These Easy Spare Ribs Have My One True “Secret” Ingredient

Instant Pot Spare Ribs

I realize that most of the recipes I post on here seem to come from my mom’s recipe files, but what can I say? They are all “tried and true,” not only by Mom herself, but by me as well! I’ve been making many of them for my own family for over 30 years now.

Because my mom’s recipes have been such a fixture throughout my life, it feels especially meaningful to be able to share them with you. And today I have another of my mom’s recipes to share—super easy and delicious spare ribs (with a super secret twist!)

These spare ribs are great because they’re packed with delicious barbecue flavors, but don’t require you to use a barbecue or grill. I make them in my Instant Pot, which makes this meal so fast and easy! But honestly, the thing that really makes these spare ribs special is the sauce, which contains an honest-to-goodness “secret ingredient” that I refused to reveal to my kids for years!

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Instant Pot Spare Ribs

The secrecy started back when my kids were going through that “fun stage” (not!) of refusing to eat any and all unfamiliar ingredients. I knew without a doubt that they would refuse to eat the spare ribs if they knew about the “secret ingredient” in the sauce, which, oddly enough, is a container of prunes baby food!

The prunes add a delicious sweetness and depth of flavor to the sauce and make the finished ribs deliciously sticky. I did eventually let the kids in on the secret once they had gotten a bit older, and by that time not even baby food could scare them away from what had become one of their favorite dinners.

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Instant Pot Spare Ribs

Easy Barbecue Spare Ribs And “Secret” Sauce

Ingredients:

For the ribs:

  • 3-4 pounds boneless ribs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (2.5-ounce) container baby food prunes

*Note: Feel free to use fresh crushed pineapple instead, especially if you find one on sale. (Not sure how to cut a whole pineapple? It’s easier than you think!)

Directions:

Instant Pot Spare Ribs

Season the ribs generously with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Use the Sauté program to sear the ribs on both sides, then set aside.

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Instant Pot Spare Ribs

To a mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, ketchup, crushed pineapple, garlic powder, and prunes. Stir to combine.

Brush about 1/2 of the sauce over the seasoned ribs, coating them on all sides. Place the sauced ribs in your Instant Pot along with 1/2 cup of water.

Select “Pressure Cook,” and set the timer for 25 minutes. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally until the pressure indicator on the lid drops.

Instant Pot Spare Ribs

Brush most of the reserved sauce onto the cooked ribs, then stick them under your broiler for a minute or two, just until the sauce starts to get sticky and caramelized.

Instant Pot Spare Ribs

Serve the ribs warm with any leftover sauce (and plenty of napkins!)

Slow Cooker Method: Season the ribs, cook them on Low in your crockpot for about 8 hours, then cover them in the sauce and broil until they’re nice and sticky.

Do you have any family recipes with secret ingredients?

Instant Pot Spare Ribs

Spare Ribs and “Secret” Sauce

Jill Nystul
These spare ribs are packed with delicious barbecue flavors, but don’t require you to use a barbecue or grill. I make them in my Instant Pot, which makes this meal so fast and easy!
3.94 from 15 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Pressure Release Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 531 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the ribs:

  • 3-4 pounds boneless ribs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple drained
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2.5 oz baby food prunes

Instructions
 

  • Season the ribs generously with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Use the “Sauté” program to sear the ribs on both sides, then set aside.
  • To a mixing bowl, add the brown sugar, ketchup, crushed pineapple, garlic powder, and prunes. Stir to incorporate.
  • Brush about 1/2 of the sauce over the seasoned ribs, and coat them on all sides. Place the sauced ribs into your Instant Pot along with 1/2 cup of water.
  • Select “Pressure Cook,” and set the timer for 25 minutes. Once the timer goes off, use the Natural Release method until the pressure indicator drops.
  • Brush most of the reserved sauce onto the cooked ribs, and stick them under your broiler for a few minutes. You just want to broil them long enough that the sauce starts to get sticky and caramelized.
  • Serve the ribs warm with any leftover sauce (and plenty of napkins!)

Crockpot Method:

  • Season the ribs, cook them on Low in your crockpot for about 8 hours, then cover them in the sauce and broil until they get nice and sticky.

Video

YouTube video

Nutrition

Calories: 531kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 43gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 427mgPotassium: 945mgSugar: 33gVitamin A: 155IUVitamin C: 1.2mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 5.2mg

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Food & Recipes

  • I love that there’s no smoke flavour in these! I just cannot stand a lot of barbecue sauces precisely because of that smoke flavour…I’ll be using this recipe soon, thank you Jill.

  • After reading the comments I guess I’d better add baby prunes to my pantry! I’m game to add them to chocolate recipes, though I’m not sure exactly how to do that. How much to add to a standard recipe? Do I cut back on something else? Oil maybe?
    FYI, my go to special ingredient for ribs is a jar (or however much of a jar you want) of orange marmalade or apricot preserves. Both are yummy and add a nice tasty glaze to the slow cooked ribes!
    If anyone can shed some light on added the prunes to brownies, I would be grateful. Thanks!

  • You had me on this one, until the pineapple. Just can’t tolerate it! BUT I will be using my Instant Pot for this with my own favorite BBQ sauce. After all, each part of the country has it’s specialty! Thanks again, Jillee!

  • Hey Jillee, don’t apologize for using “Mom’s” recipes, like you said, they are tried and tested. I have tried so many new ones over the years and threw most out. You just can’t beat Momma’s cooking. Your ribs look so good. I always look forward to reading your post daily. Thank you for all your hard work, God bless you.

  • glad you reveled your ‘secret sauce’ ingredient. baby food prunes. I keep at least 2 containers of baby food prunes in my pantry and there has not been a baby in my house in 30 years.
    My grandmother used a Foley food mill to puree prunes to add to any chocolate recipe (except fudge). She said it added ‘depth of flavor.’
    With the baby food prunes, I can skip the food mill. And I find that brownies, especially, stay chewy and fresh longer with the prune addition. People notice and comment ‘this cake, cookie, brownie is so rich.’ I just smile.
    Based on your experience, I’m going to start adding prunes to the crock pot when I cook a Boston butt for shredded pork. Or braised port chops.

    Off to the grocery to stock up on baby food prunes.

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