Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner
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Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub

Baby back ribs with dry rub on a red plate, with an Instant Pot and a jar of dry rub in the background
Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub. Pressure cooker baby back ribs, Memphis style, with a spice rub and no sauce.

Then I’m walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale
Walking in Memphis
But do I really feel the way I feel?

Walking In Memphis – Marc Cohn

It’s time for Fourth of July Ribs from the Mississippi Delta. Dry ribs are a specialty of Memphis, and the signature dish at Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous These ribs are all about the dry rub. No sweet, sticky barbecue sauce allowed, just meat, smoke, and spices.

Now, this recipe is not Real Barbecue (he says, trying to head off the angry comments from Real Barbecue Purists). I’ve made hundreds of pounds of real barbecue in my day, and I love it. But, sometimes I just want some easy ribs, you know?

These ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender thanks to pressure cooking and my Instant Pot, and the smoke flavor comes from a little liquid smoke. I know I’m cheating, but these ribs are too good (and too easy) for me not to share.

Recipe: Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub

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Baby back ribs with dry rub on a red plate, with an Instant Pot and a jar of dry rub in the background

Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub. Pressure cooker baby back ribs, Memphis style, with a spice rub and no sauce.


  • 1 slab baby back ribs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional)

Memphis Dry Rub (or substitute 3 tablespoons of your favorite rub)

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder


  1. Remove the membrane from the ribs: On the bone side of the ribs, work a butter knife between the membrane and the bone, then grab with a paper towel and pull the membrane off of the ribs. (If it tears while you’re pulling, work the knife under the remaining pieces and pull them off as well.)
  2. Mix the Memphis rub: In a small bowl, stir the Memphis Dry Rub ingredients, breaking up any clumps of brown sugar with your fingers. Set aside 1 tablespoon of the dry rub.
  3. Season the ribs and put them in the pot: Sprinkle both sides of the ribs with the remaining rub (about 2 tablespoons). Cut the rib rack into 4 pieces, cutting between every third bone. Pour a cup of water and the liquid smoke into an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, then add the pressure cooker rack. Stack the ribs loosely on top of the rack.
  4. Pressure cook the ribs for 30 minutes with a Natural Pressure Release: Lock the lid and pressure cook at high pressure for 30 minutes in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker, or for 24 minutes in a stovetop PC. (Use “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode in an Instant Pot). Let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 more minutes.
  5. Second seasoning: Gently lift the ribs out of the pressure cooker and put them on a rimmed baking sheet, bone side down. Sprinkle the meaty side of the ribs with the remaining tablespoon of Memphis rub. You can serve the ribs as-is, or brown the ribs with an extra step…
  6. Broil the ribs (Optional): Put the baking sheet of ribs under a broiler set to high, and broil the ribs until they start to brown, about 5 minutes, depending on the strength of your broiler. Remove the ribs from the broiler, serve, and enjoy!


  • Don’t have a pressure cooker rack? That’s OK – just stack the ribs, bony side down, in the pressure cooker pot. The parts of the ribs that wind up in the water will be extra tender, but still good.
  • Can’t live without BBQ sauce? It’s not very Memphis of you, but if you insist, brush a layer of sauce on the ribs after adding cooking, and adding the remaining tablespoon of rub. (Or, use one of my with-sauce recipes in the Related Posts section, below.)


  • Category: Sunday Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub, Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs with Memphis Dry Rub

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Instant Pot Spare Ribs with BBQ Rub and Sauce
Pressure Cooker Baby Back Ribs
Instant Pot Baby Back Rib Sandwich (With Real Baby Back Ribs)
My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Sunday dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Stephanie says

    Thank you for this one, Mike. I just popped on your site, searching for a way to scratch the rib itch on a night we don’t have time to grill. I suspected you’d have my back, and indeed you do. So many of your recipes have become family favorites, and I’ll bet this one will too. Cheers to a tasty dinner even on the busy night!

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