Dr. Pepper Crock Pot Ribs are perfectly fork tender and succulent, slathered in a rich and zesty Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce. Delicious and easy recipe for slow cooker ribs -- perfect for game day, summer BBQs, and family get togethers.
Did you know you can make tender, juicy ribs with the most amazing flavor right in your slow cooker?
These slow cooker Dr. Pepper BBQ ribs are seasoned with a flavorful rib dry rub recipe, brushed with BBQ sauce, and cooked low and slow in Dr. Pepper.
But that's not all.
The ribs are brushed with savory Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce and broiled until caramelized.
It's a great recipe for family gatherings when the grill is already maxed out, hot summer days when it's too hot to turn on an oven. or anytime you want to make a delicious meal the entire family will enjoy.
Honestly, there's never a wrong time to make ribs.
Crock Pot Dr Pepper Ribs are delicious served with Tuna Macaroni Salad, Sweet Cornbread slathered in Cinnamon Honey Butter, and Macaroni and Cheese.
Why You'll Love This Crock Pot Rib Recipe
Stress-free, easy ribs recipe with simple ingredients
Slow cooking ribs is a fool proof way to make tender, juicy ribs every time
The best ribs for any occasion -- game day, family BBQs, weeknight dinners
Rich and tangy Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce is the best. sauce. ever.
Pork loin backribs. I used pork loin backribs in this recipe, which can also be called baby back ribs, back ribs, or loin ribs. Back ribs are cut from where the rib meets the spine and are shorter than larger spare ribs, hence the name. No, baby back ribs are not from baby pigs. You can also use spare ribs or St. Louis style ribs, which are larger and meatier. They will just take longer to cook.
Dry rub recipe. The rib dry rub recipe is a delicious combination of dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper that flavors the meat while it cooks low and slow in your Crock Pot. You can skip the dry rub process if you like, but many folks like the additional flavor it adds to the ribs.
Dr. Pepper. One cup Dr. Pepper soda is the cooking liquid in the crock pot that helps keep the meat moist and add rich flavor.
Your favorite BBQ sauce. The ribs get brushed BBQ sauce twice. The first is with bottled BBQ sauce -- we like Sweet Baby Rays. The second is with a special Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce made from the flavorful Crock Pot juices.
How to Know When Ribs are Done
Want to know the secrets to perfectly cooked ribs? I got you with a few easy methods that will take the guesswork out of making ribs that are neither overcooked nor undercooked -- just right.
Temperature. Many agree that the ideal temperature range for properly cooked rib meat falls somewhere between 185 and 205, with 185 being chewier and 205 being softer.
One caveat to using temperature to tell if ribs are done is it can be difficult to get an accurate reading from ribs because the meat is so thin and there are so many bones. The best bet is to find a meaty section in the center and insert the probe between two bones, being careful not to touch the bones or fat.
We shoot for about 190-195 degrees, which results in fork-tender ribs we can pick up with our hands without the meat falling off the bone. If the meat falls off the bone, the ribs are overcooked and can be mushy. If you prefer fall-off-the-bones ribs, check the texture at 205 to see if they're to your liking.
Bend test. To try the bend test, use your tongs to pick up the ribs at the center of the rack. If the meat bends down toward the ground and even starts to tear a little bit, the ribs are considered done. Note, this won't work for fall off the bone ribs.
Bite test. The bite test is what competition BBQ judges use to determine doneness. If you take a bite out of a rib and can see a perfectly rounded bite mark, they're done!
How to Make Crockpot Ribs
1. Prep the Crock Pot and ribs.
Spray the sides of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. The membrane is a slippery white tissue that can get chewy or rubbery and keep the dry rub from seasoning the meat.
To remove, use your fingers or a butter knife to get underneath the membrane, then use a dry paper towel to grip it and pull it off.
Note that the membrane has already been removed from some racks of ribs.
Cut the ribs into the appropriate size to fit your slow cooker. I cut the rack into two pieces, which fits my oval 6-quart crock pot perfectly.
2. Make the rib dry rub recipe.
Combine the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
Rub the mixture onto the back side of the ribs, then the front side.
3. Place ribs in the Crock Pot.
Place one rack of ribs in the Crock Pot and brush ½ cup of barbecue sauce on top.
Lay the second rack on top of the first one and brush with ½ cup of barbecue sauce.
Pour the Dr. Pepper around the ribs into the bottom of your slow cooker.
4. Slow cook the ribs in the Crock Pot.
Cook on low for 5-6 hours or until the meat is soft and fork-tender and the internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees.
190-200 degrees is the perfect temperature for ribs that are soft and fork-tender.
If you prefer fall-off-the-bone ribs, cook them longer. Check the texture at 205 degrees to make sure they don't get dry or mushy.
5. Simmer the sauce.
Remove the ribs from the crock pot and place them on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan or deep skillet and whisk in ½ cup of barbecue sauce.
Boil the mixture over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until it reduces down to the thick consistency of barbecue sauce.
As an alternative, you can use straight store-bought sauce. But I HIGHLY recommend making this Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce -- it's a really delicious recipe!
6. Caramelize the BBQ sauce under the broiler.
Preheat the broiler.
Brush sauce over the top of the ribs and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and caramelized.
Serve with additional barbecue sauce on the side.
Storage, Freezing & Reheating Instructions
Storage. Store leftover ribs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Reheating. To reheat ribs, add another layer of sauce, cover the ribs in foil, and heat at 250 degrees for 30 minutes or until warmed through and the internal temperature reaches 145.
Freezing. To freeze, let the cooked ribs cool completely. Wrap each portion in two layers of plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. Freeze cooked ribs for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
You can use baby back ribs or St. Louis style spare ribs. St. Louis style ribs are meatier and will take longer to cook.
Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. It's chewy and rubbery keeps the dry rub from getting to the meat.
Watch the ribs closely under the broiler -- they can go from perfectly caramelized to burnt in a red hot second.
Start by rubbing the ribs with dry rub. Place one rack in the slow cooker and brush it with sauce. Repeat with the next rack. Pour one cup of Dr. Pepper into the bottom of the slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours until the ribs are fork-tender. Brush the ribs with extra sauce and broil until the sauce caramelizes.
Slow cooker Dr. Pepper ribs cook for 5-6 hours on high for soft, fork-tender ribs. If you prefer them to fall off the bone, cook for another hour or two. Be sure to test them so they don't get too mushy or dry.
Yes. One cup of Dr. Pepper in the Crock Pot of ribs keeps the meat moist during the low and slow cooking and also flavors the meat.
Get the Stuff I Use
This digital meat thermometer is waterproof and magnetized -- I keep it on the fridge next to the oven.
My 6-quart Crock Pot is the perfect size for pot roast, chili, and ribs, and has a lockable lid for spill-free traveling.
More Easy Crock Pot Recipes
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Dr. Pepper Crock Pot Ribs
Dry Rub for Ribs
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Dr Pepper Crock Pot Ribs
- 3 to 3 ½ pounds pork loin back ribs aka baby back ribs
- 8 ounces Dr. Pepper
- 1 ½ cups BBQ sauce we like Sweet Baby Ray's
- Spray the sides of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. To remove, use your fingers or a butter knife to get underneath the membrane, then use a dry paper towel to grip it and pull it off. Note that the membrane has already been removed from some racks of ribs.
- Cut the ribs into the appropriate size to fit your slow cooker. You can either lay them rib-side down or stand them up, meat side toward the crock. I cut the rack into two pieces, which fits my oval 6-quart crock pot perfectly.
- Combine the dry rub ingredients. Generously rub the mixture into the back side, then the front side of each rack of ribs.
- Place one rack in the Crock Pot and brush ½ cup of barbecue sauce on top. Lay the second rack on top of the first one and brush with ½ cup of barbecue sauce.
- Pour the Dr. Pepper around the ribs into the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Place the lid on and set the temperature to low. Cook for 5-6 hours or until the meat is soft and fork-tender and the internal temperature reaches 190-200 degrees. If you prefer fall-off-the-bone ribs, check the texture at 205 to make sure they don't get dry or mushy.
- Remove the ribs from the crock pot and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet.
- Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a saucepan or deep skillet and whisk in ½ cup of barbecue sauce. Boil the mixture over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes or until it reduces down to the consistency of barbecue sauce. As an alternative, you can use straight store-bought sauce. But I HIGHLY recommend making this Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce -- it's really delicious!
- Preheat the broiler. Brush the sauce over the top of the ribs and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and caramelized. Serve with additional barbecue sauce on the side.
Karen Cedars says
This sounds delicious. Could these ribs be cooked in the oven instead of a crock pot?
Cara Lanz says
Hi Karen, I haven't tested this recipe in the oven, but I'm sure you could! If it were me, I'd try them in a low oven, around 250 or so, covered. But let me know what you decide to try and how it works! Cara 🙂