Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs are the easiest way to make fall off the bone tender and delicious ribs. With only 5 minutes of prep time and 8 hours in a slow cooker, this is a perfect recipe for a great easy weeknight dinner.
I love great pork ribs, but there are frequent timing and work issues. This recipe is excellent for working in smaller households but can work for everybody to get great predictable results when you want them, with minimal work.
With only 5-minutes of prep, BBQ ribs become an easy weeknight dinner.
Start with a rack of baby back ribs. Peel the membrane, cut it in half, and apply a dry rub—cook for 8 hours on low in your crock pot. Apply sauce and spend a few minutes under the broiler or on a grill to brown. Now you are in hog heaven.
See the other baby back recipes, like Grilled Baby Back Ribs and Oven Baked Baby Back Ribs. Or try some other pork ribs, like 30 Minute Boneless Pork Ribs, Grilled Boneless Country Style Ribs, Grilled Memphis Boneless Pork Ribs, or Bone-In Country Style Pork Ribs.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
Prepare the ribs for cooking.
There is not a lot to do. Trim any chunks of fat (usually none) and check the ends of the rib bones for loose chips of bone that can be dangerous.
The second step is to peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. I find this goes 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.
Last is to cut the slab of ribs into half or thirds that will fit in your crock pot.
Apply a dry rub.
If you have a pork rub you love, use it. I love Gate's of Kansas City sauce and rub but frequently run out of rub.
If you don't have a pork rub, I have a suggested rub in the recipe card. It makes enough for two slabs. Cut in half to have less leftover if you want, but I store the extra. It is a version of a classic 8:3:1:1 Dry Rub or use my Memphis Dry Rub.
Arrange in a crock pot.
Arranging the ribs in the crock pot is essential. You want to keep most of the ribs out of the fat/liquid that will accumulate in the bottom of the crock pot.
Use a large crock pot and lean the ribs against the side of the crock pot. Arrange as you need for your crock pot, and crumpled-up foil can be used to elevate the ribs.
If you want to do two racks of ribs, place them vertically and use some crumpled up foil if needed. It may take an hour or two longer to cook.
How long to cook baby back ribs in the crock pot?
Generally, 8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Some crock pots will run a bit hot, so it may be a shorter time.
The real answer is "fork tender" and an internal temperature of 185°+ when done. But 195° - 205° is better.
When done, give them a good brush of your favorite sauce, and finish browning for a few minutes on a grill or under a broiler.
🐖What Are Baby Back Ribs
Pork baby back ribs are cut from the upper part of the rib where the rib meets the spine and is next to and inside the loin. They are shorter than the bigger spare ribs, which are commonly called St. Louis ribs.
The inside of the ribs does contain a membrane that lines the chest cavity and needs to be removed before cooking.
A good quality liquid smoke will add some nice flavor but is not required. Just rub a little on the ribs before adding the dry rubs.
There are many "bad" versions of liquid smoke on the market. And the chemical-filled versions will ruin your ribs.
I stick to Wright's brand only. If not available to you, the ingredient list on the bottle should only have smoke and water—nothing else.
No, nothing else is needed. You want a "dry heat" like a grill or smoker would deliver. Lots of fat/fluid is released, so they are in no danger of drying out. I set up my slow cooker as a low and slow "oven."
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 are cut-up onions or many other things. It is all just so wrong; we should not "parboil" ribs or cook ribs in liquid.
Yes, you can overcook ribs in a crock pot. So check the temperature if you are going over the recommended time.
Serve with Memphis Barbecue Sauce or the BBQ sauce you love.
This is an excellent game-day recipe, but side dishes make the meal. Here are some familiar side dishes.
- Baked Beans
- French Fries
- Potato Salad
- Macaroni Salad
- Cole Slaw
- Corn on the Cob
- Cornbread or Cornbread Biscuits
- Mac and Cheese
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
The rub ingredients are shown, but you may use another rub if you have one.
Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. I find this goes 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 and look for bone chips on the end of the ribs.
If you want to use liquid smoke, rub a small amount on the ribs before the dry rub. Use a commercial rub or make your own. Apply a good coat of the rub.
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 piece of foil if you want.
Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Do not remove the top to check the ribs as they cook. You are creating a mini oven. So, don't let the heat out. The ribs need to be "fork-tender" and reach a minimum of 185°, but 195° to 205° is better.
Remove the ribs. At this point, you could refrigerate it 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. Or you may also brown on your grill.
Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs
- 1 rack baby back ribs - 3-4 pounds
- ¼ cup dry rub - just a nice coating
- liquid smoke - optional
- 4 tablespoons BBQ
Dry Rub Recipe if needed. Will make enough for 2 slabs of ribs
- 8 tablespoons Brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Kosher Salt
- 1 tablespoon Chili powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs. I find this goes 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 and look for bone chips on the end of the ribs.
- If you want to use liquid smoke, rub a small amount on the ribs before the dry rub. Use a commercial rub or make your own. Apply a good coat of the rub.
- 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 rolled-up foil if you need to brace or elevate the ribs.
- Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Do not remove the top to check the ribs as they cook. You are creating a mini oven. So, don't let the heat out. The ribs need to be "fork-tender" and reach a minimum of 185° but over 195°-205°.
- 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. Or you may also brown on your grill.
Your Own Private Notes
- Be sure to remove the inner membrane.
- 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high are generally correct but cook to the endpoints discussed in the instructions.
- If cooking more than one slab, you should put them in the pot vertically. You may 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.
- The internal temperature needs to be 185°+. But, 195° to 205° is better.
- Most people will want to brown them some. You can use the broiler or a grill
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days or freeze for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally Published January 23, 2017. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Thanks for sharing this! I've been grilling all year and looking forward to it again this weekend! Excited to try burgers for my next family reunion.
Absolutely perfect recipe. I have a fussy husband used to fine NYC restaurants. He was very happy. I changed nothing in this recipe...and the instructions to remove the white part with butter knife was very helpful. Thank you!
At this stage in my life, I'm all about easy. Nothing could be easier than this recipe. I love to use Penzey's Galena Street Rib and Chicken Rub.
Dr Dan, I bought spare ribs and was trying to decide between your oven recipe and this one (which means I drag my larger crockpot up from the basement). The oven recipe has the ribs rubbed and in foil for 2 hours or overnight before cooking. This recipe does not mention putting the rub on ahead of time and letting the ribs absorb the flavors. Is there a reason why not? Or does the crockpot's long cook time do it for me?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
With the oven recipe, it was the second week of the blog when initially written. Over time I have changed my ideas and just rub a cook works fine. There may be a slight difference but I can't detect it. The oven recipe does say to wait if you have time. It is scheduled to be written this year and I will change the wording some.
The cooking time is different because the temperature is significantly different. Crock pots don't get much above 200 and it may take 4 hours or more to get there. I tend to do the oven recipe most often, most recently for our super bowl party (two of us) and the wife through the ribs were the best in a long time.
Hope that helps.
Delicious and easy! I followed the directions to crumple foil in the bottom and place my two racks of baby back ribs vertically in the crock pot (cut into three pieces each). I also added a 'few dashes' of liquid smoke to my crock pot for more depth of flavor. I covered the porcelain insert with foil to 'lock in' the heat and flavors, then but the lid on it and let it go. I resisted the 'urge' to check on the ribs while they cooked.
I put the crock pot on high for 1 hour (I have a Continental Electric Slow Cooker), then turned down for 6 hours. The ribs that came in contact with the sides of the cooker caramelized beautifully with just the rub (nice surprise). Finished them off in my air fryer convection oven with a light coat of our favorite BBQ sauce. They were 'fall off the bone' tender.
Nice to have a great meal in the summer without heating up the house or needing to go outside to use the grill on a hot day (I'm in Louisiana...)
My new favorite way to prepare ribs.
This recipe was so easy!! My husband raved about the results & we both grew up in Texas, so we know good ribs. I used a dry rub & followed your instructions. Outstanding!! I will add this to our regular rotation. Thanks.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog and sorry for the delayed reply.
Glad it works well for you. This a just about applying heat correctly and I was trying to get a long slow cooking for the working folks out there.
Thanks for the note and rating. And again, sorry for the delayed response.
Just love these, no more parboiling ribs for me ever again! I used this rub and my favorite bbq sauce and they were fantastic. I do toss them on the grill for that final stage with the bbq sauce, but that's just because its summer here in Michigan, will try the broiler when its snowing lol. I am making them again today, they have only been cooking 2 hours and smell fantastic already.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Definitely hot in West Michigan. I do love air conditioning.
This is an odd little recipe that just works and is logical if you think about it. I usually do the grill to finish even in the winter but I have a natural gas grill 2 feet from the kitchen door on the deck. The broiler is fine.
Thanks for the note.
I was looking for an easy recipe to cook ribs in the slow cooker and did I ever find it with this one! Easy and the ribs turned out falling off the bone tender and delicious. I really like that you do not cook the ribs with bbq sauce. I tend to like my ribs w/o sauce or very little. Will be using this recipe from now on.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Glad you enjoyed the recipe.
Thanks for the note and rating.
Hi, I’m making this recipe right now. I like that the ribs aren’t boiling in liquid. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. Love your dog pictures.
I started using recipe a few months ago and I not allowed to prepare ribs in any other manner, per the hubby. Not only easy and tasty but the crock pot doesn't heat the house up in the summer. I give it 5 stars.
Followed directions exactly yet baby back pork ribs came out overcooked and dry after 8 hours on low in a calibrated All Clad slow cooker. Will try it again for less hours next time.
I cooked in an All Clad also but perhaps some difference. Cut it back an hour and see.
Love this recipe, it has become a staple in our kitchen. Would give it 5 stars....if I only figure out where?
PS, like all of your recipes, this is an easy recipe with simple ingredients that taste amazing.
Thanks for the note. Glad you like it. I try to be easy and simple.
Star ratings are in the "recipe card" area. Just click on the star you want.
My hubs isn't a huge rib fan like I am, it we both LOVE this recipe! Perfect ribs every time!
Thanks for the note. Sometimes a recipe just is surprising. This is one of those.
I made these plus your cheesey broccoli chicken casserole this weekend, both 5 star recipes and my company loved them! Thank you so much
Really good with excellent directions. Made half a recipe. So hungry we didn't bother with the broiler part, just topped with barbecue sauce. Love the dogs!
Thanks for the note. I thought it was better than it has any right to be.
I'll try this as soon as I am able to get out and about. Snow, chest cold, other stuff. But I'v giving all my stars today to the dogs picture. What beauties. They lift me.
You won't be disappointed if you like ribs. I was thinking today when finishing this post about the dog pictures. I chuckled because I think back to a nasty email I got about the dog pictures and what they were doing on a food blog. I told him they were blog mascots and they stay... I enjoy taking dog pictures and they need to go somewhere.