This recipe for smoky Pressure Cooker Ribs requires two things: a pressure cooker and a smoker. Get perfectly tender, smoked ribs in under 2 hours, with minimal hands-on time. If you're a barbecue purist who doesn't like sauce on their ribs, you will love this recipe. If you're a bad pre-planner who wants last minute ribs, this one is for you.
EASY SMOKY PRESSURE COOKER RIBS
HOW TO PRESSURE COOK RIBS
There's no way to get around this--your ribs will be boiled. They won't be slow roasted, they won't be crispy, they will be boiled. But. They can still be very tasty and importantly, by following this recipe, you can have smoky, perfect ribs in 2 hours versus the 6-8 hours you might otherwise need to smoke them.
The slow smoking also crisps up some of the fat, so to me this is the best of both worlds--authentic smoked taste, as well as speed.
THE STEPS FOR THESE EASY SMOKY PRESSURE COOKER RIBS ARE:
I will say that I don't think your ribs should necessarily fall of the bone. They should be tender, and well-cooked. Falling off the bone means they're overdone and floppy and perhaps even a little mushy. If you like your ribs that way however, all you have to do is pressure cook them a little bit longer.
- Rub the ribs with your choice of seasoning. I used pre-made barbecue seasoning like this one, but you can also follow my recipe here for a mexican-seasoned rub.
- Cook ribs on a rack in your pressure cooker for 20 minutes HP, 10 mins NPR
- Smoke for an hour at 250F
BARBECUE SAUCE OR NO SAUCE
I've seen a lot of recipes for pressure cooker ribs and they look good--with one exception. Almost all of them ask you to first pressure cook the meat, and then slather sauce and broil them in the oven.
I'm a barbecue purist who doesn't like to coat her meat in barbecue sauce. I think when you make ribs or brisket, you should taste the meat, not the sauce. If you really want some sauce then I think you should serve it on the side, so as to not hide the taste of the meat. But that's just me.
HOW TO COOK RIBS
But how do you make ribs in a pressure cooker that taste smoky? I have an electric smoker that I absolutely love. I don't understand how I did keto and low carb for almost four years before getting a smoker. (Here's a post that tells you what I love about this smoker). It is however something that requires a little floor space.
One of my readers has a Nordicware smoker that she speaks highly of, and the reviews on Amazon look great as well, so perhaps that is an alternative if you have a smaller area in which to store a smoker.
But if you're trying to low carb, and want something that's easy, not fussy, and delicious, I would highly recommend a smoker. I basically just throw meat on there--and it comes out delicious. It's insane how easy this is.
HOW DOES SMOKING WORK?
I use hot smoke to cook my meats, which means the temperature is set to about 225F - 250F. I also use wood chips to add flavor and aroma. As the wood chips burn, they caramelize and release carbonyls, which add both flavor and aroma to the meat being cooked/smoked. Different wood chips have different levels of various compounds and sugar molecules, so they can all produce a different flavor.
At the risk of annoying purists, I will say that I haven't yet started to worry about that. I just pick the closest bag of wood chips, the meat that I want to smoke, and I have at it.
I'm sure I will experiment more carefully over time, but if you're starting out, I'm just saying even this slapdash method produces some of the best-tasting meat I've ever had.
If you've been intimidated by the thought of learning the art of smoking before trying it, here's what I did. I bought a highly-rated smoker and plugged it in. Then, I seasoned some meat with whatever sounded good and threw it in there. I had the best Mexican-seasoned pork shoulder I've ever eaten.
The only thing I read was this little Smoking Temperature Chart that shows you how long, what temperature, and what internal temperature you need. That's it. No manual, nothing. I tell you, it's idiot-proof.
DRY RUB FOR RIBS
Any meat going into the smoker, needs a dry rub. It adds another depth of flavor and the smoky taste makes the ribs taste devine. I used this dry rub for ribs that was already pre-made. If you want to use spices you already have sitting in your spice cabinet, look for spices that will marry with the smoky flavor. Look for garlic, onion, cumin, smoked paprika, pepper, and ancho chili powder. A little bit of brown sugar will add a touch of sweetness to balance the smoky flavors, and help caramelize the meat on the ends.
HOW TO COOK RIBS IN THE OVEN
If you don't have a smoker, no worries. You can still have smoky pork ribs, you will have to bake them in the oven. The smoky flavor will come from the dry rub you put on your ribs. You can also add liquid smoke to your barbecue sauce for an extra smoky flavor. I recommend letting the dry rib marinate at least 8 hours to infuse into the meat if you have planned ahead.
Turn your oven on 275 F. We're going for low and slow here. We will plan to cook the pork ribs about 2 hours for two pounds of meat. The first hour, cover the ribs with foil and bake to keep them from drying out. The second hour, remove the foil and bake, to allow the skin to caramelize. If you like your ribs more tender, bake another 20 minutes.
You can baste with barbecue sauce with liquid smoke if you prefer to intensify that smoky flavor. For a nice crisp outside, broil the ribs just until the top layer starts to blister. You don't want the rib meat to burn! Baste with additional barbecue sauce right before broiling if you desire.
WHAT TO COOK WITH RIBS
While the ribs are taking on that delicious smoky flavor, you can reuse your instant pot to make some sides to go alongside your pressure cooker ribs. I like to serve Instant Pot Rice and any vegetables you have at your disposal. Some Green Beans with Bacon!
Then you can serve your favorite barbecue sauce alongside your baby back pork ribs for the perfect dry to dip ratio. I'll let you determine that ratio.
This recipe makes a great dish for your Memorial Day cookout! You can see more great Memorial Day recipes in this post!
EQUIPMENT AND INGREDIENTS YOU MAY NEED:
Here's everything I used.
- Instant Pot Mini Duo or Instant Pot 6 quart or Instant Pot 8 Quart (I was able to fit a rack in my Mini! Just cut into four pieces)
- Steamer Rack
- Grilling Gloves which I actually also use in my kitchen instead of oven mitts
- Silicone mitts totally worth their low price
- Tongs that I also use in my kitchen
- Thermometer if your smoker doesn't come with a meat probe
- Measuring cups
- Grill/ barbecue rub
- Apple cider vinegar
- Wood chips for smoking inexpensive and essential for true smoked flavor
- Meat smoking temperature guide that is magnetic. I leave one on the grill and one on the fridge.
*DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE A STAR RATING!
- 1/4 - 1/2 cup (88 g) wood chips
- Turn on your smoker so it can preheat to 225F as you get everything else done.
- Place water and Apple cider vinegar in the inner liner of your pressure cooker
- On a steamer rack, place the four pieces of ribs standing up. Note, these fit in my Mini Duo Instant Pot!
- Season the ribs with a premade seasoning of your choice, or use my Mexican-spiced rub recipe.
- Cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, and allow pressure to release for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, release all remaining pressure.
- Place a cup of water in the water pan of your smoker.
- Add wood chips and allow the ribs to smoke for 30 mins to an hour until they are browned, and acquire a smoky flavor.
- Place the cooked ribs on the smoker rack.
- Allow to sit in the smoker for one hour at 250.
- Remove, and Serve. Brush with additional Barbecue Sauce if desired.
- Apply the dry rub the night before/morning before to allow that Mexican spice to penetrate the baby back pork ribs.
- Pressure cook and smoke the ribs before adding any sauce so you can taste the smokey meat. Add sauce on the side.
- If you like your ribs more tender, pressure cook them longer. I like my ribs tender, but not "falling off the bone," so I haven't tested this recipe cooking longer than written.
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