Best Pork Loin Back Ribs (parboil, bake or instant pot)
Years ago I discovered this easy copycat recipe for the famous Montreal pork loin back ribs we loved. Sweet, sticky, tender and delicious.
We included three ways to make them, but make no mistake, it’s the glaze that is unique and awesome.
There are many methods for cooking back ribs – oven baked ribs, grilled, smoked, parboiled, slow cooker, sous vide ribs, instant pot or a combination of these. If made right, they can all be fabulous.
Which cooking method is best?
We included and rated 3 methods:
Check out differences in: times, flavor, level of difficulty and tenderness below and choose which is best for you.
The glaze requires no cooking and takes just a few minutes to put together. It’s sweet and tangy and sticky.
Whichever cooking method you choose, slather on that glaze, pass some extra and dig in!
Why make this back rib recipe
- The glaze is scrumptious and requires no cooking.
- You can choose which of 3 cooking methods suits your needs best.
- All methods result in tender, succulent flavorful ribs.
Ingredients- tailored to your taste
Pork loin back ribs – or baby back ribs: These are tender and less fatty that other types of ribs. I buy these most often. Each rack is 1.5-2 lbs (680-900g) and will serve 2-3 people. You can also use St. Louis-style ribs for this recipe if you prefer (see FAQs)
Pork rub: Use the rub in the recipe notes or your own favorite rub. Feel free to add cayenne pepper for some heat.
Glaze: The delicious glaze has 2 secret ingredients that are not very common with rib recipes – applesauce and cinnamon. The other ingredients include ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, salt and black pepper.
Pickle juice: Another secret ingredient! This one is for the parboiling or instant pot method. I know it might sound weird, but it adds amazing flavor to the ribs. If you don’t have any, make sure to add lots of seasoning and salt to the water. Or use another flavored liquid like apple juice, broth or a little apple cider vinegar in the water.
Step by step instructions
The steps and pictures below are for the instant pot method. Instructions for parboiling and baking methods are in the recipe.
3 cooking methods for back ribs (rated)
The 3 methods I’ve included in the recipe instructions are cooking methods that ALL require finishing with a glaze or sauce as a final step on the grill or under the broiler.
For the most part, slow cooking on a low temperature is best for succulent tender ribs. The exception is the pressure cooker or instant pot which can produce excellent results in much less time.
Purists may be cringing now, but for the rest of you, the ribs turn out great.
- Tenderness: 5*
- Flavor: 4* The pickle juice helps to amp up the flavor.
- Level of difficulty: 4 1/2* (easy)
- Total Time: 4 * (1 1/2 hours)
Instant pot method
What a time saver! You can pretty well be feasting on great ribs in about an hour.
- Tenderness: 5* So tender they’ll cut with a butter knife.
- Flavor: 4* Increase the flavor by letting the ribs sit with seasoning for several hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Level of difficulty: 4* (quite easy)
- Total Time: 5* (1 hour)
Oven-baked ribs is probably the most common method used (along with a smoker or outdoor grill) and produces excellent results, but it also requires the longest cooking time. I love that you just season, wrap with aluminum foil, place in the oven and walk away. No fussing.
- Tenderness: 5*
- Flavor: 5* The seasoning is infused in the ribs while cooking slowly, making them very flavorful. Increase this even more with seasoning the ribs ahead for several hours or overnight in the fridge.
- Level of difficulty: 5* (very easy)
- Total Time: 3* (2 1/2 hours)
So, which cooking process is best?
Well, it all comes down to time and what’s important to you.
- Easiest and most flavorful – baking method.
- Fastest – instant pot method (next best is parboiled).
- Most tender and juicy – all 3 methods make succulent ribs when done right.
- Remove the thin membrane – the silver, connective piece of tissue – on the back of the ribs. This will allow the seasoning to penetrate the ribs and make the ribs less rubbery. Here’s a video on how to remove silver skin from ribs.
- Add sauce at the very end when broiling or grilling, not at the beginning.
- Don’t over season your ribs when cooking. You want to let the pork flavor shine through and there’s plenty of flavor in the glaze brushed on at the end. For the best flavor, let the rub sit on the meat for 30 minutes before cooking if you have the time.
- Don’t over cook the ribs: Don’t make the mistake thinking you can cook ribs indefinitely to make them more tender. Yes, they will fall off the bone with long cooking, but they can also become dry and stringy.
Figure on about 6 pork back ribs per person or half a rack. About 3/4-1 pound (240-450 grams) depending on how many sides you are serving
St. Louis style ribs are flatter and larger. They lay nicely on the grill as they aren’t curved like back ribs. They are also fattier which makes them tender and more flavorful. Both types will work well for this recipe with any of the 3 cooking methods.
Best sides for ribs
Good salad options: grilled coleslaw, broccoli and cauliflower salad with avocado dressing, orzo pasta salad with grilled veggies or citrus salad with greens.
Other great sides for ribs: crispy oven-roasted potatoes, oven roasted vegetables (my favorite), curried rice with raisins or microwave green beans (that everyone loves).
Or make a three-in-one side dish with a delicious party salad with grilled vegetables and quinoa.
- Buy a rib rub instead of making a homemade spice rub. Though often a good idea, the downside is that you can’t control the salt and sugar.
- Buy Costco pork ribs (plain or pre-seasoned) to save the extra step of removing the membrane. They do it for you! You may also be able to get butcher shops to remove the membrane for you.
- Skip the glaze (not recommended!!!!) and use a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce.
- Use the instant pot method for the shortest cook time.
- Make the glaze several days ahead. After parboiling, baking or pressure cooking, the cooked ribs can be cooled and refrigerated in an airtight container or zipper bag for a day or two before the final grill or broil. I suggest bringing the ribs to room temperature for an hour or so beforehand.
- The best way to reheat and add the sauce/glaze is to either grill on medium heat or broil 10 inches/25 cm from the heat source. This will give the ribs a chance to fully heat through.
Other ribs recipes to love
- ribs with peach BBQ sauce
- sous vide ribs
- Korean beef short ribs (sous vide) – these are boneless beef ribs
- sous vide short ribs (boneless beef)
- sous vide beef ribs (with bones)
If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks!
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Best Pork Loin Back Ribs (parboiled, baked or instant pot)
- 3.5 pounds -4 lbs baby back ribs (about 2 large racks)
Parboiling method ingredients
- 1 onion cut in half
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 peppercorns
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
- 1 cup pickle juice i.e. liquid in jar that sour or half sour pickles sit in (optional, but great for flavoring ribs)
Glaze for any cooking method
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon EACH: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional) or more to taste
- PREPARE RIBS: Remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs by sliding the tip of a knife under the skin at the small end of the rack. Loosen the skin from the bone, then grab it with a paper towel and peel the skin off the entire rib. It should peel away in one large sheet. If it doesn't, try again. Cut each rib into 2-3 pieces.
- PARBOIL RIBS: Place ribs in a large pot. Add onion, bay leaf, salt, peppercorns, garlic and pickle juice if using. Fill pot with water to cover ribs by one inch. Slowly bring ribs to a boil by heating the stove to medium-high. Skim surface with a ladle. Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until a knife easily pierces the meat. If you have time, let the meat sit in the water until the water cools. If not, remove the ribs and discard the water. Note 1 for Instant Pot method. Note 2 for baking method.
- MAKE SAUCE/GLAZE: In a large bowl, mix all glaze ingredients well. Set aside 1/2 cup to pass as extra sauce. Add the ribs to the bowl and mix to coat well.
- GLAZE AND FINISH: To broil: Place ribs on pan lined with foil and sprayed with oil. Baste ribs with glaze. Heat oven to broil, On a rack close to heat, broil ribs for about 3 minutes on each side until bubbly and charred in spots. (I often just broil the meat side and not the bone side)To grill: Use a paper towel dipped in oil to grease the grill. Or spray it with oil. Heat grill to medium high. Grill for about 3 minutes per side, basting with extra glaze. Cut into serving portions and serve with additional sauce.
- Instant Pot method to cook ribs: After removing the silver skin, rub ribs all over with a good rub (about 6 tablespoons). Buy it or make your own (see note 4). If you have time, let them sit with the rub for several hours or over night for added flavor.
I made this recipe tonight and all my guests at the bbq begged for the recipe. I really think these came out better than I could have bought at our local bbq. I made them in the Instapot then broiled them in the oven and they were perfect! I only broiled the meat side for 3.5 minutes.
Thank you so much.
So glad your guests enjoyed them! The instant pot method works really well especially if you’re short on time. Thanks for leaving a comment. Much appreciated.
What kind of pickle juice do you use in this recipe? Sweet Gherkin? Dill? What is the best? Thanks.
Not sweet. Sour or half sour pickle juice. I should have specified. Thanks for asking Kathie. 👍 I’ll add the info to the recipe.