I am of a certain belief that in any healthy relationship, it’s best not to keep score. Unless you are making Instant Pot Ribs, in which case MEGA PARTNER POINTS.

Tender Instant Pot Ribs on a cutting board with potato chips and barbecue sauce.

Fall off the bone tender, mega meaty, and destined to elicit serious finger licking, these savory Instant Pot Ribs will make you a fast favorite with whoever is lucky enough to share them with you.

In my case, the lucky recipient was Ben, who often requests my Crockpot Ribs. I plan to cash in the wife points I earned making this Instant Pot version for his help assembling our new patio table. I can already envision myself serving a batch of Instant Pot Ribs (slathered in homemade barbecue sauce) to friends at a future summer party!

(Remind me to mention the ribs plan to Ben if the table’s assembly “directions” are an Ikea-style sheet of paper with only pictures and no words. Baby backs are my favorite form of bribery.)

Close up of tender baby back ribs

How to Make the Best Instant Pot Ribs

Unlike other rib cooking methods, which take hours and require active tending, making ribs in the Instant Pot is hands free and comparably fast. The Instant Pot locks in moisture and makes the ribs tender in a fraction of the time.

In addition to the use of the Instant Pot itself, I have a few key tips to ensure your Instant Pot rib efforts are richly rewarded.

  • Use a Dry Rub. To start your ribs on a delicious note, cover them generously with a delicious dry rub.
A bowl of dry rub for Instant Pot ribs

The rib rub recipe I’ve included here uses basic pantry staples you probably already have, like chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne, to give the ribs loads of flavor. If you’d like to make the ribs more spicy, feel free to bump up the amount of cayenne.

To balance the spice, I also add brown sugar to my Instant Pot Ribs’ rub. I grew up loving the brown sugar/molasses flavor of Kansas City BBQ, and the brown sugar reminds me of some of my favorite KC BBQ joints.

The amount of brown sugar isn’t overly sweet by any means. You’ll love it here.

  • Liquid Smoke. It might sound fancy, but liquid smoke is widely available at most grocery stores (once you look for it, you’ll find it). You can also buy it online.

Please don’t skip the liquid smoke. Because we are cooking the ribs quickly (thank you Instant Pot!), the liquid smoke provides flavor that you’d typically only get via longer cooking methods (like, ahem, actual smoking).

  • Choose Your Favorite Ribs. You can make any kind of ribs you like in the Instant Pot, so pick your favorite! The amount of time needed to cook Instant Pot ribs will vary based on the type of ribs you choose, but the way you add the rub and place them in the Instant Pot is the same.

The two more common types of ribs are baby back ribs and spare ribs.

  • Baby back ribs are the smallest and most tender. They are my favorite and the ones you’ll see in the photos.
  • Spare ribs are larger, meatier, and fattier. Ben adores them.
Seasoned baby back ribs placed into an Instant Pot

How Long to Cook Ribs in the Instant Pot

  • Baby Back Ribs: 23 minutes on high pressure + 5 minutes natural release.
  • Spare Ribs: 35 minutes on high pressure + complete natural release. Do not vent the spare ribs immediately. Because the meat is tougher, it needs the full natural release to become tender.

Broil for Bonus Flavor

  • After the ribs are finished cooking, I like to brush them with BBQ sauce and place them under the broiler for a few minutes. Broiling lightly crisps the top, and the sauce becomes extra sweet and thick.

Serving Instant Pot Ribs

  • Instant Pot Ribs, 2 Racks: For a crowd, you can cook two racks of Instant Pot ribs at the same time. Simply place two racks on the trivet, overlapping one inside the other if needed. The pressure cook time does not change (though it will take the Instant Pot longer to come to pressure initially).
  • Sauce It Up: While you don’t *need* extra barbecue sauce on the side, my personal favorite way to eat ribs is good and slathered. Look for sauce without high fructose corn syrup…though I admit that unless I’m making the barbecue sauce from scratch, ribs with Sweet Baby Ray’s do always seem to be a hit.
  • Side Dish Ideas: Instant Pot ribs and potatoes is a classic combo. Try these easy Crock Pot Baked Potatoes, make-ahead Crockpot Breakfast Potatoes (not just for breakfast!) crispy Baked Fries, or keep it simple with potato chips.

More Meat Made Easy

  • I also love using my pressure cooker to make Instant Pot Chicken. Like these Instant Pot Ribs, it comes out perfectly moist every time.
  • I also have this whole lineup of healthy Instant Pot recipes for you to explore.
Instant Pot baby back ribs with potato chips and extra BBQ sauce

For a less-fuss approach to rib cooking and easy entertaining, Instant Pot Ribs are hard to beat. If you decide to try them, I’d love to hear what you think!

Instant pot ribs served on a wooden board

Instant Pot Ribs

4.96 from 218 votes
How to make fall off the bone Instant Pot Ribs. Easy method for baby back or spare ribs. So much faster and the sweet and savory dry rub is to die for!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 50 mins

Servings: 2 –4 servings

Ingredients
  

For the Ribs:

  • 1 rack baby back ribs or spare ribs about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds*
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/4 cup Homemade Barbecue Sauce or swap your favorite store-bought sauce, plus additional for serving

For the Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the ribs and pat them dry. If your ribs still have the thin, shiny membrane on the back, remove it. (This is easy, don’t worry!) Flip the ribs over, meat-side down. Wiggle a dull knife (such as a butter knife) between the membrane and the ribs to loosen it. With a paper towel, grip the membrane and pull it away, then discard.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne. Rub it all over the ribs, generously coating all of the sides.
  • Place the trivet (or rack) in the bottom of a 6-quart or larger Instant Pot. Pour in the water, apple cider vinegar, and liquid smoke. Place the ribs inside the pot, standing them on the trivet on their side and wrapping the rack around the inside of the pot like a circle.
  • Cover and seal the Instant Pot. For baby back ribs: Cook on high (manual) pressure for 23 minutes (if you are making multiple racks and your ribs are super meaty, increase to 25 minutes). Allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then vent to release the remaining pressure. For spare ribs: Cook on high for 35 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release completely (about 15 minutes). You will know it is released when the pin drops.
  • Towards the end of the ribs’ cook time, place a rack in the upper third of your oven and set it to broil. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Transfer the cooked ribs to the foil, then brush liberally with barbecue sauce. Place under the broiler just until the sauce begins to caramelized, about 2 minutes. Do not walk away to make sure the ribs don’t burn.

Notes

  • *Choose a rack that is less than 2 pounds for the most tender results. One rack will serve about 2 people. If you’d like to cook a larger amount, you can fit 2 to 3 racks into your Instant Pot. Simply stand the ribs all the way around the outside in one big circle first, then place additional rack(s) in a second circle on the inside. You can cut the slabs into smaller pieces if it helps them to fit more easily. Multiply the spice mixture for each additional rack (double for 2 racks, triple for 3, etc.).

Nutrition

Serving: 1of 4Calories: 534kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 37gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 160mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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  1. Good recipe! I was being experimental as I love to grill outside on my smoker. I added hickory wood chips to the bottom of the instant pot, and omg the flavor is a perfect hickory!5 stars

  2. Never thought I’d find a rib recipe that my husband would like as much as the labor-intensive one I’ve made for decades, but this was a big winner. Thank you!5 stars

  3. These are amazing!! Being able to make ribs from scratch after work is a game-changer, and they taste like they took all day!5 stars

  4. I came here just for the cook timing and stayed for the rest to soak up some knowledge.
    My plan of attack was to cook in the instant pot then finish on my Weber classic grill.

    I had a pork spare rib slab, patted it mostly dry and after adding only salt and pepper I followed the cooking directions here. It was perfectly done– did not fall apart transferring it around from pot to plate to grill and back to plate, but was easily torn with hands and had a great texture.

    Beware that using the natural release takes 40-45 minutes additional to the 35 minute cook time, so that’s not ideal but hopefully helps someone out.

    The grilling part is easy since the meat is cooked. Just grill till you like the brown-ness! This turned out very good and I’ll be happy to make it again. My wife even ate 4 of my ribs, and she normally won’t touch them!
    Thank you!5 stars

    1. This was exactly what I came here to do, and your comment gave exactly the insight I was hoping to find! Thank you.😋

    2. Hi Joshua,
      I am also looking to finish o. Grill to absorb some smoke. I am doing 2 racks of spare ribs. I want them to be able to transfer & not fall apart.
      Was 35 minute cook time with natural release able to accomplish that. Should I do less time instapot more time grill with smoke chips?

  5. I never leave reviews so that says a lot about this recipe. Fall off the bone, perfect flavor, I wouldn’t change a thing. Liquid smoke was just the right hint of BBQ flavor and not at all overpowering. I used sweet baby rays BBQ sauce…. as a person who makes everything from scratch it was better than homemade. Love love love. Ribs were always intimidating to me until now. What I love most? Fast and easy without sacrificing quality5 stars

  6. Hi Erin! We followed your recipe to the letter using baby back ribs. Just as you said, this recipe is “to die for’! Thanks for all the additional notes, hints, and tips. We’re new to Instant Pot cooking and we wanted to do a test run before we tried the recipe on our friends. Granted, this is not the most health-conscious recipe but, OMG, what is the point of living if you can’t be a little decadent every now and then? Thanks for you awesome recipe!

    Don & Yuree5 stars

  7. Very good recipe. I used a rack of pork loin back ribs that was about 3.75 pounds, I recommend for this size you add about 10-15 mins to the cook time. They were delicious.5 stars

  8. This is really good but I think 23 minutes is a bit too long. I’ll scale the time back next time I try these.4 stars

    1. Hi! I don’t think you’ll need to double the time, but ff you want to double the meat, you will need to double the spices as well. No need to double the water. I hope this helps!

  9. Just made this for my parents tonight (they’re not a fan of ribs or barbecue) and they loved it!!! Thank you for the recipe ☺️5 stars

  10. I had pork spare ribs to use and had about an hour to make dinner. I used my instapot to prepare them as directedin the recipe and they were very moist, tender and favorable. I did finish them on the grill after braising them with BBQ sauce. This recipe is quick, easy and tasty!5 stars

  11. Made this exactly as written except for omitting the cayenne. Incredibly delicious! My first time making ribs. Plan to use the rub foe chicken too!5 stars

  12. Best ribs ever! Made this recipe at least 8 times! The only way I make them now! So tender and juicy!5 stars

  13. Recipe was quick and simple. I substituted the brown sugar with pure Vermont maple syrup and added a touch of powdered mustard. Came out awesome. Instructions were easy to follow.5 stars

  14. My husband says best ribs he’s had. Better than the smokehouse he’s always raving about5 stars

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