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These slow cooker baby back ribs take a grand total of 5 minutes of prep time before they cook away all day in the slow cooker with Paleo-friendly BBQ sauce, resulting in fall-off-the bone amazingly good ribs.
Slow Cooker Ribs
If there is one food that inspires me to throw “what’s in the sauce?” caution, “but I’m wearing white” fear, and “I’m getting full” notions to the wind, it’s baby back ribs. I mostly avoid BBQ baby back ribs from restaurants because the meat sourcing is usually questionable, the sauce is FULL of mysterious “not food” foods, and I have limited ordering willpower. Here’s how it usually goes on a typical night out with my honey, Austin: I totally and completely convince myself that I will order the grilled chicken salad, and when the waiter comes, I say with *so* much confidence, “I want the baby back ribs.” I DON’T KNOW WHAT COMES OVER ME!
They’re always delicious and I’m in absolute heaven right up to the point that I throw my last licked-clean bone down on the plate. Then, I feel miserable. Too much food. Too much brown sugar, starches, unhealthy fats, and other crazy ingredients. I waddle out of the restaurant, wedge myself in the passenger seat of Austin’s car, and whine all the way home about how my tummy hurts.
Desperate for a way to have my cake (amazing ribs) and eat it too (BBQ baby back ribs that don’t make me feel terrible), I got to work on a homemade Paleo-friendly Crock Pot BBQ ribs recipe (because slow cooking is the ultimate no-fuss cooking solution!).
Ingredients for Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
2 ingredients (because salt + pepper don’t count!)…2 INGREDIENTS! That’s it. Result? The actual BEST baby back ribs EVER. Here’s what you need:
- Pork Baby Back Ribs – for this recipe, you’ll *definitely* need a full rack of baby back ribs (I’m thinking you knew that though, right?!). We LOVE grabbing our pork ribs from US Wellness Meats. They are the best of the best.
- BBQ Sauce – use your favorite barbecue sauce for these ribs (good BBQ sauce is important here). I’m partial to my homemade sauce recipe (right here!) because it’s made with quality ingredients and can be customized 4 different ways – sweet, tangy, spicy, and regular. Regardless of the barbecue sauce you choose, you’ll need 2 cups.
How To Cook Baby Back Ribs In Crock Pot
These Crockpot ribs are LEGIT. Legit, I tell you! They’re sourced from the very, very best (I like ButcherBox or US Wellness Meats), covered in my customizable Paleo BBQ Sauce, and brought together in holy barbecue ribs harmony in everyone’s favorite “no experience required” kitchen tool, the slow-cooker. Best of all? They take a grand total of 5 minutes to prep. Then you just walk away, go have yourself an awesome day, and come home to your very own indulgent (but still good for your tummy) dinner. Let’s get cookin’!
- Prep Your Ribs – place your rack of ribs on a plate, and dust the front and back of the ribs with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper. That’s it…these babies are prepped!
- Add the Ribs to the Slow Cooker – place ribs in your favorite slow-cooker with the meaty side up. Got ‘em both in there? Excellent.
- Add the Sauce – it’s BBQ sauce time! Pour barbecue sauce over the ribs (1 batch of my homemade sauce, or 2 cups of your BBQ sauce of choice).
- Cook – put the lid on and let them cook for about 8 lovely, your-house-will-smell-amazing, hours.
- Crisp – this step is totally optional, but if you want the sauce to crisp up further, you can put your finished ribs on a baking sheet and zap in a 450°F oven for about 3-5 minutes. They’ll be totally delicious if you decide to eat straight from the slow-cooker, too.
- Cool, Chop, and Serve – let them cool a bit, chop em up, and serve!
What is the difference between baby back and spare ribs?
The biggest difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs is the area of the pig that they come from. Spare ribs come from the belly area (and tend to be longer in size), while baby back ribs come from the back area (on either size of the spine) and tend to be shorter in size.
Should you remove the membrane from ribs?
While it isn’t completely necessary, removing the membrane from your ribs first will result in a more tender finished product. To do this, simply slide a knife under the membrane (along the bone) to pry the membrane from the bone, and then, using your hands, peel the membrane off completely.
Can you slow cook ribs too long?
It’s awfully hard to overcook ribs (or really anything) in the slow cooker, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Typically, the longer something cooks in the slow cooker, the more tender and fall-apart it’ll be!
Why didn’t my ribs fall off the bone?
Slow cooked ribs should *definitely* fall off the bone, so if yours didn’t, you may not have had them in the slow cooker for long enough. Remember, you’ll want to cook these ribs on low for 8 hours or on high for 5-6 hours. If, when you’re pulling the ribs from the slow cooker, you notice that they don’t seem tender enough, let them slow cook for an extra 30 minutes or so!
What to Serve with Crockpot Ribs
My first thought? Fries. A main dish of bone tender ribs with a side of fries is a match made in foodie heaven. If you’ve got an air fryer, these are your best bet. If you don’t, these oven-baked wedges are absolutely delicious. If you want to go the potato route, but prefer something other than fries, these Loaded Smashed Potatoes are a delicious pick. For a fresh green addition to your meal, try this simple salad, and for a heartier green, try this Broccoli Crunch Salad! Truly, these are the best slow cooker ribs, so your meal will be absolutely delicious no matter which sides you choose!
More Easy BBQ Recipes
- Easy BBQ Chicken Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa
- BBQ Pork Plantain Pizza
- BBQ Bacon Burger Loaded Potatoes
- Baked BBQ Turkey Legs
- BBQ Salmon Mango Kabobs
- BBQ Ranch Meatloaf-Stuffed Tomatoes
- Smothered BBQ Chicken Breasts
- BBQ Chicken Cobb with Jalapeno Ranch
- BBQ Bacon Onion Bombs
We hope you love this easy slow cooker ribs recipe for your next game day party, family gathering, or Monday night!
- 1 package pork baby back ribs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups BBQ Sauce
- Pat ribs dry with paper towels.
- Rub with salt and pepper.
- Lay meat-side up in slow cooker.
- Pour half of the BBQ sauce over the ribs, cover, and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 5-6 hours, until they fall apart easily.
- Before serving and if you want the ribs more caramelized, turn oven to 450°F and then bake the ribs for no more than 5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't burn.
- Cut and serve with extra BBQ sauce. Enjoy!
- Set Instant Pot to ‘saute' mode and add ghee.
- Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Once ghee is melted, add short ribs to the Instant pot to brown, 4-5 minutes per side. You will need to work in 2-3 batches to make sure you don't overcrowd the pan.
- Once the short ribs are browned, add the BBQ sauce over.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set it to “manual” and adjust to 45 minutes. Let the pressure release for about 15-20 minutes, then open the pot.
- Follow Steps 5 and on to serve!
Lori Ann says
These were foolishly good! And the BBQ sauce was equally wonderful!
Thanks so much
That makes me so happy!
I was wondering about the difference between cooking the ribs on a high versus low setting in the crock pot? Your recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try it. I usually cook meat on a low setting for a long time in the crock pot. Thank you!
Hi Adriana! Cooking it on high allow for more heat. Feel try to try it on low, but it might need a longer cooking time.
Have you doubled the recipe before? If so, how did it turn out? 🙂 thanks!
Hi Kara! I am not sure as it hasn’t been tried, but if you try, make sure you have enough sauce to cover the top layer of ribs so they do not dry out. Let us know if you try it!
I’m also wondering if you have doubled the recipe. Would they still cook ok in the slow cooker if they had another layer stacked on top? Just found your site through Foodgawker…love it! Thanks!
Hi Sara, glad you found us! It would be a tough to say, but if you double the recipe, the ribs on the top might get dry if there is not enough sauce to cover them. If you add more liquid to make sure they don’t dry out you could give it a try. Let us know if you do!!
I made these tonight! They were fall-off-the-bone tender, and the sauce was good, but the meat itself was so bland. I wonder if marinating them would help. Of course I am used to ribs that have spent 6+ hours on a smoker and the meat takes on that nice smokey flavor. Tending to a crock pot is WAY easier than stoking a fire in a smoker though!
Thanks for trying them Kirsten! I would say you can definitely try to marinate them. Please let us know if you try it and it works!
I marinated mine overnight and they are in the slow cooker as I type this…lets see how it goes!
My husband wanted ribs but with watching granddaughter, reroofing house ourselves, and the dozen other thing needed to be done before a house full on Easter. I needed fast and simple my brain was over loaded. This was fast simple no extras or complications.. Thank you for fast, easy, and simple. Ribs turned out great.
Brandi Schilhab says
Wahoo! So glad to hear that, Lily. Thank you for sharing this with us!
Lionel Bodway says
Thanks for writing this! I’ve been grilling all year and looking forward to it again this weekend! Excited to try pulled pork for my next family reunion.
Melissa Guevara says
It’s our pleasure, Lionel! Enjoy! -Melissa