Using the slow cooker allows you to get baby back pork ribs incredibly tender, but you’ll need to cook them in a sauce with tons of flavor so they’re not boring. For these easy, tasty ribs, you make a bacon-bourbon barbecue sauce for marinating and simmering the ribs. After 4 or 5 hours, when the ribs are tender, you brush them with more sauce and give them a quick turn in the broiler.

For more slow cooker meal ideas, try our crock pot baked beans recipe.

  • Yield: 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 5 hrs 30 mins, plus marinating time

Ingredients (15)

For the dry-ingredients mixture:

  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground yellow mustard seed
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the barbecue sauce:

  • 8 ounces thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large shot bourbon
  • 1 cup extra-strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

For the ribs:

  • 2 racks baby back ribs


  1. Mix the dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. To make the barbecue sauce, cook the bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions have softened, about 10 more minutes.
  4. Add the dry-ingredients mixture and stir to evenly combine.
  5. Add the bourbon and stir all of the ingredients together, deglazing the pan.
  6. Add the bacon-vegetable mixture, coffee, ketchup, and soy sauce to a blender and blend until smooth.
  7. Place the sauce and ribs in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator to marinate. If you can do this overnight that’s best, but even a few hours will noticeably change the flavor of the meat.
  8. Turn the slow cooker on high and add the ribs and sauce. Try to stand the ribs up along the sides of the pot to keep the meat from sitting in the simmer. Cook for 4 to 5 hours until done.
  9. Turn on the broiler. Remove the cooked ribs from the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet meat-side up.
  10. Apply a thick coat of the sauce and broil for about 5 minutes. (Make sure to keep a close eye on the ribs—you don’t want them to burn in the broiler.)
  11. There should be 2 cups of sauce remaining to pour into bowls and serve on the side.

Photos by Chris Rochelle