Are you looking for an easy and delicious way to cook pork ribs?
Look no further than your trusty crock pot!
Slow cooking pork ribs in a crock pot is a foolproof method for achieving tender, fall-off-the-bone meat.
But how long should you cook them for?
With varying opinions and recipes out there, it can be hard to know the best approach.
In this article, we’ll explore the different cooking times and methods for perfect crock pot pork ribs every time.
So grab your apron and let’s get cooking!
How Long To Cook Pork Ribs In Crock Pot?
When it comes to cooking pork ribs in a crock pot, there are a few factors to consider. The size and thickness of your ribs, as well as your desired level of tenderness, will all affect the cooking time.
Generally speaking, pork ribs should be cooked on low heat for 5-7 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. However, it’s important to note that every crock pot is different and may cook at varying temperatures. It’s always a good idea to check the temperature of your meat before serving to ensure it’s fully cooked.
If you prefer your ribs to be fall-off-the-bone tender, opt for the longer cooking time on low heat. For a bit more chewiness, reduce the cooking time slightly.
It’s also important to avoid lifting the lid and peeking during the cooking process. This can increase the cooking time substantially and result in dry, overcooked ribs.
Preparing Your Pork Ribs For Crock Pot Cooking
Before placing your pork ribs in the crock pot, it’s important to properly prepare them for cooking. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Remove the membrane: The membrane on the back of the ribs can be tough and chewy, so it’s best to remove it before cooking. Simply slide your fingers around the side to loosen it up and rip it right off.
2. Dry rub (optional): Some people like to add a dry rub to their ribs for additional flavor. You can use a store-bought rub or make your own using your favorite spices.
3. Add liquid: To prevent the ribs from drying out, add a touch of water or broth to the slow cooker before placing the ribs inside.
4. Add flavor: Lather your ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce or make your own using a combination of ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
5. Cook: Set your crock pot to low heat for 5-7 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours, depending on your desired level of tenderness.
6. Broil (optional): Once the ribs are fully cooked, you can brush them with additional sauce and broil them in the oven for a few minutes to get a little bit of char.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your pork ribs come out tender and flavorful every time you cook them in a crock pot.
Seasoning Your Pork Ribs For Maximum Flavor
One of the keys to making delicious pork ribs in a crock pot is to season them properly. There are many different seasoning options to choose from, but some of the most popular include dry rubs and marinades.
When using a dry rub, it’s important to remember that salt can have a dehydrating effect on the meat. To avoid drying out your ribs, don’t keep them coated for more than 12 hours. Additionally, it’s best to store the uncovered ribs in the fridge or a cool and dry place.
A good dry rub should start with sugar as a base. Brown sugar is an excellent choice because it caramelizes as it cooks, adding a sweet flavor to the pork. Paprika is another great addition, providing an earthy kick to balance out the sweetness. Other spices and seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, creole seasoning, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, and mustard powder can also be added to create a unique and delicious flavor profile.
If you prefer a marinade, consider using ingredients like apple cider vinegar, apple juice or cider, brown sugar, and butter. These ingredients will help create a sticky sweet crust on the outside of the pork while adding moisture to the meat.
No matter which seasoning method you choose, make sure to apply it evenly and let the ribs marinate or rest for at least a few hours before cooking. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat fully and result in maximum flavor.
Cooking Time For Pork Ribs In A Crock Pot
To achieve perfectly cooked pork ribs in a crock pot, it’s crucial to follow the recommended cooking times. As mentioned earlier, ribs should be cooked on low heat for 5-7 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours.
If you’re looking for ribs that are soft but still stay on the bone, cook them on low heat for 7 hours or on high heat for 3 hours. For tender, fall-apart-in-your-hands ribs that melt in your mouth like butter, cook them on low heat for 9 hours or on high heat for 4-5 hours.
It’s important to note that the exact cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of your ribs. It’s always a good idea to check the internal temperature of the meat before serving to ensure it has reached a safe temperature of 145°F.
Additionally, it’s recommended to add a small amount of liquid to the crock pot to help keep the ribs from drying out. You can use water, broth, or even a barbecue sauce mixture.
Checking For Doneness: How To Know When Your Pork Ribs Are Ready
Determining when your pork ribs are ready is crucial to achieving the perfect texture and flavor. While the USDA recommends cooking pork ribs to an internal temperature of 145° F for safety reasons, this temperature will result in tough and rubbery meat. Instead, aim for an internal temperature of 195° F to 203° F for tender and flavorful ribs.
One way to check for doneness is the toothpick test. Simply insert a toothpick into the meaty sections of your rack, and if it slides in without resistance, your ribs are done. Another method is the bend and twist test, where you pick up the ribs with tongs at the center and allow gravity to pull the meat downwards or twist a rib bone to feel it break free from the meat.
Additionally, look for visual cues such as a tan or white color on the outside of the ribs and bones that have drawn back and exposed about three-quarters of an inch. The meat should also keep its shape after biting into it, rather than falling off the bone completely.
It’s important to note that relying solely on visual cues may not always give an accurate indication of doneness, so using a quality instant-read thermometer is highly recommended. The connective tissue in ribs begins to break down around 195° F, and most ribs hit their sweet spot for doneness around 198° F. However, some may take until 203° F to reach perfect tenderness.
Finishing Touches: Adding Sauce And Finishing In The Oven (Optional)
Once your pork ribs are cooked to your desired level of tenderness, it’s time to add the finishing touches. While the ribs will be delicious on their own, adding a sauce and finishing them in the oven can take them to the next level.
First, remove the ribs from the crock pot and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Be careful when handling the ribs as they will be very tender and falling off the bone.
Next, pour half of the juices from the slow cooker bowl into a small bowl with your favorite BBQ sauce. Mix well to combine and use this mixture to baste the ribs generously on both sides.
Then, preheat your oven to 400°F (220°C) and place the baking sheet with the ribs in the oven. Broil (grill) for about 10 minutes or until the edges of the ribs begin to char and crisp up.
If you prefer a sweeter sauce, pour cider vinegar over the ribs before adding the BBQ sauce mixture.
Once finished, remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving. The result will be beautifully caramelized fall-off-the-bone ribs with a delicious BBQ flavor.
Remember, this step is optional and your pork ribs will still be delicious without it. However, if you’re looking to impress your guests or take your meal up a notch, give this finishing touch a try.