Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs Recipe

The secret to amazing ribs? A pressure cooker, of course! The results of these Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs are fall-off-the-bone perfection and take a fraction of the time.

Photography Credit:
Nick Evans

Have you ever made a recipe where the minimal work involved does not correlate with the deliciousness of the final dish? Like, you must have unwittingly taken some kind of cooking shortcut, because something this easy can’t possibly be this good?

These BBQ ribs – cooked in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker and finished under a broiler – are exactly that. They’re ready in about an hour (from start to finish!) and will knock the socks off even the most seasoned rib eater.

WHY MAKE RIBS IN THE INSTANT POT

Normally ribs take a long time to cook. My former approach to cooking ribs was to use the 3-2-1 method. Each of those numbers represents HOURS so the total time involved was – you guessed it – six hours.

But when you use an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker and add just a little bit of liquid smoke, you can have smoky fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs in literally an hour. An hour! Once you try it, you will never want to make ribs any other way.

Instant Pot BBQ Ribs Recipe on a platter with potato salad

WHAT KIND OF RIBS TO BUY

In theory, you can use any cut of pork ribs for this recipe, but I think baby back ribs fit best in most pressure cookers. Since spare ribs are larger, you wouldn’t be able to fit as many in the cooker. 

HOW TO SEASON THE RIBS 

Definitely dry rub the ribs before pressure-cooking them. If possible, do this up to a day in advance so the seasoning really penetrates the ribs. You can use your favorite store-bought rub, but I recommend this great homemade pork rub—I used it for mine and they were delicious.

Pile of Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs

HOW TO GET SOME CRISPY BITS ON YOUR RIBS

While the ribs will be very tender when they come out of the pressure cooker, they will be missing that caramelized top texture that comes after a lot of time on the grill or smoker. You can get some of that back by basting the ribs with barbecue sauce and then broiling them under high heat for five minutes.

You could also toss them on a hot grill until the sauce has caramelized on the ribs.

Pressure Cooker Baby Back BBQ Ribs

HOW TO SERVE WITH THESE RIBS

The ribs pretty much speak for themselves. I like to serve them with big bowls of extra sauce and a few simple sides. You can’t go wrong with this German Potato Salad as a side dish!

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVER RIBS 

If you cook two full racks of ribs, you will probably have leftovers, lucky you! Keep them in the fridge, and when you are ready to reheat them, wrap them well in foil with a little extra sauce and heat them in a 350˚F oven until they are tender, about 15 minutes.

MORE AMAZING RIB RECIPES! 

Instant Pot BBQ Baby Back Ribs Recipe

These ribs do best when the dry rub is applied up to a day in advance so the seasoning really penetrates the ribs.

Ingredients

Method

1 Prep the ribs: Working with one rack at a time, use a paring knife to separate the thin transparent membrane on the inside of the ribs. Peel it away from the ribs. It should come off in one big piece. This will make it easier to slice and serve the ribs.

Remove the thin white membrane on the ribs for Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

2 Apply the rub: Rub the ribs well on all sides with dry rub. If possible, cover and let rest in the fridge overnight.

Seasoning Pressure Cooker BBQ Ribs

3 Cook the ribs: In the bottom of your Instant Pot, add some foil balls or a rack to raise the ribs above the liquid. Pour water, vinegar, and liquid smoke (optional) into the Instant Pot. Add ribs, bending them to fit. You should be able to fit two racks of baby back ribs in a 6-quart Instant Pot or pressure cooker.

Lock the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then vent off remaining pressure.

Raw rack of BBQ baby back ribs in the Instant Pot bowlBBQ Baby Back Ribs in the Instant Pot

4 Broil the ribs: Remove ribs from the Instant Pot and spread them out on a baking sheet. Brush liberally with barbecue sauce and broil on high heat for 5 minutes. Slice ribs and serve with sides and extra sauce.

Rack of Pressure Cooker Baby Back BBQ Ribs on platterPressure Cooker Baby Back BBQ Ribs

To reheat leftover ribs, wrap them tightly in foil and heat them in a 350˚F oven until heated through, about 15 minutes. You can also grill them for 10-15 minutes over medium heat. Serve with extra sauce!

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Nick Evans

Nick has been writing delicious recipes for the home cook for almost a decade. He lives in Denver, CO and embraces a delicate balance of diaper changing, trail running and beer drinking. His website is Macheesmo and his first book is Love Your Leftovers.

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