I LOVE ribs. I think one of the main complaints I’ve heard about ribs (other than the fact that people don’t like eating them straight off the bone) is that they’re fatty and tough. I’ve had this recipe for years, but I was never able to really get them as tender as I wanted them. The braising liquid is to DIE for, so I knew there was major potential, but I just couldn’t figure out what to do. After lots of rib research (hard work, I know), I discovered two things: even though spareribs are cheaper, buy baby backs. They’re meatier, less fatty, and more tender. And secondly, I needed to be braising the ribs slower at a lower temperature than I was doing in the oven. Enter my good friend…the crockpot! Yep, slow cooker ribs. Your greatest fantasies have just been realized. These will fall off the bone and a good portion of visible fat will come off during the slow cooking and the grilling.
- Braising liquid – You’re going to need pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and cloves.
- Pineapple Juice – A big part of the braising liquid is pineapple juice, which adds a sweet flavor but also helps tenderize the meat. Frozen concentrate works great, but bottled will work as well.
- Barbecue Sauce – These ribs get cooked in the slow cooker and finished off on the grill (or under the broiler in a pinch). Grab your favorite bottled barbecue sauce to keep things simple or whip up your own. Kansas City Barbecue Sauce or Quick and Easy Barbecue Sauce would both be great.
How To Make Baby Back Ribs
- Mix up your braising liquid: pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and cloves.
- Next, you’re going to take your ribs and cut them into portions of about 2-3 bones each. This makes it easier to cook and to divvy up afterwards.
- Place the ribs in your crockpot (I have a large crockpot and can fit about 2 racks of ribs in there, but it’s a tight fit) and then add the braising liquid.
- Cover with the lid and cook on high for 5-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. When they’re very tender, carefully pull them from the liquid. They’ll be pretty ugly. Don’t worry.
- Preheat a grill over medium heat. Acquire some awesome barbecue sauce. You can make your own (like this quick and easy barbecue sauce, or this Carolina-style sauce) or you can just purchase some. This is actually my favorite, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of the less expensive varieties. Brush one side of the ribs with the BBQ sauce and then place them, sauce-side down, on the hot grill. Generously brush the tops with sauce. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until you have some nice char marks on the ribs. Flip and repeat. Serve immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Can I make these ahead of time? These ribs are best made all the way through in one go. You can certainly prep your ribs a day ahead of time. The braising liquid could also be made ahead of time and kept it in the fridge until ready to use, just be aware that it will require longer cooking time as the crock pot has to heat up the liquid before it can start cooking. If you’re making your own barbecue sauce, that can be done a day or two in advance as well.
Did You Make This?
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These classic babyback ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender! Cook them all day in the crockpot and then finish them off with a few minutes on the grill!
1–2 racks babyback ribs (1 rack feeds two adults; another rack of ribs will work with the marinade if your crockpot can fit them)
3 cups pineapple juice
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons mustard powder
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
your favorite barbecue sauce
- Cut the ribs into 2-3 bone portions and place them in a crockpot. Whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the barbecue sauce). Pour the liquid over the ribs, cover, and cook for 5-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Carefully remove the ribs from the liquid.
- When ready to serve, preheat grill over medium heat. Brush one side with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place the ribs, sauce side down, on the hot grill and brush the tops generously with sauce. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes until nice char marks form. Carefully flip the ribs, close the lid, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
- Serving Size: 4