Instant Pot Ribs
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These Instant Pot Ribs are quick and easy to make in your pressure cooker and so tender that they practically fall off the bone. They’re made with a simple dry rub and slathered in BBQ sauce.
Enjoy these pressure cooker ribs with a side of Macaroni Salad, Coleslaw, Potato Salad or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes. Add some color to your plate with my favorite Fruit Salad, Broccoli Salad or this Berry Spinach Salad!
The Best Baby Back Ribs
Barbecue ribs are a finger-licking good, easy summer meal. If you usually cook your ribs low and slow in the oven, you are going to go crazy for this Instant Pot ribs recipe!
Cooking pork ribs in your Instant Pot is not only much faster than cooking them in the oven, but it also makes the best tender, meaty ribs. Plus, you won’t heat up your house by having your oven on for hours. Nobody wants a scorching kitchen on a hot summer day!
These Instant Pot ribs are pretty perfect as is, and even better when you serve them with your favorite BBQ sauce. Try my homemade BBQ sauce recipe, or use your favorite store-bought brand. I try to look for one with a clean ingredient list, but I will admit that a drizzle of Sweet Baby Ray’s is a real treat with this baby back ribs recipe.
What Kind of Ribs to Buy
I recommend making this Instant Pot ribs recipe with baby back ribs. Baby back ribs are the most tender type of pork ribs. They are smaller than spareribs and that’s why they’re called baby back ribs – because of their small size. A rack of baby back ribs contains about 12 ribs and will serve about 4 people, depending on how big of an appetite they have.
You can also use spareribs (sometimes called St. Louis-Style Spareribs) in this recipe. Spareribs are larger than baby back ribs and will take longer to cook in the Instant Pot. They are often fattier but may also have more meat on each rib.
I make these Instant Pot BBQ Ribs with baby back ribs that I get from ButcherBox. I can’t give enough praise to this high quality meat delivery service. I’m able to “shop” for meat from my freezer and I never have to deal with buying meat at the grocery store. I get the custom box, so I’m able to choose which cuts of chicken, beef and pork I want delivered to my doorstep.
How to Cook Ribs in an Instant Pot
Cooking ribs in your Instant Pot takes just a few simple steps and not much active time on your part! From start to finish, you can have these Instant Pot ribs ready in just over an hour.
1. Make a Dry Rub for the Ribs
To infuse your ribs with flavor from the start you’ll mix together a few spices for a dry rub: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub the spice mixture all over both sides of the ribs.
2. Pressure Cook the Ribs
You always need at least 1 cup of liquid in your Instant Pot for pressure cooking. Before putting the ribs in your Instant Pot, pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the pot. I prefer to use water rather than apple juice in this recipe because I like to let the flavor of the ribs and dry rub shine through without adding apple flavor into the mix.
Next put the metal trivet that came with your Instant Pot in the bottom of the pot. You’re going to cook the ribs on the trivet to keep them from sitting in the water.
Stand the ribs up on the trivet so that the rib bones are going up and down. You can lean the ribs against the side of the Instant Pot and against each other. You can fit at least two racks of baby back ribs in a 6 quart Instant Pot, and likely three racks if you are feeding a crowd.
You’ll pressure cook baby back ribs for 25 minutes at high pressure, followed by a 15 minute natural release. If you’re cooking spareribs, they will need to pressure cook for 35 minutes plus a full natural release.
3. Brown Ribs Under the Broiler
I know this is an Instant Pot recipe, but don’t skip this last step as it is critical for the best Instant Pot ribs! When you take your ribs out of the Instant Pot, put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush barbecue sauce over the ribs and put them under the broiler for a few minutes. Broiling the ribs in the oven allows them to brown and starts to caramelize the BBQ sauce –> more flavor!
What is an Instant Pot Natural Release?
Doing a natural pressure release means that you just leave the Instant Pot alone after the cook time ends. Don’t turn it off, don’t move the steam valve, just let it sit there.
You want to allow the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure when you are cooking ribs because a quick release can make the meat tough. A natural pressure release gives you tender pork ribs.
Let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure, if you’re cooking baby back ribs. For spare ribs allow for a full natural release, until the Instant Pot pin drops down.
For more information about releasing the pressure in your Instant Pot and much more, read my simple Instant Pot manual.
How to Cook Instant Pot Ribs from Frozen
One of the best things about the Instant Pot is that you can safely cook meat from frozen! To cook frozen baby back ribs in your Instant Pot, use a pressure cook time of 35 minutes plus a 15 minute natural pressure release.
The rack of ribs will have to already be cut in half so that it will fit in the Instant Pot, since you won’t be able to curve a frozen rack of ribs to make it fit. If you have multiple slabs of ribs that are frozen together in a big mass, you’ll need to thaw them before cooking. Meat won’t cook evenly in your pressure cooker if it’s frozen in one big piece.
How to Remove the Membrane from Ribs
When you buy a rack of ribs it often has a thin white membrane along the back. It’s best to remove this membrane before cooking. To remove the membrane, slide a dull knife, such as a butter knife, underneath it. Use a paper towel to get a good grip on the membrane and pull it off.
More Instant Pot Recipes to Enjoy
- Instant Pot Beef Stew
- Instant Pot Whole Chicken
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Instant Pot Ribs
- 1 rack pork ribs
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup BBQ sauce plus more for serving
- If the ribs have the thin white membrane along the back, remove it. To do this, run a butter knife under the membrane and then use a paper towel to grip the membrane and pull it off.
- Combine paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub this dry rub mixture over both sides of the ribs.
- Pour 1 cup water into the bottom of the Instant Pot inner pot. Put the metal trivet in the pot.
- Put the ribs on top of the trivet, standing them up so that the rib bones are going up and down. You can lean the ribs against the side of the pot. If your rack of ribs is cut in half it is ok to have the slabs of ribs touching each other. If your rack is whole, curve it as needed to fit it into the pot.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and turn the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the pressure cook time to 25 minutes at high pressure for baby back ribs. (Cook spareribs for 35 minutes at high pressure.)
- The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down. When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes (just leave the Instant Pot alone) and then quick release any remaining pressure by carefully turning the steam release valve to the venting position. (Allow for a full natural release for spareribs.)
- Take the ribs out of the Instant Pot and put them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Brush ribs with BBQ sauce and put them in the oven under the broiler for 3-6 minutes, until they begin to brown and the BBQ sauce begins to caramelize. Watch the ribs carefully so that they don't burn.
- Serve with additional BBQ sauce.
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