Smoky, sweet, juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked, Traeger Ribs are my favorite way to make ribs. The ingredients are simple, the method is easy, and all you will need to do is invite some friends over to help you enjoy them.
Smoked Ribs are the gauge of good BBQ
The first time I bought a smoker, I wanted to smoke ribs immediately. Before I had a smoker I used to cook them in the oven and on the grill. They never had that fall off the bone moist texture. I then tried to cook them in the crockpot, they had a great tender texture there, but they were so greasy and hit your stomach hard. So when I first got a smoker I was excited to cook ribs.
They turned out awesome.
When I bought my Traeger Pellet Grill last year, I again wanted to see how it did cooking ribs. The results were perfect. The flavor from the hickory wood pellets and the super smoke feature created a tasty smoke ring on the Traeger ribs that was packed with flavor. It is now my favorite, to cook ribs on the Traeger.
Pork Ribs: One or several racks of ribs are the main ingredients here. These can be baby backs or spare ribs.
Yellow Mustard: This is the glue that holds the rub onto the ribs. The flavor of the yellow mustards evaporates away while keeping the rub in place.
Smoked Paprika: This is my favorite spice. It finds its way into so many of my recipes. A great earthly smoky flavor. It also adds a nice bold rich color to the ribs.
Garlic Powder: Garlic powder is a staple in our kitchen. In my opinion, you can never have too much garlic, but my wife keeps me in check there.
Brown Sugar: This is where we get a sweet flavor with a caramelized texture on the ribs as well. This is how you get your fingers so sticky when eating ribs.
Kosher Salt: You need salt for a well-seasoned dish.
Black Pepper: A good amount of pepper adds flavor and also a little heat. There is something about spice from black pepper that I love with barbecued meat.
How to Make Traeger Ribs
Step One: Prep the rack of ribs. Remove the ribs from the packaging and using paper towels, dry them off. It is easier to work with the ribs if they are dry. On the bone side of the ribs is a membrane that needs to be removed. I find the best way to remove it is to use a knife to loosen it, then wrap wrapping it around the knife to get a firm grip, and slowly pull the membrane off. Sometimes it will rip and you'll need to get a new grip on it. If this isn't removed, it will be an unpleasant texture on the ribs as you try to eat them. If you are prepping spare ribs, I recommend cutting them down to St Louis style for a more classic presentation.
Step Two: Place the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet so we don't make a mess with this prep. Rub yellow mustard all over both sides of the rack of ribs. Be sure to coat it well. It doesn't need to be a thick coat of mustard, but you do want it completely over the entire rack, both sides of the ribs and the edges too.
Next, combine all the dry ingredients into a small bowl to make the dry rub. Be sure to work out any lumps of spices or sugar so that it is well incorporated. Then sprinkle the rub on each side of the rack of ribs being sure to rub it in well. I will pick up the ribs and rub the sides of the rack in the dry rub that has collected on the baking sheet.
Prepping the ribs is that easy. Only 5 minutes of prep time.
Step Three: Time to smoke the ribs. Once your Traeger Grill is done preheating to 225°F, you are ready to put the ribs on the grill. Place the ribs, bone side down, directly onto the grill grates in the Traeger. This will allow some of that fat on the meat, to melt away and naturally base the meat. Close the lid, keep the Traeger temperature at 225°F, and if you have the feature, set the Traeger to super smoke. Super smoke allows the Traeger to generate a little more smoke from the wood pellets. This ensures a great flavor of smoke on your ribs.
Smoking Traeger Ribs Process
The process of cooking ribs 321 style is that once the ribs are seasoned, we place them in the smoker and smoke for 3 hours. Then we wrap them in aluminum foil or butcher paper add a liquid and then smoke them for another 2 hours. Next, we remove them from the wrap and place them back in the smoker for 1 hour. Finally, we serve them. The beauty of this process is that you are only monitoring the temperature of the smoker, not the internal temperature of the meat. Once the six hours are done, the Traeger ribs are done. It removes some of the timing guesswork for a simple smoke.
Step Four: After the ribs have smoked on the Traeger for three hours, place them onto a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. I recommend heavy-duty, so that the bones don't rip through the foil. Then add about a tablespoon of bourbon to the foil and wrap them up so they are well sealed. You can wrap them in butcher paper, this does allow the smoke to still permeate the Traeger ribs, however, the juices and whiskey will leak out. Place the foil-wrapped ribs back onto the Traeger continuing to smoke at 225°F for another two hours. At this point, you can have super smoke feature turned off.
I like to use foil when I am cooking ribs and add bourbon for a great flavor. If you don't have bourbon, you can use rye, or even apple juice or apple cider vinegar. They will all get the job done. Bourbon is my favorite though.
After two hours of being on the smoker wrapped, remove the ribs from the foil. Be careful to remove them from the foil as they will be very tender and almost fall apart. Carefully place them back on the Traeger for one last hour at 225°F. This will help to firm them up slightly and create the awesome texture we love. If you wanted to add BBQ sauce, now is when you could add it for the last hour of the smoke. Finally, remove them from the smoker, allow them to rest for at least five minutes, then cut them apart and serve.
Here are a few variations that produce delicious ribs as well:
Sweet: Instead of yellow mustard to hold the rub to the Traeger ribs, try substituting honey. If you are afraid they will be too sweet, you can omit the brown sugar from the dry rub. I like the flavor of honey, and occasionally I will substitute dehydrated honey powder in place of sugar in a rub. It is very delicious.
Spicy: Add chili powder, crushed red pepper, or even cayenne pepper to the rub if you want to kick the heat level up a bit. If I do a spicier rub, I will usually balance it out with a sweet BBQ sauce to ease the heat from the rub. If you are making a few racks of ribs, I might suggest doing a sweet rack and a spicy rack so you have some options. It is a great way to keep all your guests happy!
Combo: Try this Traeger Coffee Rub Recipe for a combo of both sweet & spicy.
What temp should I set my Traeger to for ribs? I like to cook the ribs at 225°F. I will usually cook them for six hours using the 321 smoking method. You can cook them at 250°F for three hours and have delicious ribs, but I like the moist, tender fall off the bone texture you get when they are cooked low and slow.
When are ribs done on the smoker? Technically you can eat them once the internal temperature reaches 160°F. However, if you are looking for a classic BBQ flavor and texture for your ribs, you want to cook them until they are falling off the bone. I would consider them done when the internal temperature reaches 200°F.
Can you overcook ribs at 225°F? Yes. If you let them go for 10 hours, you will have pork rib jerky, or something unedible. Cooking ribs with the outlined 3-2-1 six-hour process is foolproof. If you are just going to cook them at 225°F, I would consider them done when the internal temperature reaches 200°F. This will ensure that the collagen has broken down and rendered. Then you will have that perfect bite.
What to serve with Traeger Pork Ribs?
Ribs go with almost anything. We stick to barbecue classics a lot reminiscent of picnics and summer potlucks. I recommend at least a starch and a veggie. Ribs are one of the best and most versatile BBQ foods. You can serve Traeger Ribs as the main course, as a snack for watching the game, or as an elegant appetizer. It is up to you.
Starch: Some of my favorites are smoked mac and cheese, smoked cheesy potatoes, or smoked scalloped potatoes.
Vegetables: Serve them with grilled broccoli or grilled carrots for a balanced meal.
Dessert: The best dessert will be smoked cheesecake, smoked apples, or peanut butter ice cream.
- 2 lb pork ribs
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon bourbon
- Remove ribs from the packaging and dry them with a paper towel. Remove the membrane from the bone side of the ribs.
- Combine dry ingredients in a bowl to make the dry rub.
- Coat all sides of the pork ribs with yellow mustard, then coat with the dry rub being sure to thoroughly cover all sides.
- Place the rack of ribs on the preheated Traeger. Smoke on Traeger for three hours at 225°F. Then wrap them in foil along with a tablespoon of bourbon and cook for two hours at 225°F. Finally, remove them from the foil and place them back on the grill grate and cook for one last hour at 225°F.
- Once the Traeger ribs are done, allow them to rest for five minutes or so, then cut them apart and serve them with your favorite sides.
This is a fabulous way to cook the ribs but if you’re using the recipe, don’t forget the smoked paprika…. It’s mentioned in the long form but not the actual recipe, it’s needed!! Screwed up on my second try as I was going quickly doing the rub. Please fix this! 🙂 Thanks for the instructions.
This is a Great Rib recipe I've never tasted before, it definitely helps Traeger Grill owner.