Learn how to cook Tender & Juicy Instant Pot Spare Ribs (Pressure Cooker Spare Ribs) with few pantry ingredients. Super easy to make flavorful, sticky-sweet caramelized bbq pork spare ribs. So finger-licking deliciously good!
Ribs were the first dish we’ve experimented in our Instant Pot. And it definitely made a delicious first impression that kick-started our love journey with our Instant Pot! 😀
When you don’t have access to a smoker or grill, this hits the spot when you’re craving barbecue.
For the past years, we’ve been experimenting with various cuts of beef ribs and pork ribs in our Instant Pot Pressure Cookers. So we’re excited to share this easy Instant Pot Pork Spare Ribs recipe with you!
What are Spare Ribs?
The most common cuts of pork ribs are Spare Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, and St. Louis Style Ribs.
Spare Ribs are the cut of pork ribs from the bottom (belly side) of the rib cage (above the breast bone). The full slab of meat has straight & flat bones.
It’s meaty, tender, and packed with porky flavors. In comparison, Spare Ribs are longer and a bigger cut of meat than baby back ribs and St. Louis Style Ribs, while likely being the least expensive!
Optional - Trim Spare Ribs into St. Louis Style Ribs (see photos): With a sharp knife, remove the flap at the end of the spare ribs. Remove the skirt (strip of meat that runs diagonally on the backside). Separate the rib tips by making a horizontal cut. Try to fold the ribs lengthwise and you should find where the breastbone and cartilage are connected. *Pro Tip: Save all the meat you trimmed off for our next recipe.
Marinate Spare Ribs: Mix 1 tsp (3.2g) garlic powder, 1 tsp (3.8g) onion powder, and 2 tbsp (30ml) apple cider vinegar together. Brush the marinade all over the spare ribs. Generously season the spare ribs with ground black pepper and salt. Marinate ribs for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. *Pro Tip: The optimal marinating time is 1 - 2 hours. This allows the vinegar to tenderize the meat and let the salt penetrates the meat just a bit.
Pressure Cook Spare Ribs: Add 2 - 3 drops of liquid smoke to the Instant Pot (optional). Place 1 cup (250ml) of cold water and a steamer rack in Instant Pot. Place the marinated spare ribs on the rack. Close lid, then turn Venting Knob to Sealing position. Pressure Cook at High Pressure for 20 minutes (Tender with a bit of chew) to 25 minutes (Fall off the bone) + 15 minutes Natural Release. Release the remaining pressure, then open the lid.
Apply Sauce & Broil in Oven/Air Fryer: Carefully set the spare ribs on an oven tray or chopping board, then generously apply BBQ sauce all over the ribs on all sides. *Note: You can use an oven, toaster oven, Instant Pot Duo Crisp or Air Fryer Lid for this step.*Pro Tip: If you're using the Duo Crisp lid or Air Fryer lid, you'll need to cut the spare ribs into halves, then finish them in 2 batches. *Pro Tip: It's best to broil the spare ribs before cutting it into serving size to retain more moisture.Option 1 - Oven/Toaster Oven: Place the BBQ Spare Ribs on an oven tray under the "Broil" function (or the highest temperature setting) for a few minutes until the BBQ sauce is caramelized.Option 2 - Air Fryer Lid: Place air fryer basket with tray on the middle rack in Instant Pot. Layer ribs on air fryer tray in Instant Pot. Place the Air Fryer Lid on Instant Pot. Press "Airfry" button, set Temperature to 400°F and Cooking Time to 15 minutes. (It takes roughly 9 - 11 minutes + preheat time. You can open the lid to check the progress.) Air fry the second batch of spare ribs in Instant Pot.
Serve: Chop up the BBQ Spare Ribs to serving sizes. Serve these tasty BBQ Spare Ribs immediately! Enjoy~ 🙂
*Pro Tip: If you have a large oven, you can finish the spare ribs in one batch. If you’re using the Duo Crisp lid or Air Fryer lid, you’ll need to cut the spare ribs into halves, then finish them in 2 batches.
*Pro Tip: It’s best to broil the spare ribs before cutting it into serving size to retain more moisture.
Option 1 – Oven/Toaster Oven
Place the BBQ Spare Ribs on an oven tray under the “Broil” function (or the highest temperature setting) for a few minutes until the BBQ sauce is caramelized.
Option 2 – Air Fryer Lid
Place the air fryer basket with the tray on the middle rack in Instant Pot (as shown in the photo below).
Now, layer the spare ribs on the air fryer tray in Instant Pot.