While growing up, it wouldn’t be a complete Chinese take-out meal in the Eisner household if there wasn’t a red, foil-lined bag filled with huge, juicy spare ribs in a sweet, savory and smokey sauce. This Cantonese version of barbecue ribs is known as char siu-style (or Chinese-style spareribs). This completely sensational and simple recipe will have you making my version of this sauce with accessible ingredients but you can save more time and buy it pre-made (see Jeff’s Tips) – which will also make the recipe only 3 ingredients!
Instant Pot Chinese-Style Spareribs (Char Siu)
While growing up, it wouldn’t be a complete Chinese take-out meal in the Eisner household if there wasn’t a red, foil-lined bag filled with huge, juicy spare ribs in a sweet, savory and smokey sauce. This Cantonese version of barbecue ribs is known as char siu-style (or Chinese-style spareribs). This completely sensational and simple recipe will have you making my version of this sauce with accessible ingredients but you can save more time and buy it pre-made (see Jeff’s Tips) - which will also make the recipe only 3 ingredients!
- 2-6 pounds (up to 3 full racks) of St. Louis ribs (suggested), spareribs OR baby back ribs (pork loin back ribs), unseasoned
- 1 (64-ounce) bottle of apple juice (NOTE: You can halve this or even reduce to only 2 cups. If you use more, the ribs will be more infused with sweetness but will take a bit longer to come to pressure)
- Sesame seeds, for topping (optional)
The Char Siu Sauce (for up to 2 racks of ribs – half or double if needed. See Jeff's Tips):
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or sherry
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil (any kind)
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice
- ¼ teaspoon red food coloring (optional, strictly for color)
- Bend each rack of ribs you’re using into a coil so they fit in the liner pot, resting against the perimeter of the pot. A 6-quart should be able to handle up to 2 racks of ribs, while the 8-quart can handle 3 full racks. The 3-quart maybe be able to fit 1 rack. If you wish to cut each rack in half before inserting for easier removal when cooked (they’ll be super tender), feel free to do so. Add the apple juice to the pot.
- Secure the lid, move the valve to the sealing position, hit Cancel and then hit Manual or Pressure Cook on High Pressure for 30 minutes for 5-6 pounds/1.5-3 racks of ribs OR 25 minutes for 2-4 pounds/1 rack. When done, allow a 5-minute natural release followed by a quick release. (NOTE: If you’re adding the entire bottle of apple juice you add to the pot, it may take up to 20-30 minutes to come to pressure. To that point, if it splatters while releasing because of all the juices, no big deal. Just throw a dish towel over the nozzle to keep the splatter at bay).
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the Char Siu Sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside.
- The ribs will be super tender. Use either two sets of tongs, serving forks or one of each to carefully transfer them from the pot to a baking sheet with wire racks on top or lined with parchment paper, bone-side down. (Don’t stress if the rack splits in half - it’s totally fine).
- Generously brush the Char Siu sauce all over the tops of the ribs until fully coated. They should be super saucy!
- For A (Strongly Suggested) Caramelized Finish: Pop the tray with the ribs in a preheated oven on broil and let roast for 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it as all ovens vary. The sauce will caramelize onto the ribs, giving it a slightly charred edge. When done, remove the ribs from the oven and generously brush more sauce onto them.
- Top with the optional sesame seeds. Using a sharp knife, slice the rack of ribs in between each bone (saucing the edges, if desired). Grab lots of napkins and enjoy!
While I love my version of Char Siu sauce, if you don't wish to make your own and to save on some time and ingredients, you can simply use a jarred Char Siu sauce instead, found online or many markets.
These sound divine! Do you have any suggestions for sides to go with this? I want to make these ribs soon.
How about the ginger-scallion noodles and some steamed broccoli? https://pressureluckcooking.com/instant-pot-ginger-scallion-noodles/
At age 75 with full dentures, I just now tasted the best adult Baby Food in the entire marketplace! These Chinese Spareribs (with just 3 ingredients) are delicious beyond any words Jeffrey, but Thank You is a good start.
This made me laugh. Super glad you enjoyed it!
I made these for my wife and she loved them. Excellent recipe and I am thankful for Jeffrey’s hard work and sharing this.
What abt a recipe for boneless ribs?
Perfect main course for entertaining guests. Super easy and super delicious. I did use 64 Oz of apple juice, and brought the instant pot outside when I released the pressure in case I had “old Faithful” spewing from lid. No photo tik toc moment, with only a small amount of spitting easily collected with a towel. This recipe is a keeper.
Can this recipe be done with boneless ribs? If so, what might the cooking times look like. Thanks
These ribs were easy and DELICIOUS! Thanks for sharing the secret to the universe: Instapot Chinese restaurant style ribs.
This was a hit with the crowd! So easy to make and delicious! Thank you so much for creating this recipe.
I grew up in Hawai’i – we pronounced it as char shoe.
I made this recipe. Ordered char siu sauce online. Came out perfect and so easy. Looked just like yours and tasted delicious. Thank you, Jeffrey, for all your recipes and great cookbooks.
Forgive me if I missed this, but should I coil the rib-side or the meat-side against the pot? And does it matter?
Always meat side against the pot. They will curl that direction naturally. You’d probably be fighting them if you tried it the other way.
Hello Jeff..(In our house known as uncle Jeff here in Australia ),
Love to have your help.
I really want to make your Chinese style spareribs (Char siu) but I don’t eat pork. Will the other ingredients still work with beef? 🤞🤞.
Many T’s Donna.
Not all locals. Some say char shoe, while others say char siu.
Ooooohhh, I have to get some more ribs to do this! This looks so good. Hubs won’t even ATTEMPT to make ribs another way, lol.
And if people complain about the way you look, just hold up the hand and tell them to look the other way! I think you look just fine. 🙂
What if I don’t have apple juice? I’m at the lake and brought all ingredients except this and still want to make them. Is there a substitute I can use?
My family loved these! My dog was drooling from the smell!
Looks this fabulous, can’t wait to try it after your red beans and rice dish. Curious if you’ve tried it with a good old East Coast jar of Ah-So sauce? I bought 6 off of Amazon last year and need to use it up LOL. But will definitely try your version first. Great recipes and just got your “Lighter” book last week.
Made these tonight as an appetizer. They were yummy. Loved them. I have made several of your recipes and have loved them all. This will definitely be on the rotation for Winter or last minute ribs. Will try the sauce on smoked ribs too.
PS: If you are happy with the moustache, wear it.
Thanks for the support of the dish and the (long-gone) stache!