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Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs bring all the smoky BBQ flavor without having to stand in front of the grill. It’s easy to make tender rack of pork ribs by using the Instant Pot.

Prep Time - 20 mins
Cook Time - 1 hr 5 mins
Total Time - 1 hr 25 mins

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: barbecue, bbq, pork chops
Servings: 1 rack
Author: Jennifer

  • 1 rack (2-3 pounds) baby back ribs extra meaty
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1/2 cup or more BBQ sauce
  1. Remove membrane from bottom of ribs by running knife under the skin and pulling it off.
  2. In a small bowl, combine dry rub – brown sugar, chili powder, parsley, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Spread over top and bottoms side of ribs.
  3. Stand ribs on side on metal trivet inside Instant Pot. Add water and liquid smoke to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. 
  4. Set Instant Pot for High Pressure, set valve to Sealing, and set timer for 30 minutes. After pressure cooking for 30 minutes, allow natural steam release for at least 30 minutes. 
  5. Remove ribs from Instant Pot and place on foil-lined baking sheet. Brush on a thick layer of BBQ sauce on top and bottom of ribs. Place ribs under broiler for about 5 minutes (watch closely!) until BBQ sauce caramelizes and crust forms on ribs.

Key to Success #1 – Make a Good Dry Rub
A good dry rub will add a lot of delicious flavor to your ribs. I like to start with brown sugar and chili powder as my base then add in cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, a little bit of salt, pepper, and parsley, and then just a touch of cayenne.

To put the dry rub on the ribs, start by sprinkling some of the dry rub mix on the bottom side of the ribs. Then turn the ribs over and press the dry rub into the top of the ribs.

You can add the dry rub and let the baby back ribs hang out in the refrigerator for a couple hours, if you’d like. It’s not required though.
Key to Success #2 – Use the Instant Pot Trivet
The Instant Pot comes with a metal rack, called a trivet, that you can use to elevate food so that it doesn’t sit in the liquid in the bottom of the pot. You’ll want to use the trivet when making these Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs.

If you can’t find your trivet any short metal rack will work or you can make a rack out of aluminum foil.

Just wrap the Baby Back Ribs around the inside of the Instant Pot. I have an Instant Pot 6 Qt Duo and my Baby Back Ribs fit with plenty of room to spare. You can see in the image below how I wrap the ribs around the inside of the pot.

See the rack in the bottom of my Instant Pot? That’s not the trivet that came with the Instant Pot. I can’t find mine! It’s actually a rack that came with an Air Fryer Accessory Kit. And it works great in the Air Fryer as well as the Instant Pot, I might add.

Key to Success #3 – Add Liquid Smoke
After your ribs go into the Instant Pot, you’ll want to add a cup of water into the inner pot so that the Instant Pot can build up pressure. For my 6-quart Instant Pot, it requires at least 1 cup of water. Some of the larger Instant Pots need more water so be sure to check the instructions on yours.

If you like a smoky flavor to your Baby Back Ribs, you can add some liquid smoke along with the water in your Instant Pot. This is an easy way to get that classic barbecue flavor when you’re cooking indoors.

Key to Success #5 – Use the Natural Release
For a full rack of extra meaty Baby Back Ribs, the pressure cook time is 30 minutes at high pressure. With a 30 minute pressure cook time, you can pick up the ribs using tongs without them falling apart, but the meat will easily pull off the bone.

If your ribs are not all that meaty, I would suggest pressure cooking for only 25 minutes. If you want your ribs to fall apart, you can go for 35 minutes.

Another crucial component of Instant Pot cooking is the pressure release. You have two options – let the pressure release naturally or move the pressure release valve to Venting and do a quick release.

For Baby Back Ribs, you will want to let the pressure release naturally for up to 30 minutes. If the timer reaches 30 minutes and the pressure has not fully release, you can switch to Venting to release the rest of the pressure.

While the Instant Pot is doing its natural release, your ribs are still cooking. The 30 minutes of natural release are a part of the overall cook time for the ribs so it’s important not to rush things here.
Key to Success #6 – Finish The Ribs Off in the Oven
After the ribs come out of the Instant Pot, I like to put them on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat them with BBQ sauce then stick them under the broiler in the oven for just a few minutes to develop that bark on the outside of the ribs.

You can use your favorite BBQ sauce. I like to use Head Country Original. It has a great flavor that’s not too sweet and not too spicy for me.

I use a basting brush to paint the BBQ sauce on both sides of the ribs. I use the HI setting on my broiler and stick the ribs in there for just about 5 minutes until the BBQ sauce starts to caramelize.

Watch your ribs closely when they are under the broiler though. If you leave them too long, they could burn.

You could also finish the ribs off on the grill. Any way you finish them, they’re bound to be a winner.

Try these other great summer recipes:
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