Traeger 3-2-1 Ribs are so freakin simple!!!! Like – why did I not make these 2 years ago when I got my Traeger???? And all you need is a rub, a little sauce and a little juice (or soda – or beer – just open the fridge). I will walk you through the process and you’ll be amazed at how simple it is. And don’t worry -they’re delicious too!!!
These ribs are tender and so juicy – I can tell you – my dogs were drooling watching me devour them all on my own! (Ok – they got a bite or two). The best part is you can use spare ribs or back ribs – whichever you prefer. I used spare ribs for this recipe – but the recipe is the same. 3-2-1 Ribs are a labor of love – so you’ll need 6 hours to chill and grill.
And hey – if you don’t have a Traeger and want to do ribs like this in the oven – check out my Oven Baked Spare Ribs recipe!
What are 3-2-1 Ribs
The 3-2-1 Method for cooking ribs is a simple and easy way to cook ribs low and slow. It’s a great way to start with them if you’ve never cooked ribs before. They work with spare ribs or baby back ribs. When your ribs are done – you can see the meat pulling away from the bone a bit – and the bones will show more on the ends.
How to Smoke Ribs on a Traeger
The 3-2-1 Ribs are a simple process! Let’s walk through it:
- Peel the membrane off the back of each rack of ribs.
- Generously rub your favorite BBQ spice rub all over the ribs – both sides.
- My favorite is Historic BBQ Red – it is always perfect!
- Set the smoker to 225F and be sure your pellet hopper is full! I use hickory and cherry most often. Place the ribs in the smoker and smoke for THREE hours.
- Lay out 3-4 sheets of aluminum foil. Remove the ribs from the smoker and lay on your aluminum foil. Fold the sides up to make a “boat”. Pour a 1/4 cup of beer, pop or apple juice with each rack of ribs. (I used Cherry Dr Pepper Zero!) Add a layer of foil on top and fold over and pinch all the edges to ensure that it is sealed well to allow steaming.
- Some sites may say to put the ribs meat side down in the juice – I did not and they turned out great – but feel free to do so!
- Place the sealed rib boat back in the smoker for another TWO hours.
- Remove the ribs carefully from the foil and place directly on the grate. Generously coat the ribs in your favorite BBQ sauce. Smoke them at 225 for ONE more hour!
- I’m not a huge fan of sauce on ribs – so I like to use Williamson Bros. Sauce – it’s one of the lightest – and most flavorful – sauces I’ve found! And you can get it online at Walmart!
Tips, Tricks & FAQs
Who’s to say what’s the best? I found it to be super simple – there’s no spritzing and watching – it’s just set it and forget it. It works.
I recommend Hickory, Cherry and Apple – but I tend to get the Signature Blend which has Hickory, Maple and Cherry – yum!
Spare ribs come from the belly, St. Louis ribs are “cleaned up and trimmed” spare ribs and Baby Back come from the loin. Baby back are smaller and more expensive. So I like Spare ribs!
Well – you might have not had your foil boat sealed tightly enough. If you check your ribs and they’re looking a little dry – spritz them every 20-30 minutes or so with liquid (apple juice, beer, soda).
You can – I didn’t with this recipe and they all turned out great – but feel free! You can spritz every 30 minutes with something such as apple juice.
My favorite is always Historic BBQ. They’re a championship bbq team here in the Cincinnati area and I’m obsessed with them!
I’m not a huge fan of thick, sweet sauces – but I came across Williamson Bros a few years ago. They’re out of the Atlanta area but you can get the sauce on Walmart.com. It’s a very light, thin sauce but with tons of seasonings – it’s my absolute favorite! I buy big jars of it once a year and use it ALL THE TIME!
I would say, you’ll use 1/2 bag of pellets – so be sure you have some on hand. I had to run to the hardware store to grab some halfway through!
What to serve with BBQ Ribs?
- Ribs and Rolls go great together – especially with Texas Roadhouse’s Famous Butter!
- Throw the corn on at the end of your smoking! Or follow this recipe for Grilled Corn on the Cob
- You can never go wrong with Macaroni Salad and this Jarlsberg Dip Mac Salad is a sure-fire winner!
Traeger 3-2-1 Ribs
- Peel the membrane off the back of each rack of ribs.1 rack pork spare ribs
- Generously rub the BBQ spice rub all over the ribs.1 rack pork spare ribs, 1/2 cup Historic BBQ Red seasoning
- Set the smoker to 225F and be sure your pellet hopper is full! Place the back ribs in the smoker and smoke for THREE hours.
- Take the ribs out and wrap the rack with aluminum foil. I used 3-4 layers on the bottom so it wouldn't tear. Pour a 1/4 cup of beer, pop or apple juice into the foil. Fold over and pinch all the edges to ensure that it is sealed well to allow steaming.1/2 cup liquid
- Place the ribs wrapped in foil back in the smoker for another TWO hours. Check your pellet hopper – make sure there are enough pellets!
- Remove the ribs carefully from the foil and place back directly on the grate. Generously coat the ribs in Williamson BBQ sauce. Smoke for ONE more hour at 225.1/2 cup Williamson Bros. BBQ sauce