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+ servings
Slow cooker ribs on football themed serving tray with air fryer tater tots and extra barbecue sauce

Sweet Smoky Slow Cooker Ribs

Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ, Slow Cooker
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 454kcal
Author: Marilyn
Slow cooker baby back ribs are a comfort food treasure. These ribs get their sweet and smoky slow cooked tasted from the orange and molasses barbecue sauce.
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Rib Rub


  • 2 slabs baby back ribs (about 5 pounds total)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 sweet onion, cut into thick slices such as Vidalia
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced

BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced about 1 teaspoon minced


Rib Rub

  • In a medium bowl, combine salt, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder.


  • Pat ribs dry. Turn the ribs over to remove the membrane that goes down the back of the ribs. Season ribs front and back with salt. Sprinkle the rib rub on the front and back of the ribs and lightly pat rub all over.
  • Lightly spray 6 to 8-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add the water to the cooker. With the bones vertical, coil the ribs into a circle and arrange inside the pot. Scatter onions and garlic over the ribs.
  • Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or High for 4-¼ hours or until fork tender.

BBQ Sauce

  • Meanwhile, in medium saucepan add the barbecue sauce, molasses, orange juice, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, 3 minutes or until bubbling. Set aside.
  • Preheat broiler with the top rack 6 inches from the top of the oven.
  • Line a sheet pan with foil. Transfer ribs to the sheet pan. Brush about half of the BBQ sauce over the ribs.
  • Broil the ribs, 3 minutes or until caramelized and sizzling. Halfway through the broiling time, rotate the sheet pan to evenly darken all over. Check ribs frequently to make sure they aren't burning.
  • Carve ribs into 2 to 3-rib sections. Transfer the ribs to a serving platter. Serve with the remaining sauce alongside.


  • Montreal Steak Seasoning. Use ¼ cup of this Grill Mates seasoning in place of the BBQ Rub included in the recipe. You will to season with the 2 tablespoons kosher salt.
  • Homemade Montreal Steak Seasoning. Use ¼ cup of this homemade version along with the kosher salt. This seasoning is almost like the original. The seasoning stores well up to 1 year, so feel free to make a larger batch.
  • Kansas City Rib Rub. This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite Kansas City BBQ Joints. Again, use ¼ cup of this rub and the 2 tablespoons of kosher salt.
  • Store Bought Barbecue Sauce. Use your favorite brand in place of the BBQ Sauce in the recipe. In keeping with the Kansas City barbecue theme, you may want to try Heinz Kansas City Style Sweet and Smoky BBQ SauceJack Stack Barbecue Original Sauce, or a sampler pack of famous Kansas City Barbecue Sauces. Just don't forget to include the Florida orange juice!


Calories: 454kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 2253mg | Potassium: 786mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 1587IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 3mg