Yes, you can enjoy fall-of-the-bones tender, flavorful ribs in just an hour without heating the house!!! Instant Pot Ribs is a game-changer!
Cooking the ribs in an Instant Pot cuts down the cooking time by a few hours, then we’ll finish the cooking on the grill for a nice char and crispy caramelization.So much flavor in so little time!
BEST DRY RUB FOR INSTANT POR RIBS:
Before we get to cooking the ribs, let’s make a flavorful dry rub. We’ll make a generous amount of it, because we aren’t skimping on flavor.
You may noticed a surprising ingredient in my homemade seasoning rub mix: cocoa powder!
Seriously, it’s SO good. You won’t really taste chocolate flavor, but it blends with other spices beautifully. If you don’t feel comfortable, skip it.
You can always use your favorite dry rub, if you have a go-to version. And if you do, please share it in the comments, so we all can try that too!
5 TIPS FOR THE BEST RIBS:
- Don’t forget to remove the thin membrane off the back of the rack of ribs. More on that below.
- Place the ribs over a rack in Instant Pot so that the meat and all that flavorful rub we so carefully rubbed into the meat won’t wash off in the liquid.
- To switch things up, use variety of different liquids besides water. Dr. Pepper, any kind of beer or apple cider are great options. You can also add a little bit of apple cider vinegar into the water. And liquid smoke is optional, especially if you’re grilling the ribs. But I highly recommend it if you’re finishing the ribs in the oven. It’ll add a nice smoky flavor!
- Use your favorite BBQ sauce here. I like my homemade version, but store-bought is fine too! Again, generous amount of sauce on both sides of the rack!
- And the best part, grilling!!! Smear more BBQ sauce as you grill the ribs, turning it over half way through, so it doesn’t burn. You can also finishing it off in a preheated oven as well.
TIP: Brush on generous amount of BBQ sauce before grilling/broiling. Keep a close eye on the meat when grilling/broiling to avoid burning. Because of the sugar in BBQ sauce, it can burn pretty quickly.
WHAT IS THE MEMBRANE ON RIBS?
There’s a thin layer of membrane on the back of the ribs. And it’s really chewy tough skin and very unappetizing after it’s cooked.
- To remove this membrane, starting at one end of the rib rack, separate the skin from the meat using a sharp pairing knife. And then pull it with your hands all the way to the other end.
This will ensure you won’t sink your teeth into tough chewy skin when you’re ready to enjoy your ribs!
TIP: If the skin slips off easily, use a paper towel to hold the skin.
WHAT KIND OF RIBS ARE BEST IN THE INSTANT POT?
There are two very similar rib racks: baby back ribs and St. Louis-style spare ribs.
While they may seem identical, baby back ribs are shorter and less meaty cut of ribs. On other hand, St. Louis-style spare ribs are flatter and have less meat on them. This video shows exactly how these rib racks are cut.
This Instant Pot ribs recipe works for both baby back ribs and St. Louis style ribs.
And I personally love cooking St. Louis-style ribs, as I find them meatier and more flavorful.
HOW TO COOK RIBS in a pressure cooker:
- Step 1: Remove the thin membrane off the back of the rack of ribs.
- Step 2: Generously cover the ribs with rub mixture.
- Step 3. Curl the ribs in Instant Pot and set it for 25 minutes, followed by at least 10 minutes of NPR.
- Step 4. Generously smear your favorite bbq sauce and finish it off in the preheated oven or grill.
HOW MANY RACKS OF RIB CAN YOU COOK IN INSTANT POT:
- I can fit 2 racks of baby back ribs in my 6qt Instant pot, as shown below.
- With St. Louis-style ribs, I can only fit one.
DO YOU COOK RIBS BONE SIDE UP OR DOWN:
- When finishing the ribs in the oven or on the grill, I cook them bone side down, and then flip on other side for a quick minute or so to caramelize the bbq sauce on top.
CAN YOU COOK FROZEN RIBS in Instant Pot:
- Technically yes, you could if you have your ribs sliced to fit your Instant Pot. However, it’s recommended to use thawed ribs, because rubs stick better to thawed meat and you can easily curl it and fit it in your pot.
Instant Pot Ribs
For dry rub:
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1-2 racks baby back ribs or St. Louis style ribs
- 1 cup water or apple cider, or apple juice, or even beer
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke optional
- 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
- To make the dry rub, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl.
- To prepare the ribs, remove the thin skin (membrane) on the back of the ribs. You may need to use a small sharp knife to pry on the corner, then pull the skin to peel it off.
- Generously rub the ribs with prepared dry rub on both sides, patting the spices well into the meat.
- To cook the ribs, place a rack in your Instant Pot. Pour water, apple cider vinegar and liquid smoke, if using. (You can use all water if you want to.)
- Place the ribs in the pot, curling it around the sides of the pot.
- Close the lids, make sure the valve is set to sealing. And set the Instant Pot to Meat/Stew (or Manual) setting for 25 minutes. (It took 15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure.)
- Let stand for 10 minutes to naturally release the pressure, and then turn the valve to vent to quick release the remaining pressure. Carefully open the lid.
- Using a set of kitchen tongs, carefully remove the meat onto a baking sheet, lined with an aluminum foil.
- Generously brush on your favorite BBQ sauce on both sides.
- To finish on the grill, preheat the grill to medium-high heat, and lightly oil grates using a paper towel soaked in oil. Grill the ribs until nice and crispy, about 10 minutes, turning it over half-way through.
- To finish in the oven, preheat the broiler. Broil for 5-7 minutes, watching carefully not to burn.
- If you tried this recipe, I’d love to read your feedback. Please leave your comment and rating below, or share on Instagram with #busycooks and tag us @busy_cooks. Thank you!!
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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This recipe was originally published on June 11th, 2018, and last updated on June 11, 2020.
Laura Adams says
Outstanding recipe! We made this for our 4th of July celebration, and they were a big hit! I was a little leery of adding the cocoa powder, but it was a fantastic rub. One thing I wondered – I used regular cocoa, but I also have dark chocolate “Dutched” cocoa. Which did you mean in the recipe? Thanks for a “keeper” recipe!
Yay, I’m so happy you tried and loved the recipe, Laura. Thanks so much for your feedback. For this recipe, it doesn’t matter natural or Dutched. Dutched cocoa powder will give a bit more flavor though.
Love this recipe. It never gets old.
Yay, glad you like the recipe. Thank you for your feedback, Narazul! 😉
Celi K says
Great taste and easy to make!
Thank you for your review, Celi!!
Will never make my ribs any other way! Delicious!!!
That’s awesome, Terry! So happy you tried and enjoyed the recipe!!! Thank you!
My family loves this recipe ! The rub and ribs are outstanding. Wonderful recipe . ( I’m actually making them for dinner now ) . Thank you 😊
Yay, so glad you all love it. Thank you for your feedback, Ashley!
Marilyn Jacobs says
Question – We are having a cook out. Could I make these ahead, keep in frig and then do last part of bbq sauce on the grill?
Yes, you absolutely can, Marilyn. Make-Ahead Instructions: You can cook the ribs in Instant Pot a day in advance. Store in the fridge, bring it out on the counter about an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature. Brush on BBQ sauce and finish it on the grill or in the oven.
Megan @ MegUnprocessed says
I still need to jump on the instant pot bandwagon!
Oh you should, Megan! 🙂 You’ll love it.
Jersey Girl Cooks says
I need to make these soon!
It’s really good. You won’t regret it, Jersey Girl! 😉
Crystal Faulkner says
So creative! I love unique.
Thank you, Crystal!
Liz Della Croce says
These look so delicious! Can’t wait to try!
Thanks, Liz! Hope you’ll love it. Let us know if you give it a try.
Elizabeth @ Confessions of a Baking Queen says
Yum, these ribs look delicious! Love how you just wrapped them in the instant pot!
Thanks, Elizabeth. Hope you’ll give this a try.