Main Dishes

“Stank-a-Dank” Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs

pork spare ribs seasoned with Chinese 5-spice on a plate with cilantro garnish

Every time I make them, my Chinese 5-Spice Pork Ribs fill the whole house for hours with their intensely sweet, pungent aroma. For this reason, my husband recently started calling them “Stank-a-Dank Ribs.”

So, after elaborate polling and random double-blind sampling a Facebook vote, “Stank-a-Dank Ribs” became their official new name. 

These stinky-but-delicious, Asian-style crock pot pork spare ribs are super easy, tender and juicy every time. They taste especially yummy served over stir-fry veggies, bok choi, cauliflower “rice” or a big salad.

Preparing Fresh Pork

Whether cooking ground pork, chops, ribs, loins or roasts, you should always prepare an acid marinade for your fresh pork. This could be as simple as a 12–24 hour soak in vinegar and water (2:1), plus some sea salt, or it could be a more elaborate marinade with seasonings and spices to make dinner extra special.

Similar to brining and drying your nuts and seeds, or soaking your grains in whey, marinating pork in an acid like vinegar, citrus or yogurt is a traditional preparation method used worldwide that tenderizes the meat, improves its digestibility, helps kill any parasites present, and reduces its inflammatory properties.

Related: Is Pork Bad for You?

Our ancestors have prepared pork like this for thousands of years, and they were pretty smart, after all. And even today, many people count on acidic marinades to make their pork dishes really shine. This recipe follows that tradition.

pork spare ribs seasoned with Chinese 5-spice on a plate with cilantro garnish

"Stank-a-Dank" Slow Cooker Pork Spare Ribs

These aromatic Asian-style crock pot pork spare ribs are super easy and delicious every time, especially served with stir-fry veggies, cauliflower "rice" or a salad.

Course Dinner
Cuisine Chinese, Gluten Free, Paleo
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 16 hours 15 minutes
Amount 4 servings



  1. Cover your ribs with vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio. Mix in a teaspoon of sea salt and soak 12 hours or overnight. (Place container in the fridge.)
  2. In the morning, drain ribs thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle each side of your ribs generously with sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Heavily coat each side with Chinese 5-spice powder until most of the meat appears covered in dark orange powder.
  5. Gently rub the seasonings into the meat on both sides, then place the ribs upright on their ends into your slow cooker. (It's OK if they lean!)
  6. Add the rice wine vinegar and coconut aminos or tamari to the bottom of the slow cooker.
  7. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Without much liquid in the pot, these ribs are roasting, not stewing, so keep your eye on them so they don't dry out!
  8. Enjoy!
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About the author

Dawn Gifford

Dawn is the creator of Small Footprint Family, and the author of the critically acclaimed Sustainability Starts at Home - How to Save Money While Saving the Planet. After a 20-year career in green building and environmental sustainability, chronic illness forced her to shift her expertise and passion from the public sphere to home and hearth. Get the whole story behind SFF here.


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