Make the best, most fall-apart tender Instant Pot Ribs with this easy fail-proof recipe! You only need a rack of ribs, apple juice, bbq sauce and my simple, flavorful dry rub for ribs to make delicious, fall-off-the-bone, baby back ribs at home!

cooked baby back ribs stacked up on a plate with a small bowl of bbq sauce on the side

Growing up in Oklahoma, with a smoker always in the backyard, usually we would smoke our baby back ribs. While I still love smoked ribs, sometimes you want something easier, and just as tasty, in much less time. That’s where Instant Pot Ribs come in!

This recipe is made in just about an hour, with only 10 minutes of hands on time! This makes it easy enough to make baby back ribs for a weeknight meal! Gone are the days of waiting for the weekend, or a special occasion, to make fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs at home. Now you can make them anytime!

Using my sweet and smoky dry rub for ribs adds so much flavor to the recipe! And finishing them under the broiler with your favorite bbq sauce, gives them that sticky, sweet glaze that everyone loves. These ribs are juicy, tender, flavorful and most importantly, easy to make!

ingredients for instant pot ribs on white wood board

Ingredients

  • Baby back ribs – these might also be called “Pork Loin Back Ribs” at the grocery store. These ribs come from the blade and center section of the pork loin. They got the name “baby back ribs” because they are smaller than pork spareribs, which come from the belly. For this recipe, you can make anywhere from 1 pound to 4 pounds of baby back ribs, just depending on the size of your Instant Pot. I’ve made up to 4 pounds in a 6 quart Instant Pot. The rack of ribs that you’ll see pictured in this post weighed in at just over 2 1/2 pounds.
  • Dry rub for ribs – this simple seasoning blend combines brown sugar and 6 basic spices, including garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika, to create the perfect rub for pork ribs. It’s easy to mix up in 5 minutes, simply click the link to grab the recipe!
  • Apple juice – you will need 1 cup of liquid in the bottom of the Instant Pot when cooking the ribs. The liquid will essentially steam as the ribs cook in the Instant Pot, so the ribs will absorb the flavor of the cooking liquid. I like to use apple juice, because the flavor pairs so well with pork. You could also use chicken broth, beer, coca-cola or root beer, for a different flavor. In a pinch, you could use water, but I recommend trying something with a little flavor!
  • BBQ sauce – for this recipe I used my homemade Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce. It’s sticky sweet and so delicious! Feel free to use this recipe, or purchase your favorite bottle of barbecue sauce at the grocery store.

Instructions

I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

  1. Season the ribs. If the silver skin, or membrane, has not been removed from the ribs, use a small, sharp knife to loosen it at the corner, then use a paper towel to pull it off of the ribs and discard it. Rub the ribs with 1 tablespoon of dry rub, per pound of ribs. You’ll want a light coating underneath the ribs and a thick coating on top of the ribs, on the meaty side.
  2. Add the ribs to the Instant Pot. Place them on the trivet that came with the Instant Pot, in a circular motion with the meat side facing the wall of the Instant Pot and the bone side facing the inside of the Instant Pot. Refer to the recipe notes section below for advice if you don’t have a trivet. Pour 1 cup of apple juice, or other liquid, in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  3. Cook the ribs. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve on top to the “sealing” position. Use the manual button to cook the ribs on HIGH For 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes. Release any remaining pressure, then remove the lid.
  4. Finish the ribs with bbq sauce. Use tongs to remove the ribs from the Instant Pot and place them meat-side-up on a foil-lined baking sheet. Preheat the oven broiler to high. Brush the ribs with bbq sauce, then place them on the middle rack of the oven under the broiler. Broil the ribs for 2-3 minutes, or until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize on top. Remove from the oven, rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice between the ribs and serve.
cooked baby back ribs sliced apart on plate

Recipe tips

  • If you don’t have the trivet that came with the Instant Pot, or you have another pressure cooker, roll up a large piece of foil, then pull the two ends together to form a ring shape. Place it in the bottom of the Instant Pot and arrange the ribs on top of that. You just want to prevent the ribs from sitting in the liquid in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  • If your ribs are extra meaty, add 5 minutes to the cooking time.
  • If your ribs are on the smaller, thinner side, you can remove 5 minutes from the cooking time.
  • To add a smoky flavor to the ribs, add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke in the Instant Pot with the apple juice.
  • You don’t have to broil the ribs when they come out of the Instant Pot. They will be fully cooked, but broiling them with bbq sauce does add a wonderful sticky sweet caramelization on the outside.
  • You can also finish the ribs on the grill. Instead of using the broiler, place the ribs, meat-side-up, with the bbq sauce on the meat, on the grill grates and grill at medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can I cook frozen ribs in the Instant Pot? Yes, but you’ll need to complete a couple of steps before you freeze the ribs. You will need to cut the ribs into 2-3 sections, so they’ll fit in the Instant Pot. When frozen, the ribs won’t bend around the circular pot, like they will when they’re not frozen. You’ll also need to season the ribs before freezing them. The dry rub will not stick to frozen ribs. If you already have frozen ribs in the freezer that you want to use for this recipe and they’re not cut into sections or seasoned, I recommend defrosting them first. You can defrost them in the fridge for 24 hours, or quickly in the microwave using the defrost setting.
  • Why are my pork ribs tough when cooked in the Instant Pot? This means that they’re not cooked long enough. Be sure to cook the ribs for the full 30 minutes on high, and let the pressure release for 15 minutes before removing the lid. If you did this and the ribs are still tough, I recommend cooking them for an additional 5 minutes on high in the Instant Pot.
  • Are ribs better in the oven or Instant Pot? I would have to say the Instant Pot, because they cook in less than half the time as the oven. And pressure cooking the ribs makes them super juicy and fall-apart-tender every time!
  • How much liquid do you put in an instant pot for ribs? You will need to add one cup of liquid to the Instant Pot before cooking the ribs. This liquid will keep the ribs moist and will prevent the “burn” error from occurring on the Instant Pot.
  • Can I stack ribs in an Instant Pot? When cooking ribs in the Instant Pot, I do not recommend stacking the ribs on top of each other. You can overlap two racks slightly, when wrapped around the Instant Pot, but stacking the ribs on top of each other will prevent them from cooking evenly.
cooked baby back ribs brushed with bbq sauce on plate

Storage and reheating

Store cooked Instant Pot Ribs in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.

To reheat the ribs, I recommend wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until warmed throughout.

After they’re reheated, you can unwrap them from the foil, brush with bbq sauce and place them back under the broiler in the oven for 2 minutes to add more of the sticky sweet caramelization on the outside. This step is optional, but perfect for those that like saucy ribs!

What to serve with them

While Baby Back Ribs are usually associated with grilling or smoking outside in the summer months, the great thing about Instant Pot Ribs is that you can make them year-round! Pair them with any of these delicious side dishes anytime of year.

And when summer time comes around and you’re serving these ribs at barbecues, pair them with these great bbq side dishes.

rack of cooked baby back ribs, cut in half on plate with a small bowl of bbq sauce
cooked pork ribs on plate brushed with bbq sauce
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Instant Pot Ribs

Make the best, most fall-apart tender Instant Pot Ribs with this easy fail-proof recipe! You only need a rack of ribs, apple juice, bbq sauce and my simple, flavorful dry rub for ribs to make delicious, fall-off-the-bone, baby back ribs at home!

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds baby back ribs, anywhere between 2-3 pounds will work
  • 2 tablespoons dry rub for ribs, click link for the recipe
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • ½ cup bbq sauce

Instructions

  • If the silver skin, or membrane, has not been removed from the ribs, use a small, sharp knife to loosen it at the corner, then use a paper towel to pull it off of the ribs and discard it. 
  • Rub the ribs with the dry rub. You’ll want a light coating underneath the ribs and a thick coating on top of the ribs, on the meaty side.
  • Pour apple juice in the bottom of an Instant Pot.
  • Place the seasoned ribs standing up on the Instant Pot trivet in a circular motion, with the meat side facing the sides of the Instant Pot.
  • Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set the pressure release valve on top to the “sealing” position. Use the manual button to cook the ribs on HIGH For 30 minutes. 
  • Allow the pressure to naturally release for 15 minutes. Release any remaining pressure, then remove the lid.
  • Use tongs to remove the ribs from the Instant Pot and place them, meat side up, on a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Preheat the oven broiler to high.
  • Brush the top, meat-side, of the ribs with the bbq sauce, then place them in the middle rack of the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes to caramelize the sauce.
  • Remove from the oven, rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice between the ribs and serve.

Notes

  • If you don’t have the trivet that came with the Instant Pot, or you have another pressure cooker, roll up a large piece of foil, then pull the two ends together to form a ring shape. Place it in the bottom of the Instant Pot and arrange the ribs on top of that. You just want to prevent the ribs from sitting in the liquid in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
  • If your ribs are extra meaty, add 5 minutes to the cooking time.
  • If your ribs are on the smaller, thinner side, you can remove 5 minutes from the cooking time.
  • To add a smoky flavor to the ribs, add 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke in the Instant Pot with the apple juice.
  • You don’t have to broil the ribs when they come out of the Instant Pot. They will be fully cooked, but broiling them with bbq sauce does add a wonderful sticky sweet caramelization on the outside.
  • You can also finish the ribs on the grill. Instead of using the broiler, place the ribs, meat-side-up, with the bbq sauce on the meat, on the grill grates and grill at medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.
  • To cook frozen ribs in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to complete a couple of steps before you freeze the ribs. You will need to cut the ribs into 2-3 sections, so they’ll fit in the Instant Pot. When frozen, the ribs won’t bend around the circular pot, like they will when they’re not frozen. You’ll also need to season the ribs before freezing them. The dry rub will not stick to frozen ribs. If you already have frozen ribs in the freezer that you want to use for this recipe and they’re not cut into sections or seasoned, I recommend defrosting them first. You can defrost them in the fridge for 24 hours, or quickly in the microwave using the defrost setting.
  • Store cooked Instant Pot Ribs in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days.
  • To reheat the ribs, I recommend wrapping them in aluminum foil and placing them in the oven at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until warmed throughout.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 496kcal (25%)Carbohydrates 23g (8%)Protein 35g (70%)Fat 30g (46%)Saturated Fat 10g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat 5gMonounsaturated Fat 12gTrans Fat 0.3gCholesterol 123mg (41%)Sodium 527mg (22%)Potassium 600mg (17%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 18g (20%)Vitamin A 173mg (3%)Vitamin C 1mg (1%)Calcium 92mg (9%)Iron 2mg (11%)
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