Throwing some baby back ribs into the slow cooker is a surefire way to achieve fall-off-the-bone tenderness with minimal effort. Slow cooker ribs are the perfect solution for a mouthwatering, fuss-free meal that satisfies your barbecue cravings.
If you've ever had juicy, tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs at your favorite BBQ restaurant, chances are you want to have them as often as you can.
Ribs can be tough to get right, but with this easy slow cooker recipe, you'll be sure to get it right every time!
Using the crock pot is the best way to cook ribs because it results in perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender ribs. The slow cooker allows the ribs to cook low and slow, which breaks down the tough connective tissue in the meat and leaves you with fall-off-the-bone ribs that are melt-in-your-mouth tender!
So, if you're looking for the best slow cooker ribs recipe, try out this simple slow-cooked method and serve with Instant Pot Mac and Cheese or a side of Slow Cooker Baked Beans with Bacon.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- The slow cooker takes otherwise tough meat and turns it into something that is meltingly tender and full of flavor!
- It uses simple ingredients that can be customized to your own tastes.
- Ribs are a budget-friendly cut of meat that is delicious when cooked correctly.
- A great main course to bring to a BBQ along with your favorite side dishes!
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Baby Back Ribs - You can find these in the meat section of your grocery store.
- BBQ Sauce - You can use your favorite store-bought brand or make your own. I use Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce.
- Dry Rub - Adds a nice depth of flavor to the ribs and includes brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt.
- Dry Mustard - This may seem like an odd ingredient, but it really helps to round out the flavors in the dry rub by adding a tangy dimension that balances the sweet and smoky flavors.
How To Cook Ribs In A Slow Cooker
Prepare the ribs: Remove the ribs from the package. Turn them over and remove the membrane from the underside with a sharp knife. Then, pat the ribs completely dry with a paper towel.
Assemble the dry rub: Add the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and ground mustard to a small bowl. Whisk until well combined and there are no lumps in the brown sugar.
Marinate the ribs: Cut the rack of ribs in half so they fit in the slow cooker properly. Coat both sides of each piece generously with the dry rub. Then, cover with 1 ½ cups of the barbeque sauce. Add the marinated ribs to the bottom of the slow cooker.
Slow cook the ribs: Cover with the lid, then cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or until cooked through and tender.
Broil the ribs: Remove the cooked ribs from the slow cooker with tongs. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil in a single layer. Brush the remaining BBQ sauce on top of the ribs.
Broil and serve: Broil for 3-5 minutes or until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Serve hot with your favorite side dishes.
Recipe Tips & Flavor Variations
- To remove the membrane from the ribs: Turn the ribs over so the meaty side is facing down. Use a sharp knife to loosen the membrane from one end of the rib rack. Then, grip it with a paper towel and pull it off in one piece.
- If you don’t have dry mustard on hand, you can substitute this ingredient for an equal amount of yellow mustard.
- If you don’t have any bottled barbeque sauce on hand or can’t find any that you like, feel free to use ketchup, honey, or your favorite hot sauce in its place.
- Add a teaspoon (or more) of cayenne pepper to the dry rub for a kick of heat.
- This recipe can be made with other types of ribs, including pork spare ribs or beef short ribs.
Storing: Cooked baby back ribs can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days.
Freezing: Ribs can be frozen for up to three months when stored in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag with as much air removed as possible.
Reheating: If you have leftovers, reheat ribs in a 350˚F oven until warmed through. This will help crisp up the exterior while keeping the meat moist and tender.
You can cook these ribs in the oven if you don't have a slow cooker. Follow the recipe through step three, then preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place the ribs in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes to one hour or until cooked through and tender. Then, follow the steps for broiling.
Generally, the meat will produce enough liquid as it cooks. However, if the ribs are drying out, add a cup or two of water, chicken broth, or apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker.
We recommend cooking ribs on LOW for eight to nine hours or until cooked through and tender, as cooking on high may result in a tough texture.
More Slow Cooker Dinner Recipes
- Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes
- Crock Pot Marry Me Chicken
- Crock Pot Beef and Broccoli
- Crock-Pot Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Glaze
- Easy Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
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Slow Cooker Ribs
- Remove the membrane from the underside of the baby back ribs. Then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Make the dry rub by adding brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and ground mustard to a small bowl. Whisk until well combined and there are no lumps in the brown sugar.
- Cut the baby back ribs in half and generously coat both sides with the prepared dry rub. Then cover the ribs with 1½ cups of barbecue sauce and add them to the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Then gently remove the ribs and place them on the baking sheet. Then coat the top of the ribs with the remaining barbecue sauce.
- Broil for 3-5 minutes until the barbecue sauce thickens and bubbles.
*Nutrition information is an estimate. It may vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact ingredient numbers, I recommend calculating them with your preferred nutrition calculator.