If you don't have a smoker, but want to create that smoky flavor, you can make that happen in your slow cooker with soaked mesquite wood chips and a little liquid smoke!
This Smoky Mesquite BBQ Slow Cooker Beer Ribs Recipe is the perfect Father's Day recipe- smoky mesquite BBQ flavor, beer and baby back ribs... what more could Dad possibly want?! And you don't have to heat up your house or grill anything- the slow cooker does all the work for you!
Obviously there is no actual smoke involved in these slow cooker BBQ ribs, so they're not going to taste exactly the same as making ribs in a smoker, but it's a close second! Is there anything a slow cooker can't do?! You've heard me say it before.... it's my fave small appliance, along with my Bread Machine, of course. What's not to love about a small appliance that does the work for you while you go about your day?
For this recipe, you'll need:
- pork back ribs (baby back are best!)
- beer (your favorite)
- liquid smoke
- Bbq Sauce (you can use any kind)
- seasoning salt
- cajun seasoning
- mesquite or hickory wood chips
You simply need to make a wood chip packet by soaking the wood chips in water, then wrapping them in parchment paper and poking holes in the packet, before laying the seasoned pork ribs on top (see even more detailed instructions in the recipe card)
Lastly, you add the seasoned ribs to the slow cooker (on top of the wood chip packet) pour beer over them, add liquid smoke, then add your favorite BBQ sauce! Then you let the slow cooker do the rest!
💭 Top tips
I recommend using Baby back ribs for this recipe. They are more tender and leaner than spare ribs. However, they are more costly. So, if that is an issue, don't worry, you can use spare ribs, as they will be a little more tender than usual (because they are slow cooked) but they won't be as tender as baby back ribs.
You will also want to use Mesquite or Hickory Smoking Wood Chips for this recipe. You can buy them anywhere you buy BBQ or smoker supplies. These are the ones I used (bought from Canadian Tire):
🍺 Cooking with beer
You may wonder, why cook with beer? Well, it's because beer adds a really nice depth of flavor that melds beautifully with the smoky mesquite flavors of these slow cooker ribs. Like salt, alcohol brings out the flavor in food. Whether you’re cooking with wine, beer, or liquor, the alcohol in these beverages improves flavor perception in at least two important ways: by evaporation and by molecular bonding. You can read more about that HERE. And slow cooking with alcohol is the ultimate method when it comes to making those flavors shine! These slow cooker beer ribs are true testimony to that.
Beer adds a more complex depth of flavor to a finished creation. It lends itself to the rich flavors of meat, soups and stews. The spicy, fragrant flavors in many beer varieties compliment pork, beef, curries, chicken or even fish. If a recipe calls for a liquid, such as wine, stock, milk, water; you can easily substitute with beer. You can read more HERE.
And if you are looking for more cooking with beer recipes, you'll love my Beer can Chicken Recipe !
🌶️Can this be made spicy?
If you love spice, you can make this a little spicier by adding a little Tabasco sauce or crushed red pepper (depending on your taste preference).
🍽 Is this recipe Make-ahead?
This recipe can be made a day or two in advance and reheated, but it's best to make it the day of. It's great anytime, but ideal for Father's Day or for the birthday boy!
👪Serving and Storing 🌡️
The servings in this recipe can be adjusted by clicking on the blue serving size number on the recipe card (this can be done for ALL may recipes). Cooked pork ribs will last for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. To further extend the shelf life of cooked pork ribs, freeze them; freeze in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap.
📋Smoky Mesquite BBQ Slow Cooker Beer Ribs Recipe
- slow cooker
- 5 lbs -of pork back ribs (baby back ribs) *approximately - about 2 racks
- ½ cup beer any kind (I used Coors light)
- 1 cup fave BBQ sauce *I use President's Choice Gourmet or my Homemade BBQ Sauce: https://foodmeanderings.com/bbq-sauce-with-ketchup/
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke * mesquite flavor
- 3 tbsp seasoning salt I use Hy's
- 1 tbsp cajun seasoning
Mesquite Wood Chips Packet
- 2 cups mesquite or hickory wood chips
- water to cover wood chips
- additional BBQ sauce (to your liking) * I used about another ⅔ cup
Mesquite Wood Chips Packet
- Soak your wood chips in a bowl with water for at least 30 minutes. Then drain the water.
- Spread out a good-sized length of parchment paper (15x20 inches approx) on the counter.
- Put the wood chips in the middle of the parchment paper.
- Fold over the edges of the parchment paper (long way)
- Fold over the other side- similar to the way you'd make a foil packet for your BBQ.
- Staple the ends, ensuring it will fit inside your slow cooker.
- With scissors, cut teeny tiny holes here and there in the top level of the parchment paper to let smoky steam escape.
- Place packet in the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Mix seasoning salt and cajun seasoning together.
- Rub all sides of your meat with spice rub. Put it in the crockpot, directly on top of the parchment paper packet
- Cover with beer and add liquid smoke.
- Add your ½ cup of your favorite BBQ sauce and put the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on low for approximately 8-9 hours. ** I added the additional ½ cup of BBQ sauce towards the end of the cooking process - about 6.5 hrs, but you could add it at the beginning or earlier.
- The meat is done when it is cooked through and has reached desired tenderness.
- Add additional BBQ sauce to your liking.