My easy make-ahead tailgate Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs recipe is made first in a pressure cooker & then easily finished on the grill at your tailgate party. These ribs have 3 layers of major flavor: an easy dry rub for baby back ribs, faux-smoke created in the pressure cooker, & your favorite BBQ sauce slathered on the ribs just before serving. Your fall-apart tender & juicy ribs will be ready in less than 1-hour total time (mostly inactive) & they’re totally meal-prep friendly for weeknight cooking or weekend tailgate party prep!
Let’s talk about things that’ve gotta be suuuper intimidating, time-consuming & expensive.
Things like…making homemade ribs…& making sure they’re fall-off-the-bone tender…& flavorful…& juicy!…& serving them for a crowd at a game day party or tailgate this fall.
SUPER intimidating, right?
WRONG. Wrong, wrong, wrong!
I’ll be the first to admit that up until recently, I was right there with you. Ribs seemed like one of those things that just had to be SO complicated & difficult to make. But then I started playing around with making them in a pressure cooker & it was a total game-changer.
So that’s exactly what we’re doing today! We’re making the best recipe for pork ribs ever. They are seriously SO SO SO perfect. Because they take less than 60 minutes to make in a pressure cooker, we’ve been making them all summer long as an easy weeknight dinner. & you better believe we’ll be making pressure cooker ribs all football season long.
- super fast: you make them in 60 minutes or less with some pressure cooker magic! ✨
- super delish: thanks to a super flavorful dry rub & a smoky pressure cooker secret. ?
- super easy: if I can do it, you can do it – I promise!
- & the best part yet? so affordable: that’s where our friends ALDI swoop in to save the (game) day.
You know that I love me some ALDI. It’s my go-to grocery store, especially when it comes to entertaining – & game day parties & tailgates are no exception.
ALDI has an awesome assortment of meats (brats! chicken wings! baby back ribs!) and they have all of the prepackaged game-day staples you find yourself absolutely craving at kickoff (chips! dips! pizza! snacks!).
& my favorite part: ALDI has amazing prices that can help you stretch your dollar so much further, making it even easier to host a crowd without necessarily feeling it in your wallet. It means you can be a generous host – serving things like ribs! – without thinking twice about it.
How to make a dry rub for baby back ribs:
The first step to pressure cooker pork ribs is making a dry rub.
Using a dry rub for pork ribs is so important! It helps to impart flavor all throughout the cooking process. Unlike a marinade, the dry rub stays in contact with the meat, giving off tons of flavor. If you’re wondering how to season pork ribs…this is it!
My go-to dry rub recipe for pork is filled with brown sugar & spices that, when combined, give off tons of amazing sweet heat. To make my dry rub, you’ll need:
- brown sugar
- chili powder
- garlic powder
- smoked paprika
- black pepper
- & optional: some cayenne pepper for an extra kick of spiciness
Simply mix the sugar & spices together in a bowl & it’s ready to go! You can use the dry rub right away, or pop it in a jar to keep on your spice rack. It’ll stay fresh for up to 1 month.
How to cook ribs in a pressure cooker:
I’ll be the first to admit: this pressure cooker ribs recipe took some major testing to get it right. The first few tries ended with tough ribs…not acceptable!
After many many MANY batches of ribs, I’m happy to say I finally got cooking ribs in the pressure cooker down to a T.
The best method for pressure cooker baby back ribs is all about the pressure and the cooking time (more details on the cooking times below!) First, a quick overview on the process for this recipe for pork ribs. (Note: full directions provided in the Recipe Card, below.)
- Mix the dry rub. With brown sugar & tons of delish spices, my dry rub is sweet, savory, & smoky all at the same time.
- Prep the ribs. This step is vital: you need to remove the thin membrane (“silverskin”) from the back of the ribs. If you skip this step, the dry rub won’t penetrate the meat, resulting in ribs that are both tough & lacking in flavor. Sad, right?! Removing the silverskin from baby back ribs can seem a little intimidating at first, but it’s honestly super easy. I like to loosen it with the blunt end of a butter knife, & from there it peels right off. I have full instructions in the Recipe Card, below.
- Season the ribs. Once the silverskin has been removed, generously season the ribs with salt (lots of it!) and my dry rub for baby back ribs.
- Pressure cook the ribs. Time to get cooking! Fit your pressure cooker with the trivet/rack it came with, then set the rack of ribs right on top of it. You’ll add some water (and a secret ingredient!) to the bottom of the pressure cooker, & you’re ready to cook.
- Finish the ribs on the grill. Rather than cooking the ribs entirely on the grill (which can take a while) or entirely in the pressure cooker (which is great, but lacking in those addictively crispy, charred edges), this recipe combines the two for the best of both worlds. First, you pressure cook so the get nice & tender, then you toss them on the grill for some quick smoky char. While they’re grilling, brush them with your favorite BBQ sauce. Any tasty BBQ sauce will do – you can choose your favorite style: Kansas City, Memphis, Carolina – whatever you like best!
Breaking out Steps 4 & 5 is my secret for making these ribs make-ahead friendly. Ribs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “make-ahead” food, but this is one of my favorite parts of this recipe. You can pressure cook the ribs up to 3 days in advance, then finish them on the grill at your tailgate party, just before you’re ready to serve. To make ahead, prep the ribs through Step 4 of Recipe Directions. Check out the Recipe Notes, below, for the exact how-to!
The pwwb secret addition in this recipe for pork ribs!:
When it comes to cooking ribs, using a pressure cooker is a great way to cut cooking time & difficulty out of the equation. But! Making ribs the easy way doesn’t mean that you need to end up with ribs that are lacking in the flavor you develop when you cook them low & slow on a grill or smoker.
So that’s the big secret to this easy recipe for pork ribs: the ribs are “faux-smoked”!
I add a little bit of liquid smoke to the pressure cooking liquid. The pressure cooker will seal up & impart all that smoky flavor right into the ribs.
I swear, it’s the easiest way to “smoke” your meat, & I promise, it can be our secret.
How long to cook ribs in pressure cooker:
The most common question when it comes to pressure cooker ribs?: “How long to cook baby back ribs in pressure cooker?!”
The answer is simple. The secret to juicy & tender ribs lies in cooking with LOW pressure for 30 minutes.
In my research & testing for this pressure cooker baby back ribs recipe, I found that lots of other pressure cooker ribs recipes out there call for cook times closer to 20 minutes, using high pressure.
After testing countless times, I found the combination of short cook times & high pressure to yield ribs that were somehow fall-off-the-bone and tough & dry at the same time! Weird, right? So not ideal.
Using low pressure & a longer cook time (30 minutes) is truly the secret to keeping baby back ribs from drying out or getting tough in the pressure cooker.
And from there, all you have to do is serve them up on a platter at your next game day party & get ready for the compliments to pour on in. Best. Ribs. Ever!
I hope you give this faux smoked ribs recipe a try at your next tailgate party – I know you’ll love them!
If you do give them a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡
(Oh, & a pro tip: don’t forget to pack the wet wipes if you’re taking these tailgating!)Print
The BEST pressure cooker baby back ribs recipe! My dry rub for baby back ribs + a secret ingredient + perfected cooking time = the perfect juicy & tender ribs. You will love this recipe for pork ribs!
- 1 3-4-pound rack baby back pork ribs
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 cup water + 1 tablespoon liquid smoke
- for serving: Your favorite BBQ sauce of choice, potato salad, coleslaw, cornbread, etc.
for the dry rub:
- 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- optional: 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Mix the dry rub: Add all listed dry rub ingredients to a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside, or store in an airtight container on your spice rack for up to 1 month.
- Prep the baby back ribs: There will be a thin membrane on the back of the ribs (“silverskin”) that needs to be removed – otherwise the dry rub won’t penetrate the meat all around the ribs & your ribs will be difficult to chew! I find it’s easiest to use a butter knife (something with a blunt edge that is not sharp) to work the silverskin off the ribs in 1 spot. From there, slide your finger under the membrane & the silverskin should pull off very easily. Reference the photos provided in the blog post above if you need a visual. I also found this simple video tutorial to be very helpful!
- Season the ribs: Generously season the ribs all over with kosher salt, then sprinkle the dry rub all over the ribs, using your hands to lightly work the rub into the meat.
- Pressure cook the ribs: Add the water & liquid smoke mixture to the bowl of your electric pressure cooker. Fit the bowl with its trivet/rack. Place the prepared rack of ribs on the trivet/rack, bending as needed to fit into the bowl. Cover the pressure cooker, securely locking its lid into place & ensuring the vent is turned to its “sealing” position. Cook on low pressure for 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally for about 10 minutes (literally just leave the pot for 10 minutes!) before carefully flicking the vent to its “venting” position to allow any residual pressure to release. The ribs will hold to the bone but will have a great fall-apart tender texture – perfect! Carefully transfer the ribs to a baking sheet or serving platter.
- Optional: Grill the ribs: While the pressure cooker releases, preheat the grill to medium-high (approx. 600 degrees F). Grill the ribs over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side, brushing them with your favorite BBQ sauce the whole time. You don’t need to grill them very long, just enough to get some nice grill marks & smoky char.
- Serve the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce & BBQ sides. In our house, that’s cornbread, potato salad & coleslaw – YUM. Enjoy!
- Make ahead baby back ribs: Ribs might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “make-ahead” food, but this is one of my favorite parts of this recipe. You can make the ribs in advance, then finish them on the grill just before you’re ready to serve. To make ahead, prep the ribs through Step 4 of Recipe Directions. Allow to cool slightly before wrapping in foil & transferring to the refrigerator. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When you’re ready to serve, resume with Steps 5-6 of Recipe Directions. You may need to grill slightly longer, just to ensure the ribs are warmed all the way through.
- No grill? No worries! Rather than grilling ribs as described in Step 5, you can achieve the same effect with your broiler. Position the ribs on a rack about 6 inches under the broiler & broil on high for 3-4 minutes. Brush with sauce, flip & repeat. As always – when working with your broiler, keep a close eye on things to avoid flare ups!
Keywords: pressure cooker baby back ribs recipe, recipe for pork ribs, dry rub for baby back ribs
Need more Gameday snack inspiration? Here are more recipes to try!
- Buffalo Chicken Poppers: A twist on jalapeño poppers – sweet & a little spicy, the perfect size for snacking!
- Absolutely PERFECT Grilled Buffalo Wings: Crispy buffalo perfection. Made with just 3 simple ingredients, these grilled chicken wings could not be easier to make!
- Ridiculously easy and every cheese lover’s dream: No Knead Spicy Cheese Bread
- Deep Dish Vegan 7-Layer Dip: Tex-Mex flavors + 100% vegan & dairy free goodness!
- Buffalo Chicken Sliders : The perfect handheld snack or appetizer lunch!
- Your new favorite “just one more” tortilla chip dip: Smoky Chipotle Queso
- The Best Guacamole Ever. (Period.): Restaurant-quality guacamole every single time!
- & for a shareable sweet: Tahini Scotcheroos
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