Slow Cooker BBQ Slab O’ Ribs

Succulent, Fall-Off-The-Bone "BBQ" Ribs

Succulent, Fall-Off-The-Bone “BBQ” Ribs

Beloved has a secret, guilty pleasure. He watches “Barbecue Pit Masters” when he thinks we are all busy.  Not that I blame him, fire and a slab of beautiful meat strikes a primal chord in all of us. I set out to reproduce some of the delectable dishes I’d seen him drooling over. Lacking a smoking pit, or a full day to pamper and fuss over the slab of meat I brought home from the Butcher, I cheated. The results would have a Pit Master sniffing disdainfully at my claim to Barbecue Ribs .. but I bet they’d come back for seconds once they’d tried it. Beloved certainly did 🙂


“Proper” Barbecue meats have a crust (known as “bark”) formed by dry rubs and searing. Think crackling on a pork roast. Rubbing finely ground salt, sugar and spices over the meat then allowing it to sit for a few hours imparts flavour. More importantly this step slightly dehydrates a thin layer of tissue which really helps with the formation of good “bark”.  You can throw all of the ingredients into your slow cooker and come back 8 hours later and the meat will be tender, succulent and tasty. If you want bark, you’ll have to wait the extra couple of hours.

Remove the membrane over the ribs

Remove the membrane over the ribs

Don’t leave the membrane over the ribs bones as they tend to cook tough. Removing them also allows more flavour to penetrate the meat.  Slip the tip of a very sharp knife between a rib and the membrane and push it toward the corner of the meat to make a flap you can get a good grip on. The membrane should then rip off.

Getting a “smoky” flavour without a smoking pit is more problematic.  I am reluctant to use artificial smoke (i.e. “liquid smoke”) so I sourced Hickory smoked salt and spent a considerable period of time experimenting with commercial BBQ sauces. A good smokey bourbon and/or chipotle sauce was a clear winner. Choose a vinegar based sauce with a little warmth and a lot of smoke .. save the Sweet Baby Ray’s for pork 🙂

I have the luxury of a Butcher who will tell the provenance of the animal. I chose a moderately marbled slab of beef from a free-range, grass-fed older steer for maximum beef flavour.

If you have access to dried garlic and/or onions, add them into the dry rub. I used fresh garlic and added it into the sauce.


Serves 4

start with a nice piece of beef

start with a nice piece of beef

  • 1.5 kg/ 3 lbs beef ribs.
  • 1 Tbsp Hickory smoked salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dried garlic OR 3 cloves fresh garlic  (see notes)
  • 1 cup low salt beef stock
  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce (see Notes)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp good seedy mustard
  • 1 – 3 tsp Sriracha Sauce (to taste)

With a very sharp knife, remove the membranes over the rib bones. (see Notes)

Place salt, sugar and dried garlic into a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind to a fine powder.

Rub salt mix all over the meat. Cover with foil and place in the fridge for at least two hours (preferably overnight) to help get a nice bark on the meat.

Stir all the other ingredients together in the crockpot.

Place the rubbed meat in the crockpot, bone side up. cover and cook on low for 4 hours

Turn carefully and cook a further 4 hours. The top of the meat should be out of the liquid marinade.

Serve with steamed vegetables and fresh cornbread.



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