Oh My Word! Not only are these the Best Baby Back Ribs in the Slow Cooker, they are absolutely the best ribs I’ve ever made, period. And some of the best baby back ribs I’ve ever tasted. Which is saying a lot since I’ve eaten at some of the best rib joints in downtown Memphis.
My pictures are messy and maybe not very “pretty”…
…because these ribs fall off the bone as soon as you try to lift them out of the slow cooker. And I mean fall-of-the-bone the way you want ribs to fall off the bone. They fall apart because the meat is super moist and tender. I’ve made ribs in the slow cooker in the past that fell off the bone because the whole hot mess became more like shredded pork with bones swimming in liquid. This recipe from Oh, Sweet Basil (how cute is that name?) starts with a perfect dry rub and finishes with a tangy Asian-inspired barbecue sauce. The flavor combination here is exactly what you’re looking for in delicious sticky ribs. Each bite is juicy-tender with the right balance of spicy flavor that doesn’t overpower the ribs.
Some of the sauce goes in the slow cooker with the ribs and then more is brushed on the ribs after you take them out of the slow cooker. Crisp them up under the broiler for a couple of minutes more.
Then serve the ribs with additional sauce that has been reduced on the stove. There you have it, the prefect recipe for the best ribs. THE best.
My husband’s “Wow!” reaction and my son’s wordless devouring of rib after rib was proof enough for me that I’ve finally found fool-proof success for finger-licking, fantastic ribs. And I still can’t believe I made them in the Crock Pot. And if you really like cooking in your slow cooker, I want to refer you to All Free Slow Cooker Recipes. Lot’s of inspiration for everything slow cooked!
Best Baby Back Ribs in the Slow Cooker
- 2 racks of pork baby back ribs
- Dry Rub
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Sticky Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce found in the international section of the grocery store
- ⅔ cup reduced sodium soy sauce or regular if you don't have the low-salt
- ⅔ cup balsamic vinegar
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon hot water
- Lay the pork ribs out on a cutting board and make sure that the membrane from underneath the ribs has been removed (most stores and butchers do remove this).
- Make the dry rub:
- Mix together all the ingredients listed above for the rub. Using your hands, massage the rub into both sides of the ribs, concentrating a bit more on the top, meaty portion of the rack. Let rest while you start the sauce.
- Make the sauce:
- In a bowl, stir together the ginger, pepper, and onion powder. Add the garlic and mix again. Add the sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and honey. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Get ribs in the slow cooker:
- Place the ribs in the slow cooker: To ensure that the ribs cook evenly, stand the racks up along the perimeter of the slow cooker with the wide end down and the meatier side of the ribs facing the slow-cooker insert wall. (The rib bones will be laying vertically and the slabs are now curled around each other in the cooker.)
- Pour about 1 1/2 cup of the sauce over the ribs and place the remaining half into a small bowl and put in the refrigerator for now.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook at low for 8 hours. (I have cooked them on high for 2 1/2 hours and then switched to low for 4 hours with perfect success as well.)
- Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and place them on a tin foil lined broil pan or baking sheet, meaty side up.
- Remove the sauce from the refrigerator and brush a little more of the sauce on top of the ribs until nice and shiny. Leave ribs alone for a minute while you finish the sauce.
- Sticky Sauce:
- Heat the saucepan to medium heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Once it starts boiling, whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small dish. Stir together and then while whisking in the saucepan, slowly drizzle in the cornstarch mixture. Whisk until it comes back to a boil and then turn to medium low and allow to simmer until it begins to reduce and thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Set aside.
- Finish the ribs:
- Place the meat under the broiler in the middle of the oven for a few minutes or until it looks sticky and broiled. Be sure to watch it carefully. Allow to rest, tented with foil for 3-5 minutes and serve with the sticky sauce on the side.
Recipe adapted from Oh Sweet Basil.