Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs

Slow-cooker baby back ribs video (scroll down for recipe)

This video was made in partnership with Hidden Valley Ranch. The seasoning on these simple slow-cooker baby back ribs is just a packet of Ranch dressing mix and some fresh jalapeños. The result is tender, garlicky, spicy ribs that are perfect for game day. Rub them down, stick them into your slow cooker and three hours later, slap ’em under the broiler for a sec to brown them. Voila.

slow-cooker baby back ribs

Slow-Cooker baby back ribs recipe


Slow-Cooker Baby Back Ribs

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5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 2 1/23 pounds baby back ribs
  • 1 envelope (1 ounce) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing and seasoning mix
  • 12 jalapeños, sliced thinly


  1. Cut ribs into two pieces so they fit into your slow cooker. Rub to cover with Hidden Valley Ranch.
  2. Arrange upright in slow cooker. Firmly press jalapeño pepper slices onto the meat side of the ribs. Cover and cook on high for 3-3.5 hours until tender but not falling apart.
  3. Turn on broiler and line a baking sheet with foil. Use tongs to place ribs on baking sheet, meat side up, spoon the juices over.
  4. Broil for about 5 minutes until browned. Cool 5 minutes, cut apart and serve.

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  1. The Other Randy on January 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I think I’ll skip the game and just make these.

    I’m sort of frustrated, though…one of the attractions of buying an Instant Pot was the sauté function. Not having to dirty another pan to brown meat before slow cooking is a big deal. That being said, I’ve yet to use it. Because just as soon as I got it, I discover that browning meat first is no longer recommended unless braising is to follow. It makes sense that browning first inhibits the absorption of rubs, marinades, etc. Happily, about the only good thing about my apartment’s electric oven is that the broiling function works really well.

    • Hilah on January 28, 2016 at 3:51 pm

      Don’t feel too bad, Randy. I still haven’t used my instapot even once! I got it mostly to use as a pressure-cooker but I haven’t had time to sit down with the booklet and figure out how to use it.

      • The Other Randy on February 2, 2016 at 11:12 pm

        Making this recipe was a bit more interesting escapade than usual for me. Saturday evening I went to buy the ranch seasoning and I was confronted with making an unexpected decision. My local supermarket had not just 1, but 3, versions of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing seasoning packets. One was what I presume to be the original formula, the second was buttermilk and the third, spicy. Even though I’d watched the video twice and paid careful attention to the written recipe, I wasn’t absolutely positive which version you’d used. I decided to buy both the plain version and the spicy version and use both…one on each half of the ribs. Of course, as soon as I got into the car, I realized you had to have used the original formula seasoning.

        Sunday afternoon, I finally started the slow cooking. Based on licking my finger after dabbing it in each packet, I thought that the spicy version would win. Was I ever wrong. The ribs with the original spice mix were fantastic. Those with the spicy version were surprisingly a lot less spicy (and I put jalapeños on both halves).

        Thanks to having found I always have to increase the time when I pressure cook beans I set the ribs to slow cook for 3.5 hours and forgot to check them at 3 hours. So I ended up with falling off the bone tender.

        This was a great recipe to initiate my Instant Pot as a slow cooker. It also gave my first chance to use the glass lid instead of the pressure lid. My glass lid came as a gift for having bought the factory defective original release that got recalled. I highly recommend having a glass lid for slow cooking and for storing food in the refrigerator. The Instant Pot branded version goes for $25 which is pretty steep, but I can’t find the $10 Farberware version that fits. I also bought an additional stainless steel insert which is really handy. Interestingly, the price of the lid has dropped by $10 while that of the insert has increased by $5 since they first hit the market.

        • Hilah on February 3, 2016 at 8:19 am

          Well, THAT is very interesting … that the spicy mix lost its spice when it was cooked. I used the regular one mostly because that’s all I could find at three different stores near me, but they have something like 5 flavor varieties now.

          Great to hear the Instapot worked! I’m going to see if any of my corningware lids fit as a slow cooker before I buy the brand’s version.

  2. Melissa on January 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    But my question is: with the MSG and other questionable ingredients in this seasoning packet, do you ACTUALLY eat this stuff? You hate eating stuff in cans because of BPA and you seem to try to eat mostly natural stuff so this kind of confused me. Sorry if this is bitchy, it just surprised me is all.

    • Hilah on January 28, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      It didn’t sound bitchy. I get it. You’re right I do mostly stick with naturally-occurring food 😉 but ranch speaks to my inner 10-year-old and I like it. Plus, looking at the ingredients right now … they’re not all that questionable. Mostly sugar, buttermilk, MSG, spices. I don’t think MSG is inherently bad and no one in my house has a reaction to it so it’s something I don’t worry about. I appreciate you opening the conversation. 🙂

      • Melissa on January 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm

        Thank you for the response. I didn’t want to come off as one of those snarky healthy eaters that hide in online caves and only come out to sneer at people eating certain things.

        MSG is questionable to certain people but I have been on the fence about it for so long. I just don’t know! I guess I try to avoid eating it because if it triggers my brain into wanting more I feel weird putting it in my body, but you’re right that it’s not inherently bad. I guess I was also looking at ingredients for Hidden Valley ranch dressing, not the dressing packet. That has artificial flavors and tons more preservatives than the packet does. I also thought it used to have HFCS but it doesn’t seem to anymore (maybe it never did, I’m not 100% sure on that).

        We all have these foods that we eat because it reminds us of being younger or it triggers a memory. I mostly stick to natural foods too but I have things I have when I’m in a “screw it” kind of mood. I wasn’t judging you at all, I just enjoy coming to your website to find recipes because I know that the ingredients won’t be Betty Crocker frosting or mashed up Twinkies or cans of Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, etc. that so many other recipes online seem to have. I know it’ll be real food and I don’t have to worry about figuring out substitutions. I was worried you were going to become one of those people so I needed to ask. Thanks again for responding! 🙂

        • Hilah on January 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm

          Oh gosh, no! If there’s twinkies on this site, they are at least homemade twinkies 😉 I’m really glad to hear you appreciate the types of recipes I usually share.

      • bob on February 2, 2016 at 9:39 pm

        MSG isn’t just good, it’s great. Better living through chemistry. Mom (89 and washing the the kitchen floor when not cooking, and 92 year old Dad doing the yard work and home maintenance) use it and some outstanding restaurants in SF have waxed cardboard barrels as umbrella stands that are marked “100 lbs. MSG”.

      • Sharon on February 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

        We use Ajimo Moto (aka MSG) in our ceviche. It is, or was, actually just seaweed originally. Every household in China has it on their table like we do salt. It doesn’t bother me, and I figure a billion Chinese can’t be wrong. People are too quick to jump on the “I’m allergic to it” wagon. Take glucose…or not…didn’t bother anyone until someone said it did. I’m not allergic to anything, lucky me!

  3. Dave on January 28, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    First, thanks so much for your videos and recipes! Second, my wife has a pretty low threshold when it comes to spiciness: any suggestions for a jalapeño alternative?

    • Hilah on January 28, 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Hey Dave!
      I think a few slices of pickled banana peppers would be good if that’s not too spicy for her.

  4. Food Junkie on January 28, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Those look so good, sort of a Memphis dry rub approach. Like you I am not so much a fan of sweet, sticky sauces so these will be right up my alley. I’m not sure Hidden Valley is available up here but I imagine I can work up a substitute if needed.

    • Hilah on January 29, 2016 at 6:59 am

      Oh yeah, I think a mix of garlic powder, some dried herbs and a tiny bit of sugar would work for a substitute. If you could find dried buttermilk or butter powder, even better. I only heard about butter powder recently but it really seems to be just dehydrated butter. Weird. Not even sure what to do with it yet.

  5. Georgine on January 30, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    Cooking them now and the house smells fabulous. Only issue I have is my slow cooker has low medium and high. I put it on high, but noticed that it started spitting out the juices onto the countertop. So I turned down to medium. Hope that works. Also the Hidden Valley Ranch dressing I got was smaller than the packet you showed. Or maybe the ribs were larger. Oh well, supper in about 30 min or so. Will let you know the outcome. But this looks like a great recipe for people who are not particularly fond of the traditional sweet barbecue sauce iteration of ribs.

    • Hilah on January 31, 2016 at 9:55 am

      Hope it worked out, Georgine! I don’t think I’ve ever used a slow cooker with three cook temps.

  6. Dirk on January 31, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Would regular jalapeno’s work? I just got back from the store and forgot to get the fresh ones…

    • Hilah on January 31, 2016 at 9:51 am

      I think that would be pretty good, Dirk!

  7. Georgine on January 31, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Did the recipe last night and the results were just as promised, although I seem not to have gotten the right peppers. They looked like jalapeños, but they had no bite. My concern about the amount of seasoning in the dressing pack was overblown. It was perfect. Tasty and definitely will cook it again.
    I did your brisket for last Christmas and it too was as advertised. Love the web site. I wish you could come up with a recipe for catfish or suggest that it can be incorporated into fish taco. I have a recipe from somewhere else for catfish that I’ll try tonight.

    • Hilah on January 31, 2016 at 5:02 pm

      That’s great to hear! About the peppers, it’s a frustrating thing that the heat level varies so much from jalapeño to jalapeño.
      I’ve got an excellent fish taco recipe on this site that can be made with catfish or any white fish.

  8. Nick on January 31, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I made this recipe this afternoon and the ribs came out great. It was a fun change the BBQ sauce ribs I’m used to. For those of you hesitant about spice, I used 2 fresh jalapenos and I didn’t find it remotely too spicy. I liked the ranch flavor added to the ribs, but i might try a different dry rub mix next time. The ribs came tender, but I was hoping for a little more tenderness. I might add a little liquid ( whatever beer I might be drinking during the rib preparation ) next time.

    • Hilah on February 1, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      That’s great to hear, Nick! Slow cookers vary so much in how quickly they get up to temperature that it’s hard to say exactly how long it should cook. Try adding another 30 minutes to whatever you did this time and I bet the ribs will be just how you like them next time. Beer sounds like a good addition, too 😉

  9. wendy on February 3, 2016 at 7:35 am

    You decided to leave the tough back skin on (which other recipes remove)… and you must have a reason.

    • Hilah on February 3, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Hey Wendy!
      I have tried it both ways and really don’t find there’s much of a difference in the end result. I think the slow cooking breaks the membrane down.

  10. marie on February 9, 2016 at 8:01 am

    These sound good. I generally set my cooker all day. Ok to set on low for 8hrs?? You think it would come out as well? PS your recipes are tasty an doable. Thanks

    • Hilah on February 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      I think 8 hours on low would be fine, Marie. Let me know how it works!

  11. birdman on April 2, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Wow! I can’t get over how easy this was and how good they are. And the meat really does fall right off while still being juicy. I left out the jalapeno (wimp) and they were still awesome. Now I want to try it with other dry rubs.

  12. Jennie on September 11, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Can you cook these on low for a longer cook time?
    I’ll be away for more than 3 hours, but had planned on making this today.

    • Hilah on September 11, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      Sure, that will work. Try 6-7 hours on low.

  13. Beth Musgrove on July 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    You can tell what the fresh jalapéno slices do for the meat for taste and aesthetics. Did it again with a rib rub instead of the HVR dressing for a dinner entreé, BBQ sauce on the side. If you’re like me and 90 percent of your identity is about pleasing your hungry family, consider this recipe.

    • Hilah on July 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks, Beth! Super happy this recipe has been such a crowd-pleaser for you 🙂

  14. Gary on October 12, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    So remiss to leave this review, but I’ve been making theses amazing ribs, following your recipe, for a few years now! Love these (and also your crazy good corn fritters recipe). Keeping the Hubs happy, good for me, ha!


    • Hilah on October 13, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Yay! Thanks for the follow-up Gary 🙂

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