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.

A bowl of dry rub for Instant Pot ribs

Use a Dry Rub

To start your ribs on a delicious note, cover them generously with a delicious dry rub.

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 spicier, 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!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Spicy Instant Pot Ribs?

If you’d like to make the ribs spicier, add more cayenne pepper to the rub.

Why Are My Instant Pot Ribs Tough?

If your ribs are tough, they likely haven’t been cooked long enough. Try adding a little extra time to help them tenderize.

Can You Overcook Ribs in the Instant Pot?

Yes, ribs can be overcooked in the Instant Pot. That’s why it’s important to follow the recommended cook times in this Instant Pot ribs recipe and perform a natural release at the end.

Instant Pot Ribs

4.92 from 251 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: 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 caramelize, 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.).
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate ribs in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. Slather the ribs with additional barbecue sauce before reheating if desired.
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze ribs in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 386kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 28gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 98mgPotassium: 481mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 1136IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 68mgIron: 2mg

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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. Made this today with 2 racks of spare ribs. After patting them dry I rubbed with mustard and used a different seasoning though. They fell off the bone before I could pull them out of the instant pot. I ended up pulling all of the bones out and taking the meat out of the instant pot in chunks, placed on a cookie sheet, topped with bbq and broiled them. These were the best ribs I’ve ever had.5 stars

  2. Outstanding. Had three racks of spare ribs. Cooked one on the grill, one in the oven and the last in the instant pot. IP and this rub by far the best. Finished under the broiler with some sauce. This is absolutely the way to go. Thanks so much!!5 stars

  3. I wanted the baby back ribs to have more “bite” (when the meat has a little resistance when you pull it with your teeth) rather than falling off the bone, so I opted for 22 minutes instead of 23. Perfection.5 stars

  4. Thank you for turning ribs into a quick after work on a weekday dinner!!! This is our go to recipe and it’s delicious every time!5 stars

    1. Hi Mike, I’m sorry to hear that. That is definitely not a common problem. Did you Instant Pot seal properly?

  5. My husband is very picky when it comes to ribs.
    I found this recipe, decided to give it a try.
    Surprise, he loves ribs cooked this way!!😁
    I’ve made this my ‘go to’ recipe!5 stars

  6. ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC!! Amazing how fast they came together too. The rub was quite flavorful and added a great depth of flavor under the bbq sauce that was just delicious. I did rub them a couple of hours before cooking. This replaces my 2 previous great rib recipes (one oven & one intstant pot). My ribs were not quite fall of the bone but tender delicious5 stars

    1. Was wondering, do you have to use bbq sauce at the end? We usually eat them without a sauce. From what it looks like, the rub has lots of flavor

  7. Recipe is perfect! It’s my go to. Made many times. Thanks! Due to some allergies I usually have to substitute a different rub, but the technique is spot on. I use Sweet Baby Ray’s to finish.5 stars

    1. Sorry to hear that you had trouble with the recipe, Garry. The timing have worked well for myself (and others) so I wished it would of been a hit for you too!

  8. I’m making this recipe for the first time and need to have the pressure naturally release fully as I won’t be around when the instant pot finishes cooking. How much should I adjust the cook time to account for the difference in 5 mins natural release + quick release vs fully naturally releasing the pressure? I’m using 2 racks of baby back ribs that total 2 lbs.

    1. Hi Don! I’ve only tested the recipe as written so not quite sure how it would need to be adjusted. If you decide to play around with the timing, let me know how it goes!

  9. Great recipe. My wife is Korean and this is bang on! A bit too spicy for younger children but that can be adjusted for. I made this in between the school runs and it is so inexpensive to make, but lovely to enjoy. Super easy but has dinner party quality. It has a real wow!! factor. Try it :-)5 stars

    1. I have used this recipe with baby backs and they came out delicious. Wondering if this recipe could be used for beef short ribs?

      1. Hi Kathy! While I haven’t tried it myself, other readers have done so with success. So glad you enjoy the recipe! Thank you!

  10. Hi i have the new instant pot: Duo Plus 6-Qt. Multi-Use Pressure Cooker with Whisper-Quiet Steam Release
    is the manual the same ?

    1. Hi Dawn! I’m sorry I have no experience with that pressure cooker. I would refer to your Instant Pot instructions to verify. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  11. This was super easy and delicious. I will definitely make this again and share the recipe! I made two racks of ribs in the instant pot at one time, took the lazy way out and used store bought sauce at the end, but the end result was still delicious ribs that fell off the bone and had a sweet and savory flavor. Highly recommend!5 stars

  12. Made the rub exactly as indicated in the recipe, multiplying ingredients by 4 for about 8 lbs of ribs. Keep in mind that if you use the built in multiplying widget on the recipe web page, it will also multiply the amount of water, cider vinegar, and smoke flavor to be added to the bottom of the instant pot. The water shouldn’t be increased (just leave it at 8 ounces or you’ll swamp your ribs). I doubled the amount of cider vinegar and smoke flavor from the single recipe (2 1/2 lbs of ribs) instead of quadrupling. I let the ribs sit in the dry rub for just over 2 hours before applying heat and pressure, and let the release go a little long. Broiled for 8 minutes without sauce (family preference). Results were fantastic and well appreciated by some very picky eaters. The ribs held enough shape for cutting and presentation while still being extremely tender.4 stars

    1. I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience the ads caused you! I will certainly keep paying close attention to the number of ads and how they load, as I never want them to hinder your ability to view the recipe or the blog post. I do truly appreciate your feedback and apologize again for the inconvenience! Also, there is a quick and convenient “jump to recipe” button that will help you get to the recipe faster and a print button to have the recipe quickly at your fingertips. Hope this helps!

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