Instant Pot Char Siu Ribs

We’ve recently started a new routine and in trying to juggle this new routine, I've found that there is a lot less time overall in trying to fit everything that needs to be done into a day. As a result, I have had to rely on my pressure cooker and instant pot more. This has led me to adapting some of my favorite recipes to pressure cooker form.

One of the ones that my family seems to be enjoying quite a bit is the Char Siu Ribs. Tradtionally char siu is done with pork shoulder slowly cooked in the oven for hours to ensure the tenderness of the meat and the infusion of flavour from slowly mopping the sauce over top. The quintessential Chinese BBQ! However, when you’re a mom of 2 and trying to work full time but still wanting a tasty meal, somethings got to give.

Lucky for me, I've found using the pressure cooker and changing the pork shoulder to ribs has not decreased the taste value of the adapted recipe. It still tastes like char siu but only in rib form, which was by design. I love ribs and will eat them as often as I can. You could probably try this recipe with pork shoulder in the pressure cooker as well, however you’d probably need to marinade the pork shoulder and pressure cook it for longer. This is the perfect recipe to prep in advance and then throw into the pressure cooker when you’re short on time!

It might seem like I’m being heavy handed with the marinade, but I’ve found that with pressure cooking and the addition of the water, it’s harder for the flavour to be imparted into the meat, hence upping the ingredients. Also don’t forget the honey, it is key in ensuring the sticky sweetness of the char siu. In a pinch you could try to substitute honey with molasses or brown sugar but if you got honey, use the honey!

Char Siu Ribs Recipe


1 rack of Baby Back Ribs
4 cloves of garlic, diced
½ tbsp five spice powder
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp rice wine
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oil


Slice the ribs in to individuals pieces and place in to a mixing bowl or ziploc bag, this is so it can sit and marinade. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine diced garlic, five spice powder, hoisin sauce, rice wine, honey, light and dark soy sauce. Stir until all the ingredients are blended together.

Pour the marinade over top the ribs and mix until each rib is coated.

Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight for best flavour (if time permits).

Heat up the pressure cooker (use saute if you’re using an instant pot).

Take the ribs out of the fridge and sear each rib until slightly caramelized.

Once all ribs are seared, place it back in the pressure cooker or instant pot. Pour in the rest of the marinade over top.

Add in a cup of water or enough until it just about covers the ribs.

Turn on the pressure cooker or instant pot and set for 30 minutes.

Once the timer is finished, release the pressure. Open up the lid to check the ribs, they should be tender.

If the ribs are not as tender as you’d like, you can leave them in the pot and turn on the heat to reduce the sauce.

If the ribs are tender, remove them and reduce the sauce (press saute on the instant pot). If using a conventional pressure cooker, you could just turn on the heat and allow the sauce to slowly reduce.

Serve the char siu ribs with sauce on the side or poured over the top.