Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Ribs

4 people
8 hr 5 min

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These Slow Cooker Dr Pepper Ribs are absolutely foolproof and come out falling apart every time. The sweetness of the Dr. Pepper and acidity of the apple cider vinegar pairs perfectly with the pork. The ribs are broiled at the end for some delicious caramelization.


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Growing up right outside of Dallas, we ate barbecue all the time. Not only would we go out for barbecue, but my step dad would make it at home in the smoker.


Living in an apartment the last few years, I basically cook everything inside. So I have experimented with a few barbecue recipes that do not require a grill or smoker, like my oven baked ribs.


I wanted to put my spin on the very popular “Dr. Pepper” slow cooker ribs for those who like to cook and enjoy barbecue indoors, like me.


The slow cooker Dr Pepper ribs are rubbed with a simple spice mixture, made of chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic, and salt. The smoked paprika adds a smokiness that a smoker typically would. The soda and the apple cider vinegar add some sweetness and tanginess that plays great with the pork.


These Dr. Pepper ribs are then cooked low and slow in the slow cooker. This is the key to getting the pork super tender. Lastly they are broiled so that the barbecue sauce can caramelize. I like to use Sweet Baby Rays. So good. Hope you enjoy!!xx


Highlights

  • Easy dump and go crock pot recipe
  • Works with country style ribs or baby back
  • Sweet, tangy, and smokey
  • Pork falls apart (super tender)
  • Slow cooked for up to 8 hours
  • No grill or smoker needed


Ingredient Notes

  • Smoked Paprika: Do not substitute regular paprika. It does not have the same flavor.
  • Ribs: You can substitute the country ribs for baby back. Be sure to remove the silverskin and cut the rack into about 4 pieces so it will fit in the slow cooker. I have not tested this recipe with beef ribs.
  • Dr. Pepper: Try substituting Dr. Pepper for coke or root beer.


Complete list of ingredients and amounts is located on the .


Helpful Equipment & Tools

Instructions

Overview

  • Rub the slow cooker Dr Pepper ribs with the spices.
  • Slow cook with the Dr. Pepper soda for 6-8 hours.
  • Broil with barbecue sauce on top & serve!


Step by Step

Step 1: In a small bowl, combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the spices all over the surface of the ribs.


Step 2: Pour 1 ¼ cup of the Dr. Pepper and the apple cider vinegar in the slow cooker. Place the ribs on top of the soda.

TIP - Use pressure to pat the spices into the meat.


Step 3: Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the meat is falling apart. The meat should register 190-200 degrees.


Step 4: While the ribs are cooking, combine the rest of the soda and the barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Refrigerate until the ribs are done.

TIP - Every slow cooker cooks differently, so I recommend using a thermometer to ensure perfectly cooked ribs.


Step 5: Once the ribs are done, line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with cooking spray or use a wire rack. Gently place the ribs on the baking sheet without removing the dry rub. Brush generously with the barbecue sauce mixture.


Step 6: Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and begins to darken.

TIP - If you like more charred ribs, broil for an extra minute. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they do not burn.


Make Ahead & Storage

  • Make Ahead: These slow cooker Dr Pepper ribs are great for preparing ahead of time because they take up to 8 hours to cook. Throw them in before work or in the morning and have dinner ready by the time you return home.
  • Refrigerator: Store leftover ribs in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Reheating: You can reheat leftover ribs in the microwave or the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the ribs in a casserole dish with extra sauce, butter, or water. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the ribs are heated through.
  • Freezer: I do not recommend freezing the slow cooker Dr. Pepper ribs.


Expert Tips

  • Don’t skip the spice rubs or vinegar. I know other recipes just call for the bbq sauce and Dr. Pepper. While these provide sweetness, the ribs need some acid and smokiness as well. This is why the recipe calls for chili powder, smoked paprika, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Cook the ribs on low in the crock pot. I do not recommend cooking the ribs on high. Ribs are best cooked low and slow. This ensures the pork ribs come out extremely tender.
  • Broil. This step makes all the difference. Trust me I have tried this Dr. Pepper bbq rib recipe without broiling the ribs and it is just not the same. The high heat caramelizes the sugar in the barbecue sauce and soda.


Recipe Notes

  • The ribs are not spicy. Even though there are 2 Tablespoons chili powder in the spice rub, it does not add much heat. It adds savoriness more than spice.

Variations

  • Spicy: Add ½ - 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the rub or use a spicy bbq sauce.
  • Instant Pot: Follow the recipe as stated. Pressure cook on HIGH for 40-45 minutes (40 for 3 pounds and 45 for 4 pounds). Allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 5 15-20 minutes or completely.


FAQs

Can you slow cook ribs too long?Yes. The meat will eventually dry out. I do not recommend cooking the ribs for more than 8 hours.

Is it better to slow cook or pressure cook ribs?Both methods work great for ribs because they help break down the collagen (tenderize the ribs). It really depends how much time you have. If you want to prepare the ribs early, I recommend the slow cooker. If you are short on time, try the Instant Pot (instructions in Variations section).

When should I put BBQ sauce on ribs?You should always put the sauce on at the end with high heat so the sugars can caramelize.

Can you stack ribs in a slow cooker?Yes. The steam will circulate inside the crock pot and evenly cook all of the ribs.


Related Recipes

Teriyaki Salmon (Air Fryer)

Instant Pot Chili (No Beans)

Spaghetti Squash (Air Fryer)

Instant Pot Turkey Tacos

Recipe details

  • 4  people
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 8 Hours Total time: 8 hr 5 min
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Ingredients


  • 2 Tablespoons smoked paprika*
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3-4 pounds of boneless country style ribs, see note if using baby back*
  • 1 can Dr. Pepper, separated*
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions


Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
In a small bowl, combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the spices all over the surface of the ribs.
Pour 1 ¼ cup of the Dr. Pepper and the apple cider vinegar in the slow cooker. Place the ribs on top of the soda.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the meat is falling apart. The meat should register 190-200 degrees.
While the ribs are cooking, combine the rest of the soda and the barbecue sauce in a small bowl. Refrigerate until the ribs are done.
Once the ribs are done, line a baking sheet with foil and grease lightly with cooking spray or use a wire rack. Gently place the ribs on the baking sheet without removing the dry rub. Brush generously with the barbecue sauce mixture.
Broil for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and begins to darken.

Tips

  • Smoked Paprika: Do not substitute regular paprika. It does not have the same flavor.
  • Ribs: You can substitute the country ribs for baby back. Be sure to remove the silverskin and cut the rack into about 4 pieces so it will fit in the slow cooker. I have not tested this recipe with beef ribs.
  • Dr. Pepper: Try substituting Dr. Pepper for coke or root beer.
  • Refrigerator: Store leftover ribs in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Reheating: You can reheat leftover ribs in the microwave or the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the ribs in a casserole dish with extra sauce, butter, or water. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the ribs are heated through.
  • The ribs are not spicy. Even though there are 2 Tablespoons chili powder in the spice rub, it does not add much heat. It adds savoriness more than spice.
  • Don’t skip the spice rubs or vinegar. I know other recipes just call for the bbq sauce and Dr. Pepper. While these provide sweetness, the ribs need some acid and smokiness as well. This is why the recipe calls for chili powder, smoked paprika, and apple cider vinegar.
  • Cook the ribs on low in the crock pot. I do not recommend cooking the ribs on high. Ribs are best cooked low and slow. This ensures the pork ribs come out extremely tender.
  • Broil. This step makes all the difference. Trust me I have tried this Dr. Pepper bbq rib recipe without broiling the ribs and it is just not the same. The high heat caramelizes the sugar in the barbecue sauce and soda.

Brianna May
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