How to Smoke Beef Ribs on a Pellet Grill for Perfectly Tender Meat

Smoking beef ribs may seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you think with a pellet grill. The set-it-and-forget-it functionality of a pellet smoker makes it simple to achieve competition-worthy ribs with minimal effort. Follow this guide to learn the step-by-step process for smoking outrageously delicious beef ribs on your pellet grill.

Benefits of Using a Pellet Grill

Pellet grills like Traeger and Pit Boss offer several advantages for smoking beef ribs:

  • Set and maintain precise temperature: Pellet grills allow you to dial in and hold a specific temp like 225°F for low and slow smoking.

  • Consistent smoke: The auger system feeds pellets from the hopper into the fire pot to produce steady smoke.

  • Moisture: Pellet grills circulate heat and infuse meats with humidity for moist results.

  • Flavor: Various wood pellet flavors like hickory and mesquite infuse smoky essence.

  • Simple setup: Just fill the hopper and turn it on. Pellet grills are very user-friendly.

  • Walk away: Once running, a pellet grill doesn’t require constant tending like other smokers.

Pellet Grill Smoking Steps for Beef Ribs

Follow this simple process for incredible beef ribs using your pellet grill:

1. Choose the Ribs

Select a rack of beef back ribs or beef short ribs. Figure on about 1 pound of ribs per person. Look for ribs with nice marbling and a thick meaty layer for the most flavor and tenderness after smoking.

2. Prep the Ribs

  • Remove membrane: Use a knife to lift and peel away the papery membrane coating the backside of the ribs. This allows smoke to penetrate and makes the ribs easier to bite.

  • Apply rub: Generously coat both sides of the ribs with your favorite beef rub. Try Pit Boss Sweet Rib Rub or Sweet Heat Rub.

  • Flavor with mustard: For Added stickiness, you can brush the ribs with yellow mustard before applying rub.

3. Preheat Pellet Grill

Turn on your pellet grill, set temp to 225-250°F, and let it preheat completely before adding ribs. Hickory, maple, and mesquite pellets pair especially well with beef.

4. Smoke the Ribs

Place ribs bone-side down on the grill grates. Let them smoke at 225-250°F for 2-3 hours until the meat begins to shrink back from the bones. Spritz occasionally with apple juice or cider vinegar.

5. Wrap the Ribs

Double wrap the ribs tightly in foil or butcher paper and add apple juice or beef broth. Return to the grill for 2 more hours. This braising step helps tenderize the meat.

6. Finish on the Grill

Unwrap the ribs and lightly brush with barbecue sauce. Place them back on the grill over high heat for 30-60 minutes until caramelized.

7. Rest and Slice

Let the smoked beef ribs rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing between bones and serving.

And that’s all it takes to make competition-worthy beef ribs with your pellet grill and a few easy steps!

Pellet Grill Beef Rib Tips and Tricks

  • During the stall, spritz ribs every 30-60 minutes with a spray bottle filled with apple juice, cider vinegar, broth, or beer. This adds flavor and moisture.

  • Wrapping in foil retains more moisture compared to butcher paper. Butcher paper allows the ribs to absorb a touch more smoke flavor.

  • Don’t wrap too soon or you’ll steam the ribs and lose the nice bark texture on the outside. Wait until after the stall when the meat has shrunk back from the bone ends.

  • Add herbs and spices like garlic, brown sugar, cayenne, paprika, oregano, thyme, or rosemary to the wrapping packet for extra flavor infusion.

  • Keep an oven-safe bowl filled with water in the grill to add humidity and prevent the ribs from drying out during the long smoking time.

  • Use a meat thermometer and aim for 195-205°F internal temp. Check in multiple spots.

  • Once rested, the bones should twist freely. This is the best indicator for perfect tenderness.

  • Let ribs fully come to room temp before cooking for more even smoking. Don’t ice down hot ribs before serving or it will undo all your hard smoking work!

Pellet Grill Beef Rib Recipes

For step-by-step instructions, check out these top-rated beef rib recipes for pellet grills:

Pit Boss Mesquite Beef Ribs

Pit Boss Beef Rib Recipe

  • Rub ribs with Pit Boss Sweet Rib Rub or Sweet Heat Rub
  • Smoke at 225°F for 2-2.5 hours until meat pulls back
  • Wrap in foil with butter and smoke 2 more hours
  • Sauce and grill 30 minutes

Traeger 3-2-1 Beef Ribs

Traeger Beef Rib Recipe

  • Season with mesquite seasoning
  • Smoke 3 hours, spritzing with juice
  • Wrap in foil with juice for 2 hours
  • Smoke 1 hour with barbecue sauce

The 3-2-1 method (3 hours smoking, 2 hours wrapped, 1 sauced) is a simple technique that yields super tender, fall-off-the-bone beef ribs every time.

Pellet Grill Beef Rib Pairings

Some tasty sides to serve alongside your smoked beef ribs:

  • Baked beans – Sweet, savory, and smoky.

  • Coleslaw – Cool and tangy counterpart.

  • Corn on the cob – Grilled or smoked kernels.

  • Potato salad – Creamy texture and flavor.

  • Mac and cheese – Ooey-gooey cheesy goodness.

  • Collard greens – Pepper, garlic, and vinegar flavor.

Don’t forget cornbread, biscuits, or rolls to soak up all that luscious meaty juice! A cold beer or bourbon cocktail nicely complements the sweet and spicy ribs as well.

FAQs About Pellet Grill Smoked Beef Ribs

What is the 3-2-1 smoking method?

The 3-2-1 technique involves smoking the ribs for 3 hours, then wrapping for 2 hours, then saucing and grilling for 1 last hour.

What temp do you smoke beef ribs at?

Aim for 225-275°F on your pellet grill. Lower temp = more tender, higher temp = faster cook time.

How long does it take to smoke beef ribs?

Around 5-6 hours total. Time can vary based on temperature and thickness of ribs.

What pellet flavor is best for beef ribs?

Hickory, maple, oak, mesquite, pecan, and apple all pair wonderfully with beef.

How do you know when beef ribs are done?

Look for ribs pulling back from the bones, a toothpick poking through cleanly, and meat probe reading 195-210°F.


With the right pellet grill and a few easy tips, you can make competition-worthy beef ribs right in your own backyard. The smoker does most of the work for you with its precise temperature control and steady flow of flavorful smoke. Follow this guide for tender, juicy, smoky beef rib perfection every time. Happy smoking!

How to Smoke Beef Ribs on a Pellet Grill | Recipe by BBQGuys


How long does it take to smoke beef ribs at 225?

Cover the container and place the ribs in the fridge for 2 hours to dry brine. After 2 hours, remove the ribs from the fridge and allow them to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes (do not rinse off the rub). Smoke at 225°F (107°C) for 4-5 hours or until they get as tender as you like them.

How long does it take to smoke ribs in a pellet smoker?

Place the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the ribs without touching any bones and position it at the center of your pellet grill. Shut the lid of your pellet grill, and smoke for 3 hours. If you prefer to spritz the ribs during the cooking process, spritz them every 45 minutes.

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