Learn how to smoke a beef ribs on a Traeger pellet grill following our detailed instructions and recipe below!
Smoked Beef Short Ribs are amazingly fun and delicious BBQ and especially easy to cook on a Traeger pellet grill.
What to Look for When Buying Beef Ribs to Smoke on a Pit Boss
Make sure to go to a real butcher shop, not your local chain store, and buy an uncut, thick, meaty, square looking slab of beef short ribs, sometimes called plate short ribs.
You DO NOT want Crosscut, Korean-style, or Flanken Cut, as this style of butchering cuts across the bones leaving you with tiny segments of bone surrounded by meat.
Great for braising and korean style grilling, and while it is POSSIBLE to smoke them on the Traeger if they are butchered this way, they are harder to deal with and not as fun to eat or present as a full sized beef rib.
You also DO NOT want Beef BACK ribs. These come from the upper "back" of the cow and are leaner and longer and don't hold up as well to low and slow smoking. They are exactly where your ribeye steaks and prime rib roasts attach.
Beef Short Ribs, what we want, are well...shorter...and have the meat primarily ON TOP of the bone vs. beef back ribs that have the meat in between the bones.
What you want ideally is an UNCUT 3 bone slab of Beef Short Ribs that weighs about 5-7 lbs uncooked.
This is perfect for smoking on the Traeger pellet grill.
How to Prepare Beef Ribs for the Traeger Pellet Grill
Trim the Beef Ribs
So, you don't have to do too much trimming other than to remove the small layer of silverskin you'll see running over the top. Make sure to remove this so your seasoning can actually make contact with the meat below it.
Use a good sharp boning knife like our favorite from iMarku.
Also, make sure to leave the membrane on the bottom of the beef short ribs INTACT.
Unlike our pork ribs where we remove the bottom membrane, on beef ribs we need to leave this membrane in place.
If you remove the bottom membrane the beef ribs can fall apart from each other and then the beef can separate from the rib bones as well.
This will leave you with an unpresentable mess rather than a nice intact rack of smoked beef ribs.
You can add a little cayenne for extra heat or garlic and onion powder for additional flavor, but go easy on the rubs that are heavy in sugar content.
We use it exclusively on the Hot and Fast version of our Pellet Grill Brisket, because we don't want any sugar to burn.
Use only a small amount of cooking oil to help the rub adhere, if any at all.
There is a LOT of fat in these smoked beef ribs that will melt out and help form the beautiful bark we are looking for without the need for additional fats and oils.
Be generous with the amount of rub you put on. Then you can wrap the beef ribs in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to smoke them.
This can even be done the night before to save some time the next day and to let the salt in the rub fully penetrate the beef ribs.
The Best Wood Pellets for Smoking Beef Short Ribs on a Traeger Pellet Grill
Now it's time to choose the right wood pellets to smoke your Traeger beef ribs.
Alternatively, you can also go for a milder smoke flavor by choosing oak or fruitwood pellets. Pecan, apple, beech, alder, and cherry all give great results on beef ribs.
Don't forget you can mix them up too to create your own custom blend.
That's one of the great things about a Traeger pellet grill!
For a straightforward smoke right out of the bag, we are big fans of Bear Mountain Red and White Smoky Oak Pellets
For the best results, store your unused pellets in a sealed room temperature container like this 20 lb pellet container rather than in the Pit Boss hopper outside.
Traeger pellets do not last forever, but will definitely last a LOT longer if stored indoors in a quality airtight container.
How a Traeger Pellet Grill Works
In order to cook ANYTHING well on a Traeger pellet grill, you need to first have a basic understanding of how a pellet grill works.
***Completely New to Using a Traeger Pellet Grill? No Worries!****
We also recently compared our two favorite Traeger models head to head if you're in the market for a new Traeger or to upgrade your old one.
Or hop over and check out this Complete Guide to Understanding How a Pellet Grill Works first if you are interested in learning more. We'll be here when you get back!
Add your Hardwood Pellets
First, you add hardwood pellets into the side hopper.
The Traeger pellet grill automatically feeds these small wood pellets via an auger mechanism to a fire pot where they are burned up, providing both heat and smokey flavor.
The pellet grill automatically controls the flow of pellets depending on your temperature setting so that you maintain an even temperature throughout the entire cook.
How to Start up the Traeger
There is a specific start up process for the Traeger brand pellet grills you can read all about in depth here if you aren't sure how to fire it up the first time.
Otherwise, here is the basic process for how to start a Traeger before throwing on your food:
- Plug in the grill.
- Flip the power switch to ON and turn the dial to "Smoke".
- You will hear the fan kick on and the auger start to move and begin to kick pellets into the fire pot. Your fire rod will begin to heat up as well.
- Leave the lid open for about 5-7 minutes until you start to see white billowing smoke come out of the grill. This happens when the pellets are first igniting.
- Once a smoke is being produced, close the lid and change the temperature dial to your desired temperature setting.
- Allow about 10-15 minutes to preheat the grill.
- While you are waiting, make sure you've got the drip pan in place and the grease bucket hanging to catch any grease that comes out during the cook. Use a grease bucket liner to minimize cleanup later.
- Put your grates on if they aren't already in place.
- Using a good bristle free grill brush, clean off the grill grates if there is any leftover stuck on food from the last cook.
- When the pellet grill comes up to temperature go ahead and put on your food!
Why Bristle Free Grill Brushes?
Check out our Ultimate Guide to How to Keep your Family Safe by using ONLY Bristle Free Grill Brushes, along with a selection of some of our favorites!
How to Smoke Beef Ribs on a Traeger Pellet Grill
What Temperature do you Smoke Beef Short Ribs on a Traeger Pellet Grill?
Set the temperature to 275°F after preheating and let the Traeger stabilize at this temperature.
While you CAN smoke beef ribs at 200-225°F, we are going to speed up the process just slightly, we've found without losing any moisture at this slightly higher temperature.
How Long do you Smoke Beef Ribs on a Traeger Pellet Grill?
Place the beef ribs in the Traeger cooking chamber with the bones pointing left and right, not front and back.
Put the thicker end to the right if there is one, which is normally the hotter side of a Traeger pellet grill.
Always use insulated bbq gloves when rotating or moving the beef ribs around.
You may need to rotate the rack of beef ribs 180° every hour or so to get even cooking and make sure the bones pull away evenly on both sides.
Smoked Beef Ribs will take about 60-75 minutes per pound on a Traeger pellet grill at 275°F.
So a 5 lb rack of beef short plate ribs may take 5-7 hours.
However, you must always cook to temperature, not to time.
How Do You Know When Smoked Beef Ribs are Done on a Traeger Pellet Grill?
We are going to wrap our beef ribs in butcher paper when they hit about 180°F internal temperature.
This will ensure a nice crusty bark forms before we wrap.
Then we will continue cooking until they reach 200°F internally, much like a beef brisket.
Smoked beef short ribs are best served when cooked to 200°F internally, then allowed to rest.
You'll want to monitor the internal temperature of the beef ribs as they progress through the cook.
If you don't yet own an instant read thermometer, it's going to be hard to really know exactly when the ribs need to be wrapped or when they are done cooking on the Traeger.
You'll want a good leave in probe thermometer like the Thermopro as well as a second instant read thermometer to spot check as you get close to pulling the beef ribs off the grill.
If you don't yet own an instant read thermometer, ThermoPro makes a good one of these too.
While we have used and recommended ThermoPro for years, lately we have also become big fans of the MEATER leave in thermometer.
It is extremely accurate and has an incredible 165 foot bluetooth range and works right with your smartphone so you don't need to carry a separate controller around with you like many other remote thermometers require.
It's got a great free app that is constantly being updated and even has an algorithm to predict how much longer your type of meat will take to cook based on cooking temperature, target temperature, current internal temperature.
It's like a GPS for your meat!
The Texas Crutch
One way to speed up your cooking time and increase your Traeger smoked beef rib tenderness is by using a tried and tested barbecue technique known as the "Texas Crutch".
Don't worry, it's not complicated.
Typically, we wrap big cuts of meat like brisket and pork shoulder in foil but for beef ribs, where we are trying to keep that nice crusty bark intact, we are going to wrap in pink butcher paper instead.
Pink butcher paper still tenderizes the meat without fully steaming it, which will cause us to lose that nicely formed bark.
That's also why we are waiting until the beef ribs hit 180°F before wrapping. This gives us extra time for that bark to stiffen and set up on the meat.
So be patient and wait for them to hit the right temps.
Beef short ribs aren't cheap, and you don't want to go through all of this just to end up with mushy meat because you rushed it.
After wrapping in the pink butcher paper, replace your thermometer, or spot check with an instant read, and place the ribs back on the Traeger, and let them continue to cook.
Leave the beef ribs wrapped until they get to your target temperature of 200°F and then remove them from the smoker.
With pink butcher paper, you can leave them wrapped right like they are while they rest for about 30 minutes.
We like this kind from Meat Hugger because it comes with a built in dispensing box for easy tearing and cleanup.
Resting the Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs
Give the smoked beef ribs about 30 minutes to rest and let the meat relax and the juices redistribute before slicing.
You can leave the ribs right in the butcher paper to help keep them moist while they rest.
Slicing and Serving Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs
The easiest way to slice your smoked beef ribs is to turn them upside down so you can see the bones and slice evenly between them
Make sure to use a good meat slicing knife so that your slices cut cleanly and don't pull and tear at that now delicate smoked beef rib meat.
Unlike pork ribs, you'll find that sometimes a SINGLE smoked beef short ribs is enough to feed a hungry adult.
Traeger Smoked Beef Short Ribs
- Traeger Pellet Grill
- Wood pellets for Traeger preferably oak, alder, apple, and/or cherry
- Aluminum Foil Trays
- Plastic Wrap
- Empty Spray Bottle
- Internal Meat Thermometer
- Pink Butcher Paper
- Large Cutting Board
- Meat Slicing Knife
- Large Cutting Board
- 1 3 Bone Section Beef Short Plate Ribs
Savory Beef Rib Rub
- ½ cup Kosher Salt use more or less if needed depending on preference.
- ¼ cup Smoked paprika
- ¼ cup Black pepper
- 2 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne powder
Beef Rib Spray
- 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Cup Water
Prepare the Beef Ribs
- Trim the silverskin and any excess fat off the top of the beef ribs.1 3 Bone Section Beef Short Plate Ribs
- Do not trim or pull away the membrane on the bottom of the beef ribs.
Apply the Rub
- Mix the rub ingredients well and apply generously to the entire top and sides of the beef ribs.½ cup Kosher Salt, ¼ cup Smoked paprika, ¼ cup Black pepper, 2 tablespoon Garlic Powder, 1 tablespoon Onion powder, 1 teaspoon Cayenne powder
- Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 hours while you prepare the grill, or even overnight to allow the salt and rub to penetrate the meat.
Start the Traeger Pellet Grill
- Load the hopper of the Traeger with your chosen wood pellets.
- Turn on the Traeger and move the dial to the "Smoke" setting.
- Leave the lid open for 5-7 minutes until you start seeing white billowing smoke coming out of the grill. This means the initial pellets are igniting.
- Close the lid and turn the temperature dial to 275°F. Allow 10-15 minutes for the grill to come up to temperature.
- Clean the grill grates with a good grill brush and close the lid again.
Smoke the Beef Ribs on the Traeger
- Remove the plastic wrap and place the beef ribs on the Traeger with the bones running left to right and the thicker end pointed to the hitter right side.
- Place an internal temperature probe if you have one into the center of the meat on top of the beef ribs.
- Close the lid, rotate 180°F every hour keeping the ribs pointed left to right so that both sides pull away from the bone evenly.
- Mix the apple cider vinegar and water together in the spray bottle and spritz the beef ribs about every 30 minutes or so to keep them moist.1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 Cup Water
- Cook the beef ribs until they reach about 180°F internally which may take about 5 hours.
Texas Crutch - Wrapping in Butcher Paper
- Carefully remove the beef ribs from the Traeger and place on a large sheet of pink butcher paper.
- Wrap the beef ribs with the butcher paper around on all sides.
- Replace the temperature probe and place back on the Traeger.
Remove, Rest, and Slice the Smoked Beef Short Ribs
- When the internal temperature of the beef ribs have have reached 200°F, remove from the Traeger and keep wrapped.
- Let the smoked beef ribs rest for about 30 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to distribute.
- After resting, place the beef ribs on a large cutting board. Turn upside down to see the bones and slice down between each bone and serve.