My Mama’s Ribs

by | Jan 26, 2024 | Recipes, Southern Sandi

If you love fall-off-the-bone ribs, you’ll love this super-simple recipe with a secret Southern ingredient.

In the lyrics of Juvenile, “She get it from her mamma.”

This three-ingredient, fall-off-the-bone, hassle-free rib recipe came directly from my mother. Her secret ingredient is a local brand soda, and once you try it, you will not make ribs any other way ever again.

I have made ribs in the past, and it typically took a lot of attention and ingredients — and they just were not that good. Once I spent nearly all day in the kitchen tending to ribs in the oven, and another time, I stayed close by a smoker for hours trying to make sure I did not dry them out. I must admit, neither time were the ribs very tasty.

I like my ribs dripping with sauce and sliding off the bone. I do not like them being too chewy or too mushy, and I really don’t like it when I must tear them off the bone with my teeth because the peritoneum was not removed.

My mother taught me to remove the fatty membrane tissue (peritoneum) from the backside of the ribs before cooking them. It does make them a bit more delicate to handle and transfer, but at least they do not have the super chewy sheath that restaurants typically leave on ribs.

For this recipe, you just drop them in a crockpot and walk away. When you are about ready to serve them, you sauce them up and pop them in the oven for a short time.

The sauce is made from Cheerwine, which is a Southern soda consisting of sweet cola flavors and a hint of cherry. Cheerwine was created right here in North Carolina in 1917 and calls itself the “Nectar of North Carolina.” Most Southerners are familiar with it. It claims to be best paired with the foods of football season — including BBQ ribs. It is important to note that my mother is also an avid soda drinker and loves Cheerwine.

The first time my mother made these she invited us over for a family dinner. Knowing I had botched my last few attempts at ribs, I was eager to try hers as she is a very good cook. The moment we walked into the house, we could smell the sweet aroma of BBQ sauce — and it instantly activated my Maillard Reaction. She plated the ribs on her favorite hand-painted platter that she brought back from a trip to Hawaii, which is also known for its amazing BBQ pork dishes. Her presentation was as beautiful as the ribs were delicious. The meat literally fell from the bone as I tried to place ribs on my plate.

Crockpot Ribs Moms Platter

Momma’s Platter of Ribs

If you also struggle with making the ideal BBQ ribs, then you must try this recipe. Not only are you supporting a local company and using minimal ingredients, but also you will have time to enjoy the day after licking your fingers and bones clean.

Photography by James Stefiuk

Print Recipe
Three Ingredient Slow-Cooked Ribs
If you love fall-off-the-bone ribs, you’ll love this super-simple recipe with a secret Southern ingredient.
Crockpot Ribs
Course Main Dish
Cuisine dinner
Servings
Ingredients
You will need a crockpot and tin foil.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine dinner
Servings
Ingredients
You will need a crockpot and tin foil.
Crockpot Ribs
Instructions
  1. Mix the Cheerwine and BBQ sauce and set aside.
  2. Remove the fatty membrane tissue from the underside of the rack of ribs and cut in half.
  3. Layer the two rib portions into a crockpot and cover with Cheerwine/BBQ mixture.
  4. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
  5. Remove the ribs from the crockpot and them on a large piece of tin foil. Fold the edges of the foil up around the ribs and spoon the Cheerwine mixture over the ribs. Close the foil shut around the ribs.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
  7. Open the foil to expose the ribs, brush with the sauce and bake again to brown the tops for another 15 minutes.

About the author

Sandi Grigg

Sandi Grigg

Growing up in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina and attending the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, I always dreamed of working on the coast. I earned my degree in Marketing/Branding and started to build a life with my spouse and son. Together, we enjoy fishing, going to hear live music and spending time with family. At home I love to cook and write recipes, take on DIY home improvement endeavors and grill out with friends. Being a part of the Carolina Marketing Company team has showed me that you really can enjoy your job, and we feel like a family. I am truly grateful to have a career I love.