Smoky Country-Style BBQ Ribs in the Slow Cooker

"I think we've hit the jackpot with this particular combination. The sauce has the perfect blend of twang, sweet, smoke, and heat without needing to brown the ribs beforehand, leave the house, or get dressed."

A few years ago I was in a Buffalo Wing phase--- my tongue itched for the spicy tang of Buffalo Wing sauce pretty much always.

It was a fun time.

This year, though, I seem to be on a rib kick. I love testing out new BBQ restaurants and trying to recreate the "oh-this-is-the-best-sauce-ever" flavor at home.

and in the crockpot.

I think we've hit the jackpot with this particular combination. The sauce has the perfect blend of twang, sweet, smoke, and heat without needing to brown the ribs beforehand, leave the house, or get dressed.

I used 3.5 pounds of pork baby back ribs, but you can certainly use beef if you'd like, or use this sauce on chicken thighs. I did NOT brown the meat at all--- the color shown up above was achieved solely in the slow cooker.

The Ingredients.
serves 4, unless you're really hungry.
3-4 pounds ribs
1 large yellow onion, sliced in rings
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
 1 (12-ounce) bottle chili sauce (in the ketchup aisle)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (read labels for gluten. Lea & Perrins, made in the USA is GF)
4 chopped garlic cloves
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Cut the rack of ribs in half with a large knife or poultry scissors and make sure they fit all the way in the cooker, with the lid on. Now take them out.

Place the sliced onion in your pot, then put the ribs back in. Combine the dried ingredients: brown sugar, chili powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub this mixture all over the ribs.

Wash your hands well.

Now combine the wet ingredients: chili sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, Tabasco, and Liquid Smoke. Pour this mixture evenly over the top of your ribs.

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or until the meat is tender, and has begun to pull away from the bone. The longer you cook the meat, the more tender it will become. Before serving, flip the ribs over a few times to get all sides nice and saucy.

This is what you expect when you have a rib craving. I love how the ribs brown all on their own in the crockpot -- the tiny bit of Liquid Smoke is what really brings the flavor home. Total Winner!!

The Verdict.

These are lick your fingers (and your forearms) good. Yum.
I could put this sauce on an old tire.

more ribs? no problem!

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at September 16, 2016

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What they say about this article

  1. Anonymous10/09/2011

    Is Sriracha a substitute for 'chili sauce'?

  2. Hi Wondergoat,

    Nope. Chili Sauce isn't spicy at all---it's sweet, and is a mixture of tomato sauce, dried mustard, onion powder, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. it's housed in the Ketchup aisle-- you can make your own (google it) but it's more cost-effective to just buy the bottle.

  3. I've actually been looking for a rib recipe and this looks like a great one. I think I'll try it out this week...after I get some liquid smoke. I've never had much call for that before :)

  4. Oh wow, these look delicious. I think I'm going to make this.

  5. I love cooking ribs in the slow cooker because of how tender the meat becomes. And I love that this recipe does not require pre-cooking or browning the meat before hand, letting my slow cooker do all the work!

  6. I don't have enough faith in my slow cooker. That has to change becuase these ribs look awesome!

  7. These look so yummy! There really isn't any other liquid than that little bit and the onions? Definitely have to try these.

  8. I just put this in my slow cook! Only problem is that it's 3:00 (Couldn't get to the store earlier!) Can I cook this on high for a couple of hours and then kick it back to low, so we can eat closer to 7 or 8?

  9. This is in the crockpot now! I tasted the sauce and I have a feeling it is going to be a keeper. Thanks!

  10. I think chili sauce is a wonderful "secret" ingredient. It's fantastic in meatloaf, baked beans, bbq...yum!
    This recipe looks like it would make my boys very happy. They are in the "age of meat", when they crave protein.

  11. Put this in my crock this morning and I'm so glad I did! Not only does it smell delicious, but it's like 100* out today and I do NOT want to cook. I had thought about baking potatoes to go with it, but not anymore. Too hot to turn on oven. Thanks for the recipe!

  12. I had been craving ribs and bought some last week; they'd been sitting in the fridge while I tried to figure out how to cook them long enough to be tender, with my busy life. Your recipe came just in time... but I was lazy. Used a rub in the pantry, and BBQ sauce that was in the fridge. Cooked them for 9 hours... SO tender, SO yummy. Thank you!

  13. Turns out 2 hours on high and 3 hours on low worked just as well! They were delicious! Tender, moist - finger lickin, fall off the bone good!

  14. Wondergoat, I used sriracha in mine and they turned out spicy and YUMMY! I omitted the Worcestershire, used 10 oz of sriracha, added an orange pepper, and browned two of the three ribs I used- the browned ones turned out tastier IMO. Served it with sour cream to balance the heat and it got rave reviews.

  15. These are delicious! I used boneless pork ribs, shredded the meat (it was falling apart), and we've been eating it all week. SO good and easy.

  16. These ribs were awesome! I'd still be eating them if I could! I was just spooning the sauce in my mouth..that good! I followed the recipe exactly using St. Louis pork ribs...cooked on low for 6-7 hours & were so tender that falling off the bone. Definitely will be a keeper for years to come!

  17. I made this yesterday and we were blown away at how good these ribs were! My husband has made several attempts to make ribs (oven/grill) and we were never pleased...he felt a little defeated, but it was okay because he had a happy belly :) Will definitely make again!

  18. I made these ribs and they were great! I didn't have any liquid smoke so I added some smoked paprika. served the sauce over mashed potatoes. yumm

  19. I used some smoke-flavoured bbq marinade because I haven't had luck finding liquid smoke in Sydney stores. I'll substitute with smoked paprika instead next time. This recipe is great!

  20. yoganurse10/27/2011

    Oh my goodness, I made this today, and I'm not even a ribs person. It was soooooooooo good. Over 10 hours on low (it was a long day at work) and those bones just fell to the bottom. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm...

  21. Hayley5/29/2012

    These were DELICIOUS. I made some no-yolk egg noodles to go along with the ribs and poured the sauce/onions all over the noodles. The sauce was the perfect blend of flavors!

  22. Mine are cooking as we speak! I can't wait to see how they turn out. The house is already smelling delicious :)

  23. trying this recipe today, omitted liquid smoke (only because I didn't have any), nor did I have chili sauce but modified recipe with a combo of ketchup,sweet chile dipping sauce & some garden cocktail....will post results later, but it smells really good !

  24. Just made these (minus the Liquid Smoke as didn't have any and could not find it) and they were extremely yummy! A big hit for sure and incredibly tender. Will def make again. Thanks!

  25. AWESOME! I made these last night. Spare ribs were on sale for Memorial Day week-end. I have never cooked spare ribs in my life, but these were sooooooooooooooo delicious. I can't wait to make the sauce for BBQ.

  26. St. Louis ribs are in the cooker since 10 this morning. Smells awesome in the house! Going to serve mustard potato salad and baked beans with them. Can't wait to try this sauce. I cook a lot and your recipes have always been great, plus I like your comments. :) Going to be good with Super Bowl.

  27. This looks awesome, I have a tomato allergy so I make sure to use a more authentic Asian chili sauce without ketchup. My only concern is the tobasco, does this make it pretty spicy? Can it be made without it? I'm making these tomorrow and must decide to go buy it or leave it out.

  28. Hi Melissa, skip the tobacco. It provides a touch of vinegary spice but not enough to make a special trip to the store. :-)

  29. Thank you Stephanie! I skipped the tobasco and glad I did, the chili sauce was spicy enough! Truly a delicious recipe! So glad to have a recipe for ribs that doesn't require tomato!