Babyback Ribs

CATEGORIES: Grill, Kate, Pork, Slow-Cooker

So babyback ribs. I love a good salad as much as the next girl, but my all-time favorite, special-night-out foods? Shrimp, a great steak, or ribs. Don’t worry, I’ve never attempted all three at the same time!

I guess the good thing about ribs is that they’re generally too expensive to buy on a regular basis. It’s definitely splurge food, both from a calorie and a budget perspective. But here’s a hint–I never buy meat when I actually plan on eating it. I’ve had these ribs in my freezer for 2 months now; they’re normally $4.99 a pound at Kroger, but I got these for $2.99 a pound. This week, I just got brisket for $.97 a pound, even though I have no immediate brisket plans in my future. If you keep an eye on the sales, you can get the pricier cuts of meat for a great deal.

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 babybacks. 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.

For the 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.

babyback ribs

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.

babyback ribs-2Place 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.

babyback ribs-3Cover 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.

babyback ribs-5 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.babyback ribs-4

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.
babyback ribs-6 copy
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Babyback Ribs

  • Author: Our Best Bites


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!


  • 12 rack babyback ribs (1 rack feeds two adults; another rack of ribs will work with the marinade if your crockpot can fit them)
  • 3 c. pineapple juice
  • 1 ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/3 c. ketchup
  • 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Your favorite barbecue sauce


  1. 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.
  2. 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


  1. I always thought that ribs were very un-lady like, but then I had them at Texas Roadhouse and fell in love. To heck with lady-like. . .these look amazing!!

  2. Do you believe in “removing the membrane” from ribs? I have read/heard that before, and it has always made me hesitate on making ribs. I don’t know how, and it sounds pretty gross.

  3. Tricia- since when are you “lady-like”?? hahaha. By the way, we’re totally overdue for a bbq.

    Jen- I do take off the membrane, but it’s not hard. Just use a sharp knife and cut it right off. But like Kate said, some cuts don’t have much of a membrane anyway.

  4. Jen, I didn’t remove the membrane on mine. And I agree that that sounds disgusting. Maybe that’s another perk of baby backs–I really didn’t notice much of a membrane and it seems like anything extraneous just kind of came off while it was braising. I do know that when I’ve made spareribs, I didn’t remove the membranes and they were really, really hard to eat.

  5. Kate, I have never cooked baby back ribs, I tried them for Father’s Day and they were scrumptious and easy! Thank YOu! jodi

  6. Ok, so the braising sauce was sooo good, that I didn’t even put on the BBQ sauce! I need to try it just to see what it’s like, but for the first time trying it, I didn’t want to “ruin” a good thing!

  7. I crocked these last night and put them on the grill tonight. I picked up some BBQ sauce from Glory Days because believe it or not that is one of my favorites. 7 hours on low turned out to be just right to make them tender but also hold together on the grill.

    I saw another comment about membranes, my advice is to leave these on because they basically hold the meat together once it is nice and tender. Anyway, I have not have ribs better than this at any restaurant. They were phenomenal. Thanks for suggest for those of us who don’t have smokers.

  8. I finally got around to trying these and we LOVED them. The flavor was awesome and I think they were possibly the most tender ribs I've ever had. I used to slow-roast mine on the grill, but I think I'll stick to this crock and grill method from now on. They were perfect!

    I agree that you don't need to bother taking off the membrane with this recipe either. I always do when I cook mine on the grill, but your right, there's no need when you're crocking them first, and the other poster is probably right- they'd fall apart without it!

    Thanks for a yummy recipe Kate 🙂

  9. Mmmm…These rock!! I made them to have while watching the NFL Pro Bowl with my brothers! They were better than the game! Thanks for sharing!

  10. I'm planning on making these for dinner but have a question. You said that we can cook them in the crock pot the day before but how do u store them after the 7 hrs in the crock pot but before grilling? Do I just take them out of the crock pot and wrap them up in foil and put in the fridge until grilling? Thanks!

  11. Is there any way you could make this print friendly? Thank you! I can’t wait to make these, I really want to TRY to make a rib lover out of my husband. They look so good!

  12. YUM! I recently made these ribs and they were delicious. By far, the best ribs I have ever had. I have already shared the recipe with the rest of my family. I will be making these again. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I just got pork loinback ribs. Are those babybacks? The “butcher” said he wasn’t sure if they were the same thing.

  14. Hi, i really want to make these but our grill died—is there anything else i can do or do i have to wait until spring when mr. cheap buys a new grill 😉 ?

  15. This was my first attempt at making ribs on the bone and holy delicious!!! My husband and I were both in awe…these were the best ribs we’ve ever had! We also grilled yams, made a spinach salad and made your world’s best rolls, I will never go to a BBQ restaurant again!

  16. I made these for dinner tonight. I used oj instead of pineapple juice. Delish! I think I cooked tem too long in the crock pot but I was out all day. The ribs fell apart when taking them out to put on grill. It was raining o I cooked them in a grill pan. They were soooooooo yummy !

  17. These are in my Crock Pot right now! I don’t have a grill, so I’ll be broiling them though. I’ve never fixed ribs before and my husband is thrilled!

  18. As a man, I probably visit this site too much.

    Getting ribs on tomorrow, but I’ll also add a mesquite smokiness by throwing some mesquite wood chips on the coals (indirectly). Will let you know how it goes.

  19. These by far are my favorites ribs…. ever!!! I have a brother who is a serious smoker/grill master and I hate to say it, but these are better than his!! The flavor is truly to die for. The first time I made ribs was with this recipe and I don’t think I’ll be using any other for a very long time 🙂

  20. Oh sweet rib heaven…thought I would try for 4th of July…and they were absolutely stunning…looked exactly like your pics….amazing…I love good ribs and this is a keeper of a recipe…thanks si much for sharing….I got my baby back…baby back…u got my baby back….baby back…baby back ribs….lol…

  21. I found a fantastic price on ribs… Only two people here who will eat them though….can I freeze them before cooking them?

  22. We made these with riblets that I bought for $1.68/lb… so GOOD! And when my daughter got home from school she went in search of what was making the house smell so good!

  23. Make these all the time. I used 2 tablespoons of Cinnamon & sit in indirect heat using apple wood chips. Friends are mindblown.

  24. I made these last week, as I am on a quest for delicious ribs. The presentation and tenderness were spot on, but the flavor was kind of bland to my husband and I. (which was surprising with all the spices in the marinade) I am wondering maybe a rub before putting them in the crockpot?

  25. I make these all the time (always use 2 racks) but today had to use my le creuset due to crockpot being used. I put it in the oven at 350 after mixing everything well and added meat. After 45 min turned down to 200 for 3 hours. Couldn’t tell any difference. Still tender and made it to the grill.

  26. I made these for dinner on Father’s Day and was disappointed with how they turned out. They were yummy, but by the time they were through cooking in the crock pot, they were so tender they were falling off the bone and impossible to grill. So it was more like pulled pork than baby back ribs, which would be fine if they weren’t my husband’s favorite and really pricey for pulled pork. When I make ribs I generally grill them first and put them in the oven afterwards so I guess I’ll have to go back to that way next time.

  27. I’ve got ribs on the menu this week for a party at our cabin in Bear Lake. So the big question is which recipe should I use? This one or your pressure cooker recipe?

  28. I’m probably the only person to write you and say “I’m sad that you made fun of my favorite way” to eat ribs. I love picking them up and chewing the tender (but not falling apart) meat. When people tell me crockpot ribs are to “die for, they fall off the bone they are so tender” I just cringe. Sounds like pork stew or shredded pork of some kind. Give me a rib in hand and chewing on the bone. So my question is…..this looks like such an easy recipe and delicious to boot. Is there any suggestion to turn it into something that doesn’t fall off the bone? Would “crocking” it for less time help? After how much time do they “fall off the bone”?

    Love soooo many of your recipes. Thanks.

    1. Ha! I get it! You can totally use this method, just don’t cook them as long in the crockpot. I can’t say for sure how long because how done you want them is a personal preference, so you met have to do some experimenting, but it’s totally possible (I know this, because I haven’t cooked mine long enough in the past and there was way too much chewing involved for my liking, haha.)

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