Servings: 8 Prep: 30 min Cook: 8 hrs 30 min Total: 9 hrs
This is another recipe showcasing perhaps not necessarily a lesson in technique, so much as a lesson in persistence. Anyone that’s been around my website for a while probably knows that I have a strange relationship with the slow cooker. They are enormously popular tools in peoples’ homes. I understand why, too! They’re a great way to load stuff into it, forggeddabouddit, and then dinner is automagically ready at the end of the night! It’s almost perfect!
For me and my peculiar ways, it takes one of my favorite things about cooking and … locks it away and hides it underneath a locked lid, in the darkest corner in my kitchen. I can’t really poke it, play with it, adjust the seasonings, tweak it, turn, fiddle, etc. It’s just … set it and forget it. Slow cookers kind of steal some of my fun!
In any event, I’ve just never really gotten used to them. This is maybe the 8th or 9th time I’ve ever tried to use one and wanted to do something simple and seemingly reliable. In this case, I got into a bit of trouble, but … thankfully … due to my nature (the desire to have my fingers in many different pots), I kept looking to see what’s doin’. The center of my pile of pork was not cooking. It was too densely packed! As a result, this recipe DOES require just a little bit of fanoodling. About every 2 hours, you need to adjust the ribs, so they cook evenly. Lesson learned!
These ribs were AWESOME! After I removed them from the liquid, I reduced it in a separate pot and poured it back over the ribs and served them.
While I certainly miss my smoker and my grill … this slow-cooker method may not be so bad, after all!
Note: Photos taken with Red Slaw
Slow Cooker Pork Spare RibsPrint Rate
- 2 slabs pork spare ribs (about 5 lbs. per slab)
- 1/4 cup mustard (your favorite!)
- 1 small onion peeled and cut into big chunks
- 12 whole garlic cloves tips removed
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 cups sugar free bbq sauce
- To begin, wash the ribs and pat them dry.
- You'll want to peel the membrane off the inside (boney side) of the slabs. This can be tricky to start, but once a corner has been loosened, the rest usually rips right off. The membrane is a slightly shiny thick paper-like layer covering the ribs. Slide a small knife into one corner of the ribs, just between the meat and membrane. I usually use a butter knife for this (a sharp knife may cut through the membrane, when I see this as more of a "prying" effect). Jiggle and push and shove the knife between the meat and membrane, sliding it from side to side, until roughly 1 inch of membrane has been loosened enough to hold on to. With a towel, grab the flap and with consistent force, peel the membrane off the inside of the slab. It "should" come off in one nice tear. If it doesn't, continue the prying and pulling process, until the entire membrane has been removed. Discard the membrane, cut the slab in half (creating to half-racks) set the slabs aside and repeat for the second slab.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the mustard, garlic and onion to make a paste. Rub the mustard paste all over the outside of the pork.
- Mix the remaining ingredients (except the BBQ Sauce) in a bowl.
- Liberally coat the pork with the dry rub.
- Pour about 1/4 cup of the BBQ sauce on the bottom of a slow cooker, then set it on low. Add one half rack to the slow cooker, then pour about 1/4 cup over the top of the rack. With a spoon, coat the rack with the sauce. Then, place a second half rack on top of the first. Coat it with about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Continue layering the half racks until all the BBQ sauce and ribs are added.
- Cook the ribs for about 2 hours. After 2 hours, take the 2 half racks on the bottom of the slow cooker and place them on the top. This will more evenly distribute the heat, inside.
- Cook the ribs for a further 3 hours. Take the 2 half racks on the bottom of the slow cooker and place them on the top. This will once again distribute the heat, inside.
- After about 8 hours of total cooking time, turn off the slow cooker. Remove the ribs and keep somewhere warm. With a large spoon or ladle, scoop the pork fat off the top and discard. Pour the BBQ liquid into a soup pot and place on a hot burner, on the stove. Let it boil.
- Once the sauce reduces and thickens, serve it with the ribs!
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* Learn More: More about this recipe and nutrition …
8 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs”
What is your opinion of the Walden Farms BBQ sauce. Have you tried it?
Hi Rhonda. I have tried it. It’s … mediocre, in my opinion. I purchased a bunch quite a while ago. Being zero carbs, I was excited, but it’s really kind of strange … and a bit of a frankenfood. I wound up buying other brands, or making my own and using the Walden Foods to "bulk it out" (really just to use it and not throw it out). It’s ok to stretch or drop the carbs in another BBQ sauce, but as a stand alone … it’s a bit odd, in my opinion.
I have made these for years! If you have a larger oblong
Crock pot you and lean each slab on either side
Of the crock pot instead of stacking on each other
Interesting, Libby. I had no idea such a thing existed! Mine is an oval/oblong crock pot and I still needed to stack them. Oh! … or … do you mean, standing upright? I hadn’t thought of that. Is this what you mean?
I think the Walden Farms has an odd taste. I use a sauce made from watermelon rind. Not zero carbs, but only 2 grams carbs per Tbsp. I don’t use a lot of it. It tastes more like real BBQ sauce.
The brand I use is Old South, Sweet Pickled Watermelon Rind BBQ Sauce. Made in Alma, Arkansas.
I agree, Lynda. I?m not a fan of the Walden Farms BBQ sauce. It?s nice that it?s zero carb, but ? I bought a lot of it, thinking how wonderful it would be to have it lying around. Oh ? I wound up buying a different brand, and simply adding a little bit of the Waldens to it, in order to use it up. By itself ? it just tastes like odd chemicals. Not great. Your watermelon rind BBQ sauce sounds interesting, though. I?ll have to look it up! Thanks for sharing!
This is way more work than I do. I just cut the slab in half (I use 2) coat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Put them in the crock pot rib sides down. Cook on low for 8 hours (or if at home and in a hurry high for 4 hours). When I get home from work, I remove them and either grill them with BBQ sauce or coat them with BBQ sauce and place them on alum foil lined pans in a 400 oven for a little bit. They are the best ribs we have ever eaten.