Baby back ribs don’t need to be complicated or time consuming. These crock pot ribs are fall off the bone tender, and easy enough for a weeknight!

Wooden cutting board with cut racks of cooked baby back ribs glazed with barbecue sauce.

Fall off the bone Crockpot Ribs

For me, baby back ribs (like root beer ribs) and short ribs (like Instant Pot short ribs) are the epitome of a weekend FUN MEAL (maybe with a White Claw cocktail in hand, to be honest). The only thing about my root beer ribs that I don’t love is having the oven on for several hours if it’s already a warm day.

The oven heats up my small house and makes it into an unbearable sauna! By the time the ribs are ready, I’m so hot that I’m not even hungry anymore. But I love eating ribs in the summer, so what am I to do?

Turns out that the slow cooker collecting dust in my basement is good for a lot more than taco soup recipe crockpot and slow cooker beef stroganoff.

These crock pot ribs are the easiest, most fuss-free way to make baby back ribs, all year long. And best of all, they’re simple enough to make on a weeknight!

Textured baking pan with two racks of baby back ribs and small bowl of spice mixture. One rack of ribs is rubbed with spices.

Why you’ll love dry rub on these Crockpot Baby Back Ribs

You don’t HAVE to rub your slow cooker ribs with spices before cooking them, but making my slow cooker ribs with dry rub sure does add a ton of flavor.

The rub for these crock pot baby back ribs is made with kosher salt, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar, onion powder, paprika, cumin, ground mustard, black pepper and cayenne pepper, and it adds a savory-sweet quality to the ribs that is irresistible!

After rubbing the slow cooker ribs with dry rub and letting them sit for 15 minutes, you’ll also be brushing the ribs with barbecue sauce all over before they hit the slow cooker bowl.

Crock Pot Ribs Recipe ingredients 

  • baby back ribs – the star of the show. Baby back ribs are tender and flavorful, making them a popular choice for slow cooking.
  • dry rub – a dry rub ensures that the ribs are seasoned throughly, and adds layers of flavor to the meat during the cooking process. Use my homemade dry rub for ribs or a store-bought version.
  • barbecue sauce – the key ingredient for adding sweet and tangy flavor to the ribs.
  • garlic – throwing a handful of garlic cloves into the bottom of the slow cooker will add a savory depth of flavor.
  • onion – a whole onion, cut into four big chunks is also put in the bottom of the crock pot to contribute a mild sweetness and aromatic flavor.
  • apple juice – this serves as the flavorful liquid that will help tenderize the meat and prevent it from drying out as it cooks.
Oval crock pot insert filled with racks of baby back ribs, garlic and onion.

How to cook Ribs in Crock Pot

How to prep Crock Pot Ribs for dry rub

While I’d love to take the ribs out of their butcher paper and put them directly in the crock pot, crock pot ribs need a little bit more love (just like steak always benefits from a bath in my flat iron steak marinade). But don’t worry, crock pot baby back ribs are not hard at all.

First, you’ll need to remove the membrane (technically called silverskin) from the back sides of the rib racks. The Spruce has a tutorial on how to remove silverskin from ribs that shows you exactly how to do it (I do it this way, too).

If it’s your first time prepping slow cooker ribs, don’t stress out. It’s not important that you get every teeny tiny piece of the membrane. Just do the best you can, and your crock pot baby back ribs will be fine, I promise!

After removing the membrane, you may want to cut the rib racks into halves or even quarters so that they best fit into the bowl of your slow cooker. This will depend on the size and shape of your slow cooker.

I used a large (7 quart) oval shaped slow cooker, and I was able to fit two rack of baby back ribs into it by cutting each rack in half.

Close up on wooden cutting board with cut crock pot ribs glazed with sauce.

How long should dry rub sit on Crockpot Ribs?

Since in this instance (just like my country style pork ribs oven), we are using the dry rub in conjunction with barbecue sauce, the rub only needs to be applied to the ribs for 15 minutes before putting the crock pot baby back ribs in the slow cooker.

Between the rub and the barbecue sauce, there will be plenty of flavor in the final result for these slow cooker ribs.

However, if you’d like an even deeper flavor for your crock pot ribs, feel free to apply the rib rub to the meat the night before you plan to slow cook them.

However, don’t let the rub sit on the meat any longer than about 12 hours or so. Any more than that, and the crock pot baby back rib meat can start to dry out, similar to a curing effect.

Crock pot ribs cut up and brushed with barbecue sauce.

How long to cook Ribs in Crock Pot

Just like the beef short ribs in my slow cooker beef vegetable soup, baby back ribs benefit from a low and slow cooking time.

But what exactly is low and slow? Most American slow cooker recipes seem to define it as 8 hours on the low setting. But why? This likely harkens back to the conventional 9 – 5 work day.

But look, lots of us aren’t working that conventional work day anymore, are we? Sometimes, I’m just not ready to start thinking about crock pot baby back ribs for dinner at 9 AM!

If that sounds like something you can identify with, don’t worry. There’s a second option for these crock pot ribs, and that’s 4 hours on the high setting.

And do you want to know a secret? These slow cooker ribs (and just about any slow cooker recipe, with maybe the exception of my crock pot green bean casserole recipe) turns out EXACTLY THE SAME WAY with both methods.

So, feel free to start your ribs on low in the morning, or on high around lunch time. Either way, you’ll be enjoying succulent, fall off the bone baby back ribs at dinner time.

Closeup on wooden cutting board with cut up crock pot baby back ribs.

How to finish this Crockpot Ribs Recipe

Just like with oven-baked ribs, I like to finish crock pot ribs either on the grill or under the broiler so that they can get charred and crusty in spots.

So, just before your slow cooker timer goes off, heat up the grill (and maybe make a round of fancy toast as an appetizer) or turn your broiler on to high.

Transfer the crock pot baby back ribs to the grill or under the broiler and cook them just long enough to get some crusty bits.

Large metal tray filled with slow cooker ribs, coleslaw and baked beans.

How to serve Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Cut up the ribs and serve them with additional barbecue sauce for dipping. Serve the ribs with elote corn salad and apple coleslaw for a meal.

We’ve also been known to have them for Easter dinner, with Easter saladmashed potato cakes and Dr. Pepper baked beans.

How to store Crockpot Baby Back Ribs storage

Allow any leftover ribs to cool to room temperature, then transfer them to an airtight container. Ribs can be refrigerated up to 3 days or frozen up to 3 months.

Crock Pot Ribs Recipe FAQs

How do you keep ribs from drying out in a slow cooker?

To prevent ribs from drying out in the slow cooker, be sure there is plenty of liquid in the bottom of the slow cooker bowl. I’ve used apple juice in this recipe, but you can also use broth, apple cider or beer.

Why my slow cooked ribs are tough?

Tough slow cooked ribs can be due to a variety of factors, including overcooking, using the wrong cut of meat, or not using enough liquid. Follow the recipe below carefully.

Is it better to cook ribs in the oven or slow cooker?

Both methods have their advantages. Cooking ribs in the oven yields a more caramelized crust, while slow cooking in a crockpot results in super tender, fall-off-the-bone meat. The choice depends on your preference for texture and the time you have for preparation.

Wooden cutting board with cut racks of cooked baby back ribs glazed with barbecue sauce.

Crockpot Ribs Recipe

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

Baby back ribs don't need to be complicated or time consuming. These crock pot ribs are fall off the bone tender, and easy enough for a weeknight!


  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 1/2 cup dry rub for ribs
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce, plus additional for serving
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 cup apple juice


    1. Remove silver skin membrane from backs of rib racks. Cut racks into halves or thirds to best fit into slow cooker bowl.
    2. Rub ribs all over with dry rub. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
    3. Brush ribs all over with barbecue sauce.
    4. Place garlic, onion and juice in slow cooker bowl. Place ribs on top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
    5. Just before slow cooker time is up, preheat grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Transfer ribs to grill and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until lightly charred in spots, turning once.
    6. Cut ribs and serve immediately, with additional barbecue sauce for dipping.


Home Chef note: Don’t have a grill? Pop the ribs under a high broiler for a few minutes, watching them very carefully. Move them around as they broil so they evenly char a little bit.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 667Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 1128mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 1gSugar: 39gProtein: 38g

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