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Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs

My Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs are currently #1 on my favorite grill recipes list. These aren’t quick, but they ARE easy.

Pork ribs are seasoned with a dry rub, slow-smoked for 5 hours, coated with dark brown sugar and cooked with a bottle of hard apple cider to braise for 4 hours, and then get cooked uncovered right on the grill grates for another hour coated with your favorite barbecue sauce. You’ll never have a better pork rib.

Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs

Is there anybody out there that is a HUGE fan of BBQ ribs like I am? You need to do yourself a favor and make these delicious ribs. These are the kind of ribs that fall off the bone. I don’t know about you, but I like tender meat.

This is the perfect meal to make when you know you’re having a crowd over, and you don’t want to be hovering over the meal while everyone is around. My Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs do take a long time to make, but they are totally worth it!

What are the best pork ribs for grilling?

  • SPARE RIBS are cut from the top portion of the rib cage. They have longer bones, and very flavorful meat and generally have a longer cooking time. These are very versatile ribs and are made using several different methods including grilling, smoking, and roasting. You will find these ribs with about 11-13 bones per package.
  • BABY BACK RIBS are cut from the bottom portion of the rib cage and are meatier than spare ribs. They don’t take as long to cook, and you will find these types of ribs happily being grilled in the northern part of the United States. These ribs have about 10-13 bones per package.
  • ST. LOUIS STYLE RIBS are a cut that you will find in the southern part of the United States more often. This term became an official USDA cut in the 1980’s. These are actually spare ribs with the rib tips cut off, as they are a little gristly and have little meat on them.  These are famous down south, and are really amazing!
  • COUNTRY STYLE PORK RIBS sometimes are considered chops and are cut from the shoulder blade. They have a lot of meat on them and people like these when they don’t want to use their hands to eat ribs. A knife and fork will do the trick for these “ribs”.

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Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs

The best dry rub for smoked ribs

Before you start with any large piece of meat on the grill, you need to rub it and rub it good.

I like to use my homemade BBQ Rub. It hits all the right notes for an all-purpose barbecue rub, helps pull on all of that great smoky flavor, and just the right amount of heat.

You’ll find a bunch of pre-made rubs that you might like for your ribs. Experiment a little and see what works best for you!

Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs

How long does it take to smoke 5-4-1 ribs?

These particular are smoked on the wood-pellet grill for 5 hours. I know it seems like a lot, but it is a thing you are going to want to try.

I know if you do any googling, you’re going to come across one of the most popular smoked rib recipes out there, the 3-2-1 ribs method. That calls for a 3-hour smoke, a 2-hour braise wrapped tightly in foil, and then 1 hour on the grill with barbecue sauce (or variations of that).

I’ve seen great things done with the 3-2-1 ribs recipe, but personally, I MUCH prefer my 5-4-1 method in both taste and tenderness.

Try for yourself and let me know what you prefer!

You can also cheat and use a pressure cooker for FASTER Smoked Ribs.

Don’t have a smoker? You can make awesome Pork Spare Ribs in the oven too!

Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs

Tips for 5-4-1 Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs

  1. Don’t rush it! Great barbecue takes a long time. Deal with it and just buckle up for a long drive. You can’t escape it, and once you taste these, you won’t want to either.
  2. Peel off the membrane! Most ribs have a membrane that runs all along the bottom of the bones. You’ll want to get rid of that or it can make things less-than-ideal. Some grocers pre-peel their baby back ribs, and some don’t. When in doubt, give it a shot.
  3. Make at least 1/2 rack per person. A full rack from grown men and women wouldn’t be too crazy. These are amazing, and you’re going to want extras.
  4. You can totally make these ahead of time. Just save the final grill with the barbecue sauce for right before you search them for the best results.

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Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs

What should I make with smoked baby back ribs?

Traditionally people like to make creamy coleslaw with their ribs, and I agree!

My Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe also is perfect with this almost-fall-off-the-bone rib recipe.

Since we are going really all out for this meal, you need to also make my jalapeno cheddar cornbread muffins. Because you need a little health food in this dinner, steam up some broccoli or serve it with my grilled vegetable pasta salad.

Real Reviews from Readers!

“My family loved the ribs. My youngest son, who really loves ribs, sad they were the best ribs he has ever eaten. I used Traeger Pork and Poultry rub and Famous Dave’s Texas Pit sauce on one slab of ribs and Curt’s Medium sauce on the other slab. The meat just fell off the bones. I will definitely use your recipe the next time I make ribs. Thanks!”


Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs

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Yield: 4 people

Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs

Traeger Smoked Pork Ribs

My Traeger Grilled Pork Ribs leaped immediately to #1 on my favorite grill recipes list. These aren't quick, but they ARE easy. 5-4-1 take on the 3-2-1 method.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Grill Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 15 minutes


  • 2 racks baby back ribs
  • 1 cup homemade bbq rub {or your favorite ready-made variety}
  • 2 12-ounce bottles hard apple cider
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 batches homemade barbecue sauce {or your favorite bottled variety}


  1. Turn your grill to smoke.
  2. Remove the membrane from the rib, and then coat with the barbecue rub.
  3. Smoke for 5 hours between 125-175 degrees.
  4. Turn the temperature of the grill up to 225 degrees.
  5. Remove the ribs from the grill, place them into a large high-sided baking pan that's been sprayed with cooking spray (you'll probably have to cut them into half racks), pour in a bottle of hard apple cider. Rub the brown sugar all over the top of the ribs after they are placed into the pan.
  6. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil and place back on the grill for another 4 hours.
  7. After 4 hours, remove the foil and place the ribs directly on the grill grate, turning the temperature up to 300 degree. Brush with barbecue sauce 2-3 times over the next hour, before removing from the grill and serving. The ribs should be fall-off-the-bone tender at this point. You might be serving boneless ribs. You won't be disappointed.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1073Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 25gCholesterol: 197mgSodium: 1663mgCarbohydrates: 111gFiber: 3gSugar: 99gProtein: 61g

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Sunday 29th of May 2022

Using this recipe for first time on new Traeger. I’m used to the 3-2-1 method but my wife likes knife & fork tender ribs. I am smoking for 5 hours Sunday night and plan to finish tomorrow (Memorial Day). When I store over night in fridge, should I have it in basting sauce in aluminum pan already? Or just wrap it and then put it in sauce before I smoke the other 4 hours?

Nicole Johnson

Monday 30th of May 2022

I think either option would work really well. I hope your ribs are amazing today! I'm putting some on myself, too!


Thursday 26th of May 2022

Does time or temperature change if you are using spare ribs instead of baby backs?

Nicole Johnson

Friday 27th of May 2022

Time likely will a little, but the temperature shouldn't. Just keep an eye on them during the braising phase in the middle, and take them off when they are as tender as you like them. The last (optional) hour on the grill is really just to set some sauce on them.

Nagi Mato

Thursday 1st of July 2021


I have never tried the 5-4-1 method, but it's hard to imagine them being better than the 3-2-1 method I am used to. I am definitely willing (and eager) to try it and will let you know how they turn out!

Nicole Johnson

Thursday 1st of July 2021

It really just depends on whether or not you like REALLY tender ribs. These are fall-off-the-bone tender, and that's not everyone's favorite, but I love it. If you like some bite left on your ribs, you probably want to stick to the 3-2-1 timing.

Jeannine Meador

Monday 21st of June 2021

Can't wait to smoke these on my brand new, first time ever, Traeger smoker. I'm OCD I'm sure but recipe says TWO bottles hard cider but instructions say to use One bottle. SO...shall I drink one and dump the other in the foil pan? LOL. Looks great and I love your site...going to go broke trying all your recipes for sure.

Michael Turner

Sunday 4th of April 2021

I’ve used this 5-4-1 method several times now and never disappoints! My entire family calls to make sure I’m bringing the ribs to any family function. Many thanks!

Nicole Johnson

Sunday 4th of April 2021

THanks, Michael! I'm so glad that you and your family have enjoyed it!

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