These Slow Cooker Beef Ribs are fall-apart tender, incredibly easy to make, and take only 5 to 10 minutes of prep time.
A couple of years ago, I posted these Oven-baked Beef Ribs. In that post, I call them my fast, “good enough” beef ribs, because while they absolutely hit all those BBQ beef rib sweet spots, they only cook for an hour, so they don’t get enough cooking time to become truly tender.
Since that post went up, I’ve gotten a bunch of messages to the effect of, well, that’s great, but what if I actually want really tender ribs?
Which brings us to today’s recipe. Let’s make some Slow Cooker Beef Ribs.
Fall-apart Tender Beef Ribs
Now *these* ribs, these things are completely fall-apart, meltingly tender. They get cooked long and slow in the slow cooker, so when you pull them out, the meat is practically falling off the bone.
And the best part is that they’re just as simple and easy to make as the oven version. You’ll just need a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce, some seasoning salt, and a rack of beef back ribs.
What are Beef Back Ribs?
And before we go on, in case you’re confused at the grocery store, beef back ribs are the long, curved beef ribs that should be pretty cheap. Unlike short ribs, which are much pricier, beef back ribs will have little to no meat on top of the bones. The majority of the meat will be located in between the ribs.
This is because the meat carved from the front of the bones is the prime rib/rib eye, so it is much more valuable as a roast/steak than as extra weight on cheap beef back ribs.
Beef back ribs typically come in sets of 7 ribs, sometimes pre-sliced, sometimes still in an intact rack and should be readily available at most grocery stores.
How to Make Beef Ribs in the Slow Cooker
1. If your ribs are still in a rack, cut them apart, doing your best to leave an even amount of meat on both sides.
A note on the membrane: Ribs have a membrane on the back that many people remove before cooking. You can do this if you’d like, but I typically leave it on, as it helps keep the ribs intact after cooking and is quite easy to eat around/pull the meat off of.
2. Sprinkle ribs on all sides with seasoning salt or salt and pepper and then layer them in your slow cooker. Add 1 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (TBH, I’m partial to this basic sauce) and 1 cup of water.
Yes, it is going to look super watery. This is not a problem, because this just the cooking liquid. We’re going to use more sauce on the ribs later.
3. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4. If you have a choice, I personally prefer the texture of ribs cooked lower and slower, but both still turn out great and none of my taste testers could really tell the difference.
4. Once the ribs are fall-apart tender, transfer them to a foil-lined baking sheet, membrane-side down. If you’re having trouble with the ribs falling apart as you move them to the tray, use a spatula to support them as you move them.
5. Brush the ribs with a generous amount of barbecue sauce, and then broil for 5 to 8 minutes, until sauce is caramelized and sticky. If you can’t use your broiler, you can also crank the heat in your oven way up (about 450°F) and bake the ribs slightly longer until you get similar results.
6. Let the ribs cool for just a couple of minutes, and go to town!
What to Serve With Beef Ribs?
For veggie sides, since your oven is going to be occupied, I recommend these stovetop Garlic and Butter Green Beans, Steamed Broccoli, or Microwave Corn on the Cob. Though if you have a double oven or don’t mind waiting, Roasted Broccoli or Roasted Green beans are never a bad option.
Macaroni Salad, Potato Salad, or Mashed Potatoes are my carbs of choice to serve with BBQ. And classic Chocolate Chip Cookies gooey out of the oven (maybe with a bowl of vanilla ice cream and Fudge Sauce) are a perfect way to close out a good meal.
Slow Cooker Beef Ribs Recipe Notes
- Beef back are fairly fatty and rich, so I typically find 3 is a good number per person, especially when serving them with sides.
- The cooking liquid left over in the slow cooker will contain a significant amount of fat that probably shouldn’t go down your drain. I pour it all into a 28-ounce can or quart-size mason jar, let the top solidify in the fridge, and then scrape the fat into the trash.
- You might also like Country-style Pork Ribs, my favorite Carne Asada, Salsa Chicken, Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs, and Homemade Carnitas.
Slow Cooker Beef Ribs
- 3-5 pounds of beef back ribs
- Seasoning salt or salt and pepper
- 2 cups barbecue sauce divided plus more as needed
- 1 cup water
- If your ribs came in a rack, slice them apart so you have individual ribs. Sprinkle each with your favorite seasoning salt or salt and pepper.
- Layer the ribs in your slow cooker and top with 1 1/2 cups of the BBQ sauce and 1 cup of water. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, high for 3-4. The ribs are ready for the next step when you can easily pull the meat apart with a fork.
- Transfer ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush them generously with the remaining 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Broil for 5-8 minutes, until sauce is caramelized and sticky.
- Serve and enjoy!
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using them. There is absolutely no additional cost to you.