Sunny's Kansas City Slow Cooker Rib Sandwiches
Sunny's Kansas City Slow Cooker Rib Sandwiches
Nathan Congleton / TODAY
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I love using a slow cooker for tailgating. You literally can put this in the slow cooker Saturday night and be set for game day Sunday! 


  • For the rub

    • 1/4 cup hot Hungarian paprika
    • 1/4 cup dry mustard
    • 1/4 cup onion powder
    • 1/4 cup garlic powder
    • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
    • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • For the ribs

    • 2 12-ounce beers (I like to use a pilsner here, even better if it's a Kansas City beer brand)
    • 1 teaspoon hickory-flavored liquid smoke
    • 3-4 pounds baby back ribs, trimmed, silver skin removed
  • For the sauce

    • 1 cup ketchup
    • ½ cup unsulphured molasses
    • ½ cup reserved rub, from above
  • To serve

    • 1 loaf fresh white bread (I like Wonder Bread or Sunbeam)
    • Pickled Pepper Sauce
  • Sunny's 1-2-3 Pickled Pepper

    • 1 cup white vinegar
    • 2 cups small yellow, red and green chili peppers
    • 3 teaspoons sugar
    • Kosher salt


  1. Make the pickled pepper sauce: In a small pot on medium high heat add the peppers, vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer, then turn off and cover with a lid. Steep for 20 minutes, then refrigerate until chilled.

  2. Make the rub: In a large bowl combine the paprika, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, a pinch of salt and a few hefty grinds of black pepper. Reserve ½ cup of rub for sauce. Rub the ribs all over with the remaining blend. 
  3. Slow cook the ribs: In a slow cooker on low, add the beer and liquid smoke, and place the rubbed ribs inside, concave/bone side down. Cook for 6-8 hours without removing the lid. 
  4. Make the sauce: In a small pot on medium heat combine the ketchup, molasses, and reserved rub. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Caramelize the ribs: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Remove the ribs to a large baking sheet with sides and slather with sauce. Place in an oven or over the indirect heat of the grill and heat until the sauce caramelizes, about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Make a sandwich and serve: Shred meat and pile onto a piece of bread, add a shake or two of Sunny's 1-2-3 Pickled Pepper Sauce and top with another slice of bread. Enjoy!

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