Barbecue Ribs

5 from 2 reviews

Tender, fall off the bone ribs with a caramelized barbecue sauce is so delicious any time of year, whether you’re craving comfort food in the colder months, or having barbecues in the warmer months.


  • 1 rack of ribs (either baby back or St. Lois cut)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce

Spice Rub:

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preparing the Ribs

  1. Both baby back ribs or St. Lois style ribs (sometimes called spare ribfor this recipe. To prepare the ribs, trim off excess fat, if needed.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the spice rub together. Sprinkle the spice rub on both sides of the rib rack and rub it in well all over.

Oven Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the rib rack on the prepared baking sheet and cover very tightly with aluminum foil. This will create steam while the ribs are roasting and ensure that the meat is juicy and moist. If you notice that there isn’t any steam during the roasting, add up to 1/4 cup water to the baking sheet.
  3. Bake for about 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.

Instant Pot Method

  1. Place the steaming rack inside the Instant Pot and pour in 1 cup water.  Put the seasoned rib rack on top on the steaming rack.
  2. Close the Instant Pot and cook on Manual mode, High Pressure, for 40 minutes. Baby back ribs don’t have as much meat on them as spare ribs, so they don’t take as long to cook. If you are using spare ribs or are cooking 2 racks of ribs at the same time, you can increase the cooking time to 45 minutes.
  3. Naturally release the pressure.

Slow Cooker Method

  1. Double the amount of barbecue sauce for the recipe. Brush the seasoned rib rack with barbecue sauce on both sides and place the rib rack inside the slow cooker. Reserve the remaining barbecue sauce to brush on the ribs later.
  2. Pour in 1/4 cup of water into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or 3-5 hours on high, depending on the size of the ribs and how many racks you are cooking.

Broiling the Barbecue Ribs

  1. When the ribs are ready, take them out of the pressure cooker. Depending on how tender you want the ribs to be, they will be either soft but holding together, or so tender, they are falling off the bone. Be really careful when taking them out of the Instant Pot/Slow Cooker so they don’t fall apart.
  2. Brush the rib rack(with barbecue sauce on both sides, and put them on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. (If you cooked the ribs in the oven, just keep them on the same baking sheet.) Cook the ribs under the broiler, on the high rack of the oven, for about 3-5 minutes, until caramelized and charred in spots.

Grilling the Ribs:

  1. There are several ways to cook the prepared ribs – the oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot and then, instead of broiling the ribs, place them on the grill for 5-8 minutes on high heat. Preheat the grill for about 15 minutes first, place the ribs on the grill and then brush them with more barbecue sauce.
  2. Grill the ribs on one or both sides (be careful when handling so the ribs don’t fall apart), uncovered, until the ribs are caramelized and charred in spots.

Serving the Barbecue Ribs

  1. Let the ribs rest for about 10 minutes, tenting loosely with aluminum foil, if you’re going to be serving them right away. You can keep them warm in an oven at 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit, covered loosely with foil, for up to 30 minutes. Cut ribs between bones to separate, and serve, with the option of more barbecue sauce.

Make Ahead:

  1. The seasoned ribs can be refrigerated for 1-2 days ahead of time.
  2. You can also cook them all the way through in the oven, Instant Pot or slow cooker, then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just reheat it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven until warm and then continue with the broiling. You can also reheat on medium heat on the grill, covered, then on high heat, uncovered, after the ribs are warmed through, to caramelize.


It is very easy to double the recipe. Two racks usually fit easily into one Instant Pot, slow cooker or baking pan.