Instant Pot Chinese Style Spareribs (Char Siu)

Ok, this isn’t necessarily a recipe from my culture or from my family, but Chinese-American food played a huge part in my childhood. If you are Jewish you probably can relate, but to those who aren’t aware of the love affair between us Jews and Chinese food, here is a quick run down.

First, Chinese cuisine rarely uses milk in their dishes. This makes it very easy for Jews who keep kosher, to have great take out and not have to worry about breaking kosher law. Second, Chinese neighborhoods in New York were usually located very close to Jewish neighborhoods and Chinese restaurants welcomed Jewish customers with open arms when other establishments would discriminate against Jews. Third, and probably most important, Chinese restaurants are open on Sunday and Christmas! So, though it may be a stereotype….it’s one built on fact. I spent just about every Thursday when I was a child at my grandparents favorite Chinese restaurant. We went so much that the owners that we had our own table and when I learned a song in Chinese in elementary school, the entire staff came out to hear me sing it (against my will of course, thanks Grandma. sigh.)

So, Chinese-American food is complete comfort food from my childhood and when I though about what dish would be perfect for my first conversion to the Instant Pot, it was a no brainer…..spareribs! (Now, I have to say that my family growing up did not keep kosher. However, many Jewish people do and so pork ribs would be off limits.) If you have ever made ribs in the IP you know how amazing they are. I refuse to make BBQ ribs any other way other than in the IP.  However, unlike BBQ ribs, Chinese Style Spareribs are braised in the sauce rather than cooked on the trivet above the liquid. Using ingredients from America’s Test Kitchen recipe, I was able to tweak the recipe to work in the Instant Pot and not get a burn notice, but still come out even better than the ribs you would get from even the best Chinese Take-out.

Instant Pot Chinese Style Spareribs 

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Chinese-Style Barbecued Spareribs 

  • 5 inch piece of fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 8 Garlic Cloves, peeled
  • 1-2 (about 3.5-5 lbs total) racks of St. Louis Ribs cut into individual portions
  • 1/2 cup Cooking Sake or Chinese Rice wine (you can substitute a dry sherry wine) 
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Honey
  • 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 3/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsp powdered Chinese Five Spice (if you don’t have 5 Spice, you can make your own mixture by combining 1 tsp ground cinnamon and ground star anise, 1/4 tsp crushed fennel seed and ground pepper, and 1/8 tsp ground cloves)
  • 1 tsp Ground White Pepper
  • 1 tsp Red Food Coloring, liquid (this is optional, but it gives the ribs that traditional red color. If you only have the paste form of food color used for baking, you can mix a dab of it with water.)
  • 2 Tbl Sesame oil

Peel the Ginger and the Garlic. (To peel Ginger, you can use a spoon to scrape the skin off.)


Add the  8 Garlic Cloves and the sliced Ginger into your food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times until you get a a fine minced mixture. Take the instant Pot liner out of the Instant Pot housing and add the mixture into your Instant Pot Liner.


To the Instant Pot liner with the Ginger/Garlic mixture, add 1 cup Water, 1 cup Honey, 1/2 cup Hoisin Sauce, 1/2 cup Rice Wine, 3/4 cup Soy Sauce, 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice, 1 tsp Ground White Pepper, and 1 tsp Red Food Coloring.


20190207_130627Whisk this all together well in the Instant Pot liner. (it is very important to scrape the bottom while you whisk so you incorporate and dissolve the thick Honey and Hoisin sauce into the liquid. If any of the Honey or Hoisin is left undissolved on the bottom of the pot, it will burn.) Place the liner back into the Instant Pot housing.20190207_142434

Prepare the ribs by carving the ribs into individual portions. (You do not need to remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs.) 20190207_122547


Add the ribs into the Instant Pot and make sure to stir and submerge the ribs as much as possible. 20190207_130803

Lock the Instant Pot Lid into place and make sure the valve is set to “Sealed” position. Pressure Cook for 18 minutes on High. Once it’s done, allow to Natural Release completely. This will take about 20 minutes. Take the ribs out and place them into a bowl and cover with foil. 

Set up a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Strain the braising liquid that is in the Instant Pot. Using a spatula, press the solids that are left in the strainer to get out all of the liquid and flavor. 20190207_142406


Allow the liquid to sit for 10 mins so the grease rises to the top. Using a spoon, skim off the grease and oil and throw it away. It’s ok if you don’t get all of it. Just get as much as you can. 20190207_143350


Pour the liquid back into the Instant Pot and mix in 2 Tbl Sesame oil. 20190207_143037Press the “Saute” button. Allow the liquid to come to a boil and then boil for approximately 25 minutes until it reduces to a thicker consistency. Stir occasionally and don’t allow it to burn or over reduce.

Once the liquid has thickened to where it can lightly coat the back of a spatula, turn off the Instant Pot and remove the liner and place on a towel or pot holder. (You could leave the liner int he Instant Pot housing, but I find it makes a mess during the next few steps.) 

Add the ribs back to the thickened liquid a few at a time. Coat the ribs with the liquid and then remove to a foil lined baking sheet. The ribs will be very tender so make sure to do this gently so the ribs don’t fall apart. If a few do, that’s ok. 20190207_150932


Set your oven to Broil – High, and broil the ribs in the oven for about 3 minutes until they start getting caramelized and crispy on the ends. Flip them over and broil on the other side for another 3 minutes. Make sure to keep watch because they will burn quickly. 20190207_151752

Serve with some diced green onion and if you like you add extra sauce. Buen Provecho!20190207_151956


18 Comments Add yours

  1. Jami Godshall says:

    These look delicious! I couldn’t find a printer friendly button. The print button wants me to print 31 pages! Is there one?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. drlanaperez says:

      Hi! I’m new to web design and I haven’t figured out how to make a printer friendly version yet. However, I’m going to do some research now and see how to add one.


    2. Diane says:

      You could copy just the recipe, paste it onto a document ( do you have a program on your computer or phone to create documents?), and then print it. Hope this helps.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Marian Fry says:

      Jami, you could either highlight the recipe, press “Ctrl” “C”, which copies it, and then take it to your word processor and “paste” it into a document, OR highlight the recipe and press “Ctrl” “P”, which should print it right from your computer.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Toni says:

      Just print the page that has the recipe on it….go to the printer options page and select the pages

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Deb Albritton says:

      Hi Lana-I am new to your site-just found it today because of the unboxing video of the Vortex!! For this recipe you state no need to remove the silver skin- I have always taken it off when making ribs and am curious how leaving it on will effect the outcome. Why do you leave it on? Thanks!


      1. drlanaperez says:

        Hi. I like my ribs to have some chew to them. But I find that the pressure cooker does a great job making the ribs tender and fall off the bone (if that’s how you like them) without having to remove the silver skin. I think it is typically left on because cooking ribs other methods takes so much time anyway. Hope this helps.


  2. julie stocks says:

    Hey, there, have all the ingredients but sesame oil, cold I use another type? cheers

    Liked by 1 person

    1. drlanaperez says:

      Hi. Sesame oil had a very unique strong flavor. But you could just omit it and it should be fine. Enjoy!


  3. Chrissy says:

    Hi, you mentioned rice wine in the recipe but on the picture it shows rice vinegar.. that are 2 different things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. drlanaperez says:

      Thank you so much for letting me know. When I was setting up the ingredients to take the pictures I took out the Rice Vinegar instead of the Cooking Sake (which is the Japanese equivalent to Shaoxing wine or Chinese rice wine). I inserted the correct picture. Thank you again.


  4. Anna Marie says:

    In your recipe it is stated to use Rice Wine, but the photo shows Rice Wine Vinegar. Do you use the wine or the vinegar?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. drlanaperez says:

      Thank you for pointing that out. When I set up the ingredients to photograph them, I took out my Rice Vinegar instead of my rice wine (which I had Japanese Cooking sake which is pretty much the same thing as Chinese Shaoxing wine or rice wine). I went back and fixed it. Rice vinegar is different since it’s more fermented. However, I bet you could sub 1/4 rice vinegar and 1/4 water if you don’t have the wine and it would turn out just as good! Enjoy.


    2. I made these this morning. Some thoughts:
      1. Honey isn’t listed in the ingredients but is in the recipe.
      2. My ribs were completely falling apart after a 18 pressure cooker and NPR. Next time I do this, I’d still do 18 min cook but a 10 min NPR then a quick release.
      3. These take time to make. From start to finish, it was over 2 hours (not all active cooking time). Keep that in mind if you’re making them for dinner.
      4. I cut back the five spice to 1.5 tap because it’s an overwhelming spice blend.

      We’ll be serving ours over rice with green onion garnish tomorrow night.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. drlanaperez says:

        Thank you so much for your feedback! I added the honey to the main list. So glad you caught that! As for the time, it really depends on the rights, the size of the pressure cooker, and even the altitude. I live when others share their experience doing the recipes. I also love you taking the time to share the changes to the spice amount. I really appreciate it!😁❤


  5. Catherine m Stumpf says:

    My friend is Jewish and they would not eat pork.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. drlanaperez says:

      Good point, Orthodox Jews and many Conservative Jews keep Kosher, so no pork. I am Reform and my family was Conservative but didn’t keep Kosher. I think I read somewhere that a little over 20% of Jews in America keep Kosher, so it is important to make sure before cooking for a Jewish guest. Thank you for sharing!


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