Dinner in an Instant

 Instant Pot BBQ Pork Ribs by Jo Cooks 

The Instant Pot can cook almost anything, but even if all it could make were these amazing ribs it would still be worth having.


Joanna Cismaru runs the awesome blog Jo Cooks, specializing in quick, simple comfort foods. Her recipes have been featured everywhere from Good Housekeeping to Better Homes & Gardens to The Washington PostNot too long ago she got an Instant Pot, and since then has been experimenting with developing Instant Pot versions of some classic dishes.  

About a month after she started using the Instant Pot, she posted a recipe for BBQ Pork Ribs that exemplifies one of the worst kept secrets about the cooker: it makes amazing ribs! 

Are Instant Pot ribs really that good?

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! 

Take another look at Jo’s BBQ Ribs. Don’t they look amazing? 

Come on, there’s no way Instant Pot ribs are better than BBQ

Okay look, if you’re a competitive pit master you may not be immediately converted by an Instant Pot. Then again, you probably don’t mind spending most of your weekend babysitting your smoker while your ribs cook to tender perfection. But for most of us, a craving for a rack of ribs will send us to a restaurant, because it’s just too much time and effort to cook them at home.  

To cook perfect ribs on a BBQ, in a smoker, or even in the oven, it takes hours and hours, and you need to be there, lurking, ever-ready to smear them with fresh sauce to keep them from drying out. 

To cook perfect ribs in an Instant Pot you need about an hour, during which you can be off doing whatever you want, safe in the knowledge that your cooker is doing its quick, efficient, delicious work without you. 

And the best part is, especially if you finish them off on a grill to get those nice sear marks, nobody will be able to tell the differenceIf anything, odds are they’ll prefer the Instant Pot ribs because there won’t be a speck of soot or charring on them, and every nibble of meat will be cooked to a uniform soft, juicy perfection. 

So again we say yes, ribs cooked in an Instant Pot are better than BBQ. 

Why is the Instant Pot so good for ribs?

The secret to pressure cooked ribs is the high, wet heat. Stay with us here. A BBQ, oven, or smoker can get hot, but the dry heat tends to cook the moisture out of whatever is on the grill. This is especially noticeable during long cooking times, and is the main reason that ribs cooked on a grill need to be attended to so frequently. 

Inside the Instant Pot, steam pressure makes the internal temperature rise higher than the boiling point, and because the cooker is fully sealed, almost every drop of moisture is retained. The high temperature works quickly and effectively, breaking down meat’s tough proteins and intramuscular fats. This makes tougher cuts, like ribs, the ideal food to cook in the Instant Pot 

With other techniques, the combination of time and using a lower heat prevents too much dehydration and tenderizes the meat. But this can take hours, if not all day! In an Instant Pot, it only takes minutes to achieve the same fall-off-the-bone result.  

Plus it doesn’t matter if you’re cooking a rib or rackthe time and technique is the same, and the results will always be predictably perfect. Every. Time. 

It’ll take you about an hour between pulling your ribs out of the fridge and taking your first bite. 

Fully cooked ribs in an hour? And they taste amazing? Come on, you’re exaggerating, right?

We don’t joke about meatOne hour, start to finish. That’s it. 


That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you! 

Is it just me, or do ribs from the Instant Pot taste better, too?

It’s not just you. Part moisture, part technique, there are a number of reasons why Instant Pot ribs are so vibrant and tasty.  

First, the liquid you use to cook the meat can impart an extra depth of flavor you just can’t get from BBQInstead of using plain water to create steam, Jo uses apple juice. It’s the perfect flavor match, but certainly not your only option. Try something like broth, or even a light beer, to generate some serious flavor.  

The airtight environment of the Instant Pot traps vitamins, nutrients, flavors and aromas inside the meat instead of literally sending them up in smoke. This allows flavors to develop quickly and with greater depth than when using other cooking methods. 

Okay, so what’s the technique?

Jo’s recipe for BBQ ribs is one of thousands of Instant Pot ribs recipes you can find online, but hers is great not only because it’s easy to follow, has simple ingredients and gorgeous photos – plus her own whiskey sauce! – it also showcases a textbook technique for pressure cooking ribs. 

Prepare the meat

Like traditional ribs, it begins with preparation. Show it a little love by trimming excess fat from the raw ribs and removing membranes. Jo’s description gives some great directions for how to do this:  

  1. Slide a dinner knife under the membrane and over a bone starting at one end of the rack. 
  2. Lift and loosen the membrane until it tears. 
  3. Grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off. 
  4. The membrane should come off in one whole piece.

What she fails to mention is that it’s kind of fun, too! 

Dry rub

Seasoning with a dry rub of spices sets the stage for the instantly recognizable taste of a nice rack of ribs. Jo’s rub recipe is awesome, but here’s where you can play around with different spices to create your own signature flavor. 

You can let the meat sit to absorb the dry rub if you wish, but it’s not essential. The pressure cooker ensures that your ingredients aren’t going anywhere except into the meat, so your spices will retain their essence whether you let them sit or if you pop your meal into the Instant Pot right away. 

Prepare the Instant Pot

Add a cup of liquid to the inner pot. Remember, you could use water, but we strongly recommend trying something that will add a little flavor boost. You can never go wrong with Jo’s recipe using apple juice, which works great, but you could use chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, beer, wine, or another flavorful water-based liquid. It will affect the taste of the ribs, so pick something you like and run with it! 

One caveat—we recommend avoiding particularly sugary, creamy or starchy sauces. Sugar, starch and cream can crystalize, settle or scorch on the bottom of the inner pot, and may trigger the Overheat Protection safety mechanism, also known as the burn warning. 
Instant TipAdd more flavor to your Instant Pot dishes by experimenting with different liquids.

Trivet or no trivet?

Jo’s recipe says to curl the ribs into a circle and set them on their side inside the inner pot, sitting in the cooking liquid. This method works, but also runs the risk of sticking to the hot bottom and could potentially trigger a burn warning. 

To prevent this from ever happeningput the stainless steel steam rack that came with your Instant Pot in first, then set the ribs on top of it. We recommend adding this step in any recipe where large pieces of meat would otherwise come into direct contact with the bottom of the inner pot. 
Instant TipUse a trivet to keep meat from overheating on the bottom of the pot.

Set it

Put the inner pot into the cooker base, close the lid and set the Steam Release to “Seal. Then, set the Meat/Stew Smart Program for 20 minutes, and walk away. 

Forget it

Maybe don’t actually forget it, but feel free to go do something fun for the next 45 minutes or so. During this time you can make the BBQ sauce like Jo prescribes, or whatever! Paint, nap, read, catch up on your Netflix. For 45 minutes, the world is your oyster—this is your time, embrace it. 

Instant TipThe Free Me Time is a big part of what Instant Pot cooking is all about. Use it to prepare other parts of your meal distraction-free, spend time with the family, or whatever you want!

“But wait!” You ask, “Why am I waiting for 45 minutes when I set the timer for 20?  

Much like an oven might, the Instant Pot needs to pre-heat. With the minimal amount of liquid in Jo’s recipe, it will take about 10 minutes to pre-heatThen, when the float valve pops up and the cooker pressurizes, your 20-minute cooking program begins. Once cooking completes, the cooker must depressurize before you open it.  

All in all, cooking time is about 45 minutes, which is a whole lot faster than any other way to cook ribs.  

Natural Release (NR)

When it comes to releasing the pressure, we recommend NR to give the juices in the meat time to cool down slowly – remember, they’ve been hotter than boiling for the past 20 minutes – so evaporation doesn’t rob you of all the moistureretaining benefits of pressure cooking 
Instant TipUse Natural Release for meats like chicken, pork, or beef to let the juices settle and cool down.

As Jo points out, it should take about 15 minutes for the pressure to naturally release and the float valve to drop before the Instant Pot is ready to open. 

Glaze and Broil

You could just remove the ribs from the Instant Pot and enjoy them while hunched over the counter dribbling rib juice down your shirt, and we wouldn’t blame you, but the pros know that this next step will take your meal from great to oh-my-good-gravy-this-is-amazing in about 5 minutes. 

First, carefully remove the ribs from the Instant Pot with some tongs. Lay them on a foil-lined baking tray, and brush on a generous dollop of BBQ sauce. Go on, smear it around. Do both sides, it’s all good. 

Next, pop them into the oven under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. Use your eyes to judge when they’re done: you want the sugar in the sauce to start to crystallize, but be sure to pull them out before it burns.  

You know what to do next

Your ribs are done! You know what to do. 

If you loved these ribs as much as we did, be sure to go to Jo’s site and send her a thank you note! Just wash your hands before you start typing—we can’t be held responsible for sticky keyboards. 

Rate it!

While you’re on Jo’s site letting her know how much you liked her recipe, why not rate it? This is a great habit to get into when you try an online recipe. Not only does let the blogger who made the recipe know they’re doing a good job, it helps other home cooks find these hidden gems. 

We’re gonna go out on a limb and predict you’ll be giving Jo’s BBQ Ribs 5-starsMost people do! 
Instant TipAlways rate recipes!

And be sure to check out all of Jo’s other Instant Pot recipesIt’s diamond mine for recipes. 


By: Joanna Cismaru

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Servings: 8
  • Calories: 491kcal

For Dry Rub

  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin ground
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper ground
  • 2 tsp salt

For Ribs

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 3 to 4 lbs)
  • 4 cups apple juice
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp liquid smoke

For BBQ Sauce

  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce store bought
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  1. Prepare the dry rub by combining all the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs with a paper towel.
  3. Season the baby back ribs with the dry rub generously on both sides.
  4. Place the ribs inside the Instant Pot, standing up and wrapping around the Instant Pot.
  5. Pour the apple juice, apple cider vinegar and liquid smoke inside the Instant pot, no need to stir. Close the lid (follow the manufacturer’s guide for instructions on how to close the instant pot lid). Set the Instant Pot to the Meat/Stew setting and set the timer to 20 minutes.
  6. Once the Instant Pot cycle is complete, wait until the natural release cycle is complete, should take about 15 minutes. Follow the manufacturer’s guide for quick release, if in a rush. Carefully unlock and remove the lid from the instant pot.
  7. While the ribs are cooking prepare the BBQ sauce. In a small saucepan add all the BBQ sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer on low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, the sauce should reduce a bit.
  8. Carefully remove the ribs from the Instant Pot and place them onto a baking sheet. Brush them generously with the prepared BBQ sauce on both sides and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes. Keep the door to your oven open while broiling the ribs and keep an eye on them, because they could burn quickly.
  9. Serve with leftover BBQ sauce.
For nutritional and other information about this recipe, view it on Jo Cooks.

What can I serve with these wicked ribs? 

While it might be tempting to have a dinner that’s nothing but ribs, you may want to consider a few sides and maybe even a dessert to make it a proper meal. May we suggest the following? 

What else has Jo got?

Jo Cooks has tons of recipes, including lots more for the Instant Pot. Here are her Instant Pot versions of some classic dishes to try:  

What’s the next Dinner in an Instant?

There are so many amazing cooks out there creating incredible meals in the Instant Pot. Dinner in an Instant is where we showcase some of them, using their recipes as a way to pass on pro tips and tricks to help you cook better with your Instant Pot.  

Are you a blogger with a great Instant Pot recipe you want to share?  

Contact us at dinner@instantbrands.com

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