Baby back ribs don’t need to be complicated or time consuming. These crock pot ribs are fall off the bone tender, and easy enough for a weeknight. No grill required!

Wooden cutting board with cut racks of crock pot ribs glazed with barbecue sauce.

Fall off the bone Crockpot Ribs

For me, baby back ribs are the epitome of a FUN MEAL. The only thing about ribs that I don’t love is having the oven on for several hours, especially if it’s already a warm day.

The oven heats up my small house and makes it into an unbearable sauna! By the time the ribs are ready, I’m so hot that I’m not even hungry anymore. So what am I to do?

Turns out that the slow cooker collecting dust in my basement is good for a lot more than crock pot beef stroganoff.

These crock pot ribs are the easiest, most fuss-free way to make baby back ribs, all year long. And best of all, they’re simple enough to make on a weeknight!

Why you’ll love these Crockpot Baby Back Ribs

  • If you love ribs where the meat simply falls off the bone, this is the recipe for you! Kids tend to gobble up this soft, succulent meat, too.
  • This recipe is ideal for parties as it frees up oven space, and your guests will love the mouthwatering result.
  • No need for an outdoor grill if you don’t have one. The final step has an option of a grill OR the broiler of your oven to char the ribs slightly.
Ingredients for crock pot ribs laid out on a wooden surface, including two racks of ribs, onion, garlic, barbecue sauce and apple juice.

Crock Pot Ribs Recipe ingredients 

  • baby back ribs – the star of the show. Baby back ribs are tender and flavorful, making them a popular choice for slow cooking.
  • dry rub – a dry rub ensures that the ribs are seasoned throughly, and adds layers of flavor to the meat during the cooking process. Use my homemade dry rub for ribs or a store-bought version.
  • barbecue sauce – the key ingredient for adding sweet and tangy flavor to this crock pot ribs recipe.
  • garlic – throwing a handful of garlic cloves into the bottom of the slow cooker will add a savory depth of flavor.
  • onion – a whole onion, cut into four big chunks is also put in the bottom of the crock pot to contribute a mild sweetness and aromatic flavor.
  • apple juice – this serves as the flavorful liquid that will help tenderize the meat and prevent it from drying out as it cooks.
Close up on wooden cutting board with cut crockpot ribs glazed with sauce.

How to remove silverskin from Crock Pot Ribs

While I’d love to take the ribs out of their butcher paper and put them directly in the crock pot, crock pot ribs need a little bit more love. But don’t worry, crock pot baby back ribs are not hard at all.

First, if the butcher hasn’t done it already, you’ll need to remove the membrane (technically called silverskin) from the back sides of the rib racks. The Spruce has a tutorial on how to remove silverskin from ribs that shows you exactly how to do it (I do it this way, too).

If it’s your first time prepping slow cooker ribs, don’t stress out. It’s not important that you get every teeny tiny piece of the membrane. Just do the best you can, and your crock pot baby back ribs will be fine, I promise!

How to cook Ribs in Crock Pot

A textured baking pan with four raw sections of rib racks, and a paring knife.

1. PREP. If necessary, remove the silver skin membranes from the backs of the rib racks (see “How to remove silverskin from Crock Pot Ribs” above). Then, if necessary, cut racks into halves or thirds to best fit into your slow cooker bowl.

A textured baking pan with four raw sections of rib racks that have been rubbed with spices.

2. RUB. Rub the ribs all over with the dry rub. Let the ribs stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

A textured baking pan with four raw sections of rib racks that have been rubbed with spices, being brushed with barbecue sauce.

3. BRUSH. Brush the ribs all over with 3/4 cup barbecue sauce.

A slow cooker insert with onions, garlic cloves and a liquid in the bottom of it.

4. BOTTOM LAYER. Place the garlic cloves , onion and juice in your slow cooker bowl.

Ribs in crock pot, covered in barbecue sauce.

5. COOK. Place the ribs on top of the garlic and onion. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

A textured baking pan with four sections of crockpot baby back ribs that have been sauced and lightly charred.

6. CHAR. When the slow cooker time is up, remove the ribs from the slow cooker and brush them with the remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce. Then, use either a grill or broiler to lightly char them so they get delicious crusty bits in spots.

Slow cooker baby back ribs, cut up on a wooden cutting board.

7. SERVE. Cut the ribs and serve immediately, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

How long to cook Ribs in Crock Pot

Baby back ribs benefit from a low and slow cooking time. But what exactly is low and slow? Most American slow cooker recipes seem to define it as 8 hours on the low setting. But why? This likely harkens back to the conventional 9 – 5 work day.

But look, lots of us aren’t working that conventional work day anymore, are we? Sometimes, I’m just not ready to start thinking about crock pot baby back ribs for dinner at 9 AM!

If that sounds like something you can identify with, don’t worry. There’s a second option for these crock pot ribs, and that’s 4 hours on the high setting.

And do you want to know a secret? These slow cooker ribs turn out EXACTLY THE SAME WAY with both methods.

So, feel free to start your ribs in crock pot on low in the morning, or on high around lunch time. Either way, you’ll be enjoying succulent, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs at dinner time.

Home Chef Tips for Crockpot Ribs

  • I used a large (7 quart) oval shaped slow cooker, and I was able to fit two rack of baby back ribs into it by cutting each rack in half. If your slow cooker is smaller, you may need to reduce the recipe to 1 rack, or cut the racks into smaller pieces.
  • If you’d like an even deeper flavor for your crock pot ribs, feel free to apply the rib rub to the meat the night before you plan to slow cook them. However, don’t let the rub sit on the meat any longer than about 12 hours or so. Any more than that, and the crock pot baby back rib meat can start to dry out, similar to a curing effect.
Large metal tray filled with a crock pot ribs recipe, coleslaw and baked beans.

How to serve Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Cut up the ribs and serve them with additional barbecue sauce for dipping. Serve the ribs with elote corn salad and celery seed coleslaw for a meal.

We’ve also been known to have them for Easter dinner, with salad for Easterpotato cakes and Dr. Pepper baked beans.

How to store Crockpot Baby Back Ribs

Allow any leftover ribs to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container. Ribs can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months.

Closeup on wooden cutting board with cut up crockpot baby back ribs.

Crock Pot Ribs Recipe FAQs

How do you keep ribs from drying out in a slow cooker?

To prevent ribs from drying out in the slow cooker, be sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker bowl. I’ve used apple juice in this crockpot ribs recipe, but you can also use broth, apple cider or beer.

Why my slow cooked ribs are tough?

Tough crock pot ribs can be due to a variety of factors, including overcooking, using the wrong cut of meat, or not using enough liquid. Follow the recipe below carefully.

Is it better to cook ribs in the oven or slow cooker?

Both methods have their advantages. Cooking ribs in the oven yields a more caramelized crust, while slow cooking in a crockpot results in super tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. The choice depends on your preference for texture and the time you have for preparation.

Crock pot ribs cut up and brushed with barbecue sauce.
Wooden cutting board with cut racks of crock pot ribs glazed with barbecue sauce.

Crockpot Ribs Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes

Baby back ribs don't need to be complicated or time consuming. These crock pot ribs are fall off the bone tender, and easy enough for a weeknight. No grill required!

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 1/2 cup dry rub for ribs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, divided, plus additional for serving
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 white or yellow onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup apple juice

Instructions

  1. If butcher hasn't already done it, remove silver skin membrane from backs of rib racks. Then, if necessary, cut racks into halves or thirds to best fit into slow cooker bowl.
  2. Rub ribs all over with dry rub. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
  3. Brush ribs all over with 3/4 cup barbecue sauce.
  4. Place garlic, onion and juice in slow cooker bowl.
  5. Place ribs on top of garlic and onion. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
  6. Just before slow cooker time is up, preheat either grill or broiler, if desired, to lightly char ribs and give them some crusty bits. Remove ribs from slow cooker and brush with remaining 1/4 cup barbecue sauce.
  7. If GRILLING: Preheat grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Transfer ribs to grill and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly charred in spots, turning once. If BROILING: Preheat broiler to HIGH. Place ribs under broiler and broil 2 to 3 minutes or until lightly charred, watching carefully.
  8. Cut ribs and serve immediately, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.

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    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 667Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 1128mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 38g

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