Introduction: Hack Your BBQ Ribs!

This is what I have done to satisfy my craving for Texas style BBQ ribs, because I live over a thousand miles away in California and I have neither the equipment or time for a 12-hour smoke. I use a slow cooker to achieve the low slow heat that ribs love. What is different from other recipes I have seen is I use only a dry rub in the slow cooker and no liquid, so the ribs come out more tender and moist than other slow cooker or instant pot recipes you find online.

Step 1: Ready Your Ribs

This is a rack of baby back ribs from Trader Joe's. Pat dry with paper towels

Step 2: Mix Your Dry Rub

I use a simple dry rub recipe below from the Food Network:

  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper

Step 3: Apply Dry Rub to Ribs and Place in Slow Cooker

Apply your dry rub to your ribs and place in slow cooker. And that is it! You may ask if I add any liquid to the slow cooker? The answer is a strong NO! I am trying to replicate a smoked Texas style rib which is dry, so I do not want to braise them in a liquid. After that I set the slow cooker on low for the desired period:

  • At around 3 hours the ribs are fully cooked
  • At 5 hours the ribs start to fall off the bone, like a pulled pork

I like four hours so the ribs are soft and tender and moist but still have some toothy texture.

Step 4: Mix Your Sauce

You can purchase sauce from the grocery but those are all too sweet for me and I am trying to recreate my memories of Rudi's BBQ in Houston. You can always purchase your sauce online, or you can follow this Rudi's BBQ sauce clone.

  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

I am usually generous with the vinegar. And I prefer the acidity of cheap white vinegar to more expensive white wine or apple cider vinegar, because I find them too sweet. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Simmer until slightly reduced.

In the meantime, about 10 minutes before the ribs are ready, preheat your broiler to high.

Step 5: Remove From Slow Cooker

This is after four hours in the slow cooker. The ribs are fully cooked and starting to pull away from the bone. Place the ribs in a roasting pan and insert into the broiler for five minutes.

Step 6: Remove From Broiler, Top With Your Beautiful Sauce

And you are done! Do they taste as good as they look? Yes! They will be the most tender ribs you will taste this side of the Golden Gate.