How to Smoke Ribs on a Pellet Grill for Beginners

Folks commonly think of smoked meat as a complicated luxury that’s out of reach. But nothing could be further from the truth! With the right equipment and the right know-how, smoking your meat is a simple and enjoyable process. 

And let’s be honest: there’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly cooked, fall-off-the-bone rack of smoked ribs. 

If you want to learn how to smoke ribs on a pellet grill, we’ve got a simple, foolproof process nearly anyone can follow. Never again will you need to wonder how long to smoke ribs on a pellet grill. 

Here is our guide for how to smoke baby back ribs on a pellet grill perfectly every time. 

The 3-2-1 Method

You may have heard grilling enthusiasts mention the 3-2-1 method before. This is a popular pork rib grilling method for beginners, as it takes all of the guesswork out of the process. By following the method properly, you can have perfectly smoked ribs that are sure to be done. 

But what is the 3-2-1 method? This simple concept involves just three steps: 

  • 3-hour uncovered smoke 
  • 2-hour covered smoke 
  • 1-hour final smoke with sauce 

You may be wondering more about each step. And about what temp to smoke ribs on a pellet grill.  

Here’s how to do it: 

3 – The Initial Smoke

The first step (the 3 step) involves smoking your pork rib for three hours. To start, you’ll need to preheat your pellet grill to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. During the pre-heat, be sure that your hopper is loaded with plenty of pellets. There is nothing worse than running out of fuel mid-smoke! 

Once nice and hot, place your pork ribs inside your smoker directly on the grill grate. You can season the ribs during this step, but be sure to use rib rub or other dry ingredients. Slathers and sauces come later. 

Spare ribs smoking in a pellet smoker.

Close your pellet grill’s lid and set a timer for three hours. 

As is true with all meat smoking, just be sure to keep the lid closed during the entire cooking time. You may be tempted to peek, but don’t. This will let all of the smoke out of your smoker. And without smoke, your meat can’t absorb all of that tasty smoke flavor. 

2 – The Second Smoke

Once the initial three-hour smoke is done, open your smoker and remove the meat. In a marinade pan, slather your meat in whatever flavorful liquid you want. Some common liquids that grillmasters use include:  

  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Apple juice 
  • Brown sugar 
  • Cola (yep, seriously
  • Butter 
  • Honey 
  • And more. 

Liquid is added during this step to ensure your meat stays moist and tender during the cook. 

Once nice and moist, wrap your marinated meat in a tight aluminum foil package. Place the package back in your smoker and up the heat to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Close the lid, and set a timer for two hours. Boom – step two is done. 

1 – The Final Smoke

Once your second smoke is done, it’s time for the final step. Namely, the saucy smoke. Slather your ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce. With this step, the more the better. 

Once nice and saucy, toss the ribs meat side up back on the smoker uncovered. Close your smoker and smoke for one final hour. You’re now closer than ever to meaty goodness. 

3A – The Rest

Okay, okay, the 3-2-1 Method should really be called the “3-2-1 and a Little Bit More Method.” While you might be tempted to snag your smoked ribs off of the grill and serve them right away, don’t! You need to chill and they need to rest

Without a good rest, all of the juice will escape from them the second they are sliced and served. So let them chill out for 10-15 minutes. We promise, it makes all the difference. 

Discover Smoked Goodness with HALO

Just like you, we at HALO are grilling enthusiasts. We love nothing more than the great outdoors, great camaraderie, and a delectible plate of smoked meat. And smoked ribs on a pellet grill are about as good as it gets. 

Shop our Pellet Grills and Accesories to perfect your grilling and smoking game. 

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