Traeger 321 Ribs – Recipe and Cooking Guide

Hey Smokers and welcome to my post where we will run through my Traeger 321 Ribs recipe and cooking guide. As you may or may not know, this site is all about cooking on my Traeger Pro 22 Pellet Smoker and seeing where we can take things. And today, that is into the land of the pork rib!

Traeger 321 Ribs - Header

Now, this was actually my very first cook on this smoker so I must admit, I chose the ribs in this case as I knew I could simply utilize the 321 method and not worry about meat internal temperatures and the like. So let’s get into it all below:

321 Method for Pork Ribs:

  1. Add ribs to smoker and cook, uncovered for 3 hours
  2. Remove, wrap in aluminum foil and cook for 2 hours
  3. Remove, unwrap, slather on some BBQ sauce and cook for 1 hour

Check out my: Traeger Pork Belly Burnt Ends – Recipe and Cooking Guide

Traeger 321 Ribs: What You’ll Need

Ok, so below is what I used to smoke me some ribs:


  • 2 racks of pork ribs (about 3-5 lbs each)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ rub (see below)
  • Apple cider vinegar (for spritzing)
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce for serving

Paul’s rub (the one I used)

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chili Powder (Cayenne if you like it extra spicy)
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Raw brown sugar

I use a around 2 to 3 tbs of each then around a half cup of sugar. Add more or less of whatever suits you. If you don’t like spice, leave the chili out.


  • Pellet smoker
  • Preferred pellets (I used hickory but Apple or Cherry are popular of pork ribs as well)
  • Aluminum foil (alfoil)
  • Meat thermometer (for smoker temp only)
  • Spray bottle with 1/3 apple cider vinegar and 2/3 water if you like to spritz – (I didn’t this time)
Traeger 321 Ribs - Paul with cooked ribs

Check out my: Traeger Pulled Pork

The Smoking Process

This is what I did and when:

1. Prep the Ribs

This part obviously includes getting the ribs ready for the smoker and usually entails:

  1. Lay the ribs on a clean surface and remove the thin membrane from the back as this allows for the smoke and rub to fully penetrate the meat.
  2. In a bowl, combine your chosen BBQ rub ingredients, or if using a store made option, get it ready and then apply generously over the ribs, ensuring every inch is covered.
  3. Let the ribs sit for about 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature too allow them to absorb the rub’s flavor. Bringing the ribs to room temperature help them will smoke more evenly as well.

Tip: The membrane on the back of the ribs does not always come off as easily as you may like. Try pushing a knife under the corner edge and then use a paper towel to grip. However, if it is particularly stubborn and hard to remove, then try just slicing though it at each section between the bones before placing in the smoker.

2. Fire Up Your Pellet Smoker

Whilst the ribs are sitting, preheat your pellet smoker to the optimal temperature of 225°F (107°C). Make sure your hopper is full with your chosen pellets (hickory, apple, cherry etc.). Make sure the smoker reaches and maintains the set temperature before you proceed to the next step.

My findings: When you fire up a pellet smoker (well my model anyway) they tend to spike in temperature at the start before settling to the preset temperature. It usually advisable then to wait until the temperature starts to fall from that spike before placing your meat inside.

3. Smoke the Ribs

When it comes time to cook, place the ribs meat-side up on the grill grates. Close the lid and let the ribs smoke undisturbed for the first 3 hours then remove, wrap in aluminum foil and cook for 2 hours. After that time, remove, unwrap, slather on some BBQ sauce and cook for 1 hour.

During the last hour, check the ribs until they are cooked to your liking. If you like then a bit ‘chewier’, then take them off earlier. If you want them to fall off the bone, leave them longer.

Spritzing: If you are cooking a particularly large rack, or you are worried about moisture, then you may want to ‘spritz’ them as well. This usually entails filling a spray bottle with 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts water and spraying the ribs every half hour or so during the first three hours of the cook.

4. Rest and Serve

Once the ribs are cooked, we usually get stuck straight in. But if not, you can enhance the flavor and tenderness by wrapping them in alfoil and resting for about 30 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat as well.

Tips for Perfect Pellet Smoked Ribs

Ok, so as a summary of above, here are some cooks for cooking pork tibs on a Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Smoker:

  • Membrane: In my experience, the membrane on the back of the ribs works in two ways in that they either fly off without any issues (these are the happy days) or come off inch by inch. If the latter is particularly stubborn, then maybe just slice through in in the center or the meat sections between the bones.
  • Pellet choice: The type of pellets can significantly influence the flavor profile of your ribs. Experiment with different types to find your perfect match.
  • Temperature is key: The advantage of a pellet smoker is its ability to maintain a consistent temperature. This allows you to experiment with the cook times to cook the perfect rib.
  • Watch the initial spike: I mentioned this above but I have found that when you start up a pellet smoker it will spike in temperature at the start. It may be worth waiting for this to settle if you are playing with cook times etc.

At the end of the day, enjoy the process and the delicious results! Afterall, smoking ribs on a pellet smoker is not just about the meal; it’s about the experience. Happy smoking!

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07/22/2024 11:35 pm GMT


Can I Use Any Type of Pellets for Smoking Pork Ribs?

Yes, you can use various types of wood pellets for smoking pork ribs, but the choice of pellets can significantly influence the flavor profile of the finished dish. Different woods impart different flavors, so it’s worth experimenting to find your preference. Hickory pellets are popular for their strong, smoky flavor that pairs well with pork. Apple and cherry wood pellets offer a sweeter, more subtle smoke that complements the natural flavors of the ribs without overpowering them. Ultimately, the best type of pellets for smoking pork ribs depends on your personal taste preferences.


So there you have it, my recipe and cooking guide for some 321 ribs on Traeger pellet smokers. I hope it has been of assistance but as usual, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out by commenting below. I would also love to hear of your own experience with these.

Are there any other products you have been looking at but want to know more about? If so, please comment below and I will do my best to get some details for you.

Until next time

Have fun and get smoking!


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  1. Hi mate,
    Awesome cook, I’m new to the traeger game also. I have purchased a pro 22 and am going to try Ribs this weekend. How lo g did you set the smoker to smoke for? I have done chicken and set it to smoke for 15 mins.

    1. Hey William,

      Do you mean the warm up or the actual cook?. My pro 22 takes about 5 mins to get to the 107degree temp and then I cooked for 3 hours, then 2 wrapped and then 1 hour basted with BBQ sauce. You can do linger or shorter depending on how large the ribs are. Hope this helps. Paul

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