We confess that until we tried this pressure cooker spare ribs recipe, we’d always been a little leery of pressure cookers. We’d just never imagined you could turn out anything like ribs that are fall-off-the-bone tender in 30 minutes or less. We were wrong. So spectacularly wrong. This pressure cooker pork ribs recipe made believers out of us. One taste and it’ll convert you, too.–David Leite

Pressure Cooker Ribs FAQs

How do you remove the membrane from ribs before cooking?

To remove the membrane or silver skin from a rack of ribs, use the tip of a small knife to loosen a corner and then grab the membrane with a paper towel and slowly pull it off.

Can I use a different cooking liquid?

Definitely. Water will do fine, though it won’t impart as much flavor as stock or broth. Feel free to try it with apple juice or even root beer.

What should I serve these ribs with?

We love these ribs with a side of mashed potatoes or French fries, a big bowl of creamy coleslaw, and fresh corn on the cob. They’d also be great with baked beans and Caesar salad.

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A platter of pressure cooker ribs cut into individual ribs, with a carving knife on the side.

Pressure Cooker Ribs

4.79 / 64 votes
These pressure cooker ribs, which are easy and ideal for the Instant Pot, are finished in the oven with a brown sugar and Dijon glaze. It's a super-fast method for knee-wobbling, lip-smacking, fall-off-the-bone tenderness.
David Leite
CourseMains
CuisineSouthern
Servings2 servings
Calories1034 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time45 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 (3-pound) rack pork spare ribs, membranes removed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Beef Stock or low-sodium broth
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Instructions 

  • Remove the membrane from the ribs.
    A person removing the membrane from a rack of ribs.
  • Cut your 1/2 rack of spare ribs into 2 or 3 pieces so all the ribs will fit in the pressure cooker. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with the kosher salt and season with pepper.
    A rack of ribs cut into three slabs being seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the beef stock into the pressure cooker and place the steamer insert in the cooker.
    A person pouring broth into a pressure cooker.
  • Place the ribs on the steamer insert. Rather than stacking sections of ribs, place the rib sections on end and sort of curl them around the pot so the pieces aren’t touching to ensure even cooking.
    Three slabs of ribs on a rack inside an Instant Pot.
  • Lock the lid in place and bring the pot to high pressure (15 psi for stove top or 9 to 11 psi for electric).
    If using a stove-top pressure cooker, maintain the pressure for 20 minutes for tender ribs or, if you prefer that the ribs be falling-off-the-bone tender, cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the burner as necessary.
    If using an electric pressure cooker, such as an Instant Pot, cook at high pressure for 20 minutes for tender ribs or, if you prefer ribs that are falling-off-the-bone tender, cook for up to 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, turn the cooker off. Do not let the pressure cooker automatically switch to the “warm” setting.
    A person setting an Instant Pot.
  • Use the natural method to release the pressure in the cooker. Unlock and remove the lid. Using tongs, move the ribs, bone-side up, to a rack placed on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan. Let the cooking liquid in the pressure cooker rest for several minutes to allow the fat to rise to the surface.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the broiler and adjust an oven rack to the top or second position.
  • While the broiler heats, spoon off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Place the stove-top cooker over medium heat or turn the electric cooker to “brown” or “saute” and bring the stock to a vigorous simmer. Cook until the stock is reduced to 1/3 of the original volume, 8 to 10 minutes.
    Liquid in the bottom of an Instant Pot.
  • Stir in the mustard and brown sugar, and continue simmering for 6 to 8 minutes more, or until the sauce resembles a thick syrup. Remove from the heat.
    Liquid and Dijon mustard in the bottom of an Instant Pot.
  • Baste the bone side of the ribs with some of the mustard sauce. Slide the ribs under the broiler until the sauce is bubbling, about 4 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven, turn the ribs over, and baste with the remaining glaze. Return to the broiler until warmed through, about 6 minutes. Cut the ribs into 1- or 2-rib sections and serve.
    Three slabs of ribs coated with glaze on a wire rack on a baking sheet.
The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook.

Adapted From

The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 1034 kcalCarbohydrates: 19 gProtein: 55 gFat: 81 gSaturated Fat: 26 gMonounsaturated Fat: 30 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 272 mgSodium: 2145 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 18 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Janet A. Zimmerman. Photo © 2015 Silvio Knezevic. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Ribs are generally relegated to the weekend when we have enough time to complete the arduous task. No more! I’ve tried many methods and recipes for preparing the perfect porcine delight. Smoking, oven-roasting, and on and on and on. These ribs are as fine as any that I’ve made. The most exciting thing? I can roll in the door at 5:30 p.m., hit the shower, and still have amazing ribs on the table by 7 p.m.

If you want to add a bit of smoke, how about some smoked sea salt? The rib meat was very tender yet still firm and close to falling off the bone. If I could use just one word, that word would be astonishing!

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, this pressure cooker ribs recipe alone justifies the purchase.

Pressure cooker ribs is absolutely my new go-to method. The ribs were falling off the bone tender at 25 minutes, just the way we like them.

Removing the membrane from the backside of the ribs isn’t difficult but many brands offer ribs pre-packaged with the membrane already removed. Also, most behind-the-counter butchers will do this for you if you ask. Glazing the ribs under the broiler yielded a “cooked on the grill” appearance with a nice caramelized glaze.

Using a 6-quart electric pressure cooker, I was able to lay the full slab of ribs on its side on top of the steamer insert and coil it around the pressure cooker bowl. This was a nice alternative to cutting the ribs into pieces and trying to keep them standing upright.

On my second try at this recipe, I wanted to get more flavor on the ribs so I used my favorite rib rub instead of salt and pepper. The brown sugar and Dijon mustard glaze is nice but I prefer discarding the broth and fat that cooks out of the ribs and finishing with our favorite Memphis-style BBQ sauce. If that’s what you try, feel free to substitute 1 cup of water in place of the beef broth or experiment with other liquids like apple juice or even root beer. Just remember to use 1 cup of liquid to get enough pressure for cooking.

Depending on the size of your cooker, you might be able to make more than one rack of ribs at a time – check your cooker manual.

Spare ribs are exactly the kind of food I’d really rather eat at home, where one can unabashedly eat with one’s hands and lick one’s fingers, but this never happens at our house—too much epic prep and time for 2 people—so I eagerly accept invitations for BBQ ribs from friends with smokers and maybe some Texas experience.

While I was excited to see this recipe for pressure cooker ribs, I was also skeptical that such a simple approach would work. With the confidence of my pressure-cooker-loving spouse, we took this recipe on.

What I love about this pressure cooker pork ribs recipe is that while it may not be something you always want to do on a weeknight, these are short-timeline spare ribs, and the recipe works for just 2 people! We actually made it twice. Batch one was strictly according to the recipe and at the low end of the time at just 20 minutes under pressure (2 rings on a 7 liter Kuhn Rikon stove-top pressure cooker, using induction hob).

For the second batch, we extended the pressure time to 30 minutes. The second batch was also from the larger, fleshier end of the rack and gave off a bit more fat. At 30 minutes, you have fall-off-the-bone meat, followed by just-short-of-blistering charred crispness from the broiler. If you can leave your oven door open when your broiler operates, you’ll do well to stand right there and monitor it.

The height of our tall pressure cooker made separating and reducing the liquid awkward, so I poured the cooking liquids into a gravy separator and then decanted that into a smaller saucepan that a short cook could easily watch and stir. I had to watch my broiler like a hawk, even dropping the ribs down to the third position, which was 6 1/2 inches away from the element, and I dialed back the broil setting shy of full high and snatched the ribs out a couple minutes early on each side.

The ribs were tasty and gone quickly, but we thought it needed a little more depth, either in the cooking or the sauce. Maybe a rub in addition to the salt and pepper? More depth of flavor could easily be achieved with a bit of chipotle or a smoked hot paprika in the glaze, giving you some smokiness and heat. The glaze needed a bit of something, too.

It would become a little more interesting with some acid to play against the mild heat of the mustard and brown sugar combination—we thought a splash of vinegar added at the end would work just fine for this. Those are very minor issues and easily adapted to individual preferences.




About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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177 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    While the end result looked a little sad my husband couldn’t stop raving about these ribs and telling everyone I needed to make them for them.

  2. 5 stars
    Okay…Credit where credit is due. I am not a rib guy, and I do not like wrapping my whole day around the smoker trying to get decent smoked ribs. So on a typical holiday I just walk right past the ribs racks on sale. Recently I have been doing a lot of pressure cooking with meats…which brought me to this recipe. First batch of BBR’s turned out Fantastic! Working on a second rack today, maybe finish them in the convection oven.