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Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs (video)

These Instant Pot baby back ribs are seriously something delicious. You know how slow-braised ribs are juicy and so tender they fall off the bone? That same rib perfection is achievable with the Instant Pot and we are all about it. Plus, no need to slow-braise all day because the magic of the Instant Pot cooks these baby back ribs in record time. 

A serving plate of baby back ribs made in the Instant Pot

To finish these tender baby back ribs off, we broil them for a few minutes so the barbecue sauce gets caramelized and sticky, because that’s the only proper way to eat baby back ribs, am I right?

How to make Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

How do you make tender pork ribs? Here’s our new favorite way! The best thing about baby back ribs done in the Instant Pot, is it doesn’t even take a full hour. Not even half an hour. Instant Pot Baby Back ribs cook on high pressure for just 25 minutes. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Cut the pork ribs into smaller sections to fit inside the Instant Pot. 
  2. Rub the seasoning/sugar mixture all over them.
  3. Secure a rack in the Instant Pot, pour in the water and vinegar, place the ribs on the rack and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
  4. Release the pressure from the Instant Pot.
  5. Remove the baby back ribs and baste them with barbecue sauce, then place them under the hot broiler for 2-4 minutes to get the sauce sticky, aka perfect.

Five steps and a cook time under half an hour?! These Instant Pot ribs are a GAME-CHANGER.  Make sure you scroll all the way down to the printable recipe card for detailed instructions. 

And just to be clear, it takes 25 minutes to cook these ribs but it will take about 10 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure. You will also need to give it 10 minutes of natural release time so plan for a total of 45 minutes in the Instant Pot. 

By the way, the natural pressure release is when you just let the pressure cooker sit at the end of the cooking time without switching the pressure release valve. It will slowly release pressure as it cools down. When the pressure is completely released, the pressure valve will drop and you will be able to open the lid. 

Dipping a baby back rib in barbecue sauce.

What is the membrane on ribs?

The membrane is a thin piece of connective tissue on the bottom of the ribs. It is tough and it does not get tender when you cook the ribs. It will also prevent some of the flavors from infusing into the ribs. 

How do you remove the membrane from baby back ribs?

We gave a short how-to in our Easy Barbecue Pork Ribs post and here’s the general gist:

  • Slip a dinner knife between the membrane and a rib bone at one end of the rib slab
  • Stretch the membrane loose and up until it tears (hold it with a paper towel while you peel it off so you don’t lose your grip- it’s slippery!)

If you don’t see a membrane to remove it is probably because the butcher already removed it.  

Overhead photo of baby back ribs and barbecue sauce

What to serve with Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Oh, the yummy choices! Here are a few of our favorite side dish ideas:

  • Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes, a silky smooth and sweet spin that go perfectly with baby back ribs. 
  • Air Fried French Fries! There’s nothing like the combination of baby back ribs and french fries and an air fryer makes this easy (and a lot healthier)!
  • A bacon and bleu cheese salad simply ups the dinner game, if you ask me! Bleu cheese salad and baby back ribs will make any night feel like a special occasion. 

What are Baby Back Ribs anyway?

Baby back ribs are pork ribs but they do not come from a baby pig. They are the ribs that come from the upper portion of a pig’s rib cage. They are smaller than the spare ribs which are taken from the lower side of the ribcage. They get the name “Baby Back” because of their size, not because of the age of the animal.  

Close up photo of Instant Pot baby back ribs

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A serving plate of baby back ribs made in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

These baby back pork ribs are so tender they fall off the bone. Using the Instant Pot gets them done in record time but makes them so tender they taste like they slow braised all day. When they finish cooking we toss them under the broiler to get the barbecue sauce thick, sticky, and caramelized.

Ingredients

  • 3-1/2 pounds Baby Back pork ribs
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Instructions

  1. Cut the pork ribs into smaller sections of 3 to 4 ribs so they fit inside the pot. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoning salt, and chili powder. Rub the seasoning blend all over the ribs.
  3. Place a rack in the Instant Pot and pour in the water and vinegar. Place the ribs on the rack.
  4. Secure the lid and place the valve in the sealed position.
  5. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. 
  6. Allow the Instant Pot to release pressure naturally for at least 10 minutes then release the rest of the pressure manually. 
  7. Remove the ribs from the pot and baste with barbecue sauce. 

For thick caramelized BBQ sauce:

  1. Turn your oven on broil and place the oven rack 6 inches below the broiler unit. Place the basted ribs on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for 2 to 4 minutes. 

Notes

If the ribs have a thin membrane still attached remove it before cooking them. The membrane is tough and flavorless. To remove the membrane loosen the edge of it with a knife then grasp it with a paper towel or dish towel and give it a good tug. The whole thing will peal right off. 

High Altitude cooking times:

  • Over 2000 feet = 26 minutes
  • Over 3000 feet = 27 minutes
  • Over 4000 feet = 28 minutes
  • Over 5000 feet = 30 minutes
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 987Total Fat: 71gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 238mgSodium: 1717mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 1gSugar: 32gProtein: 48g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Maria

Friday 31st of January 2020

They look so good! Instant Pot ribs work so well, don't they? Super tender

Dahn Boquist

Friday 31st of January 2020

Yes, I love how quick this is and how tender they get. :)

angiesrecipes

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

They look so flavourful and fingerlickingly delicious!

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

Thank you Angie :)

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

Neat recipe! I often cook ribs in the oven, but it's a slow oven, so it takes time. This looks fast, easy, and tasty. How can you beat that? Thanks!

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 15th of January 2020

Yes it is definitely a fast way to do ribs, thanks John :)

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