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Experience the delight of succulent, tender slow cooker baby back ribs, perfectly portioned for a single serving. This recipe brings the classic comfort of juicy, flavor-packed ribs, complete with a tantalizing BBQ glaze, to your kitchen without the need for preparing a large batch. It’s an easy, straightforward method that promises mouthwatering results, making it an ideal choice for home cooks of any skill level looking to enjoy this classic dish in a smaller, more manageable size.

Would you rather cook ribs in the oven? Try our fabulous oven baked ribs recipe too!

If you’re looking for more single serving slow cooker recipes, you’ll love Ropa Vieja, White Chicken Chili, and Red Beans and Rice.

Why You’ll Love This Ribs Recipe

  • Perfect portion size: This single serving recipe is ideal for those who want to enjoy slow cooker ribs without preparing a large batch.
  • An easy recipe: The recipe’s clear instructions and simple process make it suitable for both beginners and experienced cooks, allowing anyone to achieve tender, flavorful ribs with ease.
  • Recipe doubles well: If you’d like to slow-cook the entire rack of ribs, just double the ingredient amounts and use a 6-quart or larger slow cooker.

What Are Slow Cooker Ribs?

Slow cooker ribs refer to a dish where pork or beef ribs are cooked in a slow cooker or crockpot over several hours. This method ensures the ribs become exceptionally tender and literally fall off the bone, while being deeply infused with a mix of rich flavors from spices and BBQ sauce. In our easy single serving recipe, we specifically use baby back ribs. These are a type of pork rib taken from the upper part of the ribcage, close to the backbone, known for their smaller size and leanness, making them ideal for a single serving preparation.

This cooking style has its origins in classic American barbecue, where the emphasis is on cooking meat low and slow. The combination of this traditional technique with the convenience of a slow cooker has made slow cooker ribs a favored option for home cooks looking to recreate these rich flavors easily.

ribs in a slow cooker on a kitchen counter.

Ingredients

oven baked ribs ingredients on a kitchen counter.
  • Baby back ribs: Use a half rack of baby back ribs which usually contain 6-7 ribs. A half rack of ribs usually feeds one to two people, depending on their appetites. You can ask the butcher at your grocery store to open the pack of ribs and divide it in half and rewrap them or you can cut them in half at home. This way you can use one half now and wrap and freeze the remaining ribs for up to 4 to 6 months.
  • Dry rub ingredients: Use paprika, chili powder, salt, sugar, black pepper, and garlic powder.
  • BBQ sauce: Use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce or make a small batch of homemade BBQ sauce which yields the perfect amount for this recipe. If you aren’t a fan of barbecue sauce, the ribs are great as they are with just the seasoned rub.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

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How To Make Slow Cooker Ribs For One

The photos and instructions are here to help you visualize how to make a small batch of slow cooker ribs. See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.

  1. Make the dry rub: Mix together the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl or use a small jar or plastic container and shake it well to mix the spices together. Set it aside.
dry rub ingredients for ribs in a small white bowl.
  1. Place the ribs with the rib bones facing up on a large cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice very carefully between each rib, ONLY cutting the membrane (shown in the left photo). The membrane is the white piece of tissue attached to the underside of the ribs. Alternatively, you can remove the membrane by gently sliding a knife under the membrane and then using your fingers, pull the membrane away from the bones. If it is slippery or hard to grasp, use a kitchen towel or a paper towel to hold it and pull it off (shown in the photo on the right).
removing the membrane from a rack of ribs on a cutting board.
Left photo: slicing between each rib. Right photo: removing the membrane
  1. Flip the ribs over with the meat side up. With a sharp knife remove any fat from the ribs if there is any that needs to be removed.
  2. Generously sprinkle all of the dry rub to cover the meat side and the edges. If the membrane remains on, don’t bother to season the bottom side.
a half rack of ribs on a cutting board coated with dry rub seasoning.
  1. Cut the half rack into two parts.
cutting a rack of ribs in half on a cutting board.
  1. Spray the inside of a 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the ribs in the slow cooker in an upright position, placing the ends of the bone to the bottom of the slow cooker and the meat side of the ribs against the sides of the slow cooker.

Pro Tip: The purpose of this placement prevents the ribs from stewing in the drippings as they cook, making them mushy.

ribs in a slow cooker.
  1. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the ribs for 7 hours on LOW. Remove the lid and brush BBQ sauce over the ribs where they stand. You can use a homemade sauce like our small batch barbecue sauce or a store-bought bottle. Replace the lid and cook for another hour.

Pro Tip: These ribs can also be cooked on HIGH for 4 hours total. At the 3-hour mark, brush BBQ sauce over the ribs, replace the lid and cook for an additional hour.

Pro Tip: If you aren’t a fan of barbecue sauce you can leave it off. The ribs are delicious as they are with the seasoned rub. Just continue to cook the ribs in the slow cooker for an additional hour.

adding bbq sauce to baby back ribs in a slow cooker.
  1. When the ribs have finished cooking, remove them from the slow cooker and cover the ribs to keep them warm. Allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes.

Pro Tip: Baby back ribs should be cooked to an internal temperature between 198 and 202 degrees F. A quality instant-read thermometer will let you know if your ribs are done. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, between the bones. Make sure your probe is not in a piece of fat or touching bones or you will not get an accurate read. I recommend taking the temperature in a couple of places across the ribs. Having multiple readings will give you a better indication as to whether or not your ribs are done.

  1. Slice the ribs and top with additional BBQ sauce or serve with the sauce on the side for dipping.
baby back ribs on a plate next to a jar of bbq sauce and a bowl of beans.

Optional: For less saucy ribs, place the ribs under the broiler and broil the ribs for 3 to 4 minutes, just until the barbecue sauce begins to caramelize. Keep a close eye on the ribs to make sure the sauce does not burn.

Expert Tips

  • Read through the entire recipe, the Ingredient Notes section of the post, and take a look at the process photos to see how this recipe comes together. We provide a lot of information within the body of this recipe post to ensure that your ribs come out perfectly every time.
  • Trim excess fat: Before cooking, trim any excess fat from the ribs to prevent a greasy end result and enhance the overall flavor and texture of the dish.
  • Check for doneness: To ensure your ribs are perfectly cooked, use a fork or a pair of tongs to gently pull the meat apart. If the meat easily separates from the bone and is tender, your ribs are ready. Additionally, using a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of around 198-202°F can help confirm doneness.

Serving Suggestions

  1. Baked beans: A classic barbecue side dish, baked beans provide a sweet and savory flavor that pairs well with ribs.
  2. Macaroni and cheese: Creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese is a comforting side dish that pairs wonderfully with the bold flavors of oven-baked ribs.
  3. Potato salad: Potato salad is a flavorful side that complements the richness of the ribs.
  4. Mashed potatoes: Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes pair well with the robust flavors of ribs.
  5. Cornbread: Warm, slightly sweet cornbread is a comforting side that can be used to soak up any extra sauce from the ribs.
  6. Ambrosia: The sweetness of this fruit salad pairs well with the sweet and spicy ribs.

How To Store And Reheat Leftover Ribs

  • Store the leftover ribs in the refrigerator if you plan to consume them within 3-4 days. For longer storage, tightly wrap the ribs or store them in an airtight container and place the ribs in the freezer, where they can be kept for up to 3 months. Be sure to label and date the container or bag to keep track of when the ribs were stored.
  • Reheat the ribs in a 250° F (120°C) oven on a baking sheet covered with foil. Heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the ribs are warmed through. You can also brush on additional barbecue sauce before reheating if desired.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size slow cooker should I use?

When making slow cooker ribs for one, I recommend using a a 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker.

What is the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs?

Baby back ribs are a cut of pork taken from the upper part of the ribcage, near the backbone. They are smaller, leaner, and more tender than spare ribs, making them perfect for our single serving Crockpot ribs recipe.

Should ribs be covered in liquid in a slow cooker?

No, the ribs do not need to be covered in liquid.

Can ribs be overcooked in a slow cooker?

Yes, surprisingly ribs can overcook in a slow cooker. Follow the cooking time in this recipe and you should not have any problem. If the ribs are overcooked, the meat can become mushy.

Can I cook frozen ribs in a crockpot?

No. I don’t recommend cooking frozen ribs in the slow cooker because it can increase the risk of bacterial growth. The ribs should be fully defrosted before cooking. I suggest thawing your ribs overnight in the refrigerator.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried these tender slow cooker ribs or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see it!


Your Cooking For One Source
Because you’re worth it

Slow Cooker Ribs For One

5 from 9 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 hours
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 1 serving
Indulge in tender, fall-off-the-bone slow cooker ribs in a single serving recipe! Juicy, flavorful ribs made with a finger-licking BBQ glaze.

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 teaspoons paprika (use sweet or smoked paprika)
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ rack baby back ribs (6 to 7 ribs)
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce

Instructions 

  • Make the dry rub seasoning by mixing together the paprika, chili powder, salt, sugar, pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set it aside.
  • Place the ribs with the rib bones facing up on a large cutting board. With a sharp knife, slice very carefully between each rib, ONLY cutting the membrane. The membrane is the white piece of tissue attached to the underside of the ribs. Alternatively, you can remove the membrane by gently sliding a knife under the membrane and then using your fingers, pull the membrane away from the bones. If it is slippery or hard to grasp, use a kitchen towel or a paper towel to hold it and pull it off.
    If necessary, take a look at the photos in the recipe post for a better understanding.
  • Flip the ribs over with the meat side up. With a sharp knife remove any fat from the ribs if there is any that needs to be removed.
  • Generously sprinkle all of the dry rub to cover the meat side and the edges. If the membrane remains on, don't bother to season the bottom side.
  • Cut the half rack into two parts.
  • Spray the inside of a 1.5 or 2-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Place the ribs in the slow cooker in an upright position, placing the ends of the bone to the bottom of the slow cooker and the meat side of the ribs against the sides of the slow cooker.
    Pro Tip: The purpose of this placement prevents the ribs from stewing in the drippings as they cook, making them mushy.
  • Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the ribs for 7 hours on LOW. Remove the lid and brush BBQ sauce over the ribs where they stand. You can use a homemade sauce like our small batch barbecue sauce or a store-bought bottle. Replace the lid and cook for another hour.
    Pro Tip: These ribs can also be cooked on HIGH for 4 hours total. At the 3-hour mark, brush BBQ sauce over the ribs, replace the lid and cook for an additional hour.
    Pro Tip: If you aren't a fan of barbecue sauce you can leave it off. The ribs are delicious as they are with the seasoned rub. Just continue to cook the ribs in the slow cooker for an additional hour.
  • When the ribs have finished cooking, remove them from the slow cooker and cover the ribs to keep them warm. Allow the ribs to rest for 10 minutes.
    Pro Tip: Baby back ribs should be cooked to an internal temperature between 198 and 202 degrees F. A quality instant-read thermometer will let you know if your ribs are done. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the meat, between the bones. Make sure your probe is not in a piece of fat or touching bones or you will not get an accurate read. I recommend taking the temperature in a couple of places across the ribs. Having multiple readings will give you a better indication as to whether or not your ribs are done.
  • Slice the ribs and top with additional BBQ sauce or serve with the sauce on the side for dipping.
  • Optional: For less saucy ribs, place the ribs under the broiler and broil the ribs for 3 to 4 minutes, just until the barbecue sauce begins to caramelize. Keep a close eye on the ribs to make sure the sauce does not burn.

Notes

Expert Tips
  • Read through the entire recipe, the Ingredient Notes section of the post, and take a look at the process photos to see how this recipe comes together. We provide a lot of information within the body of this recipe post to ensure that your ribs come out perfectly every time.
  • Trim excess fat: Before cooking, trim any excess fat from the ribs to prevent a greasy end result and enhance the overall flavor and texture of the dish.
  • Check for doneness: To ensure your ribs are perfectly cooked, use a fork or a pair of tongs to gently pull the meat apart. If the meat easily separates from the bone and is tender, your ribs are ready. Additionally, using a meat thermometer to check for an internal temperature of around 198-202°F can help confirm doneness.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 903kcal, Carbohydrates: 63g, Protein: 56g, Fat: 48g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 20g, Trans Fat: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 196mg, Sodium: 2236mg, Potassium: 1143mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 50g, Vitamin A: 2649IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 148mg, Iron: 4mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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13 Comments

  1. Boy am I glad I found you. My wife died recently and your recipes are going to make life a lot easier for me now that I’m batching it. I had a package of country style ribs in the freezer, for pieces. I followed your recipe using them and stood them up as directed. Then I stuffed a hey sweet potato standing up in the center. Boy they turned out good first with the barbecue sauce dip and today leftovers without the sauce. Both great. Thank you

    1. I’m so happy you found us too and I hope you find many new recipes on our site that you love. I’m glad you enjoyed the ribs, thank you so much for taking the time to let me know.

  2. Absolutely OUTSTANDING! I tried a recipe once where the ribs were layered in a slow cooker – they were mealy, sogged-out and gross! Since I don’t own a grill, I was still on the hunt for an easy preparation method. This recipe provided a satisfying smoky richness along with tenderness …. This is my new favorite recipe and I look forward to enjoying more ribs in my future!

  3. I’ve always loved ribs. But every recipe seemed to involve buying a smoker or spending hours cooking the ribs. These are SO EASY. Cut, rub, throw in the pot, and perfect every time.

  4. I love every recipe you post. I also have your cookbook. You’re hints are excellent 👌. Keep them coming. I’m a fan!