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Traeger Smoked Beef Back Ribs

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Talk about a flavor bomb. These Traeger smoked beef back ribs are so tender that they practically fall off the bone! The Traeger smoker does all the work while you sit back and wait for some delicious ribs. The dry rub gives these ribs a wonderful crusty bark so good you won’t even need any BBQ sauce. They are really that good! Choose chuck ribs or plate ribs for the best results as they have more meat on them. Beef ribs are best smoked low and slow for the ultimate rib experience.

Traeger smoked beef ribs sliced and stacked.

What are beef back ribs anyway?

Beef back ribs come from the beef rib primal cut in the forequarter of the steer. The rib primal cut is known for being well-marbled with tasty fat. This is also where the prime rib roast or ribeye cuts come from. We all know how delicious prime rib and ribeye are, so you can imagine that these are some of the most mouthwatering ribs you can get.

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How to get the best smoked beef back ribs

Butchers will earn top dollar for the prime rib roast and ribeye cuts, so the beef back ribs will typically be left with little meat on them. The meat will often be trimmed from between the bones during the trimming process so that the butchers can maximize their profits when selling the prime rib roast or ribeye steaks.

You may have some luck finding beef back ribs at your local grocery store. However, I always recommend going to your local butcher and asking them for their best beef back ribs. The local butchers will be more likely to help you find some ribs that have the most meat between the bones.

A rack of beef ribs smoked on the traeger with a dry rub.

Beef back ribs vs short ribs

There are basically two types of ribs that come from the steer: beef back ribs and short ribs. Both types make for an amazing barbecue when smoked low and slow.

Beef back ribs come from the top dorsal area of the steer in the forequarter. Most of the meat is between the bones since the butchers will remove as much meat as possible when trimming off the prime rib and ribeye cuts. But the flavor of beef back ribs will be amazing and, if cooked properly, make for some delicious smoked ribs.

Beef short ribs come from a couple of different areas on the steer. Plate short ribs come from the lower section of the steer right behind the brisket. These are often called “loaded beef ribs” or “dinosaur beef ribs” because they have a bunch of meat on top of the bones, sometimes as much as 2″ to 3″ marbled with fat. Chuck short ribs come from the steer’s upper section, just in front of the beef back ribs. These would be the 1st through 5th rib bones, and the bones are generally a bit shorter than the plate short ribs. Chuck short ribs still garner extra meat on top of the bones.

Ingredients for Traeger smoked beef back ribs

For delicious ribs, you need a great rub. The rub will help add flavor to the ribs, and after smoking, it will help develop a nice bark on the outside. To keep the ribs moist and prevent them from drying out, a vinegar-based spray is used during the smoke. This spray also helps to add flavor.

ingredients used for traeger smoked beef ribs.

How to cook smoked beef back ribs on the Traeger

Step 1: remove the membrane

Flip the beef back ribs over, bone side up. There is a membrane that runs on the outside of the bones. Unlike other connective tissue, this membrane does not soften when cooked. Use a knife to begin cutting the membrane away from the bones. Once it is started, use a paper towel to grip the membrane and peel it away from the bones. It should come off easily, but it may come off in sections. Just repeat the peeling process until it is completely removed.

Step 2: rub the ribs

Combine all the ingredients for the barbecue dry rub. Thoroughly coat the ribs with the dry rub; coat both sides and all of the ribs’ edges. Let the ribs sit for 10 to 20 minutes to let the rub settle into the meat. You can also let the ribs sit in the fridge overnight with the rub, acting as a dry brine to tenderize the meat.

Step 3: make the spray

In a medium bowl, mix the apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and Tabasco hot sauce. Pour this into a spray bottle and reserve for later.

Step 4: smoke the ribs

Smoke the beef back ribs in the Traeger at 250°F, meat side up, for 5 to 8 hours or until the ribs’ internal temperature reaches 200°F to 205°F.

Tip: use fruit woods while smoking beef. I like to use the Pit Boss Apple pellets. Hickory or oak can be too overpowering for beef, but if you use it in a blend with fruit woods, it should be fine. I also like to use the Pit Boss Competition Blend.

Step 5: spray frequently

Once the ribs reach 160°F, or for the final 2 hours on the smoker, spray the ribs frequently with the reserved vinegar spray. You can wrap the ribs at this point if you would like. Wrapping them will also help the ribs to retain moisture while smoking. Use either aluminum foil or butcher paper to wrap them tightly and then place them back on the smoker.

Step 6: slice and serve

Once the smoked beef back ribs reach the internal temperature of 200°F to 205°F, remove the ribs from the Traeger. Wrap the ribs in aluminum foil or butcher paper and allow them to rest for 20 minutes. After the ribs rest, slice them between each bone and serve!

Process photos for making Traeger smoked beef ribs.

What else is cookin’ over here?!

Try out these same beef back ribs in the air fryer. These air fryer beef back ribs are great for quickly cooking up some smaller portions of ribs when you don’t want to pull out the Traeger. You will need to trim the ribs down to smaller portions to fit in the air fryer.

If you need some amazing BBQ sauce to go along with the ribs, this Kansas City-style BBQ sauce is my FAVORITE!

You need to try out this Traeger smoked turkey breast! It is wrapped in bacon, so what isn’t to love!? It is super tender and incredibly juicy, the perfect addition to your holiday cookout.

Smoked beef ribs with a dry rub.

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Traeger smoked beef ribs sliced and stacked.

Traeger Smoked Beef Ribs

Yield: 3 to 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Rest Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 6 hours 35 minutes

The Traeger smoker does all the work to make these ribs so tender they practically fall off the bone. The dry rub gives the ribs a delicious crusty bark and you don't even need any sauce. They are really that good. Choose chuck ribs or plate ribs for the best results as they have more meat on them.

Ingredients

  • 1 rack of beef ribs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Barbecue dry rub
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 to 8 shakes of tabasco sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat the Traeger to 250°F
  2. Turn the ribs over so the bony side is up and peel off the membrane. This is the thick tissue that covers the back of the ribs. Use a butter knife to get under the membrane and loosen it. Once you get it lifted, use a paper towel to hold onto it and pull it off. Sometimes it pulls right off in one piece. 
  3. Generously coat both sides and all edges of the ribs with the rub. Let the ribs sit for 10 to 20 minutes to let the rub settle into the meat. You could also let the ribs sit in the fridge overnight with the rub – it will act as a dry brine and tenderize the meat further. 
  4. Place the ribs in the pre-heated smoker and cook for 5 to 8 hours. During the last 2 hours, spritz the ribs with the vinegar solution every 30 minutes or so.
  5. Check for doneness with a fork or skewer. They will be easy to pierce with a fork and easy to pull the meat off the bone. If you have a meat thermometer, the ribs should be between 200°F and 205°F. 
  6. Remove the ribs from the smoker and cover with butcher paper or aluminum foil for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. 

Notes

  • Put a generous coating of the rub all over the beef ribs. The rub will form a crusty bark on the ribs and give it so much flavor you won’t even need sauce. 
  • Removing the membrane will let the flavors of the rub soak into the meat. Otherwise, it will act as a barrier to the flavor and leave a tough, inedible membrane on the ribs if you leave the membrane on. 
  • The long, slow smoking will break down tough fibers in the meat and create very tender beef ribs.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 1344Total Fat 45gSaturated Fat 23gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 161mgSodium 1307mgCarbohydrates 193gFiber 3gSugar 190gProtein 45g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Kristy Murray

Thursday 7th of January 2021

This post is so great and so appreciated. My husband got a Traeger Smoker for Christmas and it's nice to have good recipes to use for it. Thanks a bunch. I'll share this with him.

Joshua Boquist

Friday 8th of January 2021

Thanks Kristy! I am sure your husband will enjoy that Traeger, it is almost addicting!