Learn how to make tender Pork Spareribs in under an hour using your electric pressure cooker.
Do you also have a go-to dish in a certain restaurant whenever you visited? I have that. Whenever we visit a Spur Restaurant in South Africa I always start with the garlic bread followed by their pork spareribs. All of it washed down with a chocolate milkshake and a Don Pedro for dessert.
My father used to tease us and said that the spareribs were made from seal meat! Of course we believed him, but it didn’t stop my brother and I from devouring a rack of ribs each time we went there…
Now that I live in England and pork spareribs are not found on every single menu you look at, I wanted to create a sparerib here at home that doesn’t take forever to make. My absolute go-to pork sparerib recipe is this one: Sticky Pork ribs, but I only find myself making this when I have tonnes of time or when I’m on holiday. I wanted that restaurant feel where you can eat an incredible meal, but it didn’t feel like you slaved away for hours in front of a hot stove or have tonnes of washing-up to do afterwards… That’s when I discovered that you can make the most incredible pork baby back ribs in under an hour by using your Instant Pot pressure cooker. You are not slaving away in the kitchen and you can still feel as if you are dining like Royalty.
How do I cook tender ribs in the Instant Pot?
You will definitely need a trivet to do this properly. I have managed to cook up to three racks in my 6 QT Instant Pot pressure cooker at the same time. Neither the timing nor the amount of liquid was any different from making one, two or three racks simultaneously.
The first thing you have to do is check if the ribs has a silver membrane on the bone side. If it does, you would need to remove it as it will make the ribs tough to eat and the flavours will also not develop within the meat. This Youtube video from the BBQ Pit Boys will show you exactly how to remove the membrane:
The next thing is to smother your ribs with a dry rub. You can either make your own dry rub or you could use your favourite store-bought spice mix. Nowadays there are some really great dry rubs out there.
Put the trivet into the pot and pour in your liquid. You only need 330ml of liquid. Pop the ribs onto the trivet and seal your pot. Set to the high pressure setting for 20 minutes. If you do it for any longer your ribs will become pulled pork as it will not hold it’s shape.
Once the 20 minutes is up, let your pot do a Natural Pressure Release (NPR) before opening the lid. This can take between 10 and 20 minutes. It is important to leave meat to NPR as it relaxes the muscles and ensures that your ribs are tender.
Take care when lifting the ribs out of the pot. If your trivet has handles, lift your ribs out and carefully slide it onto an oven-proof sheet pan. Gently straighten it out so it lies meat-side up. Brush over your favourite BBQ sauce – my current go-to favourite is Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce – before placing under a hot grill for 5 minutes to caramelise.
What liquid can I use when making Instant Pot ribs?
Instant Pot ribs can be made successfully with virtually any clear liquid. You only need 330ml of clear liquid to make Instant Pot Ribs, making canned soft drinks ideal. Of course you can use just plain water, but some of my favourites include:
- Dr Pepper – this so far has been one of my favourites. I’ve done it with both the sugar and sugar-free types and both were delicious. I am, however, partial towards the sugary Dr Pepper.
- Cola – this is also good, but not as great as the Dr Pepper.
- Apple juice – this pairs so very well with the sweetness of the pork. We all know that apples and pork is a match made in heaven and for your ribs this will be no different.
- Beer – I quite like the flavour of beer in cooking (although I dislike the flavour when drinking it), however if you are going to use beer you are better off making your own BBQ sauce or use one that doesn’t contain whiskey! Those flavours clashed a little.
- Red wine – this was my least favourite of all. I really didn’t like it. Red wine is much better going with beef and not really made for pork.
- Apple cider – like apple juice, this has worked incredibly well and the meat came out flavoursome and juicy.
- Vegetable stock – this was also delicious. The flavour has been very subtle and therefore the pork flavour was much more pronounced when I used vegetable stock.
What do I do with the rib stock once cooking has finished?
Save it! The stock is so delicious and flavourful. You can use some of the stock to make your BBQ sauce. You can also freeze it into ice cubes and use it for the following:
- Adding to your soups as a stock base
- Making a risotto
- Replace the water with stock when cooking grains like rice and bulgur wheat
- Boil your potatoes and other root veg in stock.
Can you cook ribs from frozen?
Oh yes! I buy my ribs from Costco so normally you will get about 4 or 5 racks in a pack. This is naturally way too much for the two of us so I freeze the racks by folding them into a U-shape (see photo below) before placing in a freezer bag. This way I don’t have to defrost the racks and they still sit comfortably on the trivet in the Instant Pot. No need to adjust the time as the Instant Pot will do this for you by taking a bit longer to come to pressure. The only catch here is that you have to dry rub them before you freeze the racks. It will save you even more time on the day.
Fuss-free Instant Pot ribs
- 2 racks of pork spareribs
- 330ml clear liquid (Dr Pepper, Cola or Apple juice)
- ½ cup dry rub
- ½ cup BBQ sauce
- Place the trivet into your IP inner pot and pour in the liquid.
- Liberally cover the racks in the dry rub and place onto the trivet.
- Set the pressure cooker to High Pressure for 20 minutes.
- Once time is up, leave the pressure cooker to NPR.
- Carefully lift the ribs onto an oven tray (I use two pairs of tongs) and liberally smother with bbq sauce with the help of a pastry brush.
- Place under a very hot grill in the oven or on the bbq for 5 minutes until the outside is caramelised.
- Serve with chips, mac and cheese and coleslaw.
Try some of these delicious sides to go with your fuss-free pressure cooked pork ribs for a perfect Friday night stay-at-home date.
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I would love to know what is your favourite way of cooking/eating ribs? Please let me know in the comments. 🙂