Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

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.

Ingredient Notes

  • 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.

babyback ribs

How To Make Baby Back Ribs

  1. Mix up your braising liquid: pineapple juice, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic, brown sugar, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and cloves.
  2. 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.
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  1. 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.
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  1. 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.
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  1.  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.
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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.

Serving Suggestions

These ribs are delicious with classic barbecue fare. Consider serving with Classic Potato Salad, Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, Corn Salad with Queso Fresco, or Grilled Potatoes and Onions.

Did You Make This?

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Babyback Ribs

5 from 3 votes
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!
Prep Time 15 minutes


  • 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: 4g
Author: Our Best Bites
Did You Make This Recipe?Snap a picture, and hashtag it #ourbestbites. We love to see your creations on our Instagram @ourbestbites!
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

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

  2. 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!

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

  4. 5 stars
    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…

  5. 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 🙂

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 5 stars
    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 !

  9. 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!

  10. 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 😉 ?

    1. Do you have a heavy duty grill pan? You could do that. Or pop ’em under the broiler. It won’t be the same, but it will be better than life without ribs. 🙂

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

  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. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. I tried this recipe on the weekend…and it was to die for!! My husband keeps asking when i am going to make them again!

  17. Very innovative!!! I like the idea a lot!! Will have to buy another crockpot……lend mine to a friend and never got it back!!!!

  18. i wanna make my first ribs…there's a party i am hosting this saturday…i guess it's too risky to try something now for a party eh…

  19. 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 🙂

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

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

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!!

  27. Okay, um, Yum. I’m totally having ribs this weekend (even if I have to pay and arm and a leg for them!)