Fall Off the Bone Slow Cooker Spareribs

By Mieke

I used to make my spareribs in the oven, based on a recipe that was shared with me by an American guy who followed me on Flickr. He even sent me some proper barbecue sauces at the time which was pretty cool.

Since I’ve owned a slow cooker I’ve pretty much switched to slow cooking them. The ingredients are the same but they come out a guaranteed treat every time. I’ll share both options with you in the recipe below so you don’t have to invest in a slow cooker either way.

A lot of recipes tell you to sear your spareribs in the oven before you put them in the slow cooker. I find this dries them out and think caramelizing them after the fact works a whole lot better as they retain far more of their moisture and fat this way while developing a nice ‘bark’ after the fact.

Invest in barbecue sauce

For this to work be sure to get a good American barbecue sauce. I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Hot and Spicy or Smokey Chipotle or Annie’s Organic Smokey Maple BBQ for example. There’s a whole world of barbecue sauces out there for you to discover, though I recommend steering clear of commercially produced big Dutch brands of barbecue sauce. They’re gross.

What to have on the side with spareribs

These ribs are so good I never have them with anything on the side. If I have guests I’ll give them a largely symbolic coleslaw and maybe some fries, but in my experience nothing really holds up next to these.

Support your local butcher

Finally, if you can, support your local butcher and get your ribs there. Over here you can’t even buy unmarinated, uncooked ribs at the supermarket. But butchers tend to have precooked and -marinated ribs on display, and have plain ribs in the freezer that you can defrost during with the overnight rub.

Anyway, to the ribs!

Fall Off The Bone Slow Cooker Spare Ribs

Dorothy Porker
Super easy, spicy slow cooked spare ribs with a home-made dry rub. This recipe includes instructions on how to cook them in the oven if you do not have a slow cooker.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Overnight rub 8 hours
Course Dinner, Main course
Cuisine American
Servings 2


  • Food brush, optional
  • Slow cooker OR
  • Oven AND
  • Roasting Tin and Tin foil OR
  • Dutch oven with a lid


  • 2 racks ribs uncooked, unseasoned, un-marinated

For the dry rub

  • 1/2 c - 50 gr brown sugar
  • 1 T - 15 gr mustard powder
  • 1/2 t - 7 gr cayenne
  • 1/2 t - 7 gr paprika powder smoked is nice but optional
  • 1/2 t - 7 gr garlic powder
  • 1/2 t - 7 gr salt smoked is nice but optional
  • 1/2 t - 7 gr black pepper

For slow cooking

  • 1/2 c - 120 ml barbecue sauce use your personal favorite brand and flavor


A day head of dinner

  • You can either cut your racks of ribs into individual pieces or leave them on the rack. They come out wonderful either way. I always halve my racks because otherwise they don't fit my slow cooker.
  • Please note the dry rub is intended for about 1 pound or 500 grams of ribs. Multiply if necessary.
  • Mix 1/2 c - 50 gr of brown sugar with 1 T 15 gr of mustard powder and 1/2 t - 7 gr of each of the following cayenne, paprika, garlic powder, salt and black pepper to create the dry rub.
  • Mix the rubs with the dry rub, coating them evenly. Cover and place in your fridge overnight.

The morning of

    In the slow cooker

    • Thinly coat the spareribs in 1/2 c - 120 ml of your barbecue sauce of choice before placing them in your slow cooker.
    • I like to keep them meat-side down, but anything goes formation wise. Slow cook for 6-8 hours on low.
    • At the end of cooking time preheat your oven grill to 200° C/ 400° F. Remove the ribs from the slow cooker, reserving the liquids and place meat side up on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat in slow cooking liquid.
    • Place in the oven for 5 minutes, to get the top of the ribs nice and caramelized, before turning them over and coating them in liquid again, to do the same to the bottom and repeat so both the top and bottom have been hit twice. It’s best to stay nearby to avoid burning.

    In the oven

    • Preheat your oven to 175° C/ 350° F.
    • Be sure to save the marinade.
    • Place the ribs meat side down in a roasting tin on some tinfoil and wrap it airtight, leaving enough room for air and moisture to circulate. Or place them in a Dutch oven with a lid.
    • Cook for 2 hours. Follow your nose! If it appears the ribs are becoming too dry, add some liquid, a broth, stock or dashi will do nicely but water also works fine in a pinch.
    • Open the top of the parcel or remove the lid and turn and baste every 5-10 minutes, with the cooking liquid and leftover marinade, turning them at least 3 times, to caramelize and finish

    To finish

    • Once removed from the oven, let rest covered with tin foil for another 15 minutes before digging in.


    Note: I have tried slow cooking the ribs and then caramelizing them a day later, but found them to be a lot dryer then when you heave them straight from the slow cooker into the oven. 
    Keyword dry rub, meat, pork, pork ribs, ribs, slow cooker, slowcooked, slowcooker, spare ribs, spareribs

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