Slow Cooker Chinese Spare Ribs

By Conie K
May 22, 2024

Indulge in a tantalizing journey of flavors with our Slow Cooker Chinese Spare Ribs recipe. Imagine tender, succulent ribs drenched in a savory blend of traditional Chinese seasonings, cooked to perfection in a slow cooker for a meal that redefines comfort food.


  • 2-3 lbs bone-in pork spare ribs (St. Louis style recommended)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (optional for a spicier kick)
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Sesame seeds and sliced green onions for garnish (optional)


  1. Cut the spare ribs into individual pieces.
  2. In a large bowl or resealable bag, combine the soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, brown sugar, sweet chili sauce (if using), garlic, ginger, and red food coloring (if using).
  3. Add the ribs to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours for the most flavorful results.
  4. Transfer the ribs and marinade to your slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or on HIGH for 4 hours, or until the ribs are very tender and nearly falling off the bone.
  5. While the ribs are cooking, prepare the sauce thickener (optional). In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch with a little water or reserved cooking liquid from the slow cooker to make a slurry.
  6. Once the ribs are cooked, remove them from the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet lined with foil.
  7. Optional: If you want a thicker sauce and caramelized ribs, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the cooking liquid in the slow cooker. Bring the remaining liquid to a low boil on the stovetop. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry and cook until the sauce thickens. Brush the thickened sauce over the ribs.
  8. Broil the ribs for 5-6 minutes, or until the tops are caramelized and slightly crispy.
  9. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions (optional) and serve with rice.


  • You can brown the ribs in a skillet over medium-high heat before adding them to the slow cooker for extra flavor.
  • For a spicier dish, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the marinade.
  • If you don’t have Chinese five-spice powder, you can substitute a mixture of ground cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, and star anise.
  • Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
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