Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from

If you love BBQ as much as we do, you are going to flip for these ribs.

We live in the great state of Texas where BBQ is a way of life. We love smoking ribs in our awesome electric Smokin’ Tex smoker. But, we are not kidding when we say these slow cooker ribs give the smoked kind a run for the money. The Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce makes them over-the-top delicious.

A person holding a baby back rib that has been pulled from a rack of slow cooker baby back ribs.

How To Make Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs


NOTE: If you liked this video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. Remember to click the little ‘bell’ icon so you’ll never miss a new video. Thank you!

The Ingredients You Will Need

There are just a handful of ingredients that you’ll need to make truly spectacular baby back ribs. The homemade BBQ sauce can be made days in advance, and we highly recommend you make it. It’s easy and incredibly delicious! Here’s what you’ll need to have on hand:

Pork Baby Back Ribs – Ask your butcher to remove the membrane on the back side of the ribs. Or, you can use a small sharp knife to pull the membrane free, and then use a paper towel to help you pull it completely from the ribs.
Brown sugar – We love dark, but light will work, too.
Chili powder – A regular blend is great, if you like a little heat, then go with an ancho chili powder.
Paprika – Smoked adds an amazing depth of flavor.
Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and cayenne.
BBQ sauceHomemade is best, but a good-quality purchased bottle will work, too.

EXPERT TIP: Use your fingers to help adhere the rub to the ribs. Press it into the meaty side of the ribs. It’s okay if some of it falls, you just need it to be nicely coated with the rub.

A person wearing protective latex gloves pressing a pork rub into two slab of baby back ribs on a large cutting board.

Tips for Making Perfect Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Remove the Membrane – Ask your butcher to remove the membrane from the back of the ribs before seasoning and placing them in the slow cooker to ensure maximum tenderness.

Cook on LOW – For the most tender meat, slow cook the ribs on LOW heat for 7-8 hours, allowing them to slowly tenderize and develop a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Finish The Off Under the Broiler – Carefully remove the ribs from the slow cooker and then slather with the homemade BBQ sauce. Place them under the broiler for a short time to create an incredibly sticky, caramelized glaze.

Have Extra Sauce On Hand – You may want to make a double batch of the BBQ sauce, because your guests will want to dunk their ribs into their own side of sauce. It’s really that good!

EXPERT TIP: You’ll most likely need to cut your full rack in half for it to all fit in your slow cooker. This is no problem, simply stack the racks on top of each other. Don’t let the ribs go longer than 8 hours, as they may start to get a little too dark and will completely fall apart when you remove them from the slow cooker.

Two images with the first being two racks of baby back ribs that have a BBQ rub all over them in a slow cooker and then the next after the ribs have slow cooked all day.

How To Serve

These ribs are messy, that’s part of their charm. You’ll need to have plenty of paper towels on hand. A big roll of paper towels for the table works perfectly.

The perfect sides to go with the ribs are macaroni and cheese, dirty rice, baked beans, or potato salad.

And don’t forget the extra BBQ sauce for each guest.

A person pouring homemade barbecue sauce from a clear glass bottle onto a rack of slow cooker baby ribs that have been fully cooked.

Other Slow Cooker Recipes To Try

There is just something special about preparing a dish in your slow cooker. The way your house fills with incredible smells, and the anticipation of digging in is just the best. Here is a collection of our all-time favorites that we’re certain you and your family will love, too!

Mississippi Pot Roast
Classic Beef Stew
Beef Braciole
Chopped Brisket Sandwiches
Pulled Pork
Spiral Ham
Provencal Chicken Stew
Coconut Chicken Curry
Chicken Chow Mein
Baked Beans
Corn on the Cob
Asparagus Risotto

These are all amazing and tried and true. But, in the meantime, aren’t these gems calling your name?

Two half-racks of slow cooker baby back ribs stacked on top of each other and with barbecue sauce smear over the tops of each rack.

Ready to make a batch of ribs that will rival any BBQ joint in Texas? Go for it!

And when you do, be sure to take a photo of them, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!

A person holding a baby back rib that has been pulled from a rack of slow cooker baby back ribs.

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

These slow cooker baby back ribs truly give authentic Texas-style smoked ribs a run for the money. The rub and homemade sauce deliver that authentic BBQ taste and cooking on LOW makes them melt-in-your-mouth tender.
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ / Southern
Keyword: easy baby back ribs recipe, how to slow cook ribs, Ribs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
BBQ Sauce: 20 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 593kcal


  • 1 6 to 7 quart slow cooker


  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar light or dark
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground thyme dried
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 to 3 1/2 lb baby back ribs trimmed and membrane removed from the back of the ribs
  • Easy BBQ Sauce


  • Coat the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
    Non-stick cooking spray
  • Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, thyme, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
    2 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tbsp chili powder, 2 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp ground thyme, 1 tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Rub the mixture all over the ribs.
    3 to 3 1/2 lb baby back ribs
  • Place ribs in slow cooker and cover.
  • Cook on LOW for 7 - 8 hours, or until ribs are tender.
  • Easy BBQ Sauce
  • Remove ribs from the slow cooker and discard the liquid.
  • Turn your broiler to low, or, turn your slow cooker to high.
  • Coat the ribs with the sauce and place under the broiler (or back into the slow cooker).
  • Cook under broiler for about 2 minutes, remove, re-coat with another layer of sauce, and cook for another couple minutes. OR, let ribs cook on HIGH in slow cooker for 30 minutes. IMPORTANT: Broilers vary, keep an eye on the ribs, and don't let them burn!
  • Remove and serve at once, with additional BBQ sauce!


See the video near the top of the blog post for visual guidance. If you liked the video, please subscribe to our YouTube channel. 
If you don't have a butcher available to help you remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs, and you don't want to attempt to remove it yourself, just leave it on. Removing it simply makes the ribs easier to break apart, but they will still be extremely tender, even with the membrane unremoved. 
The ribs can be prepped with the rub up to 12 hours in advance. Keep covered in the fridge until ready to start slow cooking. We don't recommend letting the ribs slow cook for more than 7 hours, 8 maximum. If they go much longer, they might burn on the bottom and the meat will become so tender that they will fall apart when you try and remove them from the slow cooker.
The BBQ Sauce can be made up to several days in advance. 
Leftovers will keep in the fridge (covered) for up to 5 days. 


Calories: 593kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 48g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 834mg | Potassium: 693mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1173IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Take a Picture!Mention @HowToFeedALoon or tag #HowToFeedALoon!

POST UPDATE: This post was originally published in September 2016, but was updated with improved tweaks to the recipe with new tips and photography and a fabulous new video in January 2024!


  • 5 stars
    I’ve made these before on the smoker and in the crockpot! You cannot go wrong either way! The rub is incredible, all of my boys agree. I’ve used baby back pork ribs and thicker Texas style pork ribs. I’m making the Texas style today in the crockpot, as a matter of fact. It’s cold and windy and there’s snow on the way here in the NC mountains, so these will be a nice warm welcome later!

    • Hi Leslie!! Wow!! Can we come over? LOL!! Texas-style is awesome!! Stay warm and enjoy those ribs!!! And thanks for the great review!! We can’t express enough how much that means to us!! xoxoxo Kris & Wesley

  • Hi Kris, Just wondering are you able to follow this recipe for Beef Baby Back ribs and would there be any changes to the recipe? Cheers

  • 5 stars
    This is so incredibly delicious! Didn’t have the time or ingredients to create your BBQ sauce, but will definitely give that a go in the near future! This is hands down my new go-to rib rub recipe! I do have to ask however, in your step-by-step instructions there is no mention of when and where to add the chili powder… is that a mistake, or is that optional (since cayenne pepper is also added)? Still a great recipe with or without the chili powder and thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Bree!! Thanks so much for the great review! And thanks for the heads up about when to add the chili powder. That gets added in with the other rub ingredients. We’ve updated the recipe to reflect that. We are so so so glad that you loved the recipe. We absolutely love it, too! Next time, give the BBQ sauce a try, it’s crazy easy, too!!! Thanks again!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    Excellent! This was my first attempt at making ribs in a crockpot. They were definite “fall off the bone” tender. Crockpot for 6.5 hours followed by a few minutes of broiling. Did not try the BBQ Sauce recipe (yet).

  • 5 stars
    Ok. So I’m part of a Latino family and holidays are filled with traditional food. I wanted to do something different for NYE. I set out to make these ribs. My family can be very critical when it comes to food. I made the baby back ribs and used your bbq sauce recipe as well. Very easy to make. The only thing I did differently was I cut back a tiny bit on anything that was spicy but I don’t think it was necessary. There was a slight kick but not overwhelming. I think it should be fine if I use your measurements next time. I did not make it in the slow cooker though, I used the oven. Slow cooked at 250 for 7 hours , I purchased 3 racks and cut each in half and individually wrapped each one in aluminum foil. The ribs were ready a couple of hours before everyone arrived: I turned off the oven and left them covered ( I was nervous about this but it didn’t affect the tenderness of the ribs). Once everyone was ready to eat, I slathered on the sauce and followed the steps in the recipe. Served with a home made slaw and loaded baked potatoes. No one left a thing on their plates. Well just bones. The ribs just fell off the bones so easily. The rub and the sauce were perfect. I will be making this again!!! I made extra sauce to possibly use for chicken as well. Thank you for providing a great recipe!!!

    • That is amazing!!! Sounds absolutely incredible. Congratulations on such a HUGE success! And thank you so much for letting us know. We appreciate that so very much! Happy New Year!! Stay in touch, all the best…Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    My husband and three sons give this two thumbs up! The ribs were tender and flavorful. The sauce is truly lip smacking goodness. Will absolutely make this again

    • Hi Tracy! YES!!!! That’s so amazing to hear! We are so glad you had success with the slow-cooker ribs and thrilled you got rave reviews from your hubby and sons! AWESOME!!! And thank you so much for letting us know. That means the world to us! Stay in touch!!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Putting the ribs in the slow cooker at first with no liquid in the cooker? Will that burn the bottom of the ribs after the 7-8 hours?

    • Hi Danielle! So sorry for the delayed response! No need to add additional liquid. As the ribs slow-cook in the slow cooker, they will release liquid and you shouldn’t experience any burning. However, you might sneak a peak every now and then, and if it looks like liquid is need, just add a couple tbsp of water. Let us know how it turns out!! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • Can these ribs be made a day ahead to but in the oven the next night? And, can you freeze them prior to finalizing in the oven?

    • Hi Diana, if I’m understanding you question, you can definitely make these in the slow cooker a day in advance, and then re-heat the following day in the oven, and then finish off under the broiler. And we’ve never frozen the ribs after slow cooking them, but they should freeze just fine. I’d recommend letting them come back to room temperature before adding into the oven to re-heat. Hope this helps and let us know of any other questions and let us know how they turn out!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

      • Hi Kris – You totally understood what I was asking. I’m constantly looking for amazing things to prepare ahead of time (my granddaughter, Ella, loves ribs), making it easier for me when one ormolu of our four sons and family, and my sister and family, come for a summer trip, or a special Thanksgiving/Christmas. I can’t possibly spend the whole time in the kitchen (missing times with grandkids). I want to try freezing ribs after slow cooking – a little hard to cook for 2 people, then plan for a crowd. Thanks.

      • Fantastic, and makes complete sense, Diana! Do let us know when you make these ribs and what you and your beautiful family think of them. Hope you all enjoy them very much! Best, Kris & Wesley

  • 5 stars
    The BESSSST. My husband loves them too. These are so simple to prepare in the morning and go on about my day. Definitely give them a try

    • Woo hoo, Deanna!! So awesome to hear! So glad you love and your hubby loves these as much as we do! And thanks sooooo much for letting us know and the great review!!! We truly appreciate that!! Stay in touch!! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Oh my gosh, I love y’all. You two are so much fun. Thank you. I am making mine now in Dallas, Texas! Shoutout!

    • Yay!!! So glad you liked them!! Now, you’ve got us craving them. And we agree, that BBQ sauce is the real deal!! Thank you SO MUCH for letting us know. We truly do appreciate that!! 🙂 Best, Kris & Wesley

  • Ok guys I’ve never made baby back ribs ever and so I’m trusting you. I mixed up the rub spices and it smells amazing. I am making them Tuesday. Wish me well!

      • 5 stars
        OMG A M A Z I N G ! I was a super hero only without a cape. Thank you soooooo much. The BBQ sauce had just the right amount of bite..

      • Hi Avery…you could, although we never tried that before. We like to place under the broiler right at the end, just to crisp the sauce up a bit. The broiler will add a light browning and crispiness, that would probably lessen once it goes into the slow cooker, but it won’t hurt the ribs. Let us know what you decide to do and how it turns out. All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Hi Kris! I’m making these tomorrow while I’m at work and I seem to have a real gift for burning and/or drying out meat in the crock pot. 🙁 Will these be okay all day while I’m at work?

      • 5 stars
        They were absolutely fabulous!! I didn’t realize until this morning when I went to put them in the crock that I’d purchased beef ribs instead of pork but by that time I was committed, and I have to say, even with the substitution, they were ridiculously good! Thanks so much for the great recipe!!

      • Great! We love beef ribs, too. Anything slow cooked with a rub and homemade BBQ sauce is gonna be good! So glad you liked it! I’m going to put some more slow cooker recipes on the site…people really like them (and so do we!). 🙂

  • those are some darn fine looking ribs! I’ve cooked so many other things in the slow cooker I don’t know why ribs didn’t occur to me. This might just hold me over until I take the cover off the smoker in a few weeks. great looking site too, glad I found you via tastespotting!

    • Hi Melinda! They are crazy good, and unbelievably easy. I hesitated at first putting them on the site, cuz growing up in Texas…I know how ‘real’ ribs are prepared…but these were just so good, I decided to publish it. Glad you like the site and we absolutely LOVE Beautiful! We’ll visit often. All the best. Kris & Wesley (The Loon).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating