The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Tender, Juicy Pork Short Ribs in a Crock Pot

Pork short ribs are an underrated cut of meat that can make for an incredibly tender, flavorful meal when cooked properly. Short ribs come from the belly side of the pig and contain a high amount of fat and connective tissue. While the excess fat may seem unappealing at first, it actually helps make the ribs super moist and juicy. The connective tissue also breaks down into gelatin when cooked low and slow, giving you meat so tender it falls right off the bone.

While you can cook pork short ribs in the oven or on the grill, using a crockpot is hands down the easiest method. The slow, gentle heat of the crockpot helps break down the fat and connective tissue over several hours, giving you insanely tender ribs in a totally hands-off way. No need to slave over the stove or grill!

Here is a step-by-step guide to cooking melt-in-your-mouth pork short ribs in the crockpot, along with tips and tricks for maximizing flavor and tenderness.

Benefits of Cooking Short Ribs in a Crockpot

There are a few key benefits that make the crockpot the perfect vessel for cooking short ribs

  • Convenience – Just throw the ribs in the crockpot in the morning and dinner is ready when you get home from work. No need to constantly monitor meat on the stove or grill.

  • Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat – The long, slow cooking time helps break down collagen and fat, giving you incredibly tender meat.

  • Intensified flavor – Meat cooked low and slow absorbs spices and seasonings extremely well The cooking liquid also reduces down into an amazingly rich sauce

  • Difficult to overcook – With high heat cooking methods, short ribs can easily become overdone. But it’s nearly impossible to overcook them in the consistent, gentle heat of the crockpot.

Tips for Choosing Ribs

  • Look for ribs that are meaty and have a good distribution of fat. Avoid ribs that are too lean or appear dried out.

  • For more flavor, choose bone-in ribs over boneless. The bones impart extra flavor and collagen.

  • Ensure the ribs you select are unlabeled or labeled as “spareribs.” “Baby back ribs” come from a higher part of the pig and are leaner.

  • Around 1.5 – 2 pounds of bone-in ribs serves 2-3 people. Adjust amounts accordingly.

Prep Steps Before Cooking

Properly preparing the ribs before cooking helps maximize tenderness:

  • Trim excess fat: Use a sharp knife to trim off any large excess pieces of fat. Leave a little fat for moisture.

  • Season generously: Rub ribs all over with a dry spice rub. Season under and on top of the meat.

  • Sear (optional): Browning the ribs adds flavor. Sear in batches in a hot pan for 2-3 minutes per side.

  • Cut into individual ribs (optional): For more surface area, cut ribs between bones into individual ribs.

Choosing Aromatics and Seasonings

The braising liquid is key for flavor. Here are some tasty seasonings and aromatics to include:

  • Onion and garlic: Diced onions and garlic provide a flavorful base.

  • Fresh ginger: For Asian-inspired ribs, use minced fresh ginger.

  • Chili powder or peppers: For heat, include chili powder, chipotles, or dried chiles.

  • Sweet fruits: Dried fruits like apricots, prunes or cranberries add sweetness.

  • Spice rub: Use a homemade or store-bought rub full of spices and herbs.

  • Soy sauce or fish sauce: For umami and depth of flavor.

  • Acid: Tomato paste, vinegar, citrus juice or wine brighten flavors.

How to Cook Pork Short Ribs in a Crock Pot

Follow these simple steps for perfect crockpot ribs every time:

  1. Prep ribs as desired (trim fat, season, sear). Cut slits to enhance braising.

  2. Place ribs in crockpot and top with your choice of aromatics and seasonings.

  3. Pour in enough liquid (broth, wine, etc) to come about 1 inch up ribs.

  4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours (or high for 4-5 hours). Don’t open the lid!

  5. Transfer ribs to a plate. Skim fat from liquid and reduce to a sauce consistency if needed.

  6. Serve ribs with the concentrated cooking liquid spooned over the top. Enjoy!

While pork short ribs only require a few ingredients to shine, you can get creative with global flavors. Here are just a few recipe ideas:

  • Barbecue – Use barbecue sauce, chili powder, onions and cider vinegar for classic barbecue-style.

  • Asian – Soy sauce, ginger and five-spice powder create an Asian-inspired braising liquid.

  • Mexican – Dice jalapenos and cilantro leaves. Season with lime juice and cumin.

  • Mediterranean – Olives, wine, tomatoes, garlic and oregano give a mediterranean flair.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different taste profiles! The pork absorbs any flavors nicely.

Tips for Maximum Tenderness

Follow these tips for ensure your short ribs turn out fall-apart tender:

  • Cook for a full 7-8 hours on low. Don’t pull them early!

  • Use a meat thermometer to confirm ribs reach 195-205 ̊F internally before removing.

  • Switch to high if you’re short on time, but cook at least 4 hours minimum.

  • Let ribs rest in their juices for 10-15 minutes before serving for extra moisture.

  • Use boneless ribs for tender meat that shreds more easily (bone-in has more flavor).

  • Cut ribs between bones so more surface area is exposed to the braising liquid.

Serving Suggestions

Pork short ribs pair nicely with multiple sides, including:

  • Buttery mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes or polenta to soak up the delicious braising liquid.

  • Steamed rice or roasted root vegetables like carrots or parsnips.

  • Bright acidic flavors like citrus wedges, vinegar-based slaw or a fresh herb salad.

  • Special sides like grits, hominy or warm tortillas to complement different regional flavors.

Don’t forget to spoon the concentrated, flavorful cooking liquid from the crockpot over the ribs before serving!

Freezing Leftovers

Have extra ribs? Here are tips for freezing:

  • Let ribs cool fully, then portion into containers or bags.

  • Pour braising liquid into bags or containers over the ribs.

  • Exclude veggies or herbs if using, as they don’t freeze well.

  • Freeze for up to 3 months.

  • Thaw before reheating gently in the microwave or oven.

With this handy guide, you are ready to start enjoying insanely delicious, fall-off-the-bone pork short ribs cooked to perfection in the crockpot. Experiment with different global flavor combinations and sides to take your ribs to the next level. Happy cooking!

Super Easy Slow Cooker Ribs – Fall Off The Bone BBQ Ribs Recipe


Why are my short ribs not tender in the crockpot?

Slow-Cooker Short Ribs Tips Braise short ribs for six to eight hours in a slow cooker set on low. Don’t try to speed up the cooking process. Short ribs can become tough and chewy if they’re cooked too quickly.

Are short ribs better in the oven or crock pot?

Though they were all delicious ribs, the slow cooker definitely turned out the most tender meat. The baked ribs came in a close second, still with falling off the bone, succulent meat but just not quite as tender as the slow cooker ribs.

Can you cook ribs in a slow cooker without liquid?

Don’t worry that the ribs go into the slow cooker without liquid; the heat is gentle enough that the ribs do not burn, and the meat releases liquid as it cooks, so it braises in its own spiced juices.

Are short ribs the same as pork ribs?

Are Short Ribs Beef or Pork? Traditionally, short ribs are a cut of beef, but you can also purchase bison short ribs. Short ribs comprise the lower 3 to 6 inches of a cow’s rib cage near its breastbone. Pigs don’t have short ribs.

Can you cook pork short ribs in a crock pot?

Place the seasoned pork short ribs into the crock pot. Pour the BBQ sauce over the ribs, making sure to coat them thoroughly. Cover the crock pot and set it to cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. The longer cooking time will result in more tender and fall-off-the-bone ribs.

How do you cook beef short ribs in a slow cooker?

To cook beef short ribs in a slow cooker, first season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown them in a large skillet over medium heat with canola oil. Transfer the browned ribs to a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Add beef broth, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and cut carrots to the slow cooker. Brown the cut onions in the same skillet and add them to the slow cooker as well.

How do you cook ribs in a crock pot?

Lay the onions over the top of the ribs. Whisk together the barbecue sauce and lemon juice until blended well. Pour the mixture over the ribs. Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on low for 8-9 hours or until the ribs are cooked through and tender. Be sure to baste the ribs every once in while keep them coated on both sides.

Can you put ribs in a slow cooker?

Place ribs in your slow cooker with the meat side facing the wall of the slow cooker. It may slide down during cooking and that is fine. This just helps you to fit a whole rack into the slow cooker and to ensure even cooking. And with an oval slow cooker like this one, I can actually add in a second rack of ribs.

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