How to Cook a Large Rack of Ribs in a Slow Cooker


Although not traditional, ribs prepared in a slow cooker can be exceedingly tender and delicious. Particularly large racks of ribs may require some additional maneuvering, but the end result will be just as flavorful. Once you've removed the ribs from the slow cooker, you can briefly cook them on the grill or under the broiler, brushed with barbecue sauce, for that sticky, browned texture that is associated with traditional ribs.

Things You'll Need

  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried spices (optional)
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Rub the rib rack with salt and pepper. If you wish, season the ribs with additional spices like garlic powder, cayenne or paprika.

  • Arrange the ribs in the slow cooker by placing them upright and wrapping them around the circumference of the slow cooker, meaty side facing outward. If your rack is too large to fit easily in the slow cooker, cut the slab into halves or thirds before nestling it into the slow cooker. It's okay is the ribs overlap as long as they're all facing upright.

  • Pour the barbecue sauce into the slow cooker. You'll need about 2 cups of sauce for every 4 lbs. of ribs. You can use your favorite store-bought sauce, or make your own. Cover the slow cooker.

  • Cook the ribs on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until they are fork tender. If you're in a hurry, you may also cook the ribs on high for 3 to 4 hours, but they won't be quite as tender.

  • Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and tent them with foil so they remain warm. Let the liquid leftover in the slow cooker stand for a few minutes, then skim excess fat off of the top. Transfer the liquid to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced and has thickened into a sauce, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Finish cooking the ribs on the grill or under the broiler if you want to achieve that famously sticky and caramelized texture. Whether you finish the ribs on a medium-heat grill or the low rack of the broiler, brush them with a thin coat of the reduced sauce every 3 minutes or so, then flip them over. Cook the ribs until they are nicely browned and sticky, about 15 minutes in total.

  • Tent the ribs with foil and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve them with the reduced sauce on the side.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the USDA, ribs should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption. Don't worry if your ribs exceed this temperature.

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