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Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs

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Instant Pot sweet and sour spare ribs is a popular Chinese dish. Tender, fall of the bone pork with just a touch of sweet and tang. Add a little pineapple to make this dish Hawaiian style and have dinner on the table in under an hour.

instant pot sweet and sour spare ribs

Where’s all my rib lovers at? Now when you think of ribs, spare ribs may not be the first thing that pops into your mind, but let me tell you this recipe may help.

Sweet sour spare ribs is a popular Chinese dish and of course here in Hawai’i we’ve put or Hawaiian touch on it. And to take it one step further let’s make it in the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker and has swept the world in popularity. It has quickly become one of my favorite countertop appliances. This is the model that I have.

Local dishes like boiled peanuts, pork and peas, and chicken papaya can be made in the Instant Pot and are so delicious.

Ingredients for Instant Pot sweet and sour spare ribs

  • Cooking oil of choice
  • Spare ribs
  • Onion
  • Brown sugar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Shoyu
  • Water
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Pineapple chunks and juice
  • Cornstarch
instant pot sweet and sour spare ribs ingredients

What are spare ribs?

There are three common cuts of ribs that you’ll find, spare ribs, baby back ribs, and St. Louis style ribs. Spare ribs come from the belly of the pig, near the meat that is used to make bacon and pancetta.

Whereas baby back ribs come from the loin that runs along the back of the pig and St. Louis style ribs are a cleaned up version of baby back ribs. The extra cartilage and breast bone has been removed and makes for a more uniform shape.

How to buy spare ribs?

You can find spare ribs in most grocery stores in the meat or freezer section. The ribs can be found whole or already cut down into pieces perfect for sweet and sour spare ribs. If you can’t find pre-cut ribs you can ask your butcher to cut it down for you.

What is sweet and sour?

Sweet and sour includes various cooking sauces that are well sweet and sour, surprise. Some have the classic orange hue and are thicker like this sweet and sour chicken. And others have a more thinned out and brown look like this sweet sour spare rib recipe

How to make sweet and sour spare ribs Hawaiian style?

Pineapples have become a large part of local Hawaiian dishes. Although the pineapple is indigenous to South America, it has become popularly associated with Hawai’i thanks to Dole Plantation, Del Monte, and Maui Pine. While not truly Hawaiian and in no means does throwing pineapple on something make it Hawaiian, this recipe has been adapted from a classic Chinese style recipe to a local style recipe.

pineapple

What to serve with Instant Pot sweet sour spare ribs?

Here in Hawai’i you can’t have a plate lunch dish without good old sticky, white rice and mac salad. Of course you can always add a lighter, fresh side like tossed greens as well.

How to store sweet and sour spare ribs?

Once the ribs have cooled, place in an airtight container and place in the fridge. This will keep for 3 to 4 days.

sweet and sour spare ribs in the instant pot

Can you freeze spare ribs?

You betcha. Cooked ribs will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months. These are best stored in an airtight container or zip top bag. Little tip, freeze the ribs flat for quick reheating.

How to reheat Instant Pot sweet and sour spare ribs?

There are a few ways you can do this. If frozen, defrost either in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting in the microwave. You can then reheat in the microwave, on the stove top, or in the Instant Pot. You can also reheat in the Instant Pot from frozen.

One tip, if you plan to reheat your food in the Instant Pot you can freeze your food in a zip top bag set in a bowl or the Instant Pot inner pot. This will keep the rounded shape and allow it to fit back in the Instant Pot when you’re ready to reheat it.

instant pot sweet and sour spare ribs on a plate close up

How to make Instant Pot sweet and sour spare ribs?

  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode.
  2. Add oil and half of the spare ribs to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Cook until browned. Remove the ribs and set aside.
  3. Add onions and saute until translucent. Then add the remainder of the spare ribs and cook until browned. Add the previously cooked ribs back to the Instant Pot.
  4. To a bowl add brown sugar, rice vinegar, shoyu, water, garlic, ginger, and the juice from the pineapple can. Do not add the pineapple chunks yet. Mix to combine and pour in to the Instant Pot.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set to sealing.
  6. Cook on manual high pressure for 25 minutes. Allow 10 minutes natural pressure release then quick release.
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water then add it to the pot to help thicken the sauce.
  8. Stir in pineapple chunks and ENJOY!
sweet and sour spare ribs in the instant pot

Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Spare RIbs

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Instant Pot sweet and sour spare ribs is a popular Chinese dish. Tender, fall of the bone pork with just a touch of sweet and tang. Add a little pineapple to make this dish Hawaiian style and have dinner on the table in under an hour.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil of choice
  • 4 pounds spare ribs
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shoyu
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Set the Instant Pot to saute mode.
  2. Add oil and half of the spare ribs to the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Cook until browned. Remove the ribs and set aside.
  3. Add onions and saute until translucent. Then add the remainder of the spare ribs and cook until browned. Add the previously cooked ribs back to the Instant Pot.
  4. To a bowl add brown sugar, rice vinegar, shoyu, water, garlic, ginger, and the juice from the pineapple can. Do not add the pineapple chunks yet. Mix to combine and pour in to the Instant Pot.
  5. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set to sealing.
  6. Cook on manual high pressure for 25 minutes. Allow 10 minutes natural pressure release then quick release.
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water then add it to the pot to help thicken the sauce.
  8. Stir in pineapple chunks and ENJOY!

Notes

*Be sure to get pineapple chunks in juice, not syrup.

*Rice vinegar has a more subtle flavor than other types of vinegar. Replace this with apple cider or regular vinegar for more tang.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 799Total Fat: 56gSaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 26gCholesterol: 183mgSodium: 701mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 1gSugar: 29gProtein: 37g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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By on February 22nd, 2021

About Relle

Aloha, my name is Relle and welcome to my little home on the internet where I like to share all my favorite Hawaiian recipes (and local ones too).

I am a wife, mom of two, and nurse practitioner here in the beautiful state of Hawai’i. I was born and raised in Hawai’i and I am of native Hawaiian descent. In my spare time I love to cook and bake and I have compiled many of my favorite recipes here for you to enjoy.

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10 thoughts on “Instant Pot Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs”

  1. These came out delicious! Instapot is the only way I’m cooking pork from now on. The flavors of the sauce were so delicious and this is recipe is definitely a keeper!

    Reply
    • Of course you have to have ingredient amounts in a recipe. The full written recipe with instructions and ingredients (including the amounts) is at the bottom of the page in a recipe card that can be easily read online or printed.

      Reply

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