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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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 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 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

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

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

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