If you're looking for tender and flavorful pork ribs with little effort, then this easy recipe for Crock Pot Dr. Pepper Ribs is the way to go! The combination of savory spices, sweet barbecue sauce, and Dr. Pepper makes for a main dish that is tender, flavorful, and perfect for serving with your favorite side dishes!
Dr. Pepper is a popular soft drink that's been around since 1885. It's made with 23 different flavors, including cherry, caramel, and vanilla, and has a unique taste that's loved by many, including us! When used in this recipe, this soda adds a touch of sweetness and a hint of caramel that perfectly compliments the natural flavors of pork.
Why use Dr. Pepper in a rib recipe? Its high sugar content caramelizes and tenderizes the meat, while the acidity also helps to break down the protein, resulting in ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender!
The best way to make Dr. Pepper ribs is by using your slow cooker. The savory spices in the dry rub perfectly balance out the sweetness of the soda, creating a delicious combination that's made possible by slow cooking. The addition of the barbecue sauce at the end adds another layer of flavor and helps to create a sticky, caramelized crust on top.
These tender ribs pair perfectly with classic barbecue sides such as coleslaw, baked beans with bacon, or corn on the cob. You can also serve them with a simple salad or roasted vegetables to keep it on the lighter side!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This Dr. Pepper ribs recipe is the perfect combination of sweet and savory, with a unique flavor that everyone will enjoy.
- The crock pot makes it easy and hands-off, allowing you to enjoy delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs with minimal effort.
- Adding Dr. Pepper to the cooking liquid creates a tender and juicy texture while also infusing the meat with a deliciously sweet and slightly tangy flavor.
- Perfect for sharing with friends and family at summer barbecues, game day parties, or any occasion that calls for delicious, tender pork ribs.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Baby Back Ribs - The star of the dish, these ribs are tender, meaty, and perfect for slow cooking in the crock pot.
- Dry Rub - You'll need a mix of paprika, garlic powder, onion, powder, salt, black pepper, and ground mustard to add a savory aromatic flavor along with a tangy sharp flavor.
- Dr. Pepper - The secret ingredient that makes these ribs unique and delicious. This soda adds sweetness, caramelization, and a slightly tangy flavor to the meat.
- BBQ Sauce - A sweet and savory sauce that coats the ribs and infuses them with even more flavor. Sweet Baby Ray's is a popular brand that complements the flavors perfectly.
How To Make Dr. Pepper Ribs In The Crock Pot
Prepare the ribs: Start by removing the membrane from the back of the ribs. This will help them to cook evenly and absorb more flavor. Trim any excess fat, then pat dry with a paper towel.
Season the ribs: Add the dried spices to a bowl, then whisk to combine. Cut the prepared ribs in half, then coat each side generously with the spice rub to ensure even seasoning.
Add to slow cooker: Add the seasoned ribs to the crock pot, then pour in the BBQ sauce. Reserve ¼ cup of Dr. Pepper, then pour the rest into the bottom of the crock pot. Do not pour on top as this will wash the seasoning off the ribs.
Cover and cook: Add the lid to the top of the crock pot, then cook on low for 7-8 hours or until the ribs are fork-tender and cooked through.
Brush with liquid: Remove the ribs from the crock pot and place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Mix the rest of the soda with ¾ cup of BBQ sauce until combined. Brush the mixture on top of the ribs.
Broil and serve: Turn the oven to broil and place the ribs in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until a sticky glaze forms on top that thickens and bubbles. Let the ribs rest for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- How to remove the membrane from pork ribs: Start at the narrow end of the rack and carefully slide a butter knife under the membrane to loosen it. Then use a paper towel to grip and pull off the membrane.
- Generously coat the ribs with the dry rub, making sure to cover both sides of the meat. This will create a flavorful crust on the outside of the ribs.
- Use a crock pot liner to make cleanup easier. The sticky sauce and juices from the meat can be difficult to clean!
- When broiling the ribs in the oven, keep a close eye on them to prevent burning. The high heat can cause the sauce to caramelize quickly, so watch them carefully.
- Let the ribs rest for a few minutes after cooking to allow the juices to redistribute. This will help the meat stay moist and flavorful rather than drying out when cut.
- Swap out the BBQ sauce for a different flavor, such as honey or spicy BBQ sauce, to add an extra layer of flavor to the ribs.
- Use a different type of soda, such as Coca-Cola or root beer, in place of Dr. Pepper. Each soda will add a unique flavor to the dish and create a different taste.
- For a smoky flavor, add a tablespoon of liquid smoke to the cooking liquid. This will give the ribs a delicious, smoky taste without having to use a smoker or grill.
- Add a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to the cooking liquid to enhance the savory flavors of the dish.
- Experiment with different dry rubs to find your favorite combination of flavors. You can try adding cumin, chili powder, or smoked paprika for a spicy kick or brown sugar and cinnamon for a sweeter taste.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Place cooled leftover ribs in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to four days.
Freezing: To freeze Dr. Pepper ribs, place them in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to three months. When ready to eat, thaw the ribs in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Reheating: Brush the ribs with additional barbecue sauce to prevent them from drying out. Place the ribs on a baking sheet and cover loosely with foil. Heat in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes or until warmed through.
Yes, you can use spare ribs or St. Louis-style ribs instead of baby back ribs. Keep in mind that the cooking time may vary depending on the size of the ribs, so adjust accordingly.
While it's possible to cook the ribs on high, we recommend cooking them on low for the best results. Cooking the ribs on low and slow will ensure that they are tender and juicy, while high heat may cause them to become tough and dry.
Yes, you can cook the ribs in the oven or on the grill if you don't have a crock pot. To cook in the oven, place the seasoned ribs in a baking dish and cover with foil. Bake at 275°F for 2-3 hours, then remove the foil and brush with barbecue sauce. Broil for 5-7 minutes until the sauce is caramelized and bubbly.
More Easy BBQ Recipes
- low Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
- Crockpot BBQ Chicken Legs
- BBQ Chicken Sliders
- Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches
- Easy Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs
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Crock Pot Dr. Pepper Ribs
- 3-4 lbs baby back ribs (1 rack of ribs is equal to about 3-4 pounds)
- 1½ tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 12 oz Dr. Pepper (reserve ¼ cup for the sauce at the end.
- 1½ cups bbq sauce (divided in half - I like to use sweet baby rays)
- Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. Then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Make the dry rub by adding paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and ground mustard to a small bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Cut the ribs in half and generously coat both sides with the prepared dry rub. Then cover the ribs with ¾ cup of barbecue sauce and add them to the crock pot.
- Reserve ¼ cup of Dr. Pepper. Then, pour the remaining Dr. Pepper into the bottom of the crock pot, making sure not to wash the seasonings off the ribs.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- Mix ¾ cup of bbq sauce in a medium bowl and add ¼ cup of reserved Dr. Pepper. Mix until well combined.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Then gently remove the ribs and place them on the baking sheet. Then coat the top of the ribs with the Dr. Pepper barbecue sauce.
- Broil for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce thickens and bubbles.
- If you cook the ribs for 7-8 hours on low, they will become incredibly tender and may even fall off the bone. However, to avoid them becoming mushy, it's essential to ensure that the ribs' internal temperature doesn't exceed 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that the meat remains juicy and retains its texture while still being tender enough to pull away from the bone easily.
- If you desire tender ribs that still have some firmness, it is recommended to decrease the cooking time to 5-6 hours on low or until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 190-200 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that the ribs are cooked thoroughly while retaining their texture.
- This recipe can be easily doubled to cook two racks of ribs in the crock pot. To do so, simply double all the ingredients except for the amount of Dr. Pepper that you pour into the slow cooker. The cooking and broiling time will remain the same for both racks of ribs, so you can enjoy double the deliciousness!
- Although this recipe calls for Dr. Pepper, you can definitely experiment with other carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola, Root Beer, or even diet Dr. Pepper to achieve a tender and juicy rack of crockpot ribs. The carbonation in these drinks can help to tenderize the meat and add some additional flavor. So feel free to try different sodas and see which one you prefer in your slow-cooked ribs!
- This recipe can also be used with beef ribs, and nothing needs to be changed about the recipe or cooking process. The slow-cooking method will work well to make beef ribs tender and flavorful. You can also use boneless country-style ribs, which are another great option for this recipe. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time based on the thickness and size of the ribs you are using.
*All nutrition information provided is automatically calculated and is an estimate and will vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact numbers on your ingredients, I would recommend calculating them with your prefered nutrition calculator.
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