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Oct 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

The photos for these slow cooker sweet and sour sticky baby back ribs are actually of the leftovers.

I had invited my son and my grandsons over for dinner.

The ribs had spent eight hours in the slow cooker, 30 minutes resting while the sauce was reduced, 15 minutes under the broiler, and another 10 minutes resting before the kids walked in the door. The boys' favorite dinner ever is ribs.

Me: Hi!
Older grandson: Did you make ribs? Did you make ribs?
Me: Yes!
Their dad: I didn't tell them what you were making.
Me: Are you guys hungry?
Both grandsons: Yes!!!
Younger grandson: I love ribs!!

At this point, who would deprive these cuties of their dinner in order to take a photograph? Not me. Sometimes you just have to go with it, especially when your two favorite boys are hungry-bungry. Plus, they already think I'm weird because I take pictures of food (they usually try to photo bomb my pictures).

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

These ribs are definitely sticky, with a sauce of reduced pineapple juice, onion, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, apricot jam, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar. My grandsons declared these "the best ribs ever," and their dad had pretty much a half rack of them.

This is definitely not a "dump and run" slow cooker recipe. There is a lot of prep prior to cooking the ribs, and once the ribs have spent several hours in the slow cooker, you will need to strain and reduce the sauce to baste the ribs in the broiler. It's worth it. Trust me.

Give everyone a lot of napkins. Once everyone has had their fill, hand out a pile of wet paper towels. I guarantee everyone will be very happy. And well fed.

P.S. The leftovers are delicious too.

We served these with rice and an Asian slaw. Killer good.

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

6 to 8 servings


2 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
3 T minced ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 C apricot jam
6 ounces frozen pineapple juice, or 30 ounces pineapple juice, reduced to 6 ounces
1/3 C soy sauce
5 T rice vinegar, divided
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
6 pounds baby back ribs (do not remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs)
Salt and pepper
Spray oil
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
2 T minced fresh cilantro


  1. In a 12 inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly browned. 
  2. Add the apricot jam, pineapple concentrate, soy sauce, 1/4 C of the rice vinegar, and the brown sugar to the onion mixture and stir. Simmer for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange them standing on end in a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker with the meaty side of the ribs facing outward. 
  4. Pour the sauce over the ribs and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. 
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack over the foil. Spray the rack with spray oil. Place the ribs, meat side down on the rack and tent with foil.
  6. Skim the fat off of the braising liquid in the slow cooker, and strain it into a large sauce pan. 
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water together, and add it to the braising liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook, whisking constantly for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced to about two cups. Add the cilantro and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. 
  8. Place a rack about 10 inches below the broiler, and turn the broiler on. 
  9. Brush the ribs with the sauce, and broil for 2 to 4 minutes, until they are browned. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the ribs over (I use two sets of tongs to do this). 
  10. Brush the other side of the ribs with the sauce, and broil for about 10 minutes more, basting a few more times to get them good and sticky. 
  11. Move the ribs to a cutting board and tent with foil for about 10 minutes. 
  12. Slice and serve with the rest of the sauce. 
Recipe slightly adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution. The book incorporates several techniques to get the most flavor out of food in your slow cooker. I have been really happy with everything I've made from the book, including the Barbecue Baby Back Ribs, Hearty Beef Stew, Barbecue Beef Brisket, Beginner's Pulled Pork, Tomatillo Taco Filling, and the Shredded Beef Taco Filling. 

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