Slow Cooker Ribs

Cooking, like football, is all about timing, effort, and attention to detail. In this series, we’ll give some practical advice on the cooking end of things. Our first article covers slow cooker1 ribs.


  • Back ribs
  • Cumin
  • Brown sugar
  • Chili powder
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Beef/Chicken stock (optional, but recommended)
  • Corn starch

1) The first step is to combine your spice mix. The goal is to arrive at a rich, flavorful combination. The centerpiece of the mix is the cumin, so put in two tablespoons. Brown sugar, chili powder, oregano, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper all get one tablespoon.

I didn’t have garlic powder, so I used crushed garlic.2 If you like, you can add both garlic powder and crushed garlic. If someone tells you that it’s too much garlic, do your best Hank Hill impression and politely yet firmly ask them to leave your home.

2) With the spice mixed and set aside, it’s time to prep the ribs. The first step involves removing the membrane. If you need some instruction for how to do this, click here (around 3:15). Once this is done, you should cut the ribs into more manageable pieces, slicing alongside the bone every three or four ribs.3

3) It’s now time to coat the ribs in your spice mix. Ensure you take the time to thoroughly coat each section. Any extra spice mix should be set aside for the final stages of cooking.

4) The coated ribs now go into the slow cooker. I always throw a small amount of oil in the bottom to ensure nothing sticks. You’re going to set your slow cooker to high and wait four hours. At around the two-hour mark, you should check on the ribs and move them around. It’s at this stage that I usually add around a cup of stock (either beef or chicken will work fine).

Ribs After Two Hours

5) Once you get to the four-hour mark, it’s time to remove your ribs. They should be incredibly tender. You’ve now got a couple options. A more traditional route involves grabbing your favorite BBQ sauce (I recommend Bullseye,4 but you should make your own decisions in life) and get the ribs on the grill.

The better option, in my humble opinion, rests in putting the ribs in an oven and then using the drippings to make a delicious gravy. I put my ribs into the oven at 300 degrees F. Remember, the slow cooker has already done most of the work cooking the ribs, so don’t get too frisky with the heat. The goal is to ensure the ribs are at a safe temperature to eat and to arrive at a good color on the outside.

6) The final, and arguably most important, step: making the gravy. Start with (preferably) a stainless-steel pot. Add in a 1/4 cup of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is mostly melted, add in the drippings from the slow cooker. Use your favorite purple spatula5 to ensure that you scrape in all of the delicious goodness from the bottom of the slow cooker.

It shouldn’t take long for your gravy to come to a boil. Once it does, mix two teaspoons of corn starch into a cup of cold water (flour will also work fine, but corn starch allows for gluten-free Vikings fans to enjoy). When it’s thoroughly mixed, add it to the boiling gravy. It shouldn’t take long for everything to thicken. If for some strange reason the gravy is bland, add in some of the extra spice mix. Once it’s at the desired consistency, strain and place in a serving bowl.

7) Take your ribs out of the oven, serve alongside your favorite vegetables, and cover everything in gravy. Enjoy.  

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to include links to products on Amazon. If you purchase a product from one of these links, we may make a commission.

  1. A slow cooker is a pretty great addition to your kitchen. Recently, we’ve started using a pressure cooker. Many of them include a slow cooking function. We’ve been very pleased with ours.
  2. Fresh crushed garlic is delicious. Use a garlic press.
  3. We use this knife and we are pretty happy with it.
  4. If you really love Bullseye BBQ sauce, you can get a massive amount online.
  5. Purple spatulas for the Vikings chefs. Dalvin Cook would be proud.