What Are Crock-Pot® Spare Ribs?

Megan Shoop

Crock-Pot® spare ribs are either boneless or bone-in ribs that have been simmered in a slow cooker for several hours, usually with some kind of sauce. This is a very popular way to make barbecue-style spare ribs without using a grill. Those that love Asian food can also make restaurant-style short ribs this way. When eating Crock-Pot® spare ribs, diners should generally be prepared for a relatively messy meal. These ribs require sauce or liquid to ensure they stay moist and become tender, and this usually leads to saucy fingers.

Traditionally, ribs are cooked on a grill at low temperatures for several hours.
Traditionally, ribs are cooked on a grill at low temperatures for several hours.

Most Crock-Pot® spare ribs start with about 1 pound (about .5 kg) of beef or pork ribs, with or without the bone. The cook usually slips the ribs into the Crock-Pot® and covers them with barbecue sauce. The simplest recipes use commercial sauce mixes, making this a super-simple and relatively easy meal to prepare. After that, the cook simply needs to simmer the ribs on the low setting for up to eight hours. Some may find that the meat slips right off of the bones, turning the mixture into a succulent sandwich filling instead of a finger food.

The largest size of Crock-pot is ideal for making spare ribs.
The largest size of Crock-pot is ideal for making spare ribs.

A slightly more complicated recipe for Crock-Pot® spare ribs may call for a homemade sauce. This may be a southwestern-style sauce with coriander, chilies, corn, and black pepper, or an Asian-style sauce comprised of soy sauce, rice vinegar, cinnamon or star anise, sugar, and spicy red peppers. Most barbecue sauces are tomato-based, meaning the cook should have tomato sauce, tomato paste, or condensed tomato soup on hand for making barbecued Crock-Pot® spare ribs on short notice. Condensed tomato soup tends to make a sweeter sauce than tomato sauce or paste, so the sugar in such a recipe may need to be reduced.

In addition to the wide variety of spice and sauce choices, cooks may also choose between bone-in and boneless ribs. Some argue that bone-in ribs develop a better flavor, while others enjoy the fast cooking times of boneless ribs. People with just a few hours to prepare ribs may want to choose boneless ones because they become tender and juicy in about four or five hours. Bone-in Crock-Pot® spare ribs usually require a full eight hours to cook fully.

Some versions of Crock-Pot® spare ribs aren’t eaten with the fingers, but rather become part of a sandwich or stew. Sandwich ribs usually work best on thick, dense buns with caramelized onions and homemade salsas. Stew ribs may have beans, onions, corn, and shallots added right to the Crock-Pot&reg with the meat, giving all of the flavors time to marry and combine. In both cases, the cook may choose to use ribs with or without bones. Those that choose bone-in ribs should remove them from the pot before serving.

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