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Make a big batch of these three-ingredient instant pot spare ribs in just an hour! They come out fall off the bone tender and perfectly sticky sweet. This recipe is made with just a handful of pantry staples that you may already have on hand!
These ribs are the reason why I bought an instant pot in the first place. I wanted to cook larger cuts of meat in a short period of time.
This exact recipe is what made me a believer in the instant pot! Since then, I have shared hundreds of recipes and even published an instant pot cookbook. You could say I’m a fan but it would be an understatement.
❤️Why You’ll Love This Recipe
These ribs come out perfectly tender thanks to the pressure cooker. The swap from water to apple juice gives it an extra bit of flavor that we love. Here is why I think you will love this recipe:
Speedy Cooking: These ribs are ready in just a little bit over an hour! Most of this is hands-off time. And just like a slow cooker, you can set it and forget it. I often set my instant pot and leave the house to run an errand.
Easy enough for a newbie: This was the first recipe I ever made in my instant pot and it was an instant hit. There are only a couple of steps, that make this recipe hard to mess up. I walk you through exactly how to do it. So you can make it happen, even if this is the first time you have taken your pot out of the box.
Juicy Meat: Your ribs are going to be juicy and tender! Like fall-off-the-bone tender. That’s the miracle of cooking with this machine. Plus, if you take the time to throw them under the broiler for a few minutes at the end, you will still get that sticky sweet barbecue sauce so many of us love.
Scroll to the bottom for the complete list of ingredient measurements and printable recipe card.
📖 Ingredient Swaps
Apple Cider Vinegar: Some people prefer using apple cider vinegar in place of apple juice. The vinegar can help tenderize the meat. However, it does give off that vinegar smell while cooking and prepping.
I personally think the instant pot does a great job of tenderizing the rib meat on its own, but it is something you can experiment with in your kitchen. Another option is to use leftover instant pot apple cider to cook your ribs.
Spice rub: If you like to add extra spices, you can coat the ribs in a spice rub to add extra flavor. We like the spice rubs made by McCormick, or you could make your own homemade rib rub.
If you choose to add a spice rub, I recommend coating your ribs in a spice rub a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate them until ready to cook.
👩🏻🍳Expert Cooking Tips
Buying the best ribs: Look for marbled meat that’s pinkish in color. Avoid ribs that are all one color or are pale looking.
Remove the Membrane: When cooking ribs, it’s best to remove the membrane from the ribs before cooking. The membrane can have a rubbery texture and prevents the seasoning from absorbing into the meat. If you need a visual explanation, watch this video on removing membranes from ribs.
Tips for Broiling: Broiling the ribs after pressure cooking is key to getting the sauce sticky and caramelized. For the easiest cleanup, line your baking sheet with foil. Do not pre-cut your ribs. Instead, slather the whole thing in bbq sauce and broil for 2-3 minutes. Watch it carefully because the sauce can turn from caramelized to burnt quickly.
Using an Air Fryer Lid: If you have an air fryer lid, you can use it in place of broiling your ribs. You will need to cut them to fit and work in batches. Slather the ribs with your favorite bbq sauce. Set the lid to 400ºF and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the sauce is caramelized.
Tough Instant Pot ribs can be a bummer, but let’s try to figure out what went wrong. One possible reason is that they didn’t cook long enough. Ribs need a good amount of time in the Instant Pot to become tender and juicy. If they’re not falling off the bone, it’s a sign they could have used some extra cooking time. Next time, try increasing the cooking time by a few minutes to get that perfect tenderness.
Another factor could be insufficient liquid. The Instant Pot relies on steam and pressure to cook your food, so if there isn’t enough liquid in the pot, it can result in tough ribs. Make sure you add enough liquid, like broth, water, or barbecue sauce, to create sufficient steam during the cooking process. This helps keep the ribs moist and tender. So, be generous with the liquid to give your ribs the best chance to turn out succulent and flavorful.
Oven or Instant Pot for ribs?
Well, it really depends on what you’re looking for. Cooking ribs in the oven gives you that classic, slow-cooked flavor. You can take your time, allowing the ribs to cook low and slow, which results in tender meat and caramelized, flavorful crust. Plus, you have the option to finish them off under the broiler for that irresistible char. If you enjoy the process of slow cooking and want that traditional taste, the oven is a solid choice.
On the other hand, the Instant Pot offers convenience and speed. If you’re short on time or craving ribs on a weeknight, the Instant Pot can be a lifesaver. It uses pressure and steam to cook the ribs in a fraction of the time it takes in the oven. While the texture might be slightly different from oven-cooked ribs, the Instant Pot can still produce tender and juicy results. It’s a great option when you’re looking for a quicker cooking method without sacrificing too much flavor.
In the end, it boils down to personal preference and your available time. If you’re all about that slow-cooked goodness and have the luxury of time, go for the oven. But if you’re in a rush or want to streamline the cooking process, the Instant Pot can be a reliable and efficient tool. Ultimately, both methods can deliver delicious ribs, so it’s really about what suits your needs and culinary preferences.
When cooking ribs in an Instant Pot, it’s important to add enough liquid to create steam and maintain moisture during the cooking process. The exact amount of liquid can vary depending on personal preference and the size of your Instant Pot. However, a general guideline is to use around 1 cup of liquid.
Common options for the liquid include broth, water, or even a flavorful barbecue sauce. You can choose to use a single liquid or combine different liquids for added flavor. The liquid not only helps tenderize the ribs but also infuses them with moisture and taste.
Remember that the liquid should not completely submerge the ribs.
Instead, pour the liquid into the Instant Pot just until it covers the bottom, ensuring it’s not touching the ribs directly. This allows the steam to circulate effectively and cook the ribs evenly.
By using approximately 1 cup of liquid and ensuring it covers the bottom of the Instant Pot, you’ll provide enough moisture for a successful and delicious rib-cooking experience.
🥗Side Dish Suggestions
Here are some side dish ideas to pair with your ribs. I also recommend instant pot apple dumplings for dessert. You can set them to cook while you eat your ribs!
If you tried this Instant Pot Spare Ribs or any other recipe on my website, I would love it if you could leave me a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below. ❤️
Instant Pot Spare Ribs Recipe
- 1 slab pork spare ribs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1/2 cup sweet barbecue sauce
- Cut the rack of ribs in half and season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Pour apple juice into the pot of the instant pot and put the trivet inside. Place the ribs on top of the trivet.
- Close the lid and set the pressure release valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the remaining pressure and remove the lid of the instant pot.
- Set your oven to broil.
- Remove the ribs and place them on a cookie sheet. Brush the barbecue sauce all over the ribs. Broil the ribs for 2-3 minutes and serve.