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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.

Asian-Style Barbecue Ribs recipe

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.

Double-Pepper Barbecue Rub recipe

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.)

Chipotle Baby Back Ribs recipe

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