Seasoned with a sweet and savory homemade dry rub and then pressure cooked to tender perfection, these Instant Pot Ribs are unbelievably delicious and incredibly easy to make.
While it may seem impossible, with a few "secret" ingredients, you can make tender, delicious BBQ baby back ribs without the need for a smoker!
Just like in my recipes for Instant Pot Pulled Pork and Instant Pot Pot Roast, the instant pot works its magic to tenderize the meat and make delicious, fall-apart tender recipes in record time!
Why You Will Love Instant Pot Ribs
- Fast. Using an electric pressure cooker, puts tender ribs on your table in under an hour! Much quicker than using a smoker or slow cooker to prepare ribs.
- Unbelievably Tender. The pressure cooking process makes the meat on the ribs super tender. It literally falls off the bones and melts in your mouth.
- Amazing Flavor. The sweet and savory homemade dry rub and cooking liquid add an irresistible flavor to the ribs.
- Versatile Recipe. This recipe for Instant Pot Ribs works for both baby back ribs and spare ribs.
Notes on Ingredients
- Ribs: This recipe for Instant Pot Ribs works using either baby back ribs or spare ribs. For short ribs, refer to my recipe for Instant Pot Short Ribs
- Seasoning Rub: The homemade dry rub is made up of brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika. It is smokey, sweet, and savory all at once and adds incredible flavor to the pork.
- Apple Juice: Apple juice helps to flavor the meat as it cooks. You can opt to use water, beer, or broth in place of apple juice, but the results will not be the same.
- Liquid Smoke: While optional, the liquid smoke will add a hint of smokiness to your ribs, replicating the effect of smoking on a smoker or grilling. It is a rather processed ingredient, so feel free to omit it. The ribs will be delicious with or without it.
- BBQ Sauce: Finish the ribs with your favorite store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce.
∗ Spare Ribs VS Baby Back Ribs∗
Spare ribs are taken from the bottom portion of the pork ribs and are bigger, meatier, and can be a tougher cut of meat. Baby back ribs are taken from the top portion of the rib cage and are smaller and naturally more tender than spare ribs.
Both spare ribs and baby back ribs can be prepared using this recipe for Instant Pot Ribs. And even the spare ribs become tender when pressure cooked.
Keep in mind, the cooking time will vary based on what type of ribs you prepare. For Baby Back Ribs the cooking time is 25 minutes. For Spare Ribs, the cooking time is 35 minutes.
How To Make Instant Pot Ribs
While this recipe is incredibly simple to make, if you are unfamiliar with cooking in an instant pot or the functions of your instant pot, be sure to start with How to Use an Instant Pot for the best results on this and future recipes.
- Prepare the Instant Pot for cooking the ribs before getting your hands dirty. To do this, place a trivet or rack inside the inner pot of the Instant Pot and pour in the apple juice and liquid smoke if using.
- Prepare the rub by mixing together the brown sugar with the spices and salt in a small bowl. Set this aside to season the ribs.
- Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane from the ribs. At one end of the rack, slide a dinner knife under the membrane (the white layer) and over a bone then lift until the membrane loosens. Grab the edge of the membrane and pull it off--it may come off in several pieces.
- Generously rub the spice blend over the entire surface of the ribs, coating both sides of the ribs.
- Gently roll the ribs into a semi-circle and place them on a trivet in a pressure cooker.
- Place the lid on the pressure cooker and be sure the vent knob is sealed and/or the lid is locked.
- Set to cook on High Pressure using the pressure cook or manual function for the following times:
- For Baby Back Ribs: 25 minutes
- For Spare Ribs 35 minutes.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes. This is SO IMPORTANT to help keep the meat tender.
- Place the cooked ribs onto a sheet pan or broiler pan and brush with your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Broil the ribs under high heat for 3-4 minutes, watching closely so as to not burn them. Flip the ribs, brush with additional BBQ sauce, and broil for 3-4 minutes on the other side.
Feel free to skip adding liquid smoke to the cooking liquid. Your ribs will still be delicious.
Absolutely not, but finishing the pork ribs with barbecue sauce and then broiling will add an irresistible crunch and caramelized flavor.
Feel free to make 2 racks of ribs. Double the spice rub and place both racks of ribs on the trivet and cook as directed. Keep in mind the amount of cooking liquid and the cooking time will not change regardless of doubling the recipe.
More Instant Pot Pork Recipes
- Instant Pot Carnitas
- Instant Pot Pork Chops
- Instant Pot Pork Tenderloin
- Instant Pot Pork and Sauerkraut
- Instant Pot Ribs
If you tried out this recipe for Instant Pot Ribs, please take the time to leave a review and comment below.
Instant Pot Ribs
- 1 rack ribs spare ribs or baby back ribs
- ¼ cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika or regular paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 to 1-½ cups apple juice see recipe for exact amount
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke optional
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- Place a trivet into the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Pour in 1 cup of apple juice if cooking the ribs in a 6-quart Instant Pot and if using an 8-quart Instant Pot pour in 1-½ cups of apple juice. Add in the liquid smoke if using.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt in a small bowl until well combined. Set this aside.
- Remove the membrane from the ribs. At one end of the rack, slide a dinner knife under the membrane and over a bone then lift until the membrane loosens. Grab the edge of the membrane and pull it off--it may come off in several pieces.
- Generously rub the spice blend over the entire surface of the ribs. Roll the ribs in a semicircle and place them on the trivet in the pressure cooker. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and be sure the vent knob is pointed towards sealed.
- Cook ribs on High Pressure For Baby Back Ribs set the cooking time to 25 minutes. For Spare Ribs set the cooking time to 35 minutes. To set the cooking time, hit manual or pressure cook and use the +/- buttons to adjust the cooking time.
- Once the cooking time has elapsed, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes. This means leaving the Instant Pot alone and letting the float valve naturally float down and/or the lid unlock.
- Remove the ribs from the Instant Pot and place them on a broiler pan (or cutting board if not broiling.)
- If desired, brush the top surface of the ribs with barbecue sauce and broil under high heat for 3-4 minutes, watching closely. Remove the ribs from the oven, flip, and brush them with additional BBQ sauce. Return to the broiler for an additional 3-4 minutes on other side.
- Remove the ribs from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Tender & full of flavor!! My family loves ribs & the instant pot makes it so easy!
I've used this recipe several times, and the meat falls off the bone. Love it!
These instant pot ribs melted in our mouths! Perfectly seasoned and cooked in the Instant Pot. Such a keeper!
Thanks so much, Sharina! We enjoyed them ourselves yesterday!
This was a big hit in my house! The ribs were so easy to make and turned out so flavorful and tender! Thanks for the recipe.
Wonderful! Perfect for Memorial Day too! We had them ourselves, yesterday!
This is a family favorite! Thank you! I must admit sometimes I cheat and add equal amounts of OldBay in place of the powders and paprikas when I’m missing home. This recipe never fails! Thank you 🙂
I am thrilled to hear you enjoy these Ribs, Kathleen! And I like your idea of using Old Bay!
Love your recipes.
For the "Instant Pot Ribs" do you recommend light or dark brown sugar?
Also, should it be a packed 1/4 cup?
Hi Joe! First of all, thank you! As for the brown sugar, either works well in this recipe. I do use a packed cup.