These easy Crockpot St. Louis Style Ribs will become your go-to BBQ recipe! You just need three ingredients for delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs. Make these slow cooker spare ribs for the 4th of July, potlucks or any weekday. Baby backs work too!
Welcome to one of the easiest, no-brainer dishes on Cooking with Mamma C. I've been making this slow cooker St. Louis ribs recipe for decades!
And by "recipe," I really mean a method for cooking ribs. It doesn't require exact measurements but always delivers delicious results.
It's even easier than making Baked BBQ Chicken Breasts.
Are you ready?
You'll be rewarded with saucy, fall-off-the-bone ribs that will make everyone smile. They'll think you put lots of effort into this meal.
And you don't need to tell them otherwise!
St. Louis ribs vs. baby back ribs
Also known as spare ribs, St. Louis ribs are flatter, longer and meatier than baby back ribs. St. Louis-style ribs have more fat, so they're really tasty. They're not as tender as baby back ribs, but when cooked in the Crockpot on low all day, they'll emerge tender as can be!
Both types are bone-in pork ribs. St. Louis-style ribs are cut into a long rectangle and named for the city where there were lots of meat-packing plants from the 1930s to the 1960s that used these spare ribs instead of baby backs.
Spare ribs come from the belly area of the pig, while baby back ribs are located near the spine, as Tasting Table explains.
You just need three ingredients to make BBQ St. Louis ribs in the Crockpot! You don't need to add any liquid.
Ribs: For the best quality, try to purchase St. Louis ribs that weren't previously frozen. But, no worries if that's all you can find. Just make sure they're thawed before slow cooking them.
Keep in mind, you can use this recipe for baby back ribs too. I sometimes have two slow cookers going, one with spare ribs and one with a rack of baby backs.
I haven't tried making beef ribs this way, but I'm guessing any bone-in ribs would turn out great.
Garlic Powder: This just adds a little somethin' somethin' to the ribs without bringing extra sodium. It's really the only seasoning you need here, if you'll be adding barbecue sauce later.
BBQ Sauce: You can make your own or use a store-bought variety. We use Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbecue Sauce. (affiliate link).
How to cook St. Louis ribs in a Crockpot
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Spray the slow cooker or use a liner (affiliate link). Sprinkle garlic powder on the ribs and place them in the Crockpot. You can stand up the ribs in a tall slow cooker (affiliate link) or cut the slab in half to lay it down in a wide Crockpot (affiliate link).
- Cover and set it to cook on low for eight hours.
- After 7.5 hours, transfer the ribs to a platter and drain the liquid from the slow cooker.
- Place the ribs back in the Crockpot and pour the BBQ sauce over them. Cover and cook on low for another 30 minutes.
- Greasing the Crockpot with cooking spray (or using a liner) makes cleanup easier.
- Draining the pool of liquid fat from the slow cooker before adding barbecue sauce prevents greasy ribs and keeps the sauce thick instead of runny.
- If you'd rather not use tomato BBQ sauce, you can use a vinegar sauce and add other seasonings like salt, paprika and pepper to the ribs before cooking them in the Crockpot. Then drain the ribs after eight hours and serve. They'll still be tasty!
What to serve with BBQ ribs
Serve these St. Lous Style Ribs with the best corn on the cob, marinated carrot salad and Italian three-bean salad. Of course, this Stovetop Mac and Cheese, creamy potato salad or Italian potato salad go great with them too.
Frequently asked questions
You'll need three or four St. Louis ribs (spare ribs) per person. It's one pound per person, including bones. If you're serving baby back ribs, which are smaller, you'll need at least six per person.
No, you don't need to remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs before cooking them in the Crockpot. The ribs still will turn out tender, delicious and easy to cut. Why add extra work?
However, it's best to remove the membrane if you'll be using another method, such as grilling or smoking ribs. The membrane can be tough and prevent the meat from absorbing the seasonings and flavor. Here is how to remove the membrane, according to The Spruce Eats.
More slow cooker recipes
- Slow Cooker Carolina Pulled Pork
- Shredded Buffalo Chicken Nacho Salad
- Slow Cooker Cauliflower-Cheese Soup
More delicious pork recipes
- Italian Meat Sauce with Country Ribs
- Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
- Glazed Pork Tenderloin
- The Best Pork Loin Roast
- Pork Scallopini with Mushrooms
If you try this St. Louis Style Ribs Recipe, please leave a comment and a rating!
St. Louis Ribs Recipe (Crockpot)
- 4 pounds slab of St. Louis ribs (or baby back ribs)
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 10 ounces BBQ sauce (or use as much as you'd like)
- Spray a large slow cooker with cooking spray or use a slow cooker liner. Sprinkle the ribs with garlic powder. For an oval, 6-quart, Crockpot, cut the slab in half with kitchen scissors if needed to fit the ribs inside. (Lay them down if needed.) If you have a tall Crockpot, place the ribs standing up, with the meat side facing the walls of the cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for eight hours. A half hour before they are ready (7 ½ hours into the process), transfer the ribs to a platter and drain the liquid from the pot into the sink.
- Place the ribs back in the slow cooker and add the BBQ sauce. Cover and cook for the last 30 minutes on low.
- Place the ribs on a platter (they will be falling off the bone). Serve with extra sauce from the slow cooker on the side. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days.
(Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from a recipe I saw in an online forum way back in 2002. Originally published on July 6, 2015 as "Super Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs" and updated now with new photos and more information.)