These Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce are so tender that the meat falls off the bone. With a perfect sweet heat BBQ sauce they are everything a good rib should be!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Growing up I did not like ribs. Like at all. If that’s what my mom was BBQ-ing I would load up my Chinet paper plate with extra corn and pea salad. I didn’t like getting messy and ribs were, and still are, messy. Very messy. But that is the beauty of growing up your tastebuds change and in my case, I realized that the messier the meal, usually the better it is.
What makes these so messy is the sweet and spicy homemade honey chipotle BBQ sauce that is poured over the top of them before the slow cooking begins. If you’d like to cut the heat down a bit you can use half of the can of chipotle peppers and add another tablespoon of honey. Either way be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand, you will need them.
Don’t let the length of this ingredient list intimidate you! When you’re making your own seasoning rubs and BBQ sauce, the list tends to get a bit long. But the recipe itself comes together very quickly!
Let’s talk Seasoning Rub for those ribs:
You’re going to need to season the ribs with a blend of seasonings most of which you already probably have on hand. You will need: salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder and cumin. You will also need some olive oil. The olive oil will work to turn the spices into a paste that you’ll rub on onto the ribs.
As far as the ribs go, I’ve made this with both pork spare ribs and baby back ribs. It was great both ways and the spare ribs are often more affordable and meatier than the baby backs.
To make the Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce you’ll need:
The slow cooker does the most of the work in this recipe but there is a bit of prep work that goes into getting the ribs ready, including a bit of oven time to get the cooking process started. Let me walk you through it with these step by step photos and instructions.
STEP #1: Combine all of the seasonings and olive oil to make a paste to rub on the ribs. Rub the mixture all over both sides of the ribs and place the ribs on an aluminum lined baking tray and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, turn and cook for 15 more.
STEP #2: Make the BBQ Sauce. It’s pretty easy to make in a food processor.
STEP #3: Place sliced onion in the bottom of a slow cooker and place the ribs on top. Pour the BBQ Sauce on top and cover (make sure to reserve a bit of the sauce for serving!) . Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
STEP #4: Optional: place the ribs under the broiler for 3 – 4 minutes to caramelize the sauce.
The collagen hasn’t had a chance to break down. To help this simply increase the cooking time. It could also be that there isn’t enough liquid but this sauce should give you plenty. In addition, the lid on the slow cooker will keep the steam in keeping it moist.
Yes! You can also curl them around the sides of the slow cooker but sometimes that will prevent the lid from sitting tightly on top.
Yes it makes it easier for the spices to penetrate the meat. It also creates better texture. It is pretty easy to use a knife to lift and loosen the membrane from the back of the ribs. If you need a video here’s one to help https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-RL_f8qdJE
Want to make meal out of it? Here are some of our favorite recipes to serve alongside Slow Cooker Pork Ribs:
Skillet Cornbread make right in your cast iron skillet is a fave for sure!
Baked Macaroni and Cheese is a classic BBQ side and for good reason! It’s creamy, cheesy perfection!
Easy Homemade Buttermilk Coleslaw is also great to serve alongside your favorite BBQ’d meats!
Note: This post was originally published in 2010. It was updated with new photos, a slightly modified recipe, FAQ and nutrition information in 2022.