These great crock pot baby back ribs are fall off the bone tender. Learn the secrets with these easy to follow step by step photo instructions.
Editor's Note: Originally Published January 23, 2017. Updated with expanded explanation and updated photos.
I love good ribs, but there are frequently timing and work issues. This recipe is great for working smaller households but can work for everybody to get predictable great results when you want them, with minimal work.
With only 5-minutes of prep, an all-day cook in the slow cooker, and a few minutes to finish, BBQ ribs become a weeknight easy meal.
It is really hard to give a 5 to crock pot ribs, but it is well deserved. To me it is a lower 5 and by no means will they compete with smoker ribs but still very very nice ribs. For my wife, they are totally a 5.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes for Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs
Most crock pot rib recipes call for some liquid to be added at the beginning of cooking. A can of Coke, BBQ sauce, water, or whatever. Then there is cut up onions or many other things. It is all just so wrong, we should not "parboil" ribs or cook ribs in liquid. It is just not right.
You want a "dry heat" like a grill or smoker would deliver. There is lots of fat/fluid released, so they are in no danger of drying out. I basically set up my slow cooker as a low and slow "oven."
What are Baby Back Ribs?
Back ribs are cut from the upper part of the rib from where the rib meets the spine and next to and inside the loin. They are shorter than the bigger spareribs so are called baby back ribs.
The inside of the ribs does contain a membrane that lines the chest cavity and needs to be removed before cooking.
Start with a rack of baby backs. Peel the membrane, cut in half, and apply a dry rub. Cook 8 hours on low in your crock pot. Apply sauce and spend a few minutes under the broiler, on a grill, or even in the oven. Now you are in hog heaven.
How you arrange the ribs in the crock pot is important. You want to keep most of the ribs out of the fat/liquid that will accumulate in the bottom of the crock pot.
I was able to lean mine against the sides and touching the bottom in the middle. Arrange as you need for your pot and crumpled up foil can be used to elevate the ribs.
If you want to do two racks of ribs, place them in vertically and use some crumpled up foil to elevate. It may take an hour or two longer. The internal temperature should be 185 degrees plus when done.
You see me using my much loved Gates BBQ products which I get by the case shipped from Kansas City. You can use the products you like.
Here is a suggested rub if you don't have one. Enough for 2 slabs. Cut in half to have less leftover if you want, but I save it for next time.
- 8 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon each of black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
Other Baby Back Rib and Related Recipes
Only three things are needed.
Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. I find this goes a lot better if I use a butter knife and start at the narrow end. Loosen that end and slowly pull it off as you work to be sure you get the whole width. Also, trim any chunks of fat on the ends.
Use a commercial rub or make your own. Apply a good coat.
Cut in half and place in a large crock pot. Position the ribs in the crock pot to keep as much of the ribs elevated as possible. Use a rolled-up a piece of foil if you want.
Cook on low for 8 hours. Do not remove the top to check the ribs. You are creating a mini oven. Don't let the heat out.
Remove the ribs. At this point, you could refrigerate for later use. Or place on pan and brush with BBQ sauce of your choice.
Place under a broiler until you get the desired browning — about 5 minutes for me with a high broiler and the rack at 7 inches.
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Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs
- 1 rack baby back ribs - 3-4 pounds
- ¼ cup dry rub - just a nice coating
- 4 tablespoons BBQ
- Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. I find this goes a lot better if I use a butter knife and start at the narrow end. Loosen that end and slowly pull it off as you work to be sure you get the whole width. Also trim any chunks of fat on the ends.
- Use a commercial rub or make your own.
- Cut in half and place in large crock pot. Position the ribs in the crock pot to keep as much of the ribs elevated as possible. Use a rolled-up a piece of foil if you want.
- Cook on low for 8 hours. Do not remove the top to check the ribs. You are creating a mini oven. Don't let the heat out.
- Remove the ribs. At this point, you could refrigerate for later use. Or place on pan and brush with BBQ sauce of your choice.
- Place under a broiler until you get the desired browning. About 5 minutes for me with a high broiler and the rack at 7 inches. You could also use a grill or oven.
- Be sure to remove the inner membrane.
- Generally, 8 hours on low is good, but you can go to 10 hours.
- If cooking more than one slab, you should put them in the pot vertically. You will need to crumple up some foil to elevate the ribs. Also, they may need an hour or two longer.
- If you want some smoke taste, rub on a few teaspoons of liquid smoke just before rub.
- I like an internal temperature of 190 plus.
- Most people will want to brown them some. You can use the broiler, a grill, or just the oven.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days or freeze for 3-4 months.
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon each of black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder
Originally Published January 23, 2017.