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.

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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.

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    21 Discussions


    1 year ago on Step 6

    Thank you Lorenzo I'm looking forward to trying this.


    1 year ago

    I didn’t see
    any mention of removing the membrane from the ribs which should be done. It’s like a layer of skin that will prevent
    the rub from making contact with the meat.

    I live in Kansas City and the best ribs are cooked slow and low.

    4 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    I was going to ask the same thing peinkc. It's the same way it's done in Georgia cooked smokie, low and slow till it almost falls off the bone.


    Reply 1 year ago

    I like the looks of your recipes and plan on giving them a try whenever Spring arrives.


    Reply 1 year ago

    yes, all ribs should have that removed (unless you like chewing on paper).


    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing, I have to try this. I might use slow cooker bags for easy clean up.


    1 year ago

    not sure if you can get it in Calif. but a good alternative to your sauce would be Stubbs bbq sauce, not sweet at all and has a good hardy flavor. I will try yours tonite. the store I get mine is Tom thumb, this store is owned by Safeway. google this to give you a store near you ( tom thumb/Safeway locations in California )

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    ^^^^read the label, this is great stuff, super low in sodium!


    1 year ago

    I really like the idea of cooking them in a slow cooker to kept them most, mine are at the two hour mark; I made the sauce and it is what I like, as sappha58 suggested I added a few drops of liquid smoke. Just enough for me, great tasting sauce, I don't know how I last waiting for the ribs.


    1 year ago

    Dang it! Now I want ribs! Now! But there's nowhere near me to buy them already cooked. Shoot.


    1 year ago

    For KenG44, you might want to consider dropping your oven to 245 degrees and cooking it longer. The ribs--and I cook both beef and pork this way--become fall-off-the-bone tender after about 4 hours. You wash them, pat them dry and rub with your favourite dry rub--whether you make it yourself or buy it (Missouri has some great packaged dry rubs); after they're cooked this way, let them rest for a while before you put them on the grill and put BBQ sauce on them. We love our ribs this way!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Good suggestion I might A/B test the slow cooker vs. oven this weekend!


    1 year ago on Introduction

    Is it just me or do those ribs look like a smoked 28-pin DIP IC? (Just being funny - they look amazing! I’ve been spending too much time on microcontrollers!)


    1 year ago

    I was lucky enough to acquire a stove-top smoker last year, however, I end up using it on my grill because it doesn't seal well if a rack of ribs is too curved. I end up using aluminum foil to help keep the smoke in. Anyway, after smoking the ribs for one-and-a-half hours, with only a dry rub, they fall off the bone. We prefer to eat them without any BBQ sauce, the dry rub is all the seasoning they need!


    1 year ago on Step 4

    You could add a few drops of Liquid Smoke to your sauce, which will add to that smokey flavor you're trying to recreate.


    1 year ago

    Looks excellent, I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for sharing this method!!


    1 year ago

    I used a recipe like this, instead of a slow cooker though I wrapped the ribs in aluminum foil and baked in the oven for 3 hours at 300 degrees. Very good results. Afterwards putting my fave BBQ sauce, Open Pit, on the grill for 15 to 20 minutes to top it off. Be careful of the pepper though, I cut it in half that's really a lot, white, black and cayenne is too much it overwhelms the sauce and meat.