Using a slow cooker (or the Slow Cook function on a multi-cooker) guarantees a fall-off-the-bone result without having to labor over a hot grill or smoker for hours. You can even cook the ribs a day in advance, store them in the fridge, and flash them on the grill or in the oven before serving. The three-ingredient honey BBQ sauce, made with the leftover cooking liquid, is highly recommended—but any sauce of your choosing will do just fine. If cooking for a crowd, doubling the recipe is advised. —Grant Melton
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Pat the ribs dry. Flip them over, meat-side down, and remove the thin transparent membrane on the back of the bones. Sprinkle the rub evenly on both sides of the ribs and, well, rub!
Pour water and apple cider vinegar into the bottom of the slow cooker. Roll the ribs into a big coil and place into the slow cooker, meat side facing out. Place the lid overtop and cook for 3 1/2 hours on high or 7 hours on low.
When the ribs are finished cooking, carefully remove the rack of ribs to a foil-lined sheet tray. Pour the liquid from the slow cooker into a small sauce pot. Using a spoon, remove the layer of fat that floats to the top. Whisk in the ketchup and honey. Turn the heat on medium low and cook 20 minutes or until reduced by half.
If finishing on the grill, preheat the grill. Once the grill is hot, place the rack of ribs on the grill, meat side up. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over top of the ribs and close the lid of the grill. Let cook for 5 minutes. Baste the ribs with more sauce, cover the grill and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the ribs from the grill, cut into 4 to 6 slabs and serve with remaining BBQ sauce.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.