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Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon

Posted by Brady P. on September 22, 2014

Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon


If you’ve ever had freshly smoked salmon, you know what I mean when I say it can’t be beat. This salmon recipe takes a traditional smoked salmon one step beyond its natural deliciousness by incorporating a sweet and savory rub. The rub offers a mild flavoring that pairs well with the smokiness of the salmon in salads, on bagels, or even just when eaten plain! It’s one your dinner (or brunch) guests are sure to rave about time and time again.


If you enjoy this recipe, head over to my personal blog at www.chocolateandmarrow.com for more fun recipe ideas!


Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon


Prep time: 40 minutes, plus 12-24 hours to cure

Cook time: 2-3 hours

Serves: 8-12

Recommended Pellets: Apple or Cherry

Curing Ingredients

½ cup of white sugar

½ cup of brown sugar

½ cup of kosher salt

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

2 large fillets of salmon (approximately 3-4 lbs)


Sweet & Savory Rub Ingredients

¼ cup of paprika

1 tablespoon of garlic powder or granulated garlic

1 tablespoon of salt

1/3 cup of brown sugar



Combine the curing ingredients—white sugar, brown sugar, kosher salt, and black pepper—in a medium size bowl and mix together. (Note: Be sure that you are using kosher salt. If you don’t have kosher salt and are instead using sea salt or table salt, reduce the amount of salt to 1/8 cup.)

Place a stretch of tin foil on top of a long, rimmed baking sheet (at least the length of your salmon fillets.)  Place a layer of plastic wrap, such as Saran wrap, on top of the tin foil layer. Sprinkle 1/3 of the curing ingredient mixture on top of the saran wrap in a line about the length and width of the salmon fillet. Lay the salmon fillet (skin side down, if it has skin on) on top of the cure mixture and spread another 1/3 of the mixture on the flesh side of the salmon. 

Then take the 2nd salmon fillet and place it flesh side down on top of the first fillet. Rub the final 1/3 of the curing mixture on top of the skin-side of the 2nd fillet half. Place another layer of plastic wrap followed by another layer of foil on top of both fillets and wrap up the ends so that the salmon and cure is tightly encased in the plastic and foil wrap. In sum, your layers should be ordered: foil, plastic wrap, curing mixture, salmon fillet, curing mixture, salmon fillet, curing mixture, plastic wrap, and foil.


Place the entire baking sheet into the refrigerator and top with another baking sheet. Finally, place something heavy, such as a phone book or bottles, on top of the baking sheet so that the weight is distributed evenly along the salmon fillets. This helps the excess water leave the salmon fillets, which is replaced by the flavors of the curing ingredients. Allow the fillets to cure in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, turning it roughly halfway through the curing process. (Be careful of dripping liquids when you flip the salmon!) Wrap tight in foil and put back in the refrigerator. 



Mix together the sweet and savory rub ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the flesh side of the salmon fillets and gently pat the rub into the fillets. Shake off excess rub, lay fillets flat on baking sheet in a cool, dry place (not in the refrigerator), and allow to rest for 1 hour. This firms up the exterior of the flesh and allows for the smoke to bond more thoroughly with the fish. Don’t skip the step of shaking off the excess rub—too much and it will overwhelm the smoked salmon’s natural flavors—you only need a very thin dusting.

Once your fish is finished drying, start your Traeger grill. Set it to “smoke” with the lid open until a fire is established. Once you see smoke billowing out from it, set your salmon fillets skin-side down on the grill, keeping the dial set on “smoke.” Smoke for 1-3 hours, or until a temperature inserted into the thickest part of the salmon registers 150 degrees F. While the fish is smoking, be sure to monitor the temperature closely to ensure that it does not get above 160 degrees F. If you notice it getting above 160 degrees, either remove some pellets (fewer pellets mean less heat) and/or prop open the grill lid slightly (about 1 inch) to maintain a steady lower temperature.


Apple and cherry wood pellets pair nicely with this recipe, though it is versatile enough to work with any Traeger pellet type.

Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is good on pizza, bagels, salads, etc. We hope you enjoy this amazing recipe!

Sweet and Savory Traeger Smoked Salmon

Pintable recipe. Guest blog post Sweet and Savory Smoked Salmon.docx (118.23 kb)

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Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham & Pineapple

Posted by Susie B. on September 19, 2014

Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham & Pineapple

Smoky Traeger burgers with a tangy teriyaki twist topped with freshly grilled juicy pineapple and crisp salty ham. What else could a hungry mouth ask for? Nothing. The answer is nothing. These big burgers require an even bigger appetite. It's preactically dinner and a side in a hearty bun (the hearty bun is a neccessity for a burger this huge). Prepare to get messy, and enjoy every last second of it. You can top these burgers however you choose, but we prefer ours with crisp romaine, spicy red onions, a little hit of mayo and maybe some extra teriyaki sauce. However you like them, tower them high and enjoy!


Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham & Pineapple


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes (plus an additional 30 minutes to smoke, if desired)
Serves: 8 people
Recommended Pellets: Any

8 hamburger patties
2 tablespoons Traeger Beef Shake
1 can pineapple rings, or one fresh pineapple, cored and sliced into rings
8 slices white cheddar cheese
24 slices ham
2 cups teriyaki sauce (purchase sauce that is thick and syrupy instead of thin)
8 hamburger buns
Desired toppings (mayo, red onions, tomatoes, lettuce)


Start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open for 4-5 minutes to establish the fire. Season the burger patties liberally with the Beef Shake and place on the grill grate. Close the lid and smoke the burgers for at least 30 minutes. Remove the burgers to a separate plate, turn the temperature setting to High, close the lid and allow the grill to preheat.

Return the burgers to the grill along with the pineapple. Grill for 6-8 minutes. Use a food brush to cover the top of the burgers with the Teriyaki sauce.

Flip the burgers and the pineapple. Top the burgers with a coat of teriyaki sauce. Place the ham on the grill in 8 small piles of 3 slices each. 

Grill the burgers for an additional 6-8 minutes or until an internal thermometer reads 175 degrees F. Top the burgers with a slice of pineapple, the pile of ham, and finally a slice of cheese.

Close the lid and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese. Buttered buns may be added to the grill at this time if you like your buns toasted.

Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham & Pineapple

Remove the burgers to te buns, top with additional teriyaki sauce, if desired, and any additional toppings.

Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham & Pineapple

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Printable Recipe:

Teriyaki Burgers with Grilled Ham and Pineapple.docx (14.45 kb)

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Traeger Tailgating:Marinated Salmon on a Stick

Posted by Mary M. on September 18, 2014

Traeger Tailgating: Salmon on a Stick

We enjoy gnawing on all sorts of foods that have been speared through the heart with a stick and grilled 'til crispy and brown. One of the most overlooked delights for the aforementioned spearing is the gift from the waters: Fish.

Why not skewer up some fish and make what turns out to be a supremely satisfying and scrumptious tailgating snack? We used the thick center-cut salmon fillets and soaked them in a vodka-based brine to help remove any fishiness. The sweet mayo-mustard slather caramelizes the outside of the salmon giving each skewer a snappy bite.

Tailgating tips: Freeze bottles of water or sports drinks, then tuck them in your cooler instead of ice. An empty wine or tall bottle makes a great container for soaking tall bamboo skewers. Drop the skewers in the bottle; fill with water, and cork to keep them submerged.


PREP TIME: 15 minutes plus 30 minutes for soaking the salmon
COOK TIME: 20 to 25 minutes
SERVES: 6 to 8


One center-cut salmon fillet, preferably skin-off and wild-caught, about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds
1-1/2 cups inexpensive vodka or sake
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Traeger Blackened Saskatchewan rub or Salmon Shake, or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh dill or parsley, for serving
Lemon wedges, for serving
10- to 12-inch bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hour, then drained


Make sure that you check the salmon for pin bones, removing any you find with tweezers or needle-nosed pliers. (Tip: If you put one hand under the fillet, any pin bones will be thrust upward, making them easier to find.) Slice the fillet crosswise into 6 to 8 pieces, each about 1-1/2 inches wide.

Combine the vodka, brown sugar, and salt in a resealable plastic bag and stir or agitate until the salt and sugar crystals dissolve. Soak the salmon pieces in this mixture for at least 30 minutes, and up to 1 hour in the fridge.

Drain the salmon and pat dry with paper towels; discard the vodka mixture.

Thread the salmon strips lengthwise on the bamboo skewers. Season with Traeger Saskatchewan rub.

Combine the mayonnaise, mustard, maple syrup and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl.

Brush or spread with a plastic knife on the salmon, top and bottom.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 375 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Arrange the salmon skewers on the grill grate and grill, turning once, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the salmon is done to your liking.

Traeger Tailgating: Salmon on a Stick

Transfer the skewers to a platter or disposable foil pan and scatter lightly with chopped dill. Serve with lemon wedges and the remaining mayo-mustard slather.

Traeger Tailgating: Salmon on a Stick


Salmon Skewers Recipe.docx (12.66 kb)

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Grilled Tuna Salad with Smoky & Spicy Mayo

Posted by Mary M. on September 17, 2014

Grilled Tuna Salad with Smoky & Spicy Mayo

No cans needed here. Just you, your Traeger and some fresh tuna steaks...oh, and a few other 'lil mixin's.

The secret to these creamy mouthfuls is a smoked mayo, enhanced with a pinch of chipotle chile powder. This is best made on a cold day to maintain a low smoking temperature (if you're cold smoker-less) but there are definitely some easy work-arounds.

It's smooth yet crunchy, smoky and bright and more than anything else it will be the last way you'll ever make tuna salad again.


PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour 8 minutes, including smoke time
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Hickory, Mesquite or Alder
SERVES: 6 to 8


2 fresh tuna steaks
Traeger Salmon Shake
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons diced green onion
1 tablespoon minced basil or flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup prepared mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons capers
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)


Start the Traeger on Smoke, lid open, until the fire is established (about 5 minutes).

Season the tuna steaks on all sides with the Salmon Shake.

Put the mayonnaise in a small baking dish. Place both the tuna steaks and the mayonnaise on the grill to smoke. Put a towel underneath the baking dish containing the mayo to prevent it from getting too hot. If it starts to get too hot, you could also place the dish in an ice bath. If you have a cold smoker, you don't even have to worry about it.

Smoke the mayo for 10 minutes. Stir it and smoke for another 10 minutes. Smoke the tuna steaks for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on how much smoke you want to taste).

After they've finished smoking, remove from the grill and turn the heat up to High and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. Drizzle the olive oil on both sides of the tuna.

Grill the tuna for about 6 to 8 minutes, flipping the tuna halfway through. (or until done to your fish liking)

After the tuna has cooled, gently flake the tuna apart and toss with the celery, green onion, and basil/parsley. Add the mayonnaise, mustard, chipotle chile powder, capers and season with pepper, to taste. Lightly stir to combine. Add lemon juice, to taste, if using.

Grilled Tuna Salad with Smoky & Spicy Mayo

Serve the tuna salad all by itself or slap it on a soft roll.

Grilled Tuna Salad with Smoky & Spicy Mayo


Smoked Tuna Salad Recipe.docx (12.47 kb)

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Healthy Smoked Spicy Chickpeas

Posted by Mary M. on September 16, 2014

Smoked Spicy Chickpea-

In the meeting of Overlooked Legumes Unite! (ULA), we envision that the chickpeas stand front and center with a long list of overlooked complaints. Poor 'lil guys.

Who knew chickpeas could be such crunchy, tasty little snacks? Our secret is giving them a good long smoke-filled siesta and a generous dusting of cayenne pepper and chipotle chile powder. Behold! They are transformed and delectable! A smoke bath can certainly work wonders.


PREP TIME: 5 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hour and 30 minutes, including smoke time
SERVES: 4 to 6


2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (about 5 minutes).

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated.

Spread the chickpeas in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and smoke on the Traeger for 1 hour.

Turn the heat up to High and cook for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until the chickpeas are crisp.

Smoked Spicy Chickpea-

Take the chickpeas off the Traeger and enjoy while they are warm or keep them at room temp in a resealable bag.

Smoked Spicy Chickpea-


Smoked Spicy Chick Peas Recipe.docx (11.49 kb)

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Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa

Posted by Susie B. on September 15, 2014

Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa

As the end of harvest season approaches, we've got one amazing recipe for you to use up the last of those summer peaches and fresh garden tomatoes. A sweet and savory blend of classic salsa flavor with a smoky Traeger twist. This recipe would be perfect for doubling (or tripling) and bottling to get you through the cold months ahead. That is if you don't eat the whole batch fresh. Serve it with chips for dipping or spoon some over grilled chicken or fish for a quick and simple meal loaded with flavor.


Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Makes: Approximately 4 cups
Recommended Pellets: Apple, Hickory, Cherry

6 medium peaches, cut in half, pits removed
3 medium tomatoes, cut in half
2 whole jalapenos (if you like it extra spicy, 1 for medium salsa)
2  whole green onions, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt  
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper


Start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open for 4-5 minutes to establish the fire. Turn the temperature setting up to 375 degrees F, close the lid, and allow the grill to preheat for 10-15 minutes.

Place the halved peaches, halved tomatoes, and whole jalapenos directly on the grill grate. Close the lid and roast for 8-10 minutes or until the skin has split and blistered on the tomoatoes and jalapenos.

Remove from the grill and allow to cool until the fruit can be easily handled. Remove the skin from the peaches and tomatoes (it should just slide off). Remove the skin, stems, and seeds from the jalapenos.

Place the peeled peaches, tomatoes, jalapenos, and green onions in a large food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add all other ingredients and pulse until desired consistency is reached. Use short pulses for chunky salsa or long pulses for a smoother salsa.

Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa

Serve immediately or transfer to jars and chill until ready to serve. Will last about 1 week in the refrigerator.

Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa

Printable Recipe:

Smoke Roasted Peach Salsa.docx (14.12 kb)

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Traeger Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Posted by Brady P. on September 14, 2014

Traeger Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza

If you love specialty pizzas, then you will love this Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza. No need to spend $15-20 at a restaurant, you can easily do this right on your Traeger! This recipe comes from one of our Traeger VIP's Hannah. You need to check out her blog  www.thecookerywife.com, she has some awesome recipes and ideas. So the next time you have a craving for an awesome sprecialty pizza, fire up your Traeger and try out this awesome flatbread pizza recipe. 



Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza


Prep time: Approximately 60 minutes

Cook time: 15-20 minutes per pizza 

pellets: Any
 Makes: three 12" round cast iron skillet pizzas

 These pizzas are delicious served as an appetizer or maybe even a side. You can go as crazy as you want with the toppings or add only a few.

I like to mix it up with each pizza, as you can see from the photos.


2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons yeast

6 oz warm water


Red/Green bell pepper

1 Zucchini

Half an onion

Half head garlic

5 strips bacon

1 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, halved

Goat cheese

Green olives, sliced
 Kalamata Olives,

 Jalapeños, sliced

Olive oil
 Good quality balsamic vinegar for drizzling 




Start by mixing together the ingredients for crust. Combine flour, sugar, salt, yeast and water in
 bowl of stand mixer. Mix on med/low for 10 minutes. If dough seems sticky, add a bit of flour one tablespoon at a time until it comes away from bowl. If it seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time.
Dough should be smooth and elastic. Divide into 3 balls. Using a rolling pin, roll each ball into a round that will fit into your 12” skillet. Should be quite thin. Grease your skillet with olive oil or spray. If you have 3 skillets that’s great! If not, just leave your pizza crust out on the counter, once it's rolled out. (Remember not to top until it is in the skillet.)
Once the crust is in the skillet or the counter resting, get your veggies ready to grill.
Turn the Traeger on smoke with lid open until the fire is established, 4-5 minutes. Next, turn the grill on high and close the lid to preheat for 10-15 minutes. 
Drizzle the peppers, zucchini, garlic, and onion with olive oil and salt. Arrange on a grilling grate and place on Traeger once it's preheated. Check after 10 minutes. Remove the zucchini and add the bacon. (Note: Zucchini normally takes less time to cook than the other veggies) 
Continue cooking the other vegetables until bacon is done, about ten minutes or so.
Leaving Traeger on, transfer all toppings to cutting board and let cool while you chop olives, tomatoes and jalapeños.
Brush crust with olive oil and using a fork smash the roasted garlic into the crust and smear as best you can without tearing the crust. It doesn't have to be perfect!



Next, add toppings to the prepared crust in skillet. 
Cook on Traeger for about 20 minutes until edges are brown. 
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, slice and serve. 


Traeger Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Traeger Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza

The only thing left to do now if slice and enjoy!
Printable recipe: Wood Fire Grilled Flatbread Pizza.docx (15.95 kb)


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Tailgating Buffalo Chicken Sausage with Bleu Cheese and Celery Carrot Slaw

Posted by Susie B. on September 13, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Sausage with a Celery Carrot Slaw

The combination of blue cheese and buffalo sauce has become an iconic American flavor duo for good reason. The spicy tang of the buffalo sauce and the bold creaminess of the blue cheese makes for a happy mouth! Put all that goodness on top of a chicken sasuage in a toasty bun then bury it all in a sweet and crunchy slaw to cool it down a little and you've got a meal worth making (and subsequently consuming). 

Everything about this is so simple, it's a breeze to make for a backyard BBQ or tailgating party and come out looking like a champ. Prepare the slaw a day in advance, then when it's time to cook all you've got to do is grill and assemble. Chicken sausage has become so popular, you can find it in most butcher's cases. The ones we are using are some garlic chicken bratwursts. If you can't find chicken sausages, feel free to substitute classic bratwursts. The flavors will still shine!


Buffalo Chicken Sausage with a Celery Carrot Slaw


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12-15 minutes
Serves 6 people
Recommended Pellets: Hickory, Oak

6 chicken sausages
1/2 cup Frank's RedHot Buffalo sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons white sugar (start with 1, adjust for taste)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds
Salt and Pepper to taste
6 hearty buns


Start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open for 4-5 minutes to establish the fire. Close the lid and preheat the grill to 375 degrees F. Place the sausages directly on the grill grate. Close the lid and grill for 6-8 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the slaw. Toss gently to coat everything with the dressing.

Turn the sausages over on the grill and top with half of the Buffalo sauce. Close the lid and grill for 6-8 more minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Place the buns on the grill split side down during the last 2-3 minutes of grilling to toast.

Top the warm buns with a small handful of blue cheese.

Place a hot sausage on top of the cheese and drizzle with more Buffalo sauce.

Top the sausage with a hearty serving of the celery carrot slaw and serve immediately.

Buffalo Chicken Sausage with a Celery Carrot Slaw

Buffalo Chicken Sausage with a Celery Carrot Slaw

Printable Recipe:

Buffalo Chicken Sausage with a Celery Carrot Slaw.docx (13.53 kb)

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Grilled Mustard Pork Chops with a Peach-Blueberry Relish

Posted by Mary M. on September 12, 2014

Grilled Mustard Pork Chops with a Peach-Blueberry Relish

Mustard has a mesmerizing power over pork. One swath of it and the pork submits, becoming absurdly succulent and tender, driving your mouth crazy. Essentially, it wraps the chops up in a moisture and flavor-locking parka. This mustard magic trick can really be used on any cut of pork, just make sure that you adjust the cooking time accordingly. If you aren't using mustard as the ringer in your grilling repertoire, you just gotta!

To finish the job with these pork chops we rained down fresh relish made using plump, sweet, seasonal peaches and blueberries. When those flavors meld together it's like, KABLOOIE! ...in a good way.


PREP TIME: 30 minutes to 1 hour
COOK TIME: 10 to 30 minutes
RECOMMENDED PELLETS: Hickory, Mesquite or Cherry


4 pork chops
Traeger Pork and Poultry Shake
1/2 cup of whole grain mustard
2 to 3 fresh peaches, stone removed and fruit diced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 shallot or 1/4 sweet onion, diced
1/4 cup basil, shredded fine
3 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar (or other mild vinegar)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
2 teaspoons honey or agave (more or less to taste)
Pinch of salt and pepper, to taste


Season the pork chops on both sides with the Pork and Poultry Shake and let them sit at room temp for 30 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile make the peach-blueberry relish by combining the peaches, blueberries, shallots, basil, vinegar, olive oil, cardamom and honey in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and more honey, if needed.

Slather the chops all over with mustard.

Start the Traeger on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (about 5 minutes). Preheat to High heat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Cook the pork chops on High heat for about 5 minutes on the first side and 5 to 10 minutes on the second side or until the internal temperature registers 140-145 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. (Don't worry, the chops will have some carry-over heat and continue to cook a few more degrees.)

Grilled Mustard Pork Chops with a Peach-Blueberry Relish

Plate chops and top with the peach-blueberry relish.

Grilled Mustard Pork Chops with a Peach-Blueberry Relish


Grilled Mustard Pork Chops Recipe.docx (12.18 kb)

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"Competition Style" Spare Ribs

Posted by Susie B. on September 11, 2014

We hesitated to put "Competition Style" in front of anything because we know how meticulous and passionate true BBQ cooks can be about their competition meats. However, after grilling up these beautiful racks of spare ribs using some tricks of the trade we knew we had to share the recipe and our cooking method with Traeger Nation.

When cooking for friends, we often prefer our ribs to have a bit of a spicy bite, a little kiss of sweetness, and we love for them to be fall off the bone tender. When cooking for competitions, the judges are looking for a different set of criteria; they want ribs that you can bite through easily, but don't pull away from the bone, sauce that is sticky sweet, and layers of flavor that complement the taste of the rib meat instead of overpower it.

Our method for producing "competition style ribs" is similar to our 3-2-1 baby back method, but spare ribs require a little extra cook time and a bonus application of a super sweet "glaze" before presentation. We pick spare ribs over baby backs for competitions because they have a lot more meat on them and a better marbling of fat. If a judge looks in your competition box and sees spare ribs, they know they'll be eating well! We use a St. Louis cut of spare ribs, but you can use whole spare ribs and trim te "rib tips" off of the top on your own if you prefer.


"Competition Style" Spare Ribs


Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
Cook Time: Approx 5 hours
Serves: 4-6 people
Recommended Pellets: 50/50 mix of Hickory/Apple or Hickory/Cherry

2 racks St. Louis Style pork ribs
Traeger Pork & Poultry Shake
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey (preferably clover honey)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Traeger BBQ Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
1/2 cup Traeger Apricot BBQ Sauce


Start the Traeger Grill on Smoke for 4-5 minutes with the lid open to establish the fire. While you grill is starting, begin trimming your ribs.

First, trim the end bones off of each rack. These bones are typically small, half bones that don't typically cook very evenly. trimming them off contributes to more even cooking and a better presentation. After the ends are removed, trim any excess fat down to approximately 1/4 inch in thickness.

**TIP: Use a really really sharp knife. It will make the preparation process go so much faster!

Next, remove the membrane from the back side of the ribs. This membrane is a little like silverskin and it won't break down when you cook it. You really want to bite through your ribs, so don't forget this step. We usually slide a butterknife in between the membrane and the bone to separate the two, then grab the end with a paper towel. Get a good grip and gently pull the membrane away from the back of the ribs.

Season liberally on both sides with Traeger Pork & Poultry rub and place on the grill (still on the Smoke setting) meat side up. Smoke for 2 hours.

Lay down a large strip of heavy duty aluminum foil an sprinkle with 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon honey, and 2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces. Turn the temperature on the grill up to 225 degrees.

Lay the ribs meat side down in the brown sugar mixture and sprinkle the bone side of the ribs with the brown sugar, honey and butter. Repeat with the second set of ribs.

Tightly crimp the foil and return to the grill, meat side down for 2 hours.

At this point, you'll need to test your ribs for tenderness. Carefully open the foil and insert a toothpick into the meat between the two center-most ribs. You'll want to sense a bit of resistance, but the toothpick should go in fairly smooth. If your ribs are already soft like butter, you'll cut down on the cook time in the next step. If they still seem a little tough, you will cook them a little longer in the next step.

Collect the juices from the foil and set aside. These sweet pork juices are wonderfully flavorful and will help make our amazing glaze.

Remove the ribs from the foil and place back on the grill grate. Combine the Traeger BBQ Sauce and Apricot Sauce in a small bowl and brush liberally on all sides of the ribs.

This is where the cooking process becomes a little more "sense and feel" than actual cooking times and temperatures. If your ribs were already very tender after the foiling period, you might only need 20 minutes to set the sauce. If your ribs were rather tough, you might need to cook them for an hour or more. Each rack of ribs has a different marbling and amount of fat, so they will all cook a little differently. Our average cook time for these ribs is an hour after they are sauced and returned to the grill.

After your ribs have finished cooking, remove them from the grill and let them rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Grab the pork juice that you set aside from the foiling step. By now, the fat will have separated from the other juices. Spoon the fat off of the top and discard. Using a basting brush, generously coat the cut ribs with the sticky sweet glaze. This will give them an amazing shiny finish.

Arrange on a bed of beautiful greens in a styrofoam box and you'll be set to win. Or simply serve them next to some baked beans and cole slaw for an amazing meal. Enjoy!


Competition Style Spare Ribs.docx (15.53 kb)

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