Baby Back Ribs on my Traeger pellet smoker grill

By | July 4, 2011

I whipped up a batch of baby back ribs on my Traeger grill yesterday. OK, maybe whipped isn’t the right word.

I bought 3 racks of ribs from the local butcher on Friday. ┬áThese were not pre-packaged/sealed/prepared, just plain ribs. Saturday night, I mixed Pappy’s rub (their reduced sodium offering) with sugar, and rubbed down the 3 racks of ribs. Wrapped them in parchment paper and then foil (I didn’t have any butcher paper, didn’t want them to sit in foil overnight.)

On Sunday I fired up the Traeger, put the ribs on “smoke” level (~170 deg) for about an hour, and then bumped them to 225 for another 3 hours. From time to time I’d squirt a little apple juice on them to keep them moist, but they really didn’t need it.

After a total of 4 hours in the grill, they looked something like this:


After 4 hours of low heat and smokeAt that point I had a few people to satisfy as far as sauces (or lack thereof). So I put generic BBQ sauce on one rack, Thai chili sauce on a second, and left the third rack plain (no sauce).



Thai Chili ribs in the foreground, BBQ sauce in the back


All three were excellent. BBQ sauce for those that like’m that way, and the Thai chili sauce was great because it’s super sweet and a little hot. ┬áThe natural ribs were, in my opinion, the best.


15 thoughts on “Baby Back Ribs on my Traeger pellet smoker grill

  1. don watkins

    Hi Bill:

    I have a new Traeger going right now. I am following their recipe in the book for ribs as I type this to you. Can’t wait althought your recipe sounds better. I will say I am a little worried about the cost of wood pellets. Do you know of any places to get deals? Also this seems like a big deal can you recommend a few sites (web) to check out.

    Don Watkins

  2. Bill Plein Post author

    The cost of pellets can be a big variable. Cooking low-and-slow (like 225 for pulled pork, or ribs) is very efficient. Increasing the amount of meat in a single cook, let’s say doubling it, does not double the amount of pellets (although it will go up a little). But cooking at 350, or 400+, will burn through a LOT of pellets.

    So it’s variable on how you cook.

    The price is also variable depending on where you live.

    I have two Traeger dealers within about 10-15 miles of my house. They carry Traeger pellets at full retail (about $18 per 20lb bag). When you include the cost of gas for driving a car over, it’s pricy to only buy a bag, so it’s good to buy a few, or several. Better yet, plan ahead, and buy them from Traeger directly. Traeger does NOT charge shipping. If you can wait a week for delivery, why not have them delivered for free (unless you are planning on visiting the Traeger dealer anyhow)

    Finally, there is only one other reasonably local source for food quality pellets (non-Traeger). I can get GMG pellets for $20 per 28lbs. They are good pellets, I like them.

    Since I am far away from anyone who ships pellets, it doesn’t make sense at all to buy them online and have them shipped, except as mentioned above. If you are closer to a vendor, you could get them shipped cheaper, or even drive by and pick up some.

  3. Gary Bosin

    My last purchase of pellets was from a local True Value hardware store. Price was 11.79 / 20lbs.
    They are rated for food processing, I have not detected any difference from the Traeger pellets.

  4. Gary Bosin

    Just bought Traeger rib rack on sale for $20. Not sure how to use it…there were no instructions. Any one here use one?

  5. Bill Plein Post author

    I’m not sure about the Traeger rack, but I use a generic rack and it looks like they’d work the same. Just stack your ribs vertically between the wires. The issue I have is that the uncooked ribs tend to be heavy and soft, and sort of flop around especially if they are very long or heavy (like spare ribs). You can run the ribs left-to-right or front-to-back, but front-to-back they may run into the hot air and get burnt ends on them.

  6. paul mcoid

    just atack the ribs on end in the rack, works better for beef ribs

  7. Larry Hon

    Find a Rural King… They longer sell traeger brand but sell high quality pellets from WI….. 12.99/bag

  8. ART

    The 12.99 pellets Larry is speaking of do work well… I get them from Big R. Traeger are also sold there for 19.99 for 20lb bag. I have bought, which is unique, traeger brand pellets blended (apple, Hickory, mesquite) 40lb bag from Costco for 19.99. One has to suck the ash and make sure the grill is dry (not in rain) if you use those 12.99 pellets… Also, Traeger claims use of non-traeger pellets voids warranty, just so you know……. Fixing to smoke some racks in morning….We shall see how it goes!

  9. John Chambers

    Check out Green Mountain pellets. They are manufactured differently than Traeger. I get longer burn times for the same amount, G.M. Vs T. Looking at the pellets the impregnation of flavoring appears significantly better, G.M. Vs T. My experience anyway. It’s not always just the cost per bag or per pound, but how much burn time you get from the pound or bag.

  10. Bill Plein Post author

    Sorry for the late approval of the comment. I’ve tried GM pellets, and while I didn’t notice the longer burn times, I don’t disagree with your assessment. It’s not all about $/lb, it’s about quality of the smoke, the quality (or lack) of ash, and as you noted, cost per cook is really related to the burn times as well!

  11. Paul Joyce

    Hi. Great post. Cant wait to make some smoked ribs like yours. I am looking at a Traeger and was wondering what size traeger you have? In the picks it looks like you have room for a couple more racks. I was hoping to get the elite 22 but want to make sure I can easily cook a couple racks and maybe a chicken or a brisket as well. Thanks in advance. PJ

  12. Bill Plein Post author

    I have the Texas Grill, which today is available (with more bling) as the Texas Elite 34, so the big one. full long racks of ribs won’t go sideways on either the 34 or the 22, so you have to run them lengthwise.

  13. mrwaturi

    Costco has a good deal on pellets. It’s a blend of three woods, but I find it works well for everything I cook.

  14. Richard Stout

    I have been buying a 40 lb mix bag at Walmart for around 15 dollars. its a mix of hickory,maple, and apple, pretty good for about anything.

  15. Kevin

    This recipe is a winner! Used it today using a Traeger Tailgater and Traeger Gourmet pellets (from Costco). Prepared ribs using a homemade low-sodium pork rub I got on the web. Followed the directions exactly (went the no sauce route, no spritzing with apple juice, either). Four hours later: juicy, smokey, flavorful ribs. Forget all the complicated 3-2-1, foil wrap-unwrap, etc., recipes out there. This simple recipe gets it done!

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