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Indulge in the bold and smoky flavor of Dr. Pepper ribs. These tender and juicy ribs are slow-cooked to perfection and coated in a deliciously sweet and tangy BBQ sauce made with the iconic soda.

Close up of a sliced rack of ribs.

Dr. Pepper Ribs are fall apart tender and require only 20 minutes of prep time. Let the slow cooker do all the work, and serve these up at your next party, or as an easy weeknight meal.

We love to serve Dr. Pepper crock pot ribs with baked beans, one pot mac and cheese, garlic green beans, or cheddar cornbread.

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Why We Love This Recipe

  • Fall Apart Tender – Cooking ribs low and slow makes them crazy tender.
  • Tangy Barbecue Sauce – The easy homemade Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce is the right balance of sweet and tangy.
  • Slow Cooker Recipe – I love a ‘set it and forget it’ recipe!

Ingredients For Dr. Pepper Ribs

  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Non Stick Cooking Spray
  • For the Spice Rub – Brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, ground mustard, cayenne pepper
  • For the Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce – Dr. Pepper soda, tomato paste, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, smoked paprika, cumin, ground mustard, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. (As a shortcut, you could swap in your favorite store bought BBQ sauce)

How To Make Crock Pot Dr. Pepper Ribs

See the recipe card below for full, detailed instructions

It takes only 20 minutes to prep and then the slow cooker does all the work.

Prep – Start by spraying the slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Pat dry the ribs with a paper towel. If the ribs still have their membrane, you’ll want to remove and discard.

Spices in a bowl.
Rack of ribs on a baking sheet with dry rub.

Spice Rub – Mix the spice rub ingredients in a bowl and generously rub on all sides of the ribs. Add ribs to the slow cooker (you can cut the racks in halves or thirds, if needed).

BBQ sauce ingredients in a sauce pan.
Finished bbq sauce in a pan.
BBQ sauced ribs in a slow cooker.

BBQ Sauce – In a medium pan, whisk all sauce ingredients together. Bring it to a simmer and simmer until thickened while stirring. Pour some of the bbq sauce over the ribs in the crock pot.

Cooked ribs in a slow cooker.

Slow Cook – Cook the ribs on low until they are fork tender.

Hot Tip

Ball up foil at the bottom of your slow cooker and place the ribs on top. This will help the juices to fall below so the ribs aren’t sitting in them. Then you can use the juices to make a yummy sauce.

BBQ sauced ribs on a baking sheet.
Broiled ribs on a baking sheet.

Broil – When the ribs are almost done cooking, preheat the oven and line a sheet pan with foil. Add the ribs and brush with the reserved sauce. Pop them in the oven and broil until the sauce is caramelized.

Cut up ribs on a baking sheet with bbq sauce.

Serve – Cut the racks into portions and serve with the remaining sauce.

Recipe FAQs

Why do people put brown sugar on ribs?

Brown sugar is a popular ingredient in a dry rub for ribs because not only are sweet flavors and pork a great pairing, but the sugar caramelizes slightly when it cooks.

Should ribs be covered in liquid in the slow cooker?

Ribs do not need to be covered in liquid when they’re cooked in the slow cooker. They will release some moisture as they cook and get super tender.

How long do ribs take to slow cook?

Ribs can be cooked in the slow cooker on Low for about 8 hours. They are done when they are super tender and practically fall apart.

Storage

Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. These are best reheated in a 350℉ oven in a baking dish covered in foil until they reach 165℉.

rustic plates of ribs and beans.

Helpful Tips

  • Broil – Don’t skip the extra step of baking or broiling them after they come out of the slow cooker. This helps to caramelize the sauce and make them sticky and glazed.
  • Cook on Low vs High – If you are tight on time, you could cook these on high for 4-5 hours in the crockpot, but they may not be as tender. 
  • Other Soda – You can sub in regular or cherry coke for the Dr. Pepper.
  • Cook in Oven – These could also be cooked the same way in a covered dutch oven in a low 300℉ for 5-6 hours.
  • Dry Rub Overnight – For extra flavorful ribs, and to save time, you can use the dry rub a day ahead and let them marinate in the spice mix overnight. Then in the morning, continue with the recipe. 
  • St Louis Ribs vs Baby Back – You could use St. Louis style ribs in place of the baby backs, but they may take a bit longer to get tender, and you will likely need to cut them into smaller pieces to fit in the slow cooker.

More BBQ Recipes

Recipe

Dr. Pepper Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

5 from 3 votes
Tender and juicy Dr. Pepper ribs have a bold and smoky flavor as they are slow-cooked to perfection then tossed in a sweet, tangy BBQ sauce.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 racks baby back ribs about 2 lbs each
  • Non stick cooking spray

Rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

  • 12 ounce can of Dr. Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Pinch cayenne pepper optional
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Instructions
 

  • Spray the insert of a large slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Remove ribs from packaging and pat dry with clean paper towel. If the membrane is still attached on the back of the racks, loosen it on one end by sliding a butter knife underneath, then grasp with a dry paper towel and pull the membrane off.
  • Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub generously into all sides of the rib racks. Place ribs in the slow cooker, cutting the racks into halves or thirds if needed.
  • Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, whisk all sauce ingredients together. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, reduce heat slightly and allow to simmer until thickened, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste after about 10 minutes, add another tablespoon of brown sugar if you’d like it sweeter or add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar if you’d like it more tangy.
  • Pour 1 cup of the sauce over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until fork tender.
  • Preheat oven to 425℉. Place ribs on a foil lined sheet pan and brush with reserved sauce, bake for about 10 minutes, or until sauce is caramelized. You can also broil or grill the ribs. Be careful to not overcook the ribs. Cut into portions and serve immediately with remaining sauce.

Notes

  • Leftovers can be stored covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. These are best reheated in a 350℉ oven in a baking dish covered in foil until they reach 165℉.
  • For extra flavorful ribs, and to save time, you can use the dry rub a day ahead and let them marinate in the spice mix overnight. Then in the morning, continue with the recipe.
  • Don’t skip the extra step of baking or broiling them after they come out of the slow cooker. This helps to caramelize the sauce and make them sticky and glazed.

Nutrition

Calories: 668kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 38gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 2305mgPotassium: 776mgFiber: 1gSugar: 55gVitamin A: 924IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 112mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional Disclaimer Kristin Maxwell of “Yellow Bliss Road” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. For accurate calorie counts and other nutritional values, we recommend running the ingredients through your preferred online nutritional calculator. Calories and other nutritional values can vary depending on which brands were used.

Kristin Maxwell

Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.

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Comments

  1. Lyna says:

    This one’s a family favorite! Such an easy prep and just throw it in the crockpot! The sauce is to die for 😍

    1. Kristin says:

      Thank you Lyna! Awesome feedback.

  2. Lyna says:

    Made this one for dinner last night and will def be sharing the recipe with friends and family. It came out AMAZING! Ribs fell right off the bone and the home made sauce was just delicious. Even my picky toddler LOVED them! 10/10 recommend!

    1. Kristin Maxwell says:

      Love that you loved it!!