Baby back ribs are a barbecue staple. There are many ways to prepare them, but the general rule is to cook them low and slow to achieve tender, fall-off-the bone meat that’s full of flavor. And unless you own an outdoor smoker, that usually means cooking ribs for several hours in the oven on low heat. But who wants to heat up the oven for hours at a time when it’s 100 degrees outside?
I turned to my Instant Pot to create a rib recipe that turns out tender, flavorful, ribs in a fraction of the time without heating up the oven. The ribs are seasoned with a smoky dry rub before they go in the Instant Pot, where the flavor gets infused into the meat under high pressure. They can be eaten straight out of the Instant Pot, but finishing them on the grill takes the flavor to the next level.
This recipe is written for 1 (approximately 3 lb) rack of ribs, but can easily be increased for multiple racks. Although the list of ingredients looks long, most of it is just the seasonings for the rub. These are actually fairly easy to make, are great for feeding a crowd and most of the work can be done in advance. Pressure cook the ribs up to a day ahead of time, wrap them in aluminum foil and keep them in the fridge until it’s almost time to eat. They just need a few minutes on a super hot grill to heat them through and get a little bit of char-grilled flavor.
I like to pair these ribs with my low-carb white barbecue sauce. It’s much different than sweet tomato based barbecue sauces, but the tangy sharp flavor goes great with smoked pork (or chicken, or anything else you want to dip in it). Like the ribs, the sauce can be made in advance and actually tastes better if it’s had some time for the flavors to meld. The recipe makes about 14 servings of sauce so any leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
Baby back ribs are a bit high on the fat and calories, especially when served with the sauce, but that also makes them extremely filling. I find that 2 or 3 ribs are plenty and I usually serve these with light side dishes like a green veggie salad and fresh berries.
Yields 5 servings of Baby Back Ribs and 14 servings of White Barbecue Sauce
For the Ribs
- 1 rack (3-lbs) baby back ribs
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
For the Rub
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
For the Barbecue Sauce
- 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Swerve (or preferred sweetener)
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1. Mix all the ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl. Set aside. Rinse the ribs with cold water and pat dry.
2. Remove the silver skin from the back side of the ribs. Insert the tip of a sharp knife under the skin to get it started. The rest should pull off in one large piece.
3. Season the ribs, front and back, with the spice rub. Sprinkle about 1-1 ½ tablespoons of spice rub on each side and rub into the meat until well coated.
4. Add the water, apple cider vinegar, and liquid smoke to the bottom of the Instant Pot bowl. Insert the trivet into the bowl as well. Add the ribs to pot, curling them around to fit below the max fill line.
5. Seal the Instant Pot vent and cook on the Manual High setting for 35 minutes. Allow the steam to natural release. Add all the sauce ingredients to a medium size container. Whisk or blend everything together (a wide-mouth mason jar and immersion blender works well). Store the sauce in the fridge for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to combine.
7. Preheat the grill to 450°F degrees. Grill the ribs on each side until a bit crispy and heated through, about 6 minutes per side.
8. Serve the ribs with the sauce.
The rub recipe listed makes enough for approximately one large rack of ribs. It can be increased according to how many racks you’re making at a time.
Depending on the size of your racks you should be able to fit 2 into the pot at a time. If cooking more than 2 racks you may need to cook them in stages.
The ribs can be cooked in the Instant Pot in advance, wrapped in foil and kept in the fridge up to a day in advance. When ready to eat they can be heated through and finished on the grill.
A wide mouth mason jar works well to blend the barbecue sauce ingredients if using an immersion blender. Any leftover sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.
This makes a total of 5 servings of Instant Pot Ribs with White Barbecue Sauce. Each serving comes out to be 645.83 Calories, 42.76g Fats, 2.38g Net Carbs, and 57.34g Protein.
|Instant Pot Ribs with White Barbecue Sauce||Calories||Fats(g)||Carbs(g)||Fiber(g)||Net Carbs(g)||Protein(g)|
|1 rack (3-lbs) baby back ribs||2312||122.8||0||0||0||281.66|
|½ cup apple cider vinegar||25||0||1.11||0||1.11||0|
|2 teaspoons liquid smoke||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|1 tablespoon paprika||19||0.88||3.67||2.4||1.27||0.96|
|½ tablespoon garlic powder||16||0.04||3.53||0.4||3.13||0.8|
|½ tablespoon onion powder||12||0.04||2.73||0.5||2.23||0.36|
|½ teaspoon black pepper||3||0.04||0.74||0.3||0.44||0.12|
|½ tablespoon chili powder||11||0.57||1.99||1.4||0.59||0.54|
|½ tablespoon cumin||11||0.67||1.33||0.3||1.03||0.53|
|½ teaspoon cayenne pepper||3||0.16||0.51||0.2||0.31||0.11|
|½ teaspoon dry mustard||5||0.36||0.28||0.1||0.18||0.26|
|White Barbecue Sauce|
|1 ½ cup mayonnaise||2244||247||1.88||0||1.88||3.17|
|1 tablespoon dijon mustard||15||0||0||0||0||0|
|1 teaspoon black pepper||6||0.07||1.47||0.6||0.87||0.24|
|1 teaspoon garlic, minced||4||0.01||0.93||0.1||0.83||0.18|
|2 tablespoons Swerve||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|2 teaspoons prepared horseradish||5||0.07||1.13||0.3||0.83||0.12|
|Per Serving with Ribs||645.83||42.76||3.57||1.19||2.38||57.34|