If you love ribs, this Slow Cooker BBQ Baby Back Ribs recipe is for you! They are so flavorful and SO incredibly tender. It’s insane.
It’s a super easy and low-maintenance recipe. Simply season them with a homemade dry rub and slow cook in the Crockpot for 6 hours. Then, brush with your favorite BBQ sauce, broil for a few minutes…and ta-da, dinner is served!
These slow cooker BBQ baby back ribs fall off the bone beautifully and melt in your mouth. Seriously out of this world!
It doesn’t matter what season of the year it is, my favorite way of cooking ribs is by using the slow cooker. Even during summer time, when everyone is out smoking or grilling ribs, you’ll probably find me slow cooking ribs right in my Crockpot.
These Slow Cooker BBQ Baby Back Ribs are seriously AMAZING! Incredibly flavorful, super tender, and succulent. They fall off the bone beautifully and melt in your mouth like no other.
Why you’ll love these Crockpot BBQ baby back ribs:
- Incredibly easy, low-maintenance: These ribs cook for 6 hours on LOW and are broiled at the end for just 2-4 minutes to get that beautiful caramelization. It’s a hands-off recipe for the most part.
- Super tender and fall-off-the bone: They fall off the bone and melt in your mouth, but don’t turn into “pulled pork” either. It’s the perfect in-between.
- The dry rub for the ribs is AMAZING! Packed with lots of aromatic spices and brown sugar for that classic BBQ ribs flavor.
- Use your favorite BBQ sauce: To keep it easy, convenient, and simple, use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce. Or try my favorite Homemade Sweet BBQ Sauce. It’s the same sauce I use to make Spatchcock BBQ Chicken and BBQ Chicken Salad.
I love serving these BBQ baby back ribs with Bacon and Cheddar Loaded Potato Skins and White Cheddar Mac and Cheese. During summer, this Potato Dill Salad and Pesto Potato Salad are my go-to side dishes.
Slow cookers are just great to always make tender meat easily, with very little oversight. Have you tried my Slow Cooker Chicken Stew or Slow Cooker Cuban Sandwich yet?
- Size and Shape of Slow Cooker
- Slow Cooked for 6 Hours
- Dry Rub Seasoning for Ribs
- Ingredient Notes
- Step-by-Step Instructions
- Which Types of Ribs to Use
- Pairing and Serving Ideas
- Recipe FAQs
- Tips for Success
- Slow Cooker BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Size and Shape of Slow Cooker
I’d recommend this Crockpot 6-quart slow cooker. To fit a full rack of baby back ribs, use a 6-quart slow cooker or larger. Make sure it fits and that you can close the lid completely. As for the shape of the slow cooker, use either a round or oval slow cooker.
Preferably, curl the ribs around the sides of the slow cooker. It is my preferred method because it encourages even cooking and heat distribution. This also ensures that the water isn’t directly touching the bulk of the meat, which helps to get the right meat texture.
If you’re unable to arrange the ribs around the sides of a slow cooker, cut them into 2 to 3 pieces and arrange them as best as possible for even cooking.
Slow Cooked for 6 Hours
The goal is to make these slow cooker baby back ribs fall-apart tender but not turn them into “pulled pork”. There are two ways to achieve that:
- Slow cook for 6 hours on LOW. If cooked for too long, the meat will start breaking down too much and turn into shredded meat or mush. Tender is good, but too tender isn’t what we’re looking for when it comes to ribs. Note: For 4-pound ribs, cook closer to 6.5 hours.
- Add the BBQ sauce at the end only, when broiling. There’s no need to add the BBQ sauce into the slow cooker – too much liquid will cause the ribs to “simmer” in the sauce and break down more than needed. Instead, cook the ribs with just the dry rub, garlic, onions, and water, and use the BBQ sauce at the end when broiling.
Dry Rub Seasoning for Ribs
Speaking of the dry rub…this seasoning for ribs is seriously AMAZING! It’s a simple rub made with brown sugar and aromatic spices that you can find pretty much anywhere.
Here’s what’s in the dry rub used to make these slow cooker BBQ ribs: brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper. If you want to add other spices you like, feel free to do that.
- Pork baby back ribs: Also known as “pork loin back ribs.” A full rack of ribs weighs about 3-4 pounds. Find the meaty ones to make extra succulent ribs.
- Onions and garlic: It infuses flavor inside the slow cooker as the ribs cook. It also creates flavorful liquid that you can spoon over the ribs for serving.
- Water: To create moisture inside the slow cooker.
- Dry rub: brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
Step 1 | Remove membrane from ribs
In the back of the rack of ribs, run a sharp paring knife between the meat and the top membrane layer to separate it. Then, pull off the entire membrane with your hands all the way through.
Step 2 | Season ribs with the dry rub
In a bowl, mix the dry rub ingredients. Pat dry the ribs and evenly rub the seasoning throughout the entire rack, on both sides.
Step 3 | Slow cook until tender
Arrange the ribs in a 6-quart slow cooker, curling it along the edges of the pot. Add the water, onions, and garlic to the bottom of the pot. Cover (make sure the lid closes completely), and cook on LOW for 6 hours until tender. Note: If your slow cooker is not big enough, cut into 2-3 pieces and arrange them as best as possible for even cooking.
Step 4 | Brush with BBQ sauce and broil
Transfer ribs to a large sheet pan. Brush with BBQ sauce and broil 2-4 minutes until caramelized.
Which Types of Ribs to Use
- Baby back ribs (RECOMMENDED): I’d highly recommend using pork baby back ribs, also known as “pork loin back ribs.” They contain leaner meat (less fatty), and are also curvier and shorter than other cuts of ribs, which is ideal for the slow cooker. They cook and get tender in just 6 hours.
- St. Louis style ribs: They are less meaty than baby back ribs and more fatty. Their bones are also larger, so if using St Louis style ribs, you may need a bigger slow cooker (7-8-quart) and cook for an extra hour or so, depending on the size.
- Spare ribs: Spare ribs are large (meaty and longer bones), so you definitely need a large 8-quart slow cooker. Spare ribs need more than in the slow cooker to get tender, closer to 8 hours.
Pairing and Serving Ideas
Check out these amazing side dishes to serve with slow cooker BBQ ribs:
You can also air fry frozen french fries or sweet potatoes (super easy!) and serve with homemade coleslaw. As for the BBQ sauce, use your favorite store-bought sauce or try my homemade Sweet BBQ Sauce!
This recipe was published in 2019 and updated in February 2022 to include new photos and information.
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Please see more list about Slow cook ribs on grill