How to Slow-Cook Baby Back Ribs

Learn how to make saucy, tender barbecued baby back ribs in 5 easy steps.


Baby back ribs are cut from the lower back rib section of a pig's loin. They are meatier and leaner than spare ribs, which come from the belly section. Each rack usually contains 10 to 13 ribs and weighs 1.75 to 2 pounds. Experience the fall-off-the-bone goodness of baby back ribs from a slow cooker with the tips below.

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Step 1: Cut ribs into serving-size portions

Using a large chef's knife, cut the ribs into two- to three-rib portions.

Tip: For appetizer-size portions, ask your butcher to cut the ribs in half lengthwise.

Step 2: Add a rub
  • Many recipes call for a rub or seasoning mixture to be added to the ribs before cooking. This step is optional.
  • Sprinkle each rib section evenly with a spice or herb mixture.
  • Rub the mixture into the ribs using your fingers.

    Tip: If time allows, apply the seasoning rub to the ribs a few hours before cooking to allow the flavors to soak into the meat.

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Step 3: Broil the ribs
  • While it's not essential, browning the ribs before slow cooking caramelizes the surface of the meat, adding flavor.
  • Place the ribs on the unheated rack of a broiler pan.
  • Preheat broiler.
  • Broil ribs 6 inches from the heat for about 10 minutes or until browned, turning once.
Step 4: Slow cook the ribs
  • Transfer the rib portions to your slow cooker.
  • Pour a prepared or purchased sauce over the ribs, as your recipe directs.
  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours.
Step 5: Transfer ribs to a platter

Using tongs, transfer each rib portion to a serving platter.

If necessary, thicken the sauce: If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons cold water; stir into sauce. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more or until sauce is thickened. (Cover ribs with foil to keep them warm as the sauce thickens.)

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