Pellet-Grill Smoked Ribs

The pellet grill might be the best thing to happen to barbecue since fire was invented! With no need to constantly tend a fire or monitor smoke and heat, it makes smoking much easier. We tested out baby-back ribs, spareribs and St Louis-style ribs. Overall, we preferred the St. Louis style, although you can substitute spareribs. For the sauce, we went with a balanced blend of vinegar and sweetness that really lets the smoky flavor of the meat shine.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr 30 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

4 teaspoons paprika

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 full racks St. Louis-style pork ribs (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)

2/3 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups ketchup

1/3 cup distilled white vinegar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste

Directions

Special equipment:
pellet grill, spray bottle, basting brush and heavy-duty foil
  1. Preheat a pellet grill to 275 degrees F (see Cook's Note). Combine 2 tablespoons salt, 4 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper and 2 teaspoons paprika in a small bowl. Rub each rack of ribs all over with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle evenly with the salt and spice mixture on both sides.
  2. Transfer the ribs, meat-side up, to the grill grates. Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 1/3 cup cider vinegar with 1/3 cup water in a spray bottle. After 1 hour spray the ribs with the vinegar-water mixture so they are damp all over. Cover and cook for 1 more hour.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the ketchup, 3/4 cup water, the remaining 1/3 cup cider vinegar, white vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons pepper, hot sauce and the remaining 2 teaspoons paprika in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the mixture is warmed through and the sugar is melted, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Check the ribs and spray them again with vinegar-water. They should be starting to take on a red color from the smoke. Cover and cook until they are deep red, 30 to 45 minutes. Spray the ribs once more, then brush the meaty part of each rack with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Close the grill and cook for another 15 minutes so the sauce can set.
  6. Lay down two pieces of heavy-duty foil that are long enough to enclose each rack on a work surface and spread half of each sheet with 1/4 cup sauce. Transfer the rib racks, meat side down, onto the saucy part of the foil. Coat the bone sides with 1/4 cup sauce and a few sprays of the vinegar-water, then fold the foil over and seal tightly.
  7. Add another layer of foil if the first has punctured during wrapping. Transfer the ribs to a rimmed baking sheet and place on the grill (the baking sheet will catch any juices that leak out). Cover and cook until tender but not falling off the bone, about 2 hours.
  8. Remove from the grill and let rest 5 minutes before carefully unwrapping (watch out for hot steam). Slice each rack into individual rib portions and serve with the remaining sauce.

Cook’s Note

Refer to the manufacturer's guide for specific instructions about lighting and operating your pellet grill.