A Recipe to Remember: Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs

September 22, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Although you may be more familiar with smoking baby back ribs, you have to give Traeger smoked beef ribs a try! They are smoky, flavorful, and have a gorgeous texture!

I first got the recipe from a pitmaster on the competition circuit - but I promised to make it my own so I have been messing around with ingredients and smoking time ever since. Here is the recipe that I am finally happy with!

Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs

Traeger Smoked Beef Back Ribs Recipe


  • 2 racks of beef back ribs
meet on a charcoal grill

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbs. + 2tsp. of brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbs. of smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tbs. of garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbs. of onion powder
  • 1 tbs. of oregano
  • 1.5 tsp. of salt
  • 1.5 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp. of cumin
  • 1.5 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper

BBQ Sauce

  • Your favorite barbecue sauce


Step 1

Preheat the smoker to 225°F. Close the lid.

Step 2

There is a thin membrane on the bone side of the beef ribs that needs to be removed. Find a middle bone to get started with. Then, work a butter knife underneath the membrane, loosening it.

Once you have lifted enough of it up, pull it up and back, peeling it away from the meat.

Step 3

Sprinkle the rub liberally on both sides of the beef ribs. Press into the meat.

Place in the smoker, bone side down.

Step 4

When the beef ribs register about 190°F, take out of the smoker and apply a thin layer of barbecue sauce to either side of the beef ribs. This should be around the six or seven hour mark.

Continue to do this every half an hour until the beef ribs register 205°F. This should be about an hour or two later.

Take out of the smoker and let rest for up to 20 minutes.

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Prepping the Beef Ribs

Here are some tips to follow for choosing and preparing the smoked beef ribs:

Types of Beef Ribs

One of your first tasks when making smoked or BBQ beef ribs is choosing the right cut. There are two types for you to choose from - beef back ribs and beef short ribs which are also known as chuck ribs and plate ribs.

The short ribs are a cut taken from the lower part of the rib cage, behind the brisket. The meat on these ribs are thick and sit on top of the bones. There is also plenty of fat, marbling, and connective tissue here.

Then there are the beef back ribs. These are taken from the dorsal area, behind the shoulders. Here, the beat is found in between the bones. The ribs tend to be about six to eight inches long.

Now, for this recipe I have smoked beef back ribs. However, if you wish, you can use short ribs - their fattiness does make them an excellent option for smoking.

Baby Back Ribs on the Grill

The only thing that you need to be aware of, though, is that short ribs can come in a variety of sizes and lengths. Always choose the longer options as they will hold up better to the smoking process.

Trimming the Beef Back Ribs

I know that trimming the ribs can be a bit of a pain but this is something that you need to do, regardless. See, unlike connective tissue, the membrane doesn't melt when exposed to heat for an extended period of time. As such, when you try to bite into your smoked beef back ribs, you will be met with a tough and unyielding covering.

To add to this, this lining can prevent seasoning, heat, and the smoke flavor from properly penetrating the ribs. Thus, not only will the meat take longer to cook, but your ribs won't end up as tasty as you would like.

The good news is that once you have lifted up that first piece of the lining, it is easy enough to pull the rest away. To get a better grip, hold the lining with a paper towel and pull.

Applying the Rub

Instead of this BBQ rub, you can choose another option. Even steak seasoning can work well for these beef back ribs. Or, you can keep it simple with just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The choice is up to you.

For the most part, simply pressing the rub into the meat will do the trick. If you want to guarantee that the ingredients will stick, though, then you can apply a thin layer of olive oil to the ribs beforehand. Adding a little fat into the mix can also produce tastier smoked beef ribs.

Some people may also use mustard as a sticking agent but I find oil to be a better fit here.

Now, you may be wondering how long you should leave the rub on for before smoking the ribs. I have discovered that even 10 minutes will do the trick. If you want, though, you can keep the ribs in the fridge for several hours.

If you take this step, make sure to take the ribs out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before smoking the meat so that the ribs have time to warm up.

Getting the Smoking Process Right

Here are the guidelines to follow to ensure that your smoked beef ribs turn out perfectly:

The Wood Chips

Beef ribs, in general, are a hardier cut. This means that they can hold up well to stronger smoke flavors. Thus, if you wish, you can try some hickory or even mesquite. Just make sure that you only use about a handful or you could end up causing the meat to be bitter.

If you would prefer to err on the side of caution, then oak would do the trick. I know that some also like apple or cherry but I do find that these are better suited to smoked pork dishes.

The Smoking Temperature

I know that plenty of people like to smoke their beef ribs at higher temperatures. I, however, don't like taking that risk. As you will see, there isn't much meat on the bones and I don't want to risk drying them out.

For me, 225°F is the ideal temperature. You can bump up the temperature to 250°F, but make sure to monitor the internal temperature carefully closer towards the end of the cook.

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Bone Side Up or Down - Resting the Matter

Ask this question in a group of pitmasters and you are going to end up with a lot of different answers. The good news, though, is that now there is a definite answer.

It is all about ensuring that the bones are facing towards the heat source. In a Traeger pellet grill, the heat is coming from downwards. Thus, this is how the ribs must be placed.

Basting the Beef Back Ribs

I have noticed that a lot of people will baste or spritz their smoked beef ribs at intervals with either beef broth, apple juice, or apple cider vinegar. Some people will even create concoctions of their own.

Personally, I don't like to do this. For one thing, this action doesn't have the impact that everyone assumes that it will - add moisture to the ribs. Instead, at this temperature, the liquid will simply evaporate.

smoked ribs with sauce

The other reason that I don't like using this method is that every time you spray the ribs, you are getting rid of some of that delicious dry rub. In doing so, you are compromising the exterior of the meat as well as the overall flavor.

The Internal Temp

Dont ever use time or how your ribs look to determine whether they are done or not. Instead, always use a thermometer. When it registers 205°F, it is time to take them off the smoker. Do it at this point precisely to prevent overcooking.

Now, when taking the internal temp, make sure that the end of the probe is at least an inch away from the bone. Too close to the bone and you will end

Applying the Sauce

I want to say that there are a lot of people who don't agree with applying the sauce while the ribs are still smoking. Plenty of people prefer to serve the sauce with the smoked beef ribs once they have finished cooking.

It is up to you to decide which method is better suited for you.

If you do decide to apply the sauce, though, there is a trick to follow. Make sure that it is applied in a thin layer each time and on each side. Don't just glop it on - use a pastry brush to get an even layer.

Not only does this allow the smoke to continue to penetrate the meat, but it also gives you a nice, crusty exterior.

Resting the Ribs

As with smoking any meat, make sure to rest your ribs. Remember not to break the rack apart during this time. Instead, let it sit for around 20 minutes. If you simply can't wait that long, then 10 minutes may do.

To ensure that I am serving up the best possible ribs, though, I always like to add resting time to the entire cook time when making my calculations about when to get started.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Beef Ribs on a Traeger Grill?

Depending on the smoker temperature, it can take you between 5 to 10 hours to smoke your beef ribs.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Beef Ribs at 225?

It can take between 8 to 10 hours to smoke the meat at this temperature.

Does the 3 2 1 Method Work for Beef Ribs?

Unlike with pork ribs, I don't like to wrap the beef ribs during the cook. Thus, I would say that this method isn't the best option here.

Wrapping It Up

These Traeger smoked beef ribs are unlike anything you have ever tried before. Easy to make but oh so delicious - it is heaven with every bite! Give them a try as soon as you can!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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