How Long to Cook Beef Ribs in a Crock Pot for Fall-Off-The-Bone Tender Ribs

Beef ribs cooked in a crock pot result in incredibly tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs with rich, meaty flavor. But nailing the right cook time is key to getting the best texture. Undercook them and the meat will be tough and chewy. Cook them too long and the ribs can fall apart completely. So how long should you cook beef ribs in a slow cooker?

The Optimal Crock Pot Cook Time for Beef Ribs

Most recipes recommend cooking beef ribs on low heat for 6-8 hours. This extended cooking allows the meat to become extremely tender while still staying intact on the bone.

Cooking on high heat for 3-4 hours can work but often doesn’t yield ribs that are as tender. The meat around the bones may still have a slight chew to it. For melt-in-your-mouth texture, the low and slow method is best.

Here are more details on cook times:

  • Low heat (200°F – 250°F): Cook for 6-8 hours. This is the preferred method for ultimate tenderness. The ribs become fall-off-the-bone tender after cooking low and slow.

  • High heat (300°F – 340°F): Cook for 3-4 hours. The ribs will be tender but may not quite reach fall-off-the-bone status.

So for fork-tender beef ribs fully coated in rich sauce, low and slow is the way to go. But it does require more time and patience. If you’re short on time, cooking on high heat will still give tasty results.

Choosing the Right Cut of Ribs

To get the most succulent ribs, choose beef back ribs or plate ribs. These meaty cuts have more fat marbling that keeps them moist during the long cooking time. Other leaner rib cuts can dry out.

Beef back ribs are also called bone-in beef ribs. They’re taken from the rib primal section and have a good amount of tender meat between each rib bone.

Plate ribs come from the belly primal section and contain a bit more connective tissue. The extra collagen melts into the meat during slow cooking, making these ribs super moist and tender.

Tips for Cooking Beef Ribs in a Crock Pot

Follow these tips to ensure your crock pot beef ribs turn out perfect:

  • Use the right size crock pot. Choose a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. This allows enough space for the ribs to cook evenly.

  • Trim off excess fat. Leave about 1⁄4 inch of fat on the ribs for moisture. Trim off any thick parts.

  • Season generously. Rub paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper all over the ribs.

  • Cook in liquid. Add 1-2 cups of beef broth to the slow cooker to keep the ribs braising.

  • Flip ribs halfway. For even cooking, carefully flip the ribs once midway through.

  • Brush with sauce. Coat the ribs in barbecue sauce during the last 30-60 minutes.

  • Finish under broiler. Broil briefly to caramelize the sauce coating.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Follow these simple steps for tender barbecue beef ribs every time:

  1. Prep the ribs: Select a 4-5 lb rack of beef back or plate ribs. Remove the thin membrane from the back side of the rack. Cut into individual ribs.

  2. Season the ribs: Coat all sides with 1-2 Tbsp each of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the spices into the meat.

  3. Sear the ribs (optional): Quickly brown the ribs in a hot skillet in batches if desired. This adds deeper flavor.

  4. Cook in the crock pot: Place ribs in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add 1-2 cups beef broth to the insert. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours.

  5. Flip halfway: Carefully flip each rib halfway through cooking for even moisture.

  6. Coat with sauce: During the last 30-60 mins, brush ribs with 1⁄2 cup barbecue sauce.

  7. Broil: Transfer ribs to a baking sheet. Broil 5-7 minutes until sauce caramelizes.

  8. Serve and enjoy!

Helpful Tips and Suggestions

  • Add spices like chili powder, cumin, oregano, or red pepper flakes for extra flavor.
  • For smoky flavor, use smoked paprika and liquid smoke.
  • Cook ribs in beef broth, apple cider, or beer for added moisture.
  • Serve with cornbread, coleslaw, baked beans, or mac and cheese.
  • Shred any leftovers for bbq beef sandwiches and nachos.

Common Questions

What temperature should I cook beef ribs on low?

Most slow cookers reach between 200°F – 250°F on the low heat setting. This temperature range allows the ribs to cook low and slow for ultimate tenderness.

Should ribs be cooked fat side up or down?

It doesn’t make a major difference for crock pot ribs. Fat side up may self-baste a bit more. Fat side down helps protect the meat. Either method works fine.

Do you need liquid for crock pot ribs?

Yes, braising the ribs in 1-2 cups of liquid is recommended. The moisture keeps the meat from drying out. Use broth, cider, beer, juice, or water.

How can you tell when crockpot ribs are done?

They’re done when fork-tender and the meat starts shrinking back from the bones. Give them a test by poking with a fork. If fully cooked, it should slide in easily.

Can you cook frozen ribs in a crock pot?

Yes, frozen ribs can go straight into the slow cooker. Add 1-2 hours to the cook time and cook on low. The extended time allows frozen meat to fully thaw and become tender.

The Perfect Juicy Crock Pot Beef Ribs

Cooking beef ribs in a crock pot couldn’t be easier. Just throw them in with a few seasonings and let the slow cooker work its magic. In just 6-8 hours, you’ll have fall-off-the-bone tender barbecue ribs ready to devour.

Slow Cooker Beef Back Ribs


Should ribs be covered in liquid in slow cooker?

With the meaty sides facing out and the bones pointing up, coil the ribs into the pot, standing them up in a circle. (You do not need to add liquid.) Cook on low until the meat is very tender when flaked with a fork, but the ribs are not quite falling apart, 6 to 8 hours.

How long do beef ribs take?

Good bbq takes time and this will be no different. For an average 3 bone rack of smoked beef ribs, you’re looking at a cook time of anywhere between 6-8 hours. All you have to have to do during this time is just make sure the smoker temperature stays in the 250-275 range.

Are ribs better in the oven or crock pot?

Crock Pot Ribs are the best, most tender, flavorful ribs you’ll make! These are just about the easiest thing in the world and the meat just falls right off the bone!

Should beef ribs be cooked low and slow or hot and fast?

Low and slow is the name of the game when smoking beef ribs. You need enough smoke to properly season the meat and give you that beautiful dark coveted bark. These guys also need plenty of time to render that fat and tough connective tissue to get them to a perfect fall-off-the-bone texture.

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