These Ribs in the Instant Pot are tender, juicy and fall-off-the-bone delicious. They taste like something out of a restaurant and you’d never guess just how simple they are to make. Let the Instant Pot do most of the work and then toss them under a broiler for a few minutes making them extra crispy and ultra satisfying.
Who doesn’t love Ribs? And Ribs in the Instant Pot, might I add? Aka a sure fire way to ensure any rack of ribs comes out perfectly tender, absolutely juicy and of course, finger-licking good every single time! They’re flawlessly seasoned, pressure cooked to tender perfection in the Instant Pot and then finished under a broiler in the oven to crisp up the outer layer and edges. The meat just falls right off the bone. I mean, what else do you want in a good old rack of ribs? Oh, that they cook up in just 30 minutes? Well, turns out you can have that, too!
I’ll be the first to admit that the word BBQ, when referring to the sauce or how something is seasoned or flavoured, does anything but get me excited. I might actually even go as far as to say that I *hate* BBQ Sauce. I don’t know what it is – as much as I love absolutely anything that can possibly be seasoned in BBQ such as Chicken Wings or Potato Chips, you’ll never find me gravitating towards that flavour.
As a matter of fact, when my friends and I go for Wing Night (aka my favourite night of the week) where there are literally over 300 wing flavours on the menu, I firmly declare that no one is to go for the BBQ based ones as there is only one way and one way alone to do wing night. And that is to share. Let’s just say you likely won’t ever catch me tossing these homemade crispy chicken wings in BBQ sauce, either.
Needless to say, these Ribs in the Instant Pot are not your typical BBQ Flavoured Baby Back Ribs. And they’re most definitely not slathered in any BBQ sauce before, during or after cooking. Instead, I use a generous amount of easy-to-make homemade dry rub, which is basically just a blend of spices I always have in my spice cabinet (and ones you likely do, too!) and liberally season the hell out of them once before cooking and a second time after they come out of the Instant Pot and head for the broiler.
But, the beauty of these Ribs in the Instant Pot is that you can use any sauce or spice combination you want. Even if that sauce is BBQ (I forgive you).
WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE THIS PORK RIBS RECIPE
Other than an Instant Pot, obviously, this recipe is pretty simple and really only requires two main ingredients – the Ribs and the Rub. Let’s talk about them in a little bit more detail down below:
- Rack of Ribs: We use Pork Baby Back Ribs here. I had a total of about 3 pounds which came in a single package from my local grocery store. Ultimately I had one regular size large rack (full) and what looked like a smaller half-ish rack. Before doing anything, you’re going to want to remove the “membrane” which is a piece of tissue (think a white layer of “skin”) that you can find on the underside (back) of the ribs. Photos and instructions for how to do this are in the recipe card down below. Don’t worry, it’s super easy, only takes a couple of minutes and should definitely not be skipped as this is what’s going to give you those tender, fall off the bone ribs.
- Homemade Dry Rub: This Homemade Dry Rub is flavourful, versatile and you can use it on just about anything (Chicken Drumsticks, anyone?). The exact recipe and details are down below where I’ll break the actual ingredients down a little further. Just know it makes these Instant Pot Ribs taste nothing short of magical. BBQ Sauce, who?! RECIPE NOTE: The recipe makes a lot more dry rub than you actually need for these Ribs in the Instant Pot (score!). Save the remainder in a small airtight jar for easy/quick seasoning for anything from chicken, to fish, to pork, to beef, to tofu…you get the idea. If you want to skip out on the rub completely and go for something more your own style, you know what I always say… YOU DO YOU, BOO.
- Water: Not reeeeally an ingredient but plays an important part in the cooking of these ribs in the Instant Pot. Add one cup to the bottom of the Instant Pot stainless steel insert. Ultimately, this helps bring the cooker to pressure and cook the ribs to perfection. PRO TIP: Try substituting the water for chicken or beef broth and making a gravy out of it once the ribs are done cooking.
THE HOMEMADE DRY RUB
This Homemade Dry Rub is great to flavour or season just about anything! The recipe makes more than you need for these Ribs so save the rest in a jar for later! It’ll stay fresh in an airtight container or sealed jar for up to 4 months if stored in a cool, dry place (aka your spice cabinet). Of course, and as always, you’re free to use your own seasoning or spice blend or any other sauces/marinades you wish. You’re also free to customize this particular dry rub to your personal preference or own liking. Want it extra spicy? Add some cayenne. Want it less sweet? Add less brown sugar. Change it up to suit your needs. Or, make it exactly as I do (full measurements in the recipe card down below).
- Brown Sugar: I’m not going to lie, I’m a firm believer that all good rubs (well, at the very *least* MOST, ok!!!) start with brown sugar. It adds a bit of sweetness to the recipe and caramelizes as it cooks which produces an irresistibly flavourful and crunchy crust/outer layer on the ribs. It doesn’t get much better than that!
- Smoked Paprika: One of my favourite spices out there and adds a real earthy-ness when paired with the brown sugar. Slightly spicy, the right amount of smokey and adds that hickory flavour a person who hates BBQ sauce might actually miss when devouring a Rack of Baby Back Ribs 😉
- Salt: Don’t be scared of adding salt to things! It packs in flavour, helps tenderize the meat and ensures we don’t end up with anything bland or boring! Use fine sea salt here for best results.
- Chipotle: For a bit of a kick and an added smokey flavour which is perfect for these Instant Pot Ribs.
- Cajun: A spice blend in and of itself. You can omit it if you don’t already have it on hand. I use it for an added spicy kick and extra boost of flavour.
- Dry Mustard Powder: Adds some tang to the dry rub and is essentially mustard in powder form. For someone who’s claimed to hate mustard for over half of her life (my tastebuds finally gave in…hallelujah!), it’s quickly become one of my most used spices in the kitchen and goes perfect on these Instant Pot Ribs.
- Black Pepper: Adds a peppery kick to the dry rub but be careful, it will become overpowering if you use too much. A little goes a long way, here.
- Garlic/Onion Powder: Cause can you really have a rub of any kind without these two? I think not!
PRO TIP: Add all the dry rub ingredients to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake, shake, shake…shake your spices until well combined. Keep any unused spice mix directly in the jar for later use where it’ll stay fresh for up to 4 months.
HOW TO MAKE PORK RIBS IN THE INSTANT POT (KEY TIPS)
- Remove the membrane (also known as silverskin) from the back side of the ribs. This is super easy to do and WILL be the difference between tender and delicious ribs that fall off the bone, or not. Simple instructions with photos on how to easily do this are in the recipe card down below.
- Don’t skimp out on the seasoning! SERIOUSLY. DO NOT. You want to literally get every single corner, inch, side and crevice. Back and Front. Don’t leave anything out. Get in there with your hands and RUB (we call it a Dry Rub for a reason!) it alllllll over the meat. Massage it in. As much as you can. As even as you can. Season. And then season some more!
- Add at least one cup of liquid to the bottom of the Instant Pot before cooking. You need this in order for the Instant Pot to build up pressure and cook the rack of ribs evenly and properly achieving the most tender ribs as possible. I use water but you can use broth or even something like wine, if you prefer.
- Be super careful when removing the ribs from the Instant Pot to the baking sheet after cooking. I’m not joking when I say they’re SO tender and fall-off-the-bone. The bone will literally fall out and they’ll fall apart if you don’t hold them in the proper way. Either take out the entire trivet using both hands and transfer it securely to the sheet pan. Or, do what I do, and use tongs to carefully but quickly grip the ribs and transfer them over.
- Re-season the ribs for a second time after they come out of the Instant Pot. Put all that dry rub to good use and slather the tops (meaty sides) of the ribs with more dry rub before throwing them under the broiler. This will add that extra boost of flavour and crunchy/caramelized exterior that sends these ribs over the top.
- Finish the ribs in the oven under a broiler for 5-10 minutes after they come out of the Instant Pot. This is a crucial step in order to achieve that perfect crunchy finish. But watch closely as they can burn easily with the added seasoning. Don’t have the tray too close to the broiler.
- Let the Ribs rest for 5-10 minutes after you take them out of the oven. I know it’s tempting to dig right in…and I don’t blame you! But letting them rest will make slicing into them a whole lot easier and lock in the juices and flavour.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Removing the membrane, which is the thin layer of white ‘skin’ on the underside (back) of the rack of ribs, is key to tender, juicy and fall-off-the-bone ribs and a step that should never be skipped IMHO. The membrane is tough, chewy and does not soften when cooked. Removing it will result in more flavourful ribs with a tender texture as there will no longer be a barrier preventing the seasonings from penetrating the meat.
See the recipe card below for instructions and photos of how to easily remove the pork rib membrane in just a few minutes.
To be honest and I know the Meat Gods might shun me for this one – but here, and in this particular recipe, you don’t. That’s not to say you can’t because if time allows, marinating is always welcome. But you seriously don’t have to. They’re packed and loaded with tons of flavour either way since we season them twice – once before cooking and once again before broiling.
If you do have the time or simply want to marinate your pork ribs in the dry rub before cooking, anywhere from 1 hour to overnight will add some extra flavour.
Ah, the options are endless. For me, meat forward dishes always scream potatoes. Try these Creamy Mashed Potatoes, these Oven Roasted Potatoes or these Homemade French Fries (Air Fryer). Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with vegetables like these Sweet and Salty Brussels Sprouts or this Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice.
INSTANT POT BABY BACK RIBS
These Ribs in the Instant Pot are tender, juicy and fall-off-the-bone delicious. They taste like something out of a restaurant and you’d never guess just how simple they are to make.
For the Instant Pot Pork Ribs
- 1-2 racks Pork Ribs, about 3 pounds
- 1 cup Water
- Homemade Dry Rub - as much as it takes!
For the Homemade Dry Rub (see notes)
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup Smoked Paprika
- 2 tbsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning
- 1 tsp Dry Mustard Powder
- 1 tsp Chipotle
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- In a wide mouth glass jar with a tight fitting lid (a mason jar works great for this), add the dry rub ingredients. Close the lid and shake vigorously. Alternatively, mix them in a bowl until well combined.
- Remove the membrane (or silverskin) from the underside (back) of the rack of ribs. To do this, turn the ribs over with the bone/rack side facing up. Slide a butter knife underneath the white layer of skin at one end of the rack and wiggle it around to loosen/separate it from the bone.
- Grab a firm grip of it using a paper towel or cloth and pull the silverskin all the way down and off the entire rack. It should tear and remove pretty easily. If it breaks at any time, simply get another grip and pull until the entire membrane is removed.
- GENEROUSLY season both sides of the ribs with as much of the homemade dry rub as needed to completely cover the ribs. Make sure you coat them evenly and don't leave any spots unseasoned! Use your hands/fingers to rub the seasonings into the meat.
- Add the water to the Instant Pot along with the metal trivet.
- Make a ring with the ribs and place them on top of the trivet. Try not to overlap but if you absolutely can't avoid this then don't worry too much - try to position them in such a way where they overlap as little as possible.
- Put the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the knob to "seal". Press "Pressure Cook" and manually adjust the time to 30 minutes. It'll take a few minutes to come to pressure and begin the countdown. When it beeps, immediately release the pressure by turning the knob to the venting position.
- Using tongs, carefully lift the racks of ribs from the Instant Pot to a parchment or foil lined baking sheet and place them down meaty side up. They're super tender and WILL fall apart if not handled with care. Generously re-season with more dry rub all across the tops.
- Place under the broiler in the oven for 5-10 minutes (keeping a close eye to ensure they don't burn) or until the spice rub caramelizes and the outer parts become crisp.
- Remove from the oven and let stand 5-10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing. Enjoy!
This recipe will likely make more dry rub than required for the ribs - depending on how many ribs you have. Store it in a jar with a tight fitting lid for up to 4 months and use it on anything from chicken and beef to potatoes and veggies.
This is the Instant Pot I use.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 4335mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 4gSugar: 13gProtein: 6g
Nutrition is only an estimate and calculated using Nutritionix.
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