The BEST baby back ribs in the slow cooker. Period.
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
- 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
- ½ cup honey
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon hot water
- Lay the two racks of pork ribs out on a cutting board and make sure that the membrane from underneath the ribs has been removed. If it hasn't, see notes below for how to do this.
- Make the dry rub:
- Mix together ½ cup light brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 2 Tablespoons Kosher salt. 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 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons ground pepper, and 1 teaspoon onion powder. Add 6 cloves minced garlic and mix again. Add 2 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce, ⅔ cup soy sauce, ⅔ cup balsamic vinegar, ⅔ cup brown sugar and ½ cup honey. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Get ribs in the slow cooker:
- Curl the ribs into the slow cooker. To ensure that the ribs cook evenly, lay the racks horizontally in the slow cooker with the "top" or upside of the ribs facing the wall of the slow cooker. The part of the rack where the meat is "thicker" should be on the bottom so it can cook a little faster. Once your rack is in the slow cooker, the bones of the slab will be vertical and the slabs are kind of curled around each other in the cooker.
- Pour about 1 ½ cups 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 ½ 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 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and 1 tablespoon of hot 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.
- At one end of the rack, slide a butter knife under the membrane and over a bone.
- Lift and loosen the membrane until it tears.
- Grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off.
Recipe adapted from Oh Sweet Basil.