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Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

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.

What ingredients you’ll need: 

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: 

Overhead photo of Chipotle BBQ Sauce ingredients on white background.
  • KETCHUP: This will be the base of the BBQ sauce. 
  • SOY SAUCE: For umami flavor. 
  • APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: To add some acidity to the sauce. 
  • HONEY: To add sweetness. 
  • SALT
  • PAPRIKA: Adds a smokiness and color. 
  • WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE: Like soy sauce, adds umami flavor. 
  • BROWN SUGAR: You can use light or dark, whichever you have on hand, both will work in this recipe. 
  • GARLIC POWDER (Or granulated garlic): If you use garlic salt, omit the additional salt in the recipe. 
  • CHIPOTLE PEPPERS IN ADOBO: This is where the heat comes into play. These can pack a bit of a punch so if you’re worried about it start with one or two at a time. If you’re in the “GIMME ALL THE HEAT” camp add the whole can at once. ;) 

How to Make Slow Cooker Pork Ribs: 

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.


Why are my slow cooker ribs tough?

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.

Can I stack ribs in the slow cooker?

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.

Do you need to remove the membrane from ribs?

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

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.

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs with Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce

The best meals are always the messiest and these sweet n' spicy honey chipotle slow cooker ribs are no exception. So tender they fall of the bone!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs 30 mins
Total Time 6 hrs 45 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 721 kcal


  • Slow Cooker


Pork Ribs Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 pounds pork spare ribs
  • 1 onion sliced

Honey Chipotle BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 chipotle peppers in adobo


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a bowl combine kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cumin and olive oil in a bowl. Stir to make a paste. Rub mixture all over ribs. Transfer to preheated baking sheet. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for 15 more minutes.
  • Place the sliced onion on the bottom of the slow cooker.
  • While the meat is cooking combine all of the ingredients for the BBQ sauce in a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Transfer ribs to the slow cooker. Pour BBQ sauce over the top. reserving about 1/4 cup for later use. Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours. Serve.


You can also use baby back ribs but they tend to be more expensive and leaner. 
Depending on the size of your slow cooker and your rack of ribs, you're going to likely need to cut the ribs into two sections to fit into the slow cooker. 
If you're concerned about the heat level of the BBQ sauce, start with one or two chipotle peppers and work your way up from there. They can pack a punch! 
Nutrition information for estimation purposes only. 


Calories: 721kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 36gFat: 57gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9gMonounsaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 181mgSodium: 1612mgPotassium: 659mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 624IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: 4th of July Recipes, bbq, chipotle, honey, pork, pork ribs, ribs, slow cooker, summer

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    August 8, 2023 at 12:25 pm

    5 stars
    I love a slow cooker recipe. Makes things so much easier. I precooked the ribs the night before and then popped them in the slow cooker the following morning. Ready by end of day and perfect dinner. My husband and kiddo loved! Thank you!

    • Reply
      August 12, 2023 at 4:03 pm

      You are so welcome, Aubrey! Glad you and your family enjoyed them!

  • Reply
    Mily Nguyen
    June 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

    Hi, Thanks for the recipe! Mine came out slightly bitter. Do you know what I can add/remove next time to decrease the bitterness? -Mily

  • Reply
    November 4, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    This so good!!! I used 2 1/4 lbs of country style ribs, cut down the brown sugar to 1 tbsp and only 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.

    I like spice but not too spicy and this turned out perfect! This sauce is lip smacking good! Falling apart tender. Would be perfect for pulled pork sandwiches too!
    This dinner is a winner!

  • Reply
    February 18, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    These are fantastic .. even in .. yes .. the crock pot!! I live in Edmonton Canada and we have a hard time BBQing in our temperatures during the winter. So these ribs make a nice BBQesk dinner. They are my husbands favourite .. and he would not eat ribs before these .. I know hard to believe there is a man out there who will not eat ribs anytime .. but it is truer than true!

  • Reply
    NIcholas Kokar
    March 26, 2012 at 5:00 am

    These ribs are phenomenal. I made the mistake of doubling the chipotle while doubling the rest of the recipe–extremely spicy! (But still delicious.) This is a regular on our table throughout the year.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    I’ve made these ribs 3x now and each time is better. Double all the ingredients in the sauce but not the chipotle. Cook on low for 8hrs. Thant shits goooood

  • Reply
    December 26, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Made these for Christmas dinner. They were delicious. Talk about fall off the bone! Doubled the sauce to serve some on the side and apply to leftover ribs when re-heating. It even had a charred taste to them with some burnt (and I say burnt in a good way) ends that developed along the sides of the crockpot. Thank you for sharing!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Oops, I used a 12oz can of peppers, man was that hot!!! But really good.

  • Reply
    July 8, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Ambie- on my slow cooker 6 hours is high temperature. You could also cook them on low for 8 hours if that fits better with your schedule. Hope this helps! :)

  • Reply
    July 8, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Q: What temp. do I cook the ribs at in the slow cooker? Medium or High? Thanks :)

  • Reply
    Mrs. L
    June 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    I have about 3/4 of a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce leftover from some skirt steak I made last weekend. I think I’ll whip up a batch of your BBQ sauce and have me some ribs! And the slow cooker idea works for those of us that may not have access to a grill (horrors, I know, the new one should be here in a week or so).

  • Reply
    June 8, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Oh my sweet barbecue sauce…this looks really wonderful! And to think we just had ribs last weekend. I’ll try your recipe Hope you wont mind I’d love to guide Foodista readers to this post.Just add the foodista widget to the end of this post and it’s all set, Thanks!

  • Reply
    Jenn's Food Journey
    June 7, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    My mouth is watering! These look and sound wonderful. I love chipotle! Going to be trying your grilled chipotle chicken soon! Can’t wait! Your recipes always turn out really good! Thank you!

  • Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    The recipe sounds great except for the crock pot. Indirect on a charcoal kettle or indirect on a gas grill would make these ribs killer. Use the sauce as a glaze at the end only.

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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