Today’s post is all about Smoking St Louis Style Pork Ribs on a Traeger Trailhead pellet grill! We were curious about four things for this cook:
- Is the Trailhead large enough to handle St Louis Ribs?
- Can the Trailhead maintain Low and Slow temperatures?
- Will the Trailhead give a good smoke ring?
- Does the Trailhead hold enough pellets for the whole cook?
The answer to all four questions is, “Yes!”.
By the way…we used the Traeger Trailhead for this cook but everything would be identical if you are using a Traeger Ranger.
Prepare the St Louis Ribs for Smoking in the Traeger Trailhead
This is standard rib prep 101.
We started with the smallest slab of St Louis ribs that we could find which ended up weighing right at three pounds. If you are working with a larger slab of ribs then you will need to cut them in half in order for them to fit on the Trailhead.
Use a paper towel and remove the membrane from the back of the ribs. I have watched some comparison videos of cooking ribs with and without the membrane and it doesn’t seem to make that big of a difference. That being said, it doesn’t hurt and is quick to do so we remove the membrane at our house.
Season both sides of the ribs with your dry rub. Some folks like to use a binder like yellow mustard to help the rub stick but we skipped that step.
For these ribs we used Three Little Pigs Touch of Cherry for the rub. If you want to make your own rub then here is a pretty good recipe to start with:
St Louis Ribs Dry Rub Recipe
- 2 tbls brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
Put the rub on the ribs about 45 minutes before you are ready to put them on the Traeger.
Smoke the St Louis Ribs on the Traeger at 250F
We filled up the Traeger Trailhead with hickory pellets, hooked it up to the Jackery 300 for power, and set the temperature to 250F. It took about 20 minutes for the Traeger Trailhead to get to a stabilized temperature and, on average, was running around 240F.
The St Louis Ribs got put on the cooking grate along the diagonal and just BARELY fit. The very ends of the ribs were hanging just a fuzz over the heat deflector which was not ideal but was tolerable.
The cook was pretty uneventful as the temperature held pretty steady.
After two hours of smoking we opened the lid and gave the pellets a stir as there was a little bit of channeling happening in the hopper.
After two more hours we opened the lid and the ribs looked amazing. The internal temperature of the ribs was around 195F and they were almost probe tender.
At this point the ribs got basted with some Kansas City style bbq sauce and we let them finish smoking for another 30 minutes.
Slice and Serve the Traeger Smoked St Louis Ribs
After the St Louis ribs had smoked for 4.5 hours they were probe tender, the meat had pulled back from the bone and they were absolutely beautiful. We call that “Done!”.
Four and a half hours seems kind of quick for a rib cook, especially since we didn’t use foil, but this was a small 3 pound slab. This means that the cook time was in the ballpark of 1.5 hours per pound which is just about right.
We sliced the ribs up to discover they were perfectly juicy, tender and had a lovely smoke ring. The rub and sauce combination was spot on and there was plenty of smoke flavor.
After we ate we checked the pellet level in the hopper and there was still at least two pounds of pellets remaining. We could have easily done a 6-7 hour smoke on a single hopper full of pellets and look forward to trying that on a future cook!
Traeger Smoked St Louis Ribs (No Foil)
- Traeger Pellet Grill
- 1 slab St Louis Ribs 3 lbs
- 3 tbsp Rib Rub of Choice
- 2 tbsp Kansas City BBQ Sauce
- Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.
- Season both sides of the ribs with your dry rub.
- Set your Traeger to 250F with Hickory pellets.
- Smoke the ribs for four hours until almost probe tender.
- Baste the ribs with the bbq sauce and smoke another 30-45 minutes until probe tender.
- Remove the ribs from the Traeger, slice and enjoy!