Instant Pot Spare Ribs with Hoisin Glaze are the definition of fall-off-the-bone tender and the sticky, Asian glaze makes them finger licking good.
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Cooking the ribs in the Instant Pot, or any electric pressure cooker, is what renders them super tender and mouthwateringly delicious. I like to finish them with high heat—via the broiler, grill, or air fryer—to turn the sauce into an irresistible sticky, caramelized glaze.
The ribs are seasoned with Chinese 5-spice powder and brushed with a savory-sweet glaze made of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and other seasonings.
Air Fryer Ribs Vs. Instant Pot Ribs
I initially wanted to cook these ribs in the air fryer without having to pre-cook them. But after a few failed attempts, I accepted the truth: the Instant Pot is better for cooking ribs than the air fryer.
I researched and found a lot of recipes online that recommended cooking ribs in the air fryer for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. But even after 30 minutes, the meat was still too tough for my taste. Cooking them longer led to dried-out meat.
Instead, I decided to cook my ribs in the instant pot first and then finish them in the air fryer, under the broiler, or on the grill.
In just 30 minutes, these Instant Pot Spare Ribs were luscious and tender.
I brushed them generously with my Chinese style hoisin glaze and cooked them in the air fryer for 5 minutes, under the broiler for 5 minutes, or on the grill for 5 minutes. In all 3 cases, the ribs were PERFECT.
The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the sweet-savory hoisin glaze got nice and caramelized by the high heat of the air fryer, broiler, or grill.
What is the difference between baby back ribs, spare ribs, St. Louis style ribs, and country style ribs?
You can make this recipe with any type of pork ribs. I’ve used spare ribs here, but you can use St. Louis style ribs, country style ribs, or baby back ribs, too. What’s the difference? I’m glad you asked!
- Baby back ribs are the ribs that attach to the pig’s spine. They are small (hence, “baby”) and are found on the back of the pig (hence “back”). They are smaller and leaner than spare ribs. You can tell baby back ribs because the bone is bent, while spare ribs are straight.
- Spare ribs are from the pig’s sides, extending towards the pig’s breast plate. Spare ribs have straight bones and are meatier and fattier.
- St Louis style ribs are the same part of the pig as spare ribs, they are just trimmed a little more, with the tips and cartilage cut off, making them shorter than “regular” spare ribs.
- Country style ribs aren’t even really ribs. They come from the top of the pig’s shoulder. Technically, they are actually chops, not ribs. They are extra meaty, with a higher meat-to-bone ratio.
How do you prepare the ribs before cooking?
If you buy St. Louis style ribs, they will already be trimmed nicely, but otherwise, you may want to trim off the pointy ends and any cartilage or other unsightly bits.
If the membrane, also called the silverskin, is still attached to the underside of the ribs, you’ll want to remove it. It’s easy to do.
Just slide a knife under the membrane in one corner and separate enough of it to give you something to grab onto. Then you can easily pull the membrane completely off.
When cooking ribs in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to cut the rack in half to fit it in the pot. Just stand the rack on its side and run your knife down the side of one of the ribs right in the middle of the rack.
Some people like to cut the whole rack into individual ribs, which is fine. I don’t do it because I am lazy! But doing it does give you more surface area to drench in the mouthwatering sauce.
To separate the ribs, just make sure you cut on the same side of the bone each time so that each rib ends up with its fair share of meat attached.
What ingredients do you need?
These Instant Pot spare ribs use only 8 ingredients! And all but the ribs are pantry staples.
- Spare ribs or baby back ribs
- Chinese 5-Spice Powder
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Hoisin sauce
- Chile paste
- Sesame seeds (optional)
How do you make them?
These ribs are so easy to make! Here’s how:
- Cut the rack of ribs in half and season with salt and 5-spice powder.
- Place a rack in the bottom of your instant pot and add water and soy sauce.
- Arrange the two halves of the rib rack in the Instant Pot, on top of the rack, standing on their edges.
- Cover and seal the pot. Pressure cook for 30 minutes and then let the pressure release naturally.
- Make the sauce by stirring the sauce ingredients together. Brush the sauce on the ribs and then finish under the broiler, on the grill, or in an air fryer.
What do you serve with them?
I love to serve a simple coleslaw and coconut rice along with my Hoisin Glazed Spare Ribs.
More Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love
- Instant Pot Thai Chicken Curry
- Instant Pot Mulligatawny Soup
- Instant Pot Beef Pho
- Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric
- Instant Pot Refried Beans
- Instant Pot Duck Confit
For the ribs
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 2 ½ to 3 pound ribs
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup water
For the glaze
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chile paste
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish (optional)
- Trim the ribs and remove the membrane if necessary. Cut the rack of ribs in half and then season all over with the salt and 5 spice powder.
- Put the rack in the bottom of a 6-quart Instant Pot and add the ½ cup soy sauce and ½ cup water in the bottom.
- Place the two halves of the rack of ribs on top of the rack in the Instant Pot, standing on their sides. Cover and seal the pot and pressure cook for 30 minutes.
- Once the cooking time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure and remove the ribs from the pot.
- Make the sauce by stirring together the hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, chile paste, and honey. Brush the sauce all over the ribs.
- Finish the ribs in the air fryer at 380ºF for 5 minutes or under the broiler or on the grill over high heat for about 5 minutes. Brush on sauce and then cook for 5 more minutes.
- To serve, cut the ribs apart and serve with extra sauce, if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using.
Amount Per Serving Calories 1361Total Fat 107gSaturated Fat 32gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 48gCholesterol 358mgSodium 3012mgCarbohydrates 27gFiber 1gSugar 22gProtein 75g
Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.