When you cook beef ribs in the slow cooker they come out tender, succulent, and so very flavorful.
I cook them slowly for several hours, then baste them with the pan juices and briefly broil them to brown the fat.
A couple of years ago, I spotted gorgeous beef ribs at Whole Foods and bought them without the faintest idea of how to make them.
At home, after some research, I developed the following recipe, which resulted in tender, succulent, and very flavorful ribs.
It's so good, that I've been making it regularly ever since. Apart from being super tasty, these ribs are also very easy to make, and I love the fact that leftovers are REALLY good - almost better than the freshly cooked dish.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make these slow cooker beef ribs. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Beef back ribs: I usually get them at the meat counter at Whole Foods.
- Smoked salt: This ingredient is non-negotiable. The smoky flavor it adds greatly enhances this dish.
- To season: Black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika (also very important), ground cumin, and dried thyme.
Cooking beef ribs in the slow cooker is so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to cut the rack into individual ribs. You can remove the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs, but it's not mandatory, and I typically don't.
Now, mix the salt and spices and season the tops of the ribs, gently pressing to help the spices adhere.
Add some water to the slow cooker pan, then layer the ribs in the pan. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
Transfer the cooked ribs to a rimmed baking sheet. Baste them with the pan juices, then briefly broil them to brown and crisp them up. That's it! Dinner is ready.
Using smoked salt and smoked paprika in this recipe is a must. They both impart a subtle but wonderful smoky flavor to the ribs. They really do greatly enhance this dish.
You can buy the salt on Amazon - a link is provided in the recipe card below. Smoked paprika is available in most supermarkets.
Frequently asked questions
Beef back ribs have a thin membrane attached to the bone side. You can remove it if you wish. But it gets considerably soft in the slow cooker, does not interfere with eating the ribs, and helps them stay intact. So I don't remove it.
I like to use the slow cooker. These ribs are wonderful thanks to being cooked for several hours in very low heat and in a moist environment. You can't cook these ribs quickly - if you do, the meat would be tough and unpleasantly chewy.
You can try cooking them on HIGH for 3-4 hours. But it won't be the same. It's best to make this recipe on a day when you have the time to cook them on LOW for the full six hours.
You can cook these ribs with BBQ sauce if you wish. Personally, I'm not a fan, because these ribs are so wonderfully flavorful and I don't want a sweet-tasting sauce to mask their flavor.
But if you'd like to try, season the ribs with just salt and pepper. Then spoon barbecue sauce on top of each rib - use a total of about 1 cup. Cook them for 6 hours on LOW. Once cooked, spoon some more BBQ sauce on top of each rib (use a total of about ½ cup) and briefly broil them.
You can serve these ribs with any side you like! They're very versatile. Personally, I like to serve them with any of the following side dishes:
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Gently reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
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Slow Cooker Beef Ribs
- 4 lb. beef back ribs (7-8 ribs)
- 2 teaspoons smoked salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- If your ribs came in a full rack, use a well-sharpened butcher’s knife or chef’s knife to cut them into individual ribs, as shown in the video below.
- You can remove the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs, but this membrane helps prevent the ribs from falling apart and is considerably softened in the slow cooker. I don't remove it.
- Season the tops of the ribs with the seasoning mix, pressing to help the spices adhere to the meat.
- Layer the ribs in the slow cooker pan. Add ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
- Fit an oven rack 6 inches below the broiler element (not directly below) and heat your broiler on high (500 degrees F).
- Arrange the ribs on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Baste them with the cooking liquids. Broil the ribs briefly to brown them, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.