by Olena

Instant Pot Ribs

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Olena Osipov
5 from 14 votes

Instant Pot Ribs are the easiest way to getting the most succulent, fall of the bone, tender ribs in under 1 hour! Using a homemade dry rub and BBQ sauce (or store bought), and your favorite cut of ribs, you’ll get flavourful, saucy, ribs in a fraction of the time of your traditional ribs. Finish it under the broiler for that extra caramelization!

Instant Pot baby back ribs are a favorite any time of the year, but especially in summer when I don’t want to overheat the kitchen! Other Instant Pot family favorites are Instant Pot carnitas, Instant Pot pork chops and honestly, we love all these summer Instant Pot recipes. Pork is so good when it is pressure-cooked!

Instant Pot Ribs

Instant Pot Ribs Recipe

If you’re a BBQ fan, ribs are probably very high on your favourites list and if you’re a BBQ fan who is very particular about the way your ribs are done, you might be skeptical about switching from the low and slow method in the smoker, oven, or grill to the Instant Pot. Well, don’t be. This is a case of once you try it, you’ll never look back.

Enjoying a rack of ribs is the ultimate taste experience. When done just right, they’re succulent and fall off the bone tender, seasoned to perfection, and are finger-licking good. I promise, cooking them in the Instant Pot makes the experience even better! This healthy ribs recipe infuses the meat with all of the flavor without the extra fat that drains to the bottom of the pot. It’s finished under the broiler so you still get that nice crispy exterior. It’s a fast way to get a delicious healthy dinner on the table your whole family can agree on!

Instant Pot pork ribs give you tender juicy texture with minimal effort. The seasoning is of course up to you, but not to worry, we’ve got you covered with a delicious dry rub and the best homemade BBQ sauce. You can also just add a bit of salt and pepper because the sweet flavour of the pork will shine through no matter what.

Why This Pressure Cooker Ribs Recipe Works?

  • It’s a much faster and easier way to cook ribs.
  • They’re succulent and very tender.
  • You can customize the seasoning to your liking.
  • Doesn’t heat up the kitchen for hours.
  • Perfect for BBQs, potlucks, and game day parties.
  • No need to turn on the BBQ.
  • Can make a lot at a time and they make great leftovers.
  • A healthy ribs recipe, especially when using a homemade BBQ sauce.
Instant Pot Ribs with homemade healthy BBQ sauce

What Types of Ribs to Use

We are talking about pork ribs. Beef ribs are a whole other thing!

  • Baby back ribs: My preference is towards Instant Pot baby back ribs. These are ribs cut from the top of the rib cage and have less meat on them.
  • Spare ribs: Spare ribs are meatier with more marbling between the bones than baby back ribs. They also have less meat on top.
  • Frozen ribs: Instant pot frozen ribs work! Make sure to cut your frozen baby back ribs or frozen spare ribs into smaller sections so they fit in your Instant Pot. Also, run them under water and then sprinkle them with spices, otherwise the dry rub will not stick to the meat.

Other Ingredients for Healthy Instant Pot Ribs Recipe

  • Dry rub: Chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, pepper, and salt.
  • Homemade BBQ sauce: Tomato paste, applesauce, molasses, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, onion and garlic powder, prepared mustard, cayenne, liquid smoke, and salt.

Cook’s Tip: To make pressure cooker ribs even easier, you can use a store-bought BBQ sauce. BBQ sauce brands that contain low sugar are Stubb’s, Primal Kitchen, and Annie’s. They are made with recognizable ingredients and with no high fructose syrup on the list.

How to Make Instant Pot Pork Ribs

New to Instant Pot? Check out my Instant Pot guide. Don’t have one yet? See which one I recommend to buy.

  • Remove membrane: The pork ribs you purchase may or may not have a membrane – the shiny connective tissue at the back of the ribs that hold them together. You want to slide a butter knife or handle of a spoon under to loosen it up a bit and then pull. If slippery, hold on with a paper towel, remove and discard both. Removing the membrane helps dry spices penetrate the meat better resulting in more flavorful ribs. Yum!
  • Season ribs with dry rub: A blend of chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper. I recommend sprinkling it instead of rubbing because a lot ends up sticking to your fingers and not meat.
  • Prep Instant Pot: Add trivet and 1 cup cold water. Trivet helps to lift ribs out of the water. And it doesn’t matter if the trivet has handles or not.
  • Cook for 25 minutes on High pressure: Curl up the rack of ribs into a coil, set release valve to Sealing, and press Pressure Cook on High pressure or Manual button.
  • Make BBQ sauce and prep baking sheet: My recipe is super simple and consists of tomato paste, applesauce, water, liquid smoke, and spices – ready in 15 minutes. Or skip that and use store-bought. Also, line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. This is for finishing the Instant Pot pork ribs under the broiler. how to make healthy BBQ sauce for ribs
  • Release pressure and carefully remove ribs: After 25 minutes is up, wait 15 minutes and then release the remaining pressure by turning the valve to Venting. Carefully remove ribs with silicone end tongs onto the prepared baking sheet. Be careful as ribs are super tender and it is tricky not to break them in half. If they do break, it is OK since we will slice them anyways.
  • Brush with BBQ sauce and broil: Place under the preheated broiler set at 500 degrees F for 5 minutes on the middle rack. This step is optional and how much ribs will caramelize depends on the barbecue sauce you use.
instant pot ribs on silpat mat

Tips for Best Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs Results

  • How many ribs can fit in the Instant Pot? 6 quart or 8 quart Instant Pot can hold up to 2 regular size racks of pork ribs. 3 quart can fit in 1 rack. As long as you can close the lid.
  • Do not worry about the 2/3 max line: Ribs can stick up higher than the 2/3 max line as it is used only as a guideline for liquids.
  • Add even more flavor: To the 1 cup of cold water, add 1 tsp of liquid smoke or sub 1 cup of apple cider. You can also use any broth.
  • Don’t skip liquid smoke: If you decide to follow my recipe and make the BBQ sauce, do not skip the liquid smoke. Although it sounds fancy, it is widely available in the sauce section of most grocery stores or on Amazon. It is what makes this Instant Pot ribs recipe just like traditionally made ribs without smoking them for hours.
  • BBQ sauce leftovers: I used half of the BBQ sauce on 2 racks of ribs. You can refrigerate the remaining half in a glass jar for up to 7 days.
  • No trivet? If you don’t have a trivet, cut up a large onion into quarters, spread on the bottom of the pot, and arrange ribs on top.
  • If cooking spare ribs: Spare ribs need 35 minutes of cook time and a full Natural Release because the meat is tougher.
  • Frozen ribs: Cook for 30 minutes.
  • Leaving the membrane on: This is definitely an option. I usually take it off, to allow the flavors to full penetrate all sides of the meat and I don’t mind that they fall apart when I take them out. If keeping them intact is super important to you, by all means, leave the membrane on while they cook, and remove it later on.

FAQs

How long does it take to cook ribs in the Instant Pot?

Instant Pot baby back ribs need 25 minutes of cook time. Spare ribs will need 30 minutes, and frozen ribs of any kind will need 35 minutes. Both spare ribs and baby back ribs are cut from different areas which means they have different amounts of meat on them. Spare ribs need more time because they are meatier.

What makes this a healthy ribs recipe?

Pork itself is a high quality protein which means in moderation it can be part of a healthy diet. It’s lean and is a source of many nutrients but it’s only when we start to slather on all kinds of sugary BBQ sauces where we start to cross the line from healthy to unhealthy. This recipe contains ingredients for a refined sugar free BBQ sauce, free of additives, high salt, and loads of sugar. The cooking method also allows for much of the fat to fall to the bottom of the pot, which means you’re not eating all of that extra grease.

Are short ribs the same as baby back ribs?

They are not! Short ribs are made from beef, while baby back ribs are pork. I have yet to try them in the Instant Pot because I am in love with my easy braised short ribs recipe, but go ahead and substitute if you don’t eat pork. They could be great, so let me know!

Do I really need the liquid smoke?

One of the greatest things about this recipe is that it results in a deliciously sweet and tangy and SMOKY rib in a fraction of the time. That is thanks to the liquid smoke! It isn’t at all necessary if you’re ok with not having that smoke effect. You will still have awesome ribs!

Do I have to broil them after?

Totally up to you. Some people are happy with eating them straight out of the pot as is, and some people enjoy that extra crispy caramelizing on top.

Serving Recommendations

Serve traditionally: Serve ribs with mashed potatoes or potato salad, creamy coleslaw or vinegar coleslaw, and corn on the cob. The day I tested this recipe, I also made fresh and crunchy Asian salad. This exotic coleslaw went so well with ribs!

Other side dish ideas: Instant Pot mashed potatoes or Instant Pot baked potatoes (if you have 2 Instant Pots like me). Oh, and this corn avocado salad would be fantastic! Of course, you can’t have healthy ribs without a healthy potato salad or cauliflower potato salad to go along with it.

And don’t forget dessert! Instant Pot cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream would be the icing on the cake to this meal.

Making Ribs in Advance

Keep warm for parties: Just remove a bit of liquid from the pot so it sits below the trivet, stack cut up ribs, close the lid and press Keep Warm button. Ribs will stay warm for up to 10 hours. Perfect for potlucks and outdoor summer parties. Plus your kitchen stays cool!

To store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Use leftovers as is, or replace the chicken with your leftover pork in my healthy chicken tacos for a fun twist on taco night.

To reheat: If it is a small amount you can just pop them in the microwave. If it’s a full rack, place in Instant Pot on a trivet along with 1/2 cup water. Press Saute, close the lid, and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Then press Cancel and let ribs warm through with steam for 5 minutes. This way sauce and ribs will not dry out and you will avoid using more sauce. But who can resist adding more BBQ sauce anyway?! Enjoy!

More Instant Pot Recipes

Also be sure to check out our summertime favorites made easier in the Instant Pot!

Instant Pot Ribs Recipe
Instant Pot Ribs

Instant Pot Ribs {Tender, Healthier, Easy!}

Instant Pot Ribs are the easiest way to getting the most succulent, fall of the bone, tender ribs in under 1 hour! Using a homemade dry rub and BBQ sauce (or store bought), and your favorite cut of ribs, you'll get flavourful, saucy, ribs in a fraction of the time of your traditional ribs. Finish it under the broiler for that extra caramelization!
5 from 14 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: North American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Pressure Up & Down Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 519kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

For Ribs and Rub:

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For Homemade BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 6 oz can tomato paste low sodium
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, add chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, pepper, salt and whisk with a fork.
  • In Instant Pot, add 1 cup water and place trivet inside.
  • Remove membrane from the back of the ribs by sliding butter knife or spoon handle under. If slippery, use paper towel to pull off membrane. Some ribs might not have it.
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • Sprinkle each side of ribs with spice mixture. Don’t rub as a lot of seasonings will end up sticking to your fingers.
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • Place ribs in Instant Pot, on their side and curling in a circle. Close the lid, set pressure valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 25 minutes.
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • While ribs are cooking, combine water, tomato paste, applesauce, molasses, apple cider vinegar, honey, onion and garlic powders, mustard, liquid smoke and cayenne pepper in a small pot and stir. Bring to a boil and cook half covered on low heat for 10 minutes. Set aside.
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • After 25 minute cook time is over, let pressure in wait for 15 minutes and then turn valve to Venting to release remaining pressure.
  • Preheat broiler to 500 degrees F and position oven rack in the middle. Also prep baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or silicone baking mat for broiling.
  • Ribs will be very tender. Open the lid, remove ribs carefully using silicone end tongs and place on baking sheet. They probably will fall apart in half, no worries. So tender!
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • Brush top and sides with generous amount of BBQ sauce and broil for 4-5 minutes. Cut with serrated knife between bones.
    Instant Pot Ribs
  • Serve ribs traditionally with mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. The day I tested this recipe, I also made fresh and crunchy Asian salad. This exotic coleslaw went so well with ribs!
    Instant Pot Ribs

Keep warm: You can put ribs back in Instant Pot on a trivet and Keep warm for up to 10 hours. Perfect for parties, summer BBQ, beach picnics etc.

    To store: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

      To reheat: Microwave or sauté function on Instant Pot, see notes for full instructions.

        Video

        Notes

        • Baby back ribs tip: I use baby back ribs. These are ribs cut from the top of rib cage and have less meat on them.
        • Spare ribs tip: Spare ribs need 35 minutes cook time and full Natural Release because meat is tougher.
        • Frozen ribs: You can cook frozen ribs for 30 minutes. Make sure to cut them into smaller sections so they fit in your Instant Pot. Also run under water and then sprinkle with spices, otherwise dry rub will not stick to meat.
        • No trivet? If you don’t have a trivet, cut up large onion into quarters, spread on the bottom of the pot and arrange ribs on top.
        • Instant Pot size: You can fit up to 2 racks of ribs into 6 quart or 8 quart Instant Pot and 1 rack into 3 quart. Ribs can stick out higher than 2/3 max line. As long as you can close the lid.
        • BBQ sauce leftovers: I used half of BBQ sauce on 2 racks of ribs. You can refrigerate remaining half in a glass jar for up to 7 days.
        • Add even more flavor: To the 1 cup cold water, add 1 tsp of liquid smoke or sub 1 cup of apple cider. You can also use any broth.
        • Don’t skip liquid smoke: If you decide to follow my recipe and make BBQ sauce, do not skip the liquid smoke. Although it sounds fancy, it is widely available in the sauce section of most grocery stores or on Amazon. It is what makes Instant Pot ribs “ribs” in an hour without smoking for hours.
        • Storing and reheating: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. To reheat through, if it is small amount just use a microwave. And if it’s a full rack, place in Instant Pot on a trivet along with 1/2 cup water. Press Saute, close the lid and let it simmer for 3 minutes. Then press Cancel and let ribs warm through with steam for 5 minutes. This way sauce and ribs will not dry out and you will avoid using more sauce. But who can resist more BBQ sauce, to be honest?! Enjoy!

        Nutrition

        Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 692mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 339IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 3mg
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        olena osipov in the studio

        Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

        My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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