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Slow Cooker Spare Ribs

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Slow cooker spare ribs are the perfect way to cook up pork ribs.  Cook the ribs in the slow cooker,  then simply grill or broil with barbecue sauce for 15 minutes and the ribs are ready to serve!

Ribs are easy to make in a slow cooker! Cook all day in a wet rub made up of brown sugar, liquid smoke, and Coke. Then finish off with some Sweet Baby Ray's or your favorite BBQ sauce on the grill. Everyone will think you spent all day grilling these tender pork ribs.

I grew up eating my dad’s absolutely amazing ribs. It was a sad day when I left home and could only eat his ribs a few times a year.

Then a friend sent me this recipe for slow cooking the ribs in a Crock Pot. She lives in Kansas City so they know ribs and she and her husband love this recipe.

My dad still thinks I’m crazy for cooking baby back ribs this way, but they turn out amazing and are no work at all.


Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipe

The marinade that the ribs cook in is pretty simple. It’s a wet rub of brown sugar, pepper, salt, liquid smoke and garlic.

Farmer John's Spareribs

We’ve used both baby back ribs and pork spareribs for this recipe. Both work great!

This time I bought a package of Farmer John’s Spareribs at Smart & Final that was over 8 pounds and contained 2 racks of ribs.

Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel

I cooked up one rack, as seen above, which was right around 4 pounds, and froze the other rack for later. For a party, I’d use 2 slow cookers and cook them all. This is a great party recipe and it’s super easy.

Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel

Cut racks of ribs in to 4 equal parts – or however many pieces you need to fit them in to your slow cooker. I use a rather large slow cooker – this Hamilton Beach slow cooker  is my work horse! But just a basic Crock Pot works, too.

I cut this rack in to 3 pieces because there was a large bone on the top of 1/3 of the rack. Whatever works! You just need them to fit in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel

Place half the ribs in the crock of a slow cooker. Rub half of the brown sugar mixture on to the ribs. Layer half the onions over the ribs.

Repeat the process with remaining ribs and onions. Pour the soda over the ribs. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.

Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel

Carefully remove the ribs from the slow cooker on to a platter. They will literally be falling off the bone so this can be tricky.  Just go slow!

Now, the ribs are finished off on the grill. Everyone will think you’ve been slow grilling them all day long.

Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipe


Heat your gill to medium high heat.  Put the ribs on the grill on indirect heat.  Brush with your favorite barbecue sauce (mine is Sweet Baby Rays!).

Cook for 15 minutes. You could also broil the ribs until the are nice and browned if you don’t have a grill.


Slow Cooker Ribs from Growing Up Gabel @thegabels #recipe

Carefully remove ribs to platter to serve.

Slow Cooker Spare Ribs

Slow Cooker Barbecue Spare Ribs

Slow cook spare ribs in a wet rub of liquid smoke and brown sugar and Coke. Finish on the grill with your favorite barbecue sauce for an easy grill recipe.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 15 minutes


  • 3 1/2 pounds pork spare ribs
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cola
  • Barbecue sauce


In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, salt, pepper, liquid smoke and garlic.
Cut ribs in to 4" pieces - about 4 ribs per piece. I usually try to break it in to 4 pieces.
Place a layer of ribs in the crock of a slow cooker.
Rub 1/2 the brown sugar mixture into the ribs.
Put a layer of onions on top of the ribs.
Put the rest of the ribs on top of the onions and rub with remaining mixture.
Layer remaining onions on top of ribs.
Pour cola over ribs.
Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
Carefully remove ribs to a platter - they will want to fall apart! Just go slow and be gentle.
Heat barbecue grill to a medium high heat. Place ribs on grill, 4-6 inches off heat. Cover with barbecue sauce and grill for 15 minutes.


Slow cooking dinners, drinks and more is easy with this fun challenge! Get a new slow cooker recipe everyday!

Check out all the recipes in our 30 Day Slow Cooking Challenge!


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  • Jennifer
    August 17, 2018

    This Kansas City girl uses this recipe exclusively! Great for a party! I cook a TON of ribs with this recipe, and when I finish them, I use a variety of sauces-sweet, spicy, mustard based, etc, so everyone has something they like. Then I put the extra sauce in labeled bowls for those who like them extra saucy! Super easy entertaining.

    • Camille
      August 20, 2018

      The original recipe came from a Kansas City girl so it MUST be legit! 😉

    June 23, 2016


  • Paul M
    January 19, 2015

    I have a question about your recipe. There appears to be a fair amount of liquid in your “rub” mixture bowl. Am I missing somthing as all of the ingrediants are basically dry.


    • Camille
      January 20, 2015

      That’s actually a very small bowl so it’s not really a marinade, it’s more of a liquid rub. If you poured it over, it wouldn’t get in to all the meat so you need to rub it in.

  • Lindsay Eidahl
    January 18, 2015

    I need to utilize my slow cooker more often! Who knew? Ribs? Thank you for sharing on Show Me Saturday!

    • Camille
      January 19, 2015

      I know! We rarely made ribs before my friend sent me this recipe. Makes them so easy to cook! Thanks for hosting the party.

  • Stephanie
    January 18, 2015

    I have never been able to master ribs, but this sounds like a recipe for ribs that I could actually handle! Thanks for sharing!

    • Camille
      January 19, 2015

      You can! This one is so easy. I think it’s the liquid smoke that really gives a nice flavor of all day barbecue.

  • Liza
    January 18, 2015

    Those look out of this world!

    • Camille
      January 19, 2015

      Thanks, Liza! They are a family favorite.

  • Katherines Corner
    January 17, 2015

    yummy, one of our fav things too. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop. xo P.S. did you see my new giveaways?

    • Camille
      January 19, 2015

      I did not but I will hop over to check them out. Thanks, Katherine!

  • Nikki
    January 17, 2015

    These look divine! On my list to make. Pinned.

  • Dynamo of Dixie
    December 29, 2014

    They look wonderful, but how would they taste straight from the Crock Pot if we live where we can’t use a grill?

    • Camille
      December 29, 2014

      Actually they are fine straight out of the crock pot. I’d just put some barbecue sauce on them and serve. But you can also put them on a cookie sheet, brush on some barbecue sauce and then put them under the broiler a little bit to cook on the sauce.

  • Karly
    January 13, 2014

    Love that you cooked these gorgeous ribs in the crockpot! Thanks for linking up with What’s Cookin’ Wednesday!

    • Camille
      January 14, 2014

      Thanks for stopping by Karly!

  • Antionette Blake
    January 11, 2014

    I love using the Crock Pot for slow cooked beef ribs, I made them last month. Thank you for linking up with us at the #WWDParty, I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend.

  • jenny
    January 11, 2014

    These look so yummy! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  • Miz Helen
    January 10, 2014

    Hi Camille,
    These are melt in your mouth ribs, great for our upcoming parties! Thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

  • Meghan
    January 9, 2014

    Cooking ribs in the slow cooker is a great idea!! The slow cooker does all of the work. This is a great option for game day weekends! Thank you for linking up to wake up wednesdays! Pinned!!

  • Liz
    July 13, 2013

    Thank you Camille for all the nice recipes. Have a great weekend!

  • Mikey
    April 25, 2013

    Isn’t this recipe from Betty Crocker? I saw the exact recipe on the Betty Crocker website, except for the tip at the end about grilling them. Just curious.

    • Camille
      April 25, 2013

      Really? No, this recipe was given to me by a friend from Kansas City about 10 years ago. Her husband is a KC native and he loved these ribs – said they were as good as any KC barbecue! So she sent me the recipe. Whenever I adapt or make a recipe from a source, I always give credit! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Brenda
    April 16, 2013

    Came across your ribs recipe at the Crockpot Recipe Link Party. These look fantastic! Pinned 😉 Thanks for sharing!!

    • Camille
      April 16, 2013

      They are one of my favorites! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Miz Helen
    February 8, 2013

    Your recipe is a Readers Top 10 Pick for this week on Full Plate Thursday. Enjoy your new Red Plate and have a great weekend.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  • Theresa
    February 6, 2013

    Oh my goodness those look so yummy! I hardly ever get to make ribs, but I sure want to this spring or summer. Thanks for sharing how to make them. Visiting from Hope you enjoyed game day. Our hometown team lost, maybe next time right?

  • HungryLittleGirl
    February 4, 2013

    I am in love with ribs! I can barely leave a piece left for my hubby when I make them! I had no clue I could also make them in the slow cooker! Thank you so much for sharing this at Wednesday Extravaganza – see you there again this week with more deliciousness 🙂

  • Dawn aka Spatulas On Parade
    February 3, 2013

    Thanks for linking up with us this week at FFF.
    Dawn host

  • Miz Helen
    February 2, 2013

    Hi Camille,
    These Ribs look delicious, I can almost taste them. Your recipe is awesome and thank you so much for sharing it with Full Plate Thursday.
    Have a great weekend and come back soon!
    Miz Helen

    • Camille
      February 3, 2013

      Thanks, Helen! Have a great week!

  • Your Golden Ticket Blog
    February 1, 2013

    This is making my mouth water. I have never tried ribs in the crock pot. Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Crystelle Boutique
    February 1, 2013

    What a wonderful treat for Superbowl Sunday. I am pinning!

    hugs x

  • Toni Spilsbury
    January 31, 2013

    Yep,…I’ll be trying this recipe. BTW, love the tagline on your website!

  • Brandie (
    January 31, 2013

    Gosh, Camille! Pork spareribs are usually not my favorite, but these look quite amazing!

  • carolinaheartstrings
    January 31, 2013

    These ribs look so delicious. Great pictures. Cannot wait to make these.

  • Dana
    January 30, 2013

    These look soooooo good! I want! We would love it if you would link up at our new linky party: Two Girls and a Party Hosted by:
    Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life
    Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off
    We hope to see you there!

  • Randi
    January 30, 2013

    These ribs look delicious! Thank you for sharing!

    • Camille
      January 30, 2013

      Thanks, Randi! They’ve brought us 6 years of happy rib eating. 🙂

  • Chelsea
    January 29, 2013

    Mmmmm…there’s is NOTHING like the taste of slow-cooked ribs. I’d love to have you come link this up to Teach Me Tuesday!

    • Camille
      January 30, 2013

      Thanks for the invite! All linked up.

  • Mariel
    January 28, 2013

    Looks delicious! I would love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday through Tuesday) at ‘Or so she says …’ Hope to see you there!

  • The Contessa (Linda)
    January 28, 2013

    These look just wonderfule. Great pictures. I like the idea of finishing them on the grill.

    Thanks for bringing these to the Super Bowl Party!

    • Camille
      January 28, 2013

      Thanks for the fun link up!

  • Sara
    January 27, 2013

    These look great, perfect for game day! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jenn
    January 27, 2013

    I love ribs and these look fabulous!

  • Angela Peters
    January 26, 2013

    Looks delish!! Can’t wait to try!!