Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!I have become a huge fan of the slow cooker over the past couple of years.  Growing up, the slow cooker was always reserved for soups and stews.  Now I love a good hearty stew, so I’m on board with slow cooker soups + stews.  However, I’ve also come to realize the true power of the slow cooker.  Exhibit #1: Slow Cooker Snack Mix.  Exhibit #2: Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes.  Exhibit #3: These Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs.

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!The original idea for this recipe started way back in the Fall.  I was outside at the smoker one Saturday afternoon smoking a couple racks of baby back ribs.  Low and slow.  That’s the key to delicious ribs.  That’s when it hit me – I wonder if these could be cooked in a slow cooker.  After all, the slow cooker is the very definition of low and slow.  I realized other smoker recipes (like pulled pork) can be made in a slow cooker, so it made sense that ribs might work as well.

Guess what?  These Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs do indeed work!  Not only do they work, but Laura declared them to be the best ribs I’ve ever made.  And they took all of about 10 minutes to prepare.  Seriously.  10 minutes.

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

After slow cooking for the better part of 5 hours (or 9 hours on low), these ribs were fall-off-the-bone good.  I could barely lift the ribs out of the slow cooker without them falling right off the bone.  Talk about delicious!  In fact, I’m thinking this recipe could work well if you need BBQ rib meat for another purpose.  Think about taking that meat and mixing it into a batch of mac and cheese.  Or putting it on top of a baked potato.  Or what about a BBQ rib quesadilla?  Yup, I think I need to experiment with all of these ideas!

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!As I mentioned above, these ribs take almost no time at all to prepare.  However, I do highly recommend removing the silverskin on the back of the ribs.  This step is fairly easy, and it makes the ribs more tender once cooked.  (Fine Cooking has a good guide on removing the silverskin using just a table knife.)  Aside from that one step, all you need to do is mix up a BBQ sauce mixture and cut the rack of ribs into a size that’s more manageable for your slow cooker.  Easy enough, right?

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!Finally, there’s one tiny little secret here that takes these ribs from good to great.  The broiler.  Once the ribs are done in the slow cooker, carefully transfer them to a parchment-lined sheet pan.  Brush ’em with a little bit of the cooking liquid left in the slow cooker and then send ’em off to the broiler in your oven for about 5 minutes.  This easy step will caramelize the sugars in the bbq sauce and create little crispy bits on the edges of the ribs.  I can’t lie.  Some of those crispy bits didn’t make it to these photos.  I couldn’t resist taking a little nibble or three!

I suspect these Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs will become a new winter staple in our house.  I’ll still use the smoker during the warmer months, but the slow cooker is a legitimate stand-in while the smoker is covered in a foot of snow.  I hope you enjoy these ribs as much as we do!  Cheers!

Did you make a batch of these Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 778kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 18- oz. bottle barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3-4 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • ½ Tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp black pepper

Instructions

  • Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick baking spray.
  • Using a medium mixing bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground mustard, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and liquid smoke. Set mixture aside.
  • Rinse ribs with water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Remove the whitish-colored membrane on the back of the ribs. (Tip: A butter knife is very helpful to begin separating the membrane from the ribs.) Discard skin.
  • Season ribs with salt and pepper; place ribs in slow cooker. (Note: Slice ribs into smaller slabs as needed to fit into slow cooker.)
  • Pour half of the sauce mixture into slow cooker; turn ribs several times until well coated. Cover remaining portion of sauce and refrigerate.
  • Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
  • Carefully transfer cooked ribs onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush tops of ribs with cooking sauce from slow cooker. Broil in oven on high for 5-6 minutes, or until sauce on top of ribs begins to caramelize.
  • Heat remaining barbecue sauce. Remove ribs from oven and brush with sauce before serving.

Too cold to pull out the grill?  Use the slow cooker instead!  These fall-off-the-bone Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs are a delicious way to enjoy barbecue indoors!

Looking for more tasty slow cooker recipes?  Check out a few of these other favorites, too:

Starting with a classic chuck roast, these Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches make for an easy and delicious comfort food meal!Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches

This Slow Cooker Spanish Rice is an easy and delicious side dish that's perfect for both the dog days of summer and the cold nights of winter!Slow Cooker Spanish Rice

This Slow Cooker Chili Mac will remind you of childhood comfort food in the best way possible!  Plus, it's an easy recipe for busy days!Slow Cooker Chili Mac

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22 Comments

  1. I’ve actually used this method before and it really works! I guess it’s not surprising, like you said. I’m not ready to make cakes in my slow cooker, but it is perfect for meat! Great recipe!

    1. Haha! I hear ya on cakes in the slow cooker, Mimi. Although at some point I should try that out just because I like to experiment in the kitchen. But for now, that slow cooker is reserved for ribs. So incredibly easy!!

  2. 5 stars
    Those ribs look great! I’ve cooked them slow and low in the oven, but I’ve never really been pleased with the outcome. Never thought of using the slow cooker, brilliant idea. I think this will be a great weekend project. I’ll pop the ribs into the cooker, open a beer (or two) and watch the curling match on the tv.

    1. The slow cooker is a game-changer when it comes to ribs! I think your weekend plans sound pretty awesome. Maybe you can find a way to tune in to the bonspiel I’m playing in this weekend? 🙂

    1. These ribs really are fall apart tender, Marissa! That’s why I say this would be a great method for getting BBQ rib meat for other recipes – like BBQ Rib Mac and Cheese. How good does that sound!?

  3. i always have to think – broiler, what is a broiler?:) It sounds too much like braise and boil to me. So i have to remember it’s a grill. your ribs look very tender and delicious david. cheers sherry

    1. Haha! A broiler is kinda like a grill…but it’s in your oven. Just like an upside-down grill. 🙂 These ribs are indeed tender and delicious. Thanks so much, Sherry!

  4. Yes! Love my slow cooker too! And the thought of using these in a mac? Whoa! Talk about yum. If you need a taste tester or anything, just holla 😉 I’ll be waiting for my sample! Hope your week is going great, David!

    1. Haha! I can always use a taste tester, Dawn. Come on down! 🙂 (Just leave that snow up there, ok? We’ve been having a relatively light year on the snow…and I’m hoping to keep it that way!)

  5. 5 stars
    Wow. These slow cooker baby back ribs look amazing David! I must admit I still haven’t moved any further forward with my slow cooker other than soups, stews and the odd curry. This is a “must try” recipe for me! Yum!

    1. Exactly! I love doing ribs on the smoker in the warmer months, but the slow cooker saves me the trouble of cleaning the snow off of the smoker. Plus, they’re delicious! 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    Now these are what you want when you watch the game. I never get them, but I do love a good plate of ribs. I’ve heard of people using the slow cooker to make them, but I’ve never tried. Think I might have to give it a go!

    1. You should totally give the slow cooker a whirl for ribs! Like you, we don’t eat ribs all that often. I never order them out at a restaurant (too messy) and we only make ’em a couple of times each summer. But with the slow cooker route, now we can have ribs literally any night of the week!

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