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This Ninja Foodi BBQ Baby Back Keto Ribs recipe is perfect for food holidays like 4th of July and the rest of the year. For those, like me, who live in an apartment, this dish allows us to easily have the flavors of keto grilled foods despite being indoors. This recipe includes directions for how to make keto ribs in an Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi or slow cooker. I also include recipes for an easy sugar-free rib dry rub & a homemade Keto BBQ sauce.
Top Tips for Making Delicious Keto BBQ Ribs
Use Keto BBQ Dry Rub
Usually, BBQ dry rubs are mostly brown sugar. So, if you’re trying to stay in ketosis, then you might think that BBQ is out of the question. In this recipe, I’m using an easy dry rub recipe that is sugar-free, Whole30, and keto-friendly.
Instead of sugar, it uses spices that I’m sure you have in your cabinet like paprika, garlic powder, salt, and onion powder.
Buy or Make Keto BBQ Sauce
Like the dry rub, BBQ sauce uses sugar as the first ingredient. In this recipe, I’m using sugar-free options for BBQ sauce to keep the dish keto and low carb. Several of these options are available online or in stores. Another is homemade.
Best Keto BBQ Sauce Options
Keto BBQ Sauces to Buy
There are two keto-friendly BBQ sauce options that I enjoy and recommend.
- Sweet & Smokey Hickory BBQ sauce: It has 2g net carbs per serving and is sweetened with Stevia.
- Sugar-Free Hickory: It also has 2g net carbs per serving. But, it’s sweetened with Sucralose.
Either of these would be a good option for making keto ribs in a slow cooker or pressure cooker. But, as mentioned in my keto candy post, Stevia tends to be the preferred choice for those who are strict keto.
Homemade Keto BBQ Sauce
Thankfully, you can also make homemade keto BBQ sauce with just six ingredients. I prefer to make these with cola-flavored stevia sweetener, but you can swap that for any sweetener that you prefer. It went great on my Bacon Wrapped BBQ Chicken Kabobs and would do well on these keto ribs.
Make Keto BBQ Ribs in a Slow Cooker Ribs, Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi:
When I first wrote this recipe, I made the ribs in my Slow Cooker. However, after getting a Ninja Foodi (check out my Ninja Foodi review), I realized that I could make these much quicker using the Foodi’s Instant Pot, or Pressure Cooker, function.
Since a pressure cooker and slow cooker come in a bunch of different brands, please feel free to follow the directions listed in the recipe card for your favorite appliance.
How to Make Ninja Foodi Keto BBQ Ribs:
Preparing to cook keto ribs in a Ninja Foodi or other pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot) is the same as when you make them in a slow cooker. The major difference between the two cooking methods is time.
You can make ribs in a slow cooker in 4 hours or in a Ninja Foodi in 25-30 minutes.
To make my ribs in a Ninja Foodi, I did the following:
- Season & Marinate: Season the pork ribs on both sides with the dry rub. Allow them to marinate for at least 4 hours (ideally, overnight)
- Put the ribs & other ingredients in the cooking pot: Sit the ribs in the Ninja Foodi or pressure cooker bowl. Pour chicken broth or keto-friendly Cola soda at the bottom of the pot.
- Cook & Tenderize: Cook the ribs on high for 25-30 minutes (your machine will take a few additional minutes to come to pressure). Allow the pressure to release naturally.
- Sauce & Crisp: Top the ribs with BBQ sauce. Then, Air Crisp the ribs for 5 minutes.
Use 360 Cookware Slow Cooker Base vs. Traditional Slow Cookers
There’s a bit of a debate about whether you should brown your meat before putting it into a slow cooker. For me, this is only worth the time to render some of the fat off the meat.
Typically, browning the meat means adding an extra pot. If you use the 360 Cookware Slow Cooker Base, your pot into a slow cooker. So, you simply brown the meat then use that same pot for the slow cooking process.
Less Liquid Required to Tenderize
360 Cookware relies on vapor (or waterless cooking) technology. As a result, you can use less liquid when cooking to achieve tender results. In this recipe, you use half of the liquid that you would in a traditional slow cooker.
Keto Coca Cola Alternative for Ribs
One of my favorite ways to make ribs is by using Coca-Cola soda. I got this tip a long time ago from a BBQ competition team and have used their tip ever since. After starting keto, regular soda was not an option so I substituted it with chicken broth. Now that I regularly use several soda alternatives, I’m back to my original recipe.
In this case, I use Zevia Cola. It’s one of several flavors in the Zevia variety pack that I get each month from Amazon. You can also pick these up now from the soda aisle in markets like Whole Foods.
Keto Ribs Side Dishes
If you’re being traditional, then you can pair this with my cauliflower mac and cheese and a sauteed leafy green like Kale or Collard Greens. You might also want to make this an easy meal and pair it with Keto Coleslaw or a salad. If you choose a salad, then I’d recommend topping your salad with my Quick Creamy Caesar Dressing or my keto balsamic vinaigrette.
More Keto Slow Cooker Recipes:
If you are busy and can use the extra hands-off cooking time that slow cooking provides, then you should check out my keto crock-pot recipes. There are more than 60 options, which make for a perfect easy keto dinner.
If you’re not a fan of pork or want to use chicken, these Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo are a tasty choice too. They are Asian-inspired and remind me so much of the Keto Chinese Food Recipes that I love making instead of getting takeout.
More Keto Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker Recipes:
If you’re looking for more recipes that would go well in the Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot, or your favorite slow cooker, then you can check out any of these Keto Instant Pot Recipes (this is a collection of recipes that I put together myself). You can check out:
Keto Slow Cooker or Ninja Foodi Ribs (Recipe + Video)
Key Tool I Used
- May Be Necessary: Remove the thin membrane (if it's there) from the back of the rib racks (The tutorial I always use can be found here). I've found that the ribs that I get from Trader Joes do not have it attached.
- Sprinkle spicy dry rub on the ribs. Allow the ribs to marinate at least 4 hours (ideally, overnight).
Method #1: 360 Cookware Slow Cooker Base Directions
- Heat the 4 QT Stainless Steel Stockpot to medium heat
- Drizzle Olive Oil in the pot and brown the ribs (about 3 minutes per side).
- Add the Zevia or Chicken Broth to the stockpot. Use tongs to incorporate.
- Add the lid to the stockpot and set it on the Slow Cooker Base. Turn the Slow Cooker Base to 3 (medium-high) and cook for 3-4 hours.
Method #2: Ninja Foodi, Instant Pot Directions
- Add the ribs to the pressure cooker pot
- Pour the Zevia or Chicken Broth into the bottom of the pot.
- Add the pressure cooker lid and cook on high for 25 minutes
- Allow the pressure to release.
Method #3: Traditional Slow Cooker Directions
- Heat a frying pan to medium heat
- Drizzle Olive Oil in the pot and brown the ribs (about 3 minutes per side).
- Add the ribs and Zevia to the slow cooker pot. Cover and cook on High for 3-4 hours (or on Low for 6-8 hours).
Finish the Ribs
- Top the ribs with the BBQ sauce.
- For the Ninja Foodi: Air Crisp the ribs (400 degrees) for 15-20 minutes (the longer you keep them them there, the crispier they get). For a broiler: broil them in a broiler-safe dish on high for 5 minutes. This step allows the rib tops and edges to char!
Cutting the RibsAfter removing the membrane from the ribs, I used to cut the ribs into smaller, 3 - 4 bone sections. I found that this made it easier for the ribs to fit into my pot or Crockpot. However, you don't need to do this if your ribs fit without cutting them.
Add the Sauce LaterSince keto-friendly BBQ sauce is more expensive than sugary BBQ sauce, I add my sauce right before browning the ribs. I've found that this reduces waste.
The nutrition facts come from entering the recipe ingredients into Spoonacular API, a database of food ingredients. They may vary for any recipe based on the exact product used. The keto sweeteners I use have 0g net carbs & are not included because sugar alcohols do not impact most people. This is provided as a courtesy, but you can do your own calculations if you wish!