Ribs taste best when they are tender and fall off the bone.
You can achieve this result by cooking them in a slow cooker.
However, ribs need a lot of time to cook perfectly in a slow cooker.
So, how long should you slow cook ribs?
- Time Required to Cook Ribs in A Slow Cooker
- 9 Ways to Reduce the Cooking Time of Ribs in A Slow Cooker
Time Required to Cook Ribs in A Slow Cooker
Ribs take at least six hours on the High setting of the slow cooker to cook properly and nine to ten hours on the Low setting.
However, the time needed to slow cook the ribs depends on various factors, including the slow cooker brand, cooker setting, size of the ribs, and even the recipe.
So let’s look at some ways to reduce this cooking time.
9 Ways to Reduce the Cooking Time of Ribs in A Slow Cooker
The best way to cook ribs in a slow cooker is on the Low and slow setting.
The result is much better this way than if you hurry the process.
However, when you are pressed for time, here are some tips to speed up the process.
1. Start with ribs at room temperature.
Frozen meat takes longer to cook than fresh meat.
If you place frozen ribs in the slow cooker, they need extra time to thaw.
So the cooking starts only after the meat thaws.
This is risky because the meat spends a long time in the danger zone where microbes multiply.
It increases the risk of food poisoning.
The easier and safer way is to thaw the meat before placing it in the slow cooker.
You can thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.
Alternatively, you can also thaw it on the counter if you don’t have much time.
2. Prep the ribs for cooking.
You can add the ribs with the rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and let it cook till it falls off the bone.
It will be tender and soft.
However, all the ingredients will mix randomly, and you can end up with a thin and runny sauce.
The meat may also not absorb all the flavors of the sauce.
So, the secret to reducing the cooking time without compromising the result is to remove the membrane on the back.
This lets the ribs absorb the sauce better. Also, it’s not too difficult or time-consuming.
To remove the membrane, slide a knife into the space between the membrane and the bone.
Gently lift the knife, and the membrane will slowly tear apart. You can pull it off to expose the meat.
3. Preheat the slow cooker.
The slow cooker takes a few minutes to reach the cooking temperature after you plug it in.
Depending on the brand and model, it may require fifteen to twenty minutes to start cooking.
You can avoid this delay by switching on the cooker while preparing the ingredients.
You will need some time to remove the membrane, prepare the spice rub if any, and mix the liquid.
The slow cooker will reach the right temperature when the ingredients are ready.
It can begin the cooking process as soon as you add the ingredients without waiting to heat.
4. Use a sauce.
You don’t need extra liquid to cook the ribs. However, there are benefits to cooking ribs in barbeque sauce.
Adding sauce enhances the flavor of the dish.
The ingredients in the sauce will infuse into the meat and make it more delicious.
The liquid also helps the meat remain soft and tender.
More importantly, adding a liquid increases the moisture inside the slow cooker.
It raises the internal temperature and speeds up the cooking process.
So the addition of a liquid will reduce at least a few minutes of cooking time.
5. Use a smaller cut of meat.
The cooking time directly depends on the quantity of meat inside a slow cooker.
So a smaller piece will cook much faster than a large cut.
A 4 lbs pack of ribs will need six to seven hours on the Low setting and three to four hours on High.
However, if the size is more, it will take much longer to cook.
So choose the right size based on how quickly you want to get it ready.
6. Cut the ribs.
Another way to reduce the cooking time in a slow cooker is to section the meat.
You can cut the ribs in half to cook them faster.
After cutting the ribs, add half of it to the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over it.
Layer the remaining ribs on top of the sauce. Finally, add the remaining sauce.
7. Use baby back ribs to cook faster.
The cooking time depends on the type of ribs and how meaty they are.
Baby back ribs will usually cook faster in a slow cooker.
You can use either the Low or High setting for these ribs.
However, if you cook with St. Louis-style ribs, you will need more time for cooking.
These cuts are longer, meatier, and thicker.
Hence, they need much more time than baby back ribs to cook.
Another thing to remember is that it’s better to cook meatier ribs on the Low setting.
We don’t recommend cooking St. Louis-style ribs on High since it makes them tough and dry.
8. Cook on the High setting.
We usually recommend choosing the Low setting for tough cuts of meat, like ribs. However, it needs twice the time.
If you don’t want to wait that long, you can choose the High setting.
By cooking on High, the ribs will be ready in six to seven hours.
However, it may not be as tender or delicate as when cooked on the Low setting.
For a better result, start the cooking process on High.
Wait till the ribs are cooked halfway. It can take three to four hours.
Then, switch to the Low setting and allow it to cook through.
This approach cuts the cooking time, and the ribs taste good.
9. Use foil to wrap the ribs.
There are two main benefits of wrapping ribs in foil.
The foil traps and concentrates the heat around the ribs, making them cook faster.
It also tenderizes the meat, as the moisture is trapped near the surface.
However, it’s important to time the process correctly to ensure that the ribs cook thoroughly.
The ribs are small. So the process is slightly different from wrapping other cuts of meat.
Other cuts of meat are usually wrapped when they reach a temperature of 150°F to 165°F.
This is to reduce the stalling time, where a cool layer develops above the meat and slows down cooking.
Since ribs are small, stalling doesn’t occur.
In this case, you can wait for the internal temperature of the meat to reach 175°F to 180°F.
There are many ways to wrap the meat.
One that works is to choose foil paper that is the same length as the ribs and spritz the inside with water.
It’s better to choose thick foil paper that doesn’t tear easily since you are dealing with bones.
Place the ribs with the meaty side down and wrap them with the foil.
Return them to the slow cooker and let them cook till done thoroughly.