These Instant Pot Hawaiian Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs are flavored with pineapple juice, brown sugar, and soy sauce for a punchy, tangy dish the entire family will love.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
This is an easy and crowd-pleasing recipe that’s sweet, tangy, salty, and savory. It’s great for feeding a crowd and you can easily make it ahead of time.
I adapted it for the pressure cooker to ensure that the ribs cook up tender, with just the right amount of liquid for juicy ribs and a spoonable sauce.
We always serve these tangy ribs with fresh pineapple, steamed veggies, and rice for a complete dinner. You can make foolproof rice in the Instant Pot using this recipe for white rice or this one for brown rice.
I first made this recipe for a Scout dinner using a friend’s Polynesian Country Style Sweet and Sour Ribs. The recipe was easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and a wonderful way to feed a crowd; so that’s what we served those hungry boys and their families.
Update: I love making this whenever I’m feeding a crowd, so I’ve updated the post with new tips and photos to help you make the best ribs every time. Enjoy!
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED FOR COUNTRY STYLE SPARE RIBS
Here’s what you need for the best sweet and sour spare ribs:
- Pork ribs. We use boneless country-style pork ribs.
- Pineapple juice. You can use canned or bottled.
- Vinegar. We use white vinegar to balance the sweetness of the pineapple
- Brown sugar. Dark and light both work well.
- Soy sauce. This adds some nice savory, salty flavor.
- Dry mustard. Look for this in the spice aisle.
- Garlic and ginger. For some fresh aromatics. If you’re sensitive to heat, you may prefer to substitute a small amount of dried ginger instead.
- Cornstarch. This thickens up the sauce to coat the ribs.
How to Make Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs in an Instant Pot
Start by seasoning the ribs well with salt and pepper. Then preheat the pressure cooking pot using Sauté and heat the oil. When the oil is hot, sear the ribs on all sides until they’re nicely browned. Work in batches to avoid crowding the pot, and transfer the ribs to a plate.
Next, add the pineapple juice and deglaze by scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, salt, garlic, and ginger, then return the ribs to the pot.
Add the lid and cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then finish with a quick pressure release. Remove the lid and use tongs to transfer the ribs to a plate, covered with foil to keep them warm.
At this point, you can de-fat the sauce by using a fat separator or a turkey baster. In a separate bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Add the slurry to the pot. Then select Sauté and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
Turn off the Instant Pot and return the ribs to the pot. Stir to coat the ribs in the sauce, then add the lid and let the ribs simply sit and absorb some of the sauce for about 10 minutes. If the sauce is still bubbling, be sure to stir it a few times to prevent burning.
Important Tips for Making Sweet and Sour Ribs
Browning the meat is a key first step for building the best flavor in the dish. You get all that delicious caramelization, plus the ribs will take on a nice crisp texture on the outside. If you’re in a real time crunch, however, you can skip this step.
We like to use boneless ribs for this recipe whenever we can find them, but bone-in works just as well.
Waiting 10 minutes for the ribs to absorb the sauce after cooking is another important step to make sure your ribs are as juicy and flavorful as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hawaiian Style Spare Ribs
So boneless pork spare ribs and boneless country-style ribs can be used interchangeably in this recipe. (Neither one of these “boneless” options are actually ribs!)
Bone-in country-style pork ribs may also be used in this recipe with no change to the cook time.
Store cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
While I prefer to cook the ribs fresh, you can freeze them if you like for up to four months in an airtight freezer-safe container.
To reheat, place in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, then transfer to a deep oven-safe dish. (If you’re making this in a 6-quart, I like to use a 3-quart pressure cooking pot.) Place 1 cup water in the bottom and place the oven-safe dish on a trivet. Reheat at high pressure for a minute or two until the ribs are heated through.
If you like some spice, you can add hot pepper flakes to the Instant Pot with the other seasonings.
MORE Island-Themed Recipes
If you’re loving these Hawaiian flavors, try these other tropical recipes next:
- Hawaiian Meatballs are tangy, thanks to pineapple and teriyaki sauce, and made with lean turkey.
- Shortcut Kalua Pork is a favorite for summer parties because it’s easy for a crowd and so delicious.
- Hawaiian BBQ Chicken has a bit more sweetness than traditional BBQ chicken, thanks to the fruity sauce.
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- 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs*
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more if needed
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- Cooked white rice or brown rice for serving
- Generously salt and pepper the pork ribs to taste. Select Saute and add 1 tablespoon oil to the cooking pot. When oil is hot, brown pork ribs on all sides. Work in batches so you don't crowd the pressure cooker. Remove ribs to a platter when browned.
- Add the pineapple juice to pressure cooking pot and scrape the bottom of the cooking pot to ensure no browned bits remain. Add vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, mustard, salt, garlic and ginger to pressure cooking pot and stir to combine. Add ribs and any accumulated juices.
- Lock lid in place, select High Pressure and 20 minutes cooking time. 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.
- With tongs, remove ribs to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. If desired, use a fat separator to separate the fat from the juices. Return juices to the cooking pot.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water. Add to juices in the cooking pot. Select Saute and bring to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Turn pressure cooker off.
- Add ribs and stir to coat with the sauce. Put the lid back on the pressure cooker and let the ribs absorb some of the sauce for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally if sauce is still bubbling.
- Serve the ribs over prepared rice, with extra sauce to taste.
*Can use boneless spare ribs and boneless country-style pork ribs in this recipe, since these "boneless" ribs aren't actually ribs at all. You can also substitute bone-in country-style pork ribs.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 733Total Fat: 44gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 218mgSodium: 680mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 62g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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