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Slow Cooker Apricot BBQ Riblets

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Slow Cooker Apricot BBQ Riblets start with a full rack of baby back pork ribs, cut in half lengthwise, slow baked, and finished off with a delicious homemade Apricot BBQ Sauce in the slow cooker. A great lip-smacking appetizer or main dish! 

Tender baby back pork ribs are a universal favorite! Everyone loves ribs right?! 

plate full of mini riblets

So when you’re planning a party…a big party… like Summer Backyard BBQ or Father’s Day Bash…you have to figure out a way to incorporate them into your menu! What do you do? 

Well, if you’re like me, you transform a couple of regular racks of baby back ribs into a slow cooker full of finger licking “riblets”! A whole passel of baby back mini riblets with a scrumptious apricot BBQ sauce. Great as an appetizer or a main course! They’re sure to be a crowd pleaser!

How To Make Crock Pot Apricot BBQ Riblets

One of the things I L.O.V.E. about making ribs is that you can do all the “prep” work a day ahead of time. Freeing up the day of your party or gathering! Nobody wants to spend all their time in the kitchen missing the Party!

Start off with two racks of extra meaty baby back pork ribs. (No one has time to mess around with puny ribs!) The meatier, the better! Ask the butcher if he can slice the rack of ribs lengthwise. Most grocery store butchers will to do this for you. (They have the equipment for slicing through those bones! You don’t want to use the husbands circular saw for this! I’ve found they tend to frown on their tools being used as kitchen appliances!)

Once the ribs are cut you’ll have four “mini” racks of riblets! Perfect for this recipe.

TIP: Always remove the membrane from the back of pork ribs. To do this, slide a sharp knife underneath the membrane and lift. Use your index finger to wiggle under the lifted membrane and begin to peel it off in one big sheet. Removing the membrane produces a tender rib. 

Two racks of baby back ribs cut in half lengthwise

For the Rib Rub mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 teaspoon onion, and 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger, and 1 teaspoon chili powder. If you’re feeling spunky…you can add 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. 

Brown sugar rub

Lightly rub the front and back of each rack of riblets with the brown sugar mixture. Let the riblets set for 10–15 minutes. This allows the rub to marinate into the meat and the sugars to begin to dissolve.

Brown Sugar Rub rubbed into the front and back of each rack of ribs.

Place riblets in a 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot. Roll, or curl, them to fit them into the pot.

Pour 1 cup Apple Juice or Apple Cider into the bottom of the Instant Pot. This adds extra flavor into the meat as the steam builds in the pressure cooker. 

Baby Riblets in Instapot

Place the lid on your Instant Pot. Lock lid into place and make sure the vent valve is in the “shut” position. Press the “meat” button and set the cook time for 45–50 minutes with a natural release time of 30 minutes.

Using tongs, carefully remove the riblets from the Instant Pot, making sure they don’t tear apart. Lay the riblets flat on a silicone lined baking sheet, cover with foil, and place in refrigerator.  Allow the ribs to completely cool or set overnight in the refrigerator! 

As the riblets cool the meat will firm back up, making it easier to cut the ribs into individual riblets for the slow cooker.

Ribs removed from the Instant Pot and place on baking sheet to cool.

Remove the Riblets from the refrigerator. Using a sharp knife cut the rack of ribs into individual riblets. This makes it easy to serve them directly from the slow cooker.

cooked and cooled ribs cut into individual riblets

How To Make Apricot Cilantro BBQ Sauce

In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cups apricot preserves, 1 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce, and the juice of one lime.

Cilantro Apricot BBQ Sauce ingredients in a pan

Add 1 Tablespoon Chopped Cilantro. Mix until well combined.

TIP: If you can’t tolerate cilantro… I know some have VERY strong feelings and opinions on the leafy green herb, just leave it out. This sauce will still be fantastic. 

Adding Cilantro to sauce.

Slow Cooking the Apricot Cilantro Riblets

Place a crock pot liner into a large slow cooker. (This will make clean up a breeze!) Pour half the Apricot BBQ sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the cut up riblets. Yep…throw them all in there! Every last one of them.

Riblets placed in slow cooker with a liner

Top with remaining BBQ Sauce. 

BBQ Sauce over the top of the riblets

Cover and turn the temp to high for 2 hours or low for 3 hours. Remember they’re already completely cooked. You’re just heating them up and allowing the sauce to soak into the rib meat. 

Stir occasionally to make sure the ribs are well coated. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro and serve directly out of the slow cooker. 

TIP: You can place the riblets on a baking sheet under the broiler for 5 minutes to crisp up the edges… if you feel so inclined and want a little extra char!

Slow cooker apricot BBQ riblets in the slow cooker after cooking on low.

My family absolutely devoured these mini riblets and said they liked them even better than regular ribs! My granddaughters thought they were the best “chicken” ever! Lol (Doesn’t everything taste like chicken? Lol)

They’re loaded with a subtle sweet and tangy BBQ sauce with a slight hint of heat. Not too hot…just enough to make you long for the next bite! They’re so finger licking good! (Sorry Colonel Sanders!)

Plate full of mini riblets

Look at all that meat! No sense at all messing with ribs if they’re not going to fill yo’ mouth with YUM! The meat is juicy and so tender it falls off the bone and melts in your mouth! (I might be slightly drooling? FINE! I need a plastic bib…it’s like Niagara Falls over here! But you understand right?!!) 

close up photo of the riblets on a plate.

I love the fact that you can “prep” these ribs ahead of time and then just toss them into your slow cooker a few hours before party time! They’re a great budget saver too. A perfect way to stretch a rack of ribs. 

This would be an amazing Mother’s Day dinner idea or a 4th of July BBQ Potluck dish! Ribs don’t always have to be about the men folk! After all we need to free up grill space for the burgers, steaks, and chicken!

If you’re looking for some great side dish ideas to go with these riblets I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. Enjoy!

Great BBQ Side Dish Recipes

Thanks so much for stopping by my Nest today! I hope you’ll come back soon for more delicious recipes from my kitchen to yours!

Happy Nesting!

Signature and photo for Norine
Yield: 6 servings

Slow Cooker Apricot BBQ Riblets

plate full of mini riblets

Slow Cooker Apricot BBQ Riblets start with a full rack of baby back pork ribs, cut in half lengthwise, slow baked, and finished off with a delicious homemade Apricot BBQ Sauce in the slow cooker. A great lip smacking appetizer or main dish! 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 Full Racks Baby Back Pork Ribs, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 cup Apple Juice

Brown Sugar Rub

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Apricot BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Apricot Preserves
  • 1 1/2 cup bottled BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (like Tabasco)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro


  1. Prepare each half rack of baby back ribs by removing the membrane.
  2. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, garlic salt, onion powder, ginger, chili powder, and cayenne pepper together to create the "rub" for the ribs. Rub the brown sugar mixture unto the top and back of each half slab of baby back ribs. Allow to set 10-15 minutes.
  3. Curl ribs and place inside a 6-8 quart Instant Pot. Add 1 cup apple juice or apple cider. Place lid on Instant Pot and lock into place. Make sure the valve vent is in the "Shut" position. Push the meat button and set the time for 45-50 minutes with a natural release of 30 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove the baked ribs lay flat on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight, or until rib meat is firm. Using a sharp knife slice ribs into individual riblets.
  5. In a bowl combine all the Apricot BBQ Sauce ingredients and mix well.
  6. Pour half the BBQ sauce into the bottom of a lined slow cooker. Add riblets. Pour remaining BBQ sauce over the top of the riblets. Cover with lid and bake on high for 2 hours, or on low for 3-4 hours. Stir riblets every 30 minutes until riblets are completely warmed through.
  7. Optional step: Place riblets on a baking sheet under broiler for 5 minutes to crisp up edges.

Nutrition Information:


6 servings

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 289Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 1030mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 1gSugar: 54gProtein: 2g

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