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 turns these spare ribs into something special is the sauce. The sauce contains an honest-to-goodness “secret ingredient,” which I refused to reveal to my kids for years!
The secrecy started back when my kids were going through that fun stage (not!) of being irrationally picky about ingredients they thought of as “gross.” I knew they would refuse to eat the spare ribs if they knew about the “secret ingredient” in the sauce. So what’s the big secret? Oddly enough, it’s a container of prunes baby food! The prunes add sweetness and texture to the sauce, so the finished ribs turn out deliciously sticky. I did eventually reveal the big secret to my kids once they had gotten a bit older, but by that time even baby food wasn’t enough to scare them away from one of their favorite dinners!
Spare Ribs and “Secret” Sauce
For the ribs:
- 3-4 pounds boneless ribs
- 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
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.