Slow Cooker Ribs

These Slow Cooker Ribs are fall-off the-bone tender with a caramelized BBQ top! It starts with a flavorful rub that’s massaged into the meat. They’re then brushed with Dijon mustard that aids in rendering the meat to tender perfection. From there, it’s finished off with your favorite BBQ Sauce. It doesn’t get any better than this rib recipe!

Be sure to serve these with a side of Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Buttermilk Biscuits!

Slow Cooker Ribs next to a pastry brush covered with BBQ Sauce.

Slow Cooker Ribs

Nothing beats the taste of a nice, juicy rib that’s been perfectly rendered in the Slow Cooker for several hours. I’ve watched my good friend Pete make these ribs on several occasions, and recently, he let me in on his secrets to success. (Score!) -And now, you can reap the benefit. 😄

The dry rub adds a ton of flavor to the meat. The acidity from the Dijon mustard breaks down the fibers in the meat as it cooks, which makes it perfectly tender. Cooking it low and slow makes it fall off the bone, and finishing it in the oven or the grill caramelized the juicy BBQ topping.

Let’s go over what you need, how to make it, how (and why) you remove the membrane, and more:

Ingredients

The bottom of this post also contains recipe card with ingredients and full instructions.

  • 2 racks baby back ribs, 4-5 pounds. Pork spare ribs may also be used.
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard- The acidity helps to break down and tenderize the meat.
  • 18 oz. barbeque sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into quarters and separated
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Rub Seasoning

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar

How to Make It

Remove the membrane (see section below for detailed instructions). And pat it dry. Cut the rack in half if it’s too long to fit in the Slow Cooker.

Massage the rub seasoning into the top and bottom.

A hand patting a rack of ribs dry and working rub into the meat.

Brush the top and bottom with Dijon mustard and the top with BBQ sauce.

A pastry brush brushing Dijon mustard and BBQ sauce over a rack of baby back ribs.

Add the chicken broth to the Slow Cooker, stack the ribs on top and sprinkle the onions and garlic over it.

Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8.

Racks of baby back ribs before and after being cooked in the Slow Cooker.

To remove them from the Crock Pot: Slide a long sturdy spatula underneath one side and gently grip the other side with kitchen tongs. Carefully transfer them to a boil-lined baking sheet. (Bone side up for the oven, bone side down for the grill.) Brush generously with BBQ Sauce.

Oven: Preheat to a low broil at 450°. Grill: Preheat to medium at 350°.

Cook the ribs for 5 minutes. Flip and brush with BBQ Sauce. Cook for 5 more minutes.

Flip one more time, brush with sauce, bake for 5 minutes. Serve!

Brushing BBQ Sauce over ribs before broiling them.

How to Remove the Membrane From Ribs

You don’t want to cook ribs with the membrane as it will create an unpleasant texture and hinder the tenderness of the meat. (Though technically it is edible.)

Look for a thin, shiny white surface on the bottom of the ribs. (Bone side.)

It’s best if you can find in on one of the ends as we can then lift it up from one end and pull it along the entire rack to remove it.

A finger pointing to a membrane on the back of a rack of baby back ribs.

Slide a spoon or the blunt end of a knife underneath the membrane and lift it up. It may take a little patience but once you’ve done it, it’s easy to remove it from there.

A spoon underneath the membrane on baby back ribs.

Use a dry paper towel to grip the membrane and carefully pull it up and slide it off from the surface. Discard it.

A hand pulling the membrane off of the back of baby back ribs.

What Kind of Ribs Are There

  • Pork Baby Back Ribs: This is what I used for this recipe. This variety is small and easy to hold. They do have more fat than other varieties but it cooks down nicely in the Slow Cooker.
  • Pork Spare Ribs: These can be used in this recipe as well. They are longer in size and have less meat, but great taste.
  • Saint Louis Style: These have the least amount of bone vs. the above varieties and are a belly cut.
  • Country Style: These have the most amount of meat (enough so that you can eat them with a fork and knife), and least amount of fat. They’re cut from the shoulder.

How Many Ribs Per Person

When making ribs for family and friends, calculate 1/2 rack of ribs per person. It seems like a lot when they’re uncooked but the meat renders down significantly during the cooking process.

What to Serve This With:

Potato Side Dishes:

Other Sides:

More Side Dish Recipes


Storage

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Tender Slow Cooker Ribs topped with BBQ Sauce on a pile of mashed potatoes with green beans in the background.

 

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Tender Slow Cooker Ribs brushed with BBQ Sauce.

Slow Cooker Ribs

5 from 2 votes
These fall-off-the-bone ribs begin with a delicious dry rub and a coating of Dijon mustard and BBQ sauce. They're cooked low and slow in the Slow Cooker until tender, and finished off on the oven or on the grill for a perfectly caramelized, BBQ top!

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back ribs, 4-5 pounds total
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 18 oz. barbeque sauce
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced into quarters and separated
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Dry Rub

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar

Instructions

  • Combine seasoning ingredients and set aside.
  • Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. (See process shots in post.)
  • Use a sharp Chef’s knife and carefully cut each rack in half if they’re too long to fit in the Crock Pot. Pat them completely dry.
  • Massage the rub seasoning into the front and back of the ribs. Use a pastry brush to coat the top and bottom of the ribs with Dijon mustard. The acidity in the mustard helps break down the fibers in the meat for extra tender results.
  • Finally, Brush the tops with BBQ Sauce (don’t use all of the BBQ sauce) and clean pastry brush after use.
  • Add the chicken broth to the Crock Pot and stack the ribs on top. Sprinkle the onions and garlic around it.
  • Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8.

Finish them in the Oven: (See section below for grill)

  • Preheat the oven to a low broil at 450 degrees.
  • To remove them from the Crock Pot: Slide a long sturdy spatula underneath one side and gently grip the other side with kitchen tongs. Carefully transfer them to a boil-lined baking sheet, bone side up. Brush generously with the BBQ sauce and cook the ribs for 5 minutes.
  • Flip the ribs, brush with sauce, cook for 5 more minutes.
  • Flip one more time, brush with sauce, cook for 5 minutes. Serve!

OR Finish them on the Grill:

  • Heat a grill to medium heat, (about 350 degrees).
  • To remove them from the Crock Pot: Slide a long sturdy spatula underneath one side and gently grip the other side with kitchen tongs. Carefully transfer them to a boil-lined baking sheet, bone side down. Brush the tops generously with BBQ Sauce.
  • Cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Remove them and carefully flip. Brush with BBQ sauce and grill for 5 more minutes. Flip them one more time, brush with sauce, and grill for 5 more minutes. Serve!

Notes

Pork spare ribs may also be used.

Nutrition

Calories: 567kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 35g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Cholesterol: 147mg, Sodium: 263mg, Potassium: 654mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 16g, Vitamin A: 317IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 94mg, Iron: 2mg