Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Ribs


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Flavorful, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs are what you’ll get with these slow cooker Dr. Pepper ribs. No dry rub is necessary, and prep time doesn’t get any easier than this, thanks to the recipe only calling for six ingredients.

Whether you’re looking for a weeknight dinner option or something to bring along to a weekend game day gathering, this easy recipe is a great idea for any time!

dr. pepper ribs in slow cooker with onion on top.

Why this recipe works

If you haven’t done ribs in the crockpot, you need to put it on your dinner menu ASAP. I’ve done ribs with other cooking methods, but for me, cooking them in the crock pot is not only the easiest, but it also always cooks the ribs to perfection. This is one of that dump and go recipes with little prep!

Not to mention, using the slow cooker takes the guesswork out of cooking a style and cut of meat like ribs, meaning you don’t have to give it much thought. And trust me when I say this is a recipe the entire family will enjoy – even the kiddos. This will be a great recipe to keep on hand.

Recipe Ingredients

ingredients for dr. pepper ribs on table.
  • Pork Baby Back Ribs – these are packed raw and usually weigh somewhere between 3-4 pounds.
  • Dr. Pepper – Dr. Pepper soda adds sweetness to the bbq ribs; notice I did not add brown sugar to the recipe; I think that would have been too much sugar.
  • Barbecue sauce – adds a great flavor to the overall dish.
  • Hickory liquid smoke – this makes the ribs taste like they’ve been in the smoker all day.
  • Seasonings – garlic powder, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce add the perfect flavor combination to the soda and barbeque sauce.

Step-by-Step Directions

four image collage of how to add ingredients for slow cooker for dr. pepper ribs.

Step One – The hardest (and grossest) thing about this recipe is removing the sinew from the back of the ribs. It’s a thin piece of tissue that you would think would break down with cooking, but it doesn’t all the way and is not good eats. This piece of tissue is easily removed by taking a knife and loosening an edge of it, then grab hold of that edge and ripping it off; if you are lucky, it will come off in one piece.

Step Two – Place the ribs into the crock pot. Sprinkle over the garlic powder and black pepper. Add the liquid smoke and barbecue sauce over the ribs.

Step Three – Pour over the Dr. Pepper.

Step Four – Cook ribs on LOW for 8 hours, do not open the lid while these cook. They will turn out moist and tender if you leave them be. Serve hot, and enjoy!

dr. pepper ribs in white slow cooker.

Tips for the best ribs

  • Low and Slow. Cooking low and slow is the best to ensure tender ribs
  • Remove sinew from the back of ribs BEFORE cooking
  • Keep the lid on the entire cooking time
  • Add plenty of liquid (this recipe uses Dr. Pepper as the liquid)
overhead shot of dr. pepper ribs.

How to serve:

  • As-is: Of course, you can’t go wrong serving these Dr. Pepper ribs as is, but be sure to have some napkins close by.
  • Light sides: serving these bbq ribs with a light side such as a side salad will help keep the overall meal light and healthy. Other salad side options to consider are pasta salad, potato salad, or a broccoli salad.
  • Southern-style: if you want to turn these pork ribs into a Southern meal, pair them with a nice helping of mashed potatoes and cole slaw.
  • Bread: keep a pan (or plate) of rolls, cornbread, or sliced bread nearby for sopping up the yummy juices.
rib on plate with mashed potatoes and salad.

Recipe FAQs

Does this recipe work with beef ribs?

Absolutely. This is an easy substitution, and nothing about the recipe or cooking needs to change. You can also use boneless country style pork ribs.

What types of barbeque sauce do you recommend?

You can’t go wrong with Sweet Baby Rays; however, you can always use your favorite bbq sauce. Keep in mind the flavor of the barbeque sauce you use will have an effect on the overall flavor.

How to store leftover ribs?

Put any remaining ribs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days. When reheating them, add a bit of water to a baking sheet and bake on a low temp for absolutely perfect leftover ribs.

Can you use a different flavor of soda in this recipe?

While this recipe calls for Dr. Pepper, you can also use Coca-Cola, Root Beer, or even diet Dr. Pepper. Carbonation of any drink will help make crockpot ribs tender and juicy, especially when they are slow-cooked.

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close up of dr. pepper ribs with green onion

Slow Cooker Dr. Pepper Ribs

4.99 from 63 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Pork Baby Back Ribs Smothered in Dr. Pepper and Barbecue sauce with a touch of liquid smoke. So much easier than grilling.

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 lbs. rack baby back pork ribs, (1 rack is usually about 3-4 pounds, any size that will fit in the slow cooker will work fine.
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. hickory liquid smoke
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, (I use Sweet Baby Rays)
  • 12 oz. can Dr. Pepper

Instructions 

  • Remove the sinew from the ribs (it’s the white slimey thing on the rounded back part of the ribs.) I do this by lifting a edge of it up with a knife, then grabbing it with 2 fingers. If your lucky the entire things will come off in one pull.
  • Cut the ribs in to 4 even sections, or in half. Doesn’t matter how you slice it.
  • Add to the slow cooker
  • Sprinkle over the pepper, garlic powder and add the liquid smoke.
  • Drizzle over the barbecue sauce.
  • Pour the Dr. Pepper in.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours without opening the lid during the cooking time.
  • Serve with additional barbecue sauce if desired

Video

Notes

Can I use a different kind of soda?
While this recipe calls for Dr. Pepper, you can also use Coca-Cola, Root Beer, or even diet Dr. Pepper. Carbonation of any drink will help make crockpot ribs tender and juicy, especially when they are slow-cooked.
Does this recipe work with beef ribs?
Absolutely. This is an easy substitution, and nothing about the recipe or cooking needs to change. You can also use boneless country-style ribs.
How to store:
Put any remaining ribs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 4 days. When reheating them, add a bit of water to a baking sheet and bake on a low temp for absolutely perfect leftover ribs.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 786kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 209mg | Sodium: 765mg | Potassium: 858mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 2.6mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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Recipe Rating




138 Comments

  1. Joseph says:

    5 stars
    This is a phenomenal recipe and will be my go-to for doing ribs for New Year’s! I use boneless country-style ribs instead of baby back ribs. I made this for my lady friend and her mom for dinner today (although we had to transfer it to the oven as apparently the high setting on her crockpot doesn’t work too well) and they both loved it. Apparently her mom can’t stop talking about it and even called her sister to tell them LOL! So you’ll likely have a new fan of your recipes 🙂

  2. Stephen Melvin says:

    5 stars
    This is one of my daughter’s favorite recipes. Turns out perfect everytime I cook it. Try it on 4 hours high this time cause I’m a little rushed today. Hope it turns out just as good

  3. Dianna says:

    5 stars
    I have been making ribs like this for several years and it is a fool-proof way to get fall off the bone ribs!(difficult to take out of the crock pot without falling apart in pieces!) However I don’t use liquid smoke (personally don’t like the flavor) and I also line a broiling pan with foil and spread extra bbq sauce on and put under broiler until bubbly!

  4. C. Raymond Ratliff says:

    5 stars
    Easy to prep and tastes great you would simply have to work at it to mess them up!!!

  5. Debbie says:

    If cooking only one slab of babybacks will I need to reduce the cook time?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      This recipe is one full slab, it’s just cut in half. If you are cooking a very small amount you can cut the time down by an hour.

  6. JJ says:

    Can this be made in an instant pot? If yes, what do you recommend for cook time?

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I have not tested, I apologize.

    2. J says:

      I use my instant pot. 8 hours slow cook on the low setting, then I baste with bbq sauce and bake at 400 for 10 minutes

  7. Anthony smith says:

    Having looked at the recipe & watched the video, is liquid smoke actually Worcestershire sauce. Also what would be a great side dish to go with the ribs

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      I fixed it, you should add liquid smoke. Though I LOVE Worcestershire in this recipe and if you didn’t have liquid smoke you can use it.