These Instant Pot Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs have a thick, sweet, and tangy homemade barbecue sauce made with mustard, brown sugar, and liquid smoke.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
You get all of the smoky, sweet and savory flavors and the tender, juicy meat that Memphis BBQ Ribs are famous for. But instead of cooking overnight in your smoker, you can use your Instant Pot to make a batch of tender ribs in a fraction of the time.
We love using our Instant Pot for cooking tough cuts of meat like ribs until they’re tender and delicious. We’ve tested our rib recipes to ensure that this recipe comes out deliciously every time.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED
Here’s what you need for these juicy Tennessee-style ribs:
- Pork ribs. Look for thick and meaty St. Louis-style ribs.
- Seasonings. Spice and sweeten your ribs with smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt.
- Cider vinegar. This adds a nice amount of acid and tang to liven up the rich BBQ sauce.
- Apple juice. For extra sweetness.
- Liquid smoke. We use the Hickory Smoke variety.
- Cornstarch. You’ll need this to thicken up the rib sauce.
- Ketchup. We like the Heinz brand.
- Worcestershire. This is the key to super savory, umami-rich barbecue sauce.
- Mustard. We use yellow mustard, but any kind will work.
How to Make Memphis-Style Ribs in an Instant Pot
First, prepare your ribs by patting them dry all over with a paper towel. Remove the membrane from your ribs. Then make your seasoning by combining the paprika, brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt in a small bowl.
Season the ribs all over with the spice blend, rubbing it thoroughly into the ribs. Stir together the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and liquid smoke in the pressure cooking pot. Add the seasoned ribs to the pressure cooker, then cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
If you’d like to finish the ribs under the broiler, preheat the broiler to 500°F and place a rack on the top of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray a broiler-safe wire rack, and place it over the baking sheet.
Release the Instant Pot pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. Transfer the ribs to the prepared wire rack with the meaty side up. Cover the ribs with foil to keep them warm.
Pour the liquid from the pressure cooker through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator or a tall glass or measuring cup. Remove the fat, which will float to the top of the container, and return the strained liquid to the pressure cooking pot.
In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water to make a paste. Select Sauté on the Instant Pot and the slurry to the pot, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Then stir in the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard. Remove the pot from the heat.
Spread about half of the sauce over the ribs on the wire rack. Place under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and coating the ribs. Remove the ribs from the oven and serve immediately with any remaining sauce on the side, or tent the ribs with foil until you’re ready to serve them.
Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Ribs
- If you have a store-bought Memphis-style dry rub you like, you can swap the spices in this recipe for ½ cup of your favorite seasoning.
- It’s key to pat the ribs very dry before you add them to the pressure cooking pot so they brown up nicely.
- You can skip the broiler step if you’re in a pinch, but it does help the sauce coat the ribs nicely.
- Note that the proper cook time will depend on how tender you like your ribs and how thick and meaty the ribs are. If your ribs are especially thick ribs, you’ll need to increase your cook time by a few minutes. If your ribs are a little on the lean side, you may want to take a few minutes off the cook time and check them.
Frequently Asked Questions about Memphis-Style Ribs
Memphis barbecue rubs the ribs in a spice blend before smoking them until tender. We use hickory-flavored liquid smoke here to help amp up the flavor, and serve the ribs with a thinner homemade barbecue sauce than you’d generally get from the store.
The best way to reheat your leftovers is to stick them on a baking sheet under the broiler for a few minutes. Be sure to keep a close eye on them, as broilers can get hot fast.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
While nothing compares to fresh-cooked ribs, you can freeze these ribs in a freezer-safe container for up to six months.
You can serve these juicy barbecued ribs with any of your favorite BBQ sides. We like cornbread, corn on the cob, slaw, or potato salad.
MORE Instant Pot Ribs Recipes
Try these other easy and delicious Instant Pot rib recipes next:
- Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs are perfect for a summer party! Make them ahead and then finish on the grill so they’re tender and and caramelized.
- Country-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs are thick, meaty, and a real treat for meat lovers.
- Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs have a sticky glaze that features island-like barbecue flavors.
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- 4 to 5 pounds meaty St. Louis–style pork ribs, well trimmed (1 to 2 racks; if using two racks, make sure the racks contain equally sized ribs so they cook evenly)
- 3 tablespoons smoked paprika (or regular paprika if you can’t find smoked)
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (We used Hickory)
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon cold water
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel and place them on a work surface. Peel the membrane off the back of the ribs.
- In a small bowl, combine paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic, and celery salt until well combined and no lumps remain.
- Liberally season the ribs on both sides with the spice mixture, rubbing it into the ribs.
- In the bottom of the pressure cooking pot, combine the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and liquid smoke.
- Coil the ribs to add them to the pressure cooker. (They’ll stand up vertically with the meaty side facing out toward the cooking pot.)
- Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and a 25 minute cook time.
- If you plan to finish the ribs in the broiler, place the oven rack on the top level, and preheat the broiler to 500F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray a wire rack with a generous amount of nonstick spray and place the rack on top of the foil-lined baking sheet.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
- Remove the ribs to the prepared wire rack, with the meaty side up. Cover with additional foil while you make the sauce.
- Pour the cooking liquid through a mesh strainer into a fat separator to remove the fat and any solids from the ribs. Return the strained liquids to the cooking pot.
- In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in cold water to make a slurry. Stirring constantly, add the slurry to the cooking pot. Select Saute and cook until the liquid thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard, and whisk until smooth. Remove the cooking pot from heat.
- Spoon about half of the sauce onto the top of the ribs. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken and bubble on the ribs. Watch closely while broiling. Remove from the oven. If needed, tent the meat with foil until ready to serve.
- Serve with additional sauce on the side.
Note: The cook time will depend on how tender you like your ribs and how thick and meaty the ribs are. If your ribs are especially thick, you’ll need to increase your cook time by a few minutes. If your ribs are a little on the lean side, you may want to take a few minutes off the cook time and check them.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 207Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 679mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 10g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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