Smoked Baby Back Ribs on a Pellet Grill (7 Easy Steps)

Ribs smoked low and slow is the ultimate barbecue food. 

That tender, fall-off-the-bone rib meat, covered with sticky sweet BBQ sauce is a meal few can resist (I sure can’t!).

However, some people find smoking pork ribs to be a little tricky! 

If not done right they can come out chewy and dry!

So make sure you follow my steps below for perfect ribs!

What Are Baby back Ribs?

Baby back ribs are the sections of curved ribs connected to the backbone.

They are called baby ribs because they are shorter than spare ribs. They are 6 inches at the longest section, and 3 inches on the shortest end.

If you prefer beef, try my pit boss beef ribs recipe, it ensures you end up with juicy, delicious, tender ribs.

How To Pick The Best Ribs

Select ribs that have an even level of marbling through the meat.

Just remember you want a little bit of fat on the ribs.

As they smoke, the fats will break down and tenderize the meat.  

Watch for excess fat though, you don’t want overly fatty ribs, this will make the ribs chewy.

Look for a full rack of baby ribs, not pre-cut slabs in sections. That way you can smoke the entire rack at once.

What’s The Best Way To Cook Ribs?

There are many ways to cook ribs. ovens, slow cookers, electric grills and barbecues!

Using a pellet smoker is by far the easiest method! You need to babysit a fire all day!

Fill the hopper with your selected pellets, set the smoker temperature (225°F), and leave them to smoke. Easy! 

You’ll have delicious smoked ribs that even a barbecue beginner will be able to master. No need for complicated smoker setups, wood chips, and water pans.

Whatever the method you use to cook, the preparation is the same. Rub with seasoning and brown sugar, set the cooking temp low and slow, and brush with a sauce during the cook.

Trimming The Back Ribs

Baby back ribs don’t need a lot of trimming, unlike most other cuts.

The only thing that needs attention is the membrane. Remove this before preparing. If the membrane is difficult to remove without pulling the ribs apart, you can leave it in place. 

Ribs will cook fine with it attached, but won’t ‘fall-off-the-bone’ tender. However, the membrane won’t break down while cooking, so the ribs may remain chewy.

I have some tips below on how to remove the membrane in one piece.

Preparing the Ribs

Remove the ribs from the packaging and give them a quick rinse. Pat dry with a paper towel. Turn them so the underside is facing you.

The white layer of tissue is the membrane that covers the majority of the ribs. Remove if possible. Use a sharp kitchen knife and begin in a corner to separate the membrane from the flesh underneath it.

When there’s a decent corner lifted, grip the corner with a piece of paper towel and peel back from the ribs. It should pull away in one piece.

Rub The Ribs

Once the ribs are clean and membrane-free, it’s time to add the flavoring.

Use a binder of choice, something like oil, mustard, or sauce. The seasoning rub you use is your own choice. The only limit is your imagination but just make sure you get an even coating. 

Coat the top and bottom of the ribs for good flavor distribution.

Smoke The Ribs

Smoking the ribs is a straightforward process. Heat the smoker to 225-250°F

Cook at this low temperature for 2 hours to infuse as much smoky flavor as possible. 

Wrap The Ribs

After the first couple of hours of smoking, the connective tissue will start to break down. This gives juicy and tender meat.

After two hours, (or once the ribs have developed a nice bark), place brown sugar, butter, and honey on butchers’ paper and place ribs meat side down and wrap up. 

Leaving the temperature the same, but the ribs back on the barbecue and leave them to smoke for 1.5 hours

Adding a Sauce

After the ribs have been on the grill for a further 1.5 hours, increase the temperature to 250°F.

Unwrap, watching out for the steam. Lay them out on a cutting board. Apply a light coat of whatever sauce you desire and put the ribs back on the grill grates.

Smoke uncovered until the internal temp of the ribs is approx 195° F to 203°F. The meat should have no resistance to probe and the rack should bend when picked up.

Then they are ready to eat!

Preparing The Smoker

Make sure the grill grates are free from built-up debris from previous cooks. 

Give the grates a good clean and scrub to remove any residue. You don’t want burnt bits from last week’s cook contaminating your ribs.

Smoking ribs can be a messy process. Stick a drip pan or aluminum foil under the grates to catch any drips and juices. You’ll be appreciative of it when it comes to cleaning up!

What Wood Pellets To Use?

Ribs alone are delicious. But putting a bit of thought into the wood pellets you use can take them to another level of deliciousness!

You have a lot of options when it comes to pellets flavors. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Applewood

Applewood is great for pork and poultry. It has a subtle fruity flavor that doesn’t overpower. 

Cherrywood

As with apples, cherrywood is light and mild. It gives a great subtle flavor and color to whatever meat you are smoking.

Pecan or Walnut

These pellets give your food a sweeter, nuttier flavor.

Hickory

Hickory pellets have a stronger smoky flavor. They complement the natural flavors of red meats. The stronger flavor can overwhelm lighter white meats like pork. However, if you enjoy a strong smoke flavor you might like using hickory.

Mesquite

Mesquite is one of the stronger, bolder flavors available. It has a strong, bacon-type flavor profile. Beef ribs or briskets go well with mesquite flavors. However, if you enjoy a strong smoke flavor you might like using mesquite.

Experiment and see what flavors you prefer. You’ll soon have your winning combination.

Recipe – Pellet Grill Babyback Ribs

Ingredients:

  • Babyback ribs
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue spice rubs
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Honey
  • BBQ sauce

Method:

  1. Heat the Pitboss to 250°F
  2. Pat dry the ribs with a paper towel. Coat with mustard, this is to help the rub stick Coat the ribs on all sides with an even layer of spice rub, using your hands to gently pat (not rub) it in.
  3. Smoke for approx. 2 hours.
  4. After 2 hours (or once the ribs have developed a nice bark), place brown sugar, butter, and honey on the butcher’s paper and place ribs meat side down. Wrap tightly and return to smoker.
  5. Return to the smoker for approx. 1-1.5 hours. Then unwrap the ribs and brush with BBQ sauce.
  6. Smoke uncovered until the internal temp of the ribs is approx. 195-203°F. The meat should have no resistance to probe and the rack should bend when picked up.
  7. Remove from the smoker and carve the ribs into pieces between the bones.
  8. Serve immediately.

What to Serve With BBQ Ribs

Some of favorite side dishes for ribs include

Smoked Corn
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Mediterranean Green Bean Salad
See the rest of my favorite sides dishes for BBQ ribs here.

Pit Boss Baby Back Ribs

Ribs smoked low and slow is the ultimate barbecue food
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time3 hrs 45 mins
Course: Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5
Calories: 300kcal
Author: Charlie

Equipment

  • Pit Boss Grill

Ingredients

  • 2 racks Babyback ribs
  • 2 tbsp Mustard
  • 2 tbsp Barbecue spice rubs
  • 2 tbsp Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Butter
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • Heat the Pitboss to 250°F
  • Pat dry the ribs with a paper towel
  • Coat with mustard, this is to help the rub stick
  • Coat the ribs on all sides with an even layer of spice rub, using your hands to gently pat (not rub) it in.
  • Smoke for approx. 2 hours.
  • After 2 hours (or once the ribs have developed a nice bark), place brown sugar, butter, and honey on the butcher’s paper and place ribs meat side down. Wrap tightly and return to smoker.
  • Return to the smoker for approx. 1-1.5 hours.
  • Unwrap the ribs and brush with BBQ sauce.
  • Smoke uncovered until the internal temp of the ribs is approx. 195-203°F. The meat should have no resistance to probe and the rack should bend when picked up.
  • Remove from the smoker and carve the ribs into pieces between the bones.
  • Serve immediately.

Next time you want to impress give Babyback ribs a try. 

Once you try my method you’ll be amazed at how easy they are!

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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