meat only partially. Slow cookers are cheap and excellent at making braised meat that melts in your mouth. Instant pots are both slow cookers or if you wish, pressure cookers that can get the job done in less than an hour. They have the advantage of being easy to setup and you can start a meal in the morning and when you come home, it’s ready and the house smells like a restaurant. Every dorm room needs one.

Slow cookers adhere to the same principles as good outdoor barbecue cookers: Low and slow heat in a moist atmosphere. Slow cookers come in a wide range of sizes. If yours is large enough to hold two slabs, just double the recipe. This recipe is designed for a slow cooker that uses heating coils all around a removable ceramic pot such as the Rival Crock-Pot, West Bend Crockery Cookers, and Cuisinart Slow Cooker. Rival trademarked the name Crock-Pot and it is now owned by Jarden Corp. Some crockery cookers are nothing more than a hot plate with a crock on top. These heat from below only, and will likely burn the sweet sauce. If you don’t have a ceramic slow cooker, you can use a Dutch oven, a lidded pot, or even a baking pan covered with foil and put it in your oven at 200°F.

Hungry for more ribs recipes, tips, and techniques? Click here to download our ebook “Amazing Ribs Made Easy” $3.99 on Amazon (free Kindle app runs on all computers and devices). Or, get this book and others FREE as a member of the AmazingRibs.com Pitmaster Club. Click here to join.

But don’t just throw in a slab and a bottle of sauce (although this works fine). Make just little effort and you will be rewarded with this meat, potatoes, and veggie meal in one pot. If you have a Dutch oven or a nice pot with a tight lid, you’re good to go. Assemble the ingredients and cook it in your oven so the pot is surrounded by heat, not from just below.

This recipe is so simple. The ribs steam in flavorful aromatics, the sauce penetrates the meat, and they fall off the bone. You can use a storebought sauce or make your own. Even a displaced Alabama girl stuck in a University of Minnesota dorm during a blizzard will feel a little bit like she’s back on the farm if you serve her this ribs recipe alongside Pillsbury Buttermilk Flavored Biscuits, deli counter coleslaw, and Sara Lee Peach Pie.

Slow cooker temps

Slow cookers usually have three settings. Depending on the manufacturer, here’s what the mean, more or less:

Low. Approximately 200°F

Medium. Approximately 250°F

High. Approximately 300°F

The problem is that if there is a lot of liquid in the crock, then the water temp will rise to 212°F and stay there no matter what temp you have on the dial.

Click here for another recipe for indoor ribs cooked in the oven.

Slow Cooker And Instant Pot Ribs Recipe


Tried this recipe?Tell others what you thought of it and give it a star rating below.
2.96 from 25 votes
Don't let weather conditions stop you from enjoying tender, juicy, BBQ-style pork ribs. With this comprehensive recipe, you can produce mouthwatering results indoors in a crockpot or instant pot type slow cooker.

Serve with: your favorite red wine or bourbon cocktail.


Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Difficulty: Easy

Makes:

Servings: 2 servings, 1/2 slab each

Takes:

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours

Ingredients

About the ribs. One slab of baby backs can be enough for two people. If you wish, you can use spares, rib tips, country ribs, and even chops. Use about 1.5 pounds per person of the boney cuts (spares, tips), or 1 pounds per person of the meatier cuts (country ribs and chops).
About the sauce. Doctor the sauce as you see fit. Add a teaspoon of hot pepper sauce or minced hot peppers. Try a tablespoon of match-sticked ginger slivers. If you want it sweeter, add 2 tablespoons of honey or molasses or even your favorite jelly for a fruity flash. I like to garnish with chopped scallions.
About liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is made by catching the smoke from smoldering hardwood, concentrating it, and dissolving it in alcohol. Many commercial barbecue sauces already have a nice jolt of liquid smoke in them. If you are using a commercial sauce, taste the sauce and if it tastes smoky, leave the liquid smoke out of the recipe. If you want more, add up to 1 tablespoon.

Method

  • Prep. Remove the leathery membrane from the back of the rack of ribs then remove any excess fat (read more about how to skin and trim ribs by clicking here). Slice into 2 to 3 rib sections. Sprinkle with salt.
  • Remove the ends and the outer skin of the onion. Cut it in half then into slivers.
  • Peel the carrots and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Peel the potatoes (optional) then cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Peel the apple, quarter it, remove the core, and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Mix the liquid smoke with the barbecue sauce.
  • Cook. (Optional) If you have a broiler, place the meat about 6" under the broiler for about 15 minutes per side until brown. Keep an eye on them because they can start smoking in a very hot broiler. If you don't have a broiler, you can brown them in a pan with a little oil. In an instant pot you can brown the meat in the pot. Otherwise, don't sweat it. The little bit of flavor added by browning will not be missed.
  • Line the bottom of the crockpot with the onion slices, carrots, apples, and potatoes. Place a layer of ribs on top, meaty side up. Pour the sauce over the ribs and coat the surface with a brush, spoon, or your (clean) fingers. Place another layer of ribs on top of the first layer, pour on more sauce, and spread. Keep going until all the ribs are in. Pour the remaining sauce on top. Resist the temptation to put the meat on the bottom. It will just get mushy.
  • Place the cover on the slow cooker and cook on low (about 200°F) for 6 to 7 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. In an instant pot on pressure cook for about 45 minutes.
  • When you're done you will notice that the sauce is not as thick as when you started. A lot of the juices from the meat and other gredients will be extracted and you'll have a rich, but runny sauce. If you have a stovetop, you can cook it down and thicken it, but I never bother. The thin sauce is concentrated in flavor and delicious.
  • Serve. Divide the meat and other stuff between the diners, pour off the sauce, and serve it on the side.

Related articles

Published On: 8/12/2015 Last Modified: 4/8/2021

  • Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.


If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad-free experience and much more!

Millions come to AmazingRibs.com every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us.

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third-party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.


Post comments and questions below

grouchy?

1) Please try the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help.

2) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

3) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can’t help you with time and temp questions. Please read this article about thermometers.

4) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different.

5) Posts with links in them may not appear immediately.

Moderators

  Max

Click for comments...

Spotlight

These are not ads or paid placements. These are some of our favorite tools and toys.

These are products we have tested, won our top awards, and are highly recommend. Click here to read how we test, about our medals, and what they mean.

Use Our Links To Help Keep Us Alive

A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs


Digital Thermometers Are Your Most Valuable Tool And Here’s A Great Buy!

A good digital thermometer keeps you from serving dry overcooked food or dangerously undercooked food. They are much faster and much more accurate than dial thermometers. YOU NEED ONE!
Click here to read our complete review


The Pit Barrel Cooker May Be Too Easy


The PBC has a rabid cult following for good reason. It is absolutely positively without a doubt the best bargain on a smoker in the world. Period. This baby will cook circles around the cheap offset sideways barrel smokers because temperature control is so much easier.

Click here to read our detailed review and the raves from people who own them


Heat Resistant Gloves With Extra Long Sleeves Hold The Hot Stuff

If you’re using oven mitts at the grill, it’s time to trade up. Say hello to these suede welder’s gloves. They’re heat resistant enough to handle hot grill grates, and flexible enough to handle tongs. The extra long sleeves even let you reach deep into the firebox to move hot logs without getting burned. Our Fave.

Click here to read our detailed review

Click here to order from Amazon


The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One


The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.

Click here to read our complete review


Grilla Pellet Smoker proves good things come in small packages

We always liked Grilla. The small 31.5″ x 29.5″ footprint makes it ideal for use where BBQ space is limited, as on a condo patio.
Click here for our review on this unique smoker


Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners


The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Click here to read our complete review


Griddle And Deep Fryer In One


The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone’s Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all!

Click here to read our detailed review and to order