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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.
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.Pin this recipe for later!
Table of Contents
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
Get a detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.
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.
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 – 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.
Slow Cook – Cook the ribs on low until they are fork tender.
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.
Serve – Cut the racks into portions and serve with the remaining sauce.
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.
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.
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.
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℉.
- 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
- Crispy Baked BBQ Chicken Wings
- Carolina Gold BBQ Sauce
- BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches
- Easy Baked BBQ Chicken
- BBQ Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
Dr. Pepper Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
- 2 racks baby back ribs about 2 lbs each
- Non stick cooking spray
- 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
- 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.
- 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.