How To Make Ribs in the Instant Pot

Homemade ribs are a special meal. It’s the kind of meaty dinner dish relegated to long summer afternoons tending the smoker or heating up the kitchen for a long, slow cook in the oven.

Instant Pot ribs change all that! Making ribs in the Instant Pot means this summer staple can be an anytime feast.

Because, yes my friends, you can truly have tender, sticky, baby back ribs on the table in under an hour with the help of the electric pressure cooker.

Faster Ribs, Thanks to the Instant Pot

Discovering that I could make tender, smoky ribs in the Instant Pot was nothing short of life-changing. Ribs, before the Instant Pot, were a once-a-summer special-occasion treat, slowly smoked on the barbecue and slathered with sauce until lacquered and glossy.

But ribs are inexpensive and satisfying, and discovering I could cook ribs to tenderness in under an hour swung the door of possibility right open. Won’t you step in and join me?

Your Secret Summer Seasoning: Smoked Salt

Smoked salt is a seasoning that every cook should have in their pantry. Not only does it do the same work of liquid smoke with less effort, but it is also flavorful and wonderful for adding to everything from ribs to salty caramels.

I love this smoked salt from Spice House. A little will go a long way, making the small bottle a worthy investment.

Buy it: Hickory Smoke Salt, $4.47 for 4 ounces

How To Make Ribs in the Instant Pot

SERVES4 to 6


  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 racks baby back ribs (about 4 pounds total)
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce


  • 6-quart or larger electric pressure cooker
  • Trivet or steamer basket
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Baking sheet
  • Basting brush


Make the spice rub. Place the brown sugar, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl and stir to combine; set aside.

Remove the membrane from the ribs. For super-tender ribs, remove the membrane that covers the bone on the underside of the ribs: Flip the ribs over so they’re meat-side down, then slide a butter knife in between the ribs and the thin membrane of the first rack — start in the center of the rack, which tends to be easier than the ends.

Once you’ve got a few inches pulled up, use your hands to gently pull the membrane up and completely off the bones (if your grip is slippery, grasp the membrane with a paper towel before pulling). Repeat for the remaining rack.

Season the ribs. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the ribs on both sides and on the ends. Gently rub the spice mixture into the ribs.

Prepare the electric pressure cooker and add the ribs. Set a steamer or trivet inside a 6-quart or larger electric pressure cooker. Add 1 cup of water.

Place the ribs on the steamer by standing them up and gently coiling them in the cooker — start with the first rack of ribs on the outside closest to the pot, then make a tighter coil inside the first rack of ribs with the second rack.

Cook the ribs on manual pressure for 20 minutes. Seal the pressure cooker and make sure the pressure valve is sealed. Set to HIGH manual pressure for 20 minutes. The cooker should take about 15 minutes to come to pressure.

Quick release the ribs and transfer immediately to a baking sheet. When the 20 minutes is up, quickly release the pressure using the pressure cooker’s release valve.

Using tongs, immediately transfer the ribs meaty-side up to a baking sheet; the ribs should gently bend but not break when lifted, and the meat should be just pulling away from the ribs.

Coat the ribs with sauce and broil or grill (optional). Brush the finished ribs with sauce on all sides. Broil or grill on medium-high heat until some of the sauce is browned and sticky, 3 to 4 minutes.

Slice and serve the ribs. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and cut between the ribs into desired sections. Serve immediately.

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