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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.

pieces of glazed cooked ribs on cutting board
pieces of glazed cooked ribs on cutting board

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:

parboil…bake…instant pot

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

  1. The glaze is scrumptious and requires no cooking.
  2. You can choose which of 3 cooking methods suits your needs best.
  3. All methods result in tender, succulent flavorful ribs.

Ingredients- tailored to your taste

seasoned rack of ribs on cutting board
Rack of pork loin back ribs seasoned with smoked paprika, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar
glaze ingredients of ketchup, brown sugar, apple sauce lemon and seasonings
Glaze ingredients: apple sauce, ketchup, lemon, brown sugar, cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper

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.

pulling off silver skin on back of rack of ribs
Remove connective tissue from underside of the ribs.
seasoned rack of ribs
Season pork loin ribs with a pork rub
rib rack curled around side of instant pot on top of trivet
For Instant Pot method, add liquids and onions at bottom, place trivet on top, and sit ribs on top, wrapped around pot. Two racks of ribs would overlap into the center – that’s ok. Seal pot and pressure cook about 25 minutes.
glaze mixture in bowl
Stir together ingredients for glaze. No cooking needed
cooked rib pieces glazed before broiling
When ribs are cooked, cut into a few pieces, slather glaze on ribs, then grill or broil to finish
pieces of glazed cooked ribs on cutting board
Cut into individual ribs and serve with extra glaze on the side.
close up of one glazed rib with tender meat on cutting board
Sticky ribs – sweet, tangy and succulent

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.

Parboiling method

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)

Baking method 

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.


  1. 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.
  2. Add sauce at the very end when broiling or grilling, not at the beginning.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Recipe FAQs

How many ribs do I need per person?

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

What is the difference between baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs?

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 Ahead

  • 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.
pieces of glazed cooked ribs on cutting board

Other ribs recipes to love 

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pieces of glazed cooked ribs on cutting board
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4.82 from 37 votes

Best Pork Loin Back Ribs (parboiled, baked 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 with 2 secret ingredients that is unique and awesome.
Prep Time14 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 6 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 -5


  • 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.
    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.

Recipe Notes

  1. 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.
Place 1 cup broth, a few chunks of onion and 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or pickle juice) in bottom of Instant Pot (IP). Lay trivet over broth (if you have one), then wrap ribs around the side of the IP, standing ribs on trivet, bone side facing toward the center. Wrap the second rib inside the first in the same way.
Close Instant Pot lid and set valve to ‘SEALING’, then set PRESSURE OR MANUAL button on High for 24 minutes. If ribs are very meaty, set for 25-26 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before beginning the 24 minute countdown. When finished cooking (it will beep), do a 5 minute natural pressure release, then turn valve to VENT to release remaining pressure. When button drops, you can open the lid. Turn Instant Pot to OFF. Remove ribs and proceed to glazing/finishing step. 
2. Baking method for ribs After removing the silver skin, cut ribs horizontally in two. Rub on your favorite rib rub (buy it or see Note 4 for rub recipe). If you have time, let ribs site for several hours or over night.
Wrap ribs well in foil, place on pan, then place another layer of foil over pan. Bake at 300F/149C for 2 hours. Uncover, test for doneness and proceed to glazing/finishing step. 
3. Make Ahead: Once the ribs are cooked (boiled, baked or pressure cooked), at this point, you can cool and refrigerate the ribs and continue to the next step the next day. I suggest bringing the ribs to room temperature for an hour or so. Then, to heat and add the sauce/glaze, either grill on medium heat or broil 10 inches from the heat source. This will give the ribs a chance to fully heat through.
4. Recipe for pork rub: Per rack of ribs – Combine 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tbsp EACH of chili powder, garlic powder, brown sugar. (double recipe for 2 racks). Or here’s another dry rub you can try. 
Nutrition value estimates include about 1/2 rack of ribs per person using the parboil cooking method. They do not include the pickle juice.


Calories: 726kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 1953mg | Potassium: 811mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 37g | Vitamin A: 209IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 114mg | Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    The rub and glaze made me a fan of Montreal style ribs. I used the bake method and finished under the broiler after glazing. The glaze was so much better than what comes with packaged ribs we’ve bought.
    I did vary one thing. I didn’t have applesauce so made tart, chunky applesauce from Fuji apples.
    I baked another rack yesterday, also using fresh made Fuji applesauce. The results were just as tasty!

  2. 3 stars
    Sauce was way too sweet. However, I made this recipe a second time today and added red wine vinegar, extra salt and pepper, a bit of sriracha, Cajun seasoning and lots of yellow and Dijon mustard! It made all the difference in the world! Will definitely make again!

    1. Yes, the sauce is definitely sweet and sticky as mentioned in the intro. The lemon juice cuts the sweetness somewhat, but everyone has their own sweet tolerance of course. You can always increase the lemon (or add red wine vinegar as you did in your second try). It sounds like you made up a whole new recipe! Glad you liked it.

  3. I was dubious about this pressure cooker recipe. Everytime I’ve tried to pressure cook meat it comes out looking and tasting like road kill! Not that I know what road kill tastes like! This was an amazing result but next time, I’ll use far less paprika. That flavor was too strong for me. But a great recipe. Thank you for it!

    1. Hi Frank. I, too, was skeptical about meat in a pressure cooker/instant pot, but was pleasantly surprised with the ribs. They work really well I think and a good method when you are short on time. So glad you like them. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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.

  5. What kind of pickle juice do you use in this recipe? Sweet Gherkin? Dill? What is the best? Thanks.

    1. Not sweet. Sour or half sour pickle juice. I should have specified. Thanks for asking Kathie. 👍 I’ll add the info to the recipe.