Easy slow cooker baby back ribs give you all the deliciousness of barbecue from the comfort of your own home. Easy peasy. No fuss, no muss.
Who would’ve thought you could enjoy succulent baby back ribs from your slow cooker? We did. We thought you could and you can! Just a few simple pantry staples, several hours in the crockpot, and finished in the oven and your family will be enjoying finger-licking baby back ribs.
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There is nothing quite like tender slow-cooked baby back ribs. Falling off the bone with just the right blend of sweet and spicy, these easy slow cooker baby back ribs are the perfect meal for any weeknight, or dress it up for a Sunday supper.
Middle of winter and craving the taste of summer? Throw these bad boys in your slow cooker and when they are ready close your eyes and be transported to the 4th of July. Just don’t light any fireworks indoors. That’s not safe. And it’s January. Safety first, kids.
How To Make Easy Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
How easy can slow cooker baby back ribs possibly be you may ask? They couldn’t be easier. A gentle seasoning rub and a few hours in the slow cooker and your ribs will be ready to get slathered in your favorite barbecue sauce and finished in the oven to give the perfect caramelized crust. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Let’s get cookin!
What You Need:
Here’s what you’ll need from the store. The exact amounts are in the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Kitchen Tools Needed:
Tips for Easy Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
What if I Can’t Find Baby Back Ribs? Can I Substitute a Different Cut?
If you are in the height of barbecue season or approaching a grilling holiday weekend, there is always a chance your local market may be out of your choice cut. Baby back ribs in this instance. Have no fear! We can still have ribs.
Baby back ribs are taken from around the loin, the muscle that runs along the pig’s back on either side of the spine. They are curvier and shorter than spareribs. Being smaller than spareribs they take less time to cook. They also typically come with a higher price tag.
Spareribs are the ribs that come from the belly (aka underside) of the pig. They are a fattier alternative to baby back ribs which when talking about slow-cooked meat remember fat equals flavor and the slow cooking process allows a lot of the fat to render creating a perfectly cooked succulent finished rib.
St. Louis-Style Ribs
St Louis-style ribs are spareribs that have been given a little more love. The hard breastbone and chewy cartilage have been removed. Compared to spareribs, St Louis-style ribs are uniform in shape and a little easier to work with. They have a little less meat than baby back ribs but the meat is fattier. They are also thinner and flatter so they cook a little more evenly as well.
If substituting spareribs or St Louis-style ribs, simply err on the side of caution and cook them for the longest recommended time and ideally on the low setting. Also, keep in mind that because these two types of ribs are longer you may not be able to fit as many in your slow cooker. However, since they are thinner and flatter, the difference in quantity quite often is nominal.
What about Country Style Ribs you may ask? Country Style Ribs don’t actually come from the ribs. They are cut from the blade end near the shoulder or the shoulder itself sometimes labeled as pork should country-style ribs. They are usually cut into rib shapes and the meat has a texture and flavor similar to meat around the ribs.
Quite often they are sold boneless which is ideal if you have and picky eaters who don’t care for meat on the bone. Not only can they provide a potential boneless option for this recipe, but they are also almost always easier on the pocketbook.
What Should I Serve with my Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs?
Oh man. This is where it gets even better. There are so many fantastic options of sides with your slow cooker baby back ribs. Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- Baked mac and cheese
- Traditional coleslaw
- Baked beans
- Potato salad
- Orzo Cheesecake Fruit Salad
- French fries
- Onion rings
- Roasted potatoes
- Sauteed greens
Can I Make More Ribs with This Recipe?
The short answer is the larger your slow cooker the more ribs you can cook. Cutting the slabs into smaller pieces will also help accommodate more ribs in the slow cooker. The general rule of thumb is you get a minimum of two rib bones per piece. However, be cognizant of overcrowding your slow cooker and also keep in mind the more meat in the slow cooker the longer the cooking time.
Also, depending on which cut of ribs (baby back, sparerib, St Louis-style, or boneless country-style) it will determine how many you can fit in your slow cooker.
Easy Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs Recipe
- Slow Cooker
- Shallow Baking Dish
- 1 slab of 1" baby back ribs – cut into pieces as necessary to fit slow cooker
- 1 sliced onion
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 bottle your favorite barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
- Cut ribs in to pieces depending on the size of your slow cooker. For larger slow cookers, you can usually go with 2 half-slabs.
- Add the sliced onion and water to the slow cooker.
- Rub salt, pepper and paprika into ribs and place in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. (I like 8 hours on low the best)
- After cooking in the slow cooker, coat ribs with barbecue sauce and drizzle with honey. Bake in oven at 375 for about 10-15 minutes. This really sets in the barbecue sauce and caramelizes it slightly for an absolutely awesome flavor.
- Remove from oven and add more barbecue sauce if you like and serve.
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