St Louis Ribs on the Pellet Grill

pellet-grilled-st-louis-ribs-featured

Delicious pellet grilled St Louis Ribs with a vanilla brown sugar glaze

Who doesn’t love ribs?   In my mind, ribs are the perfect summer meat, served with all the picnic fixings like baked beans, coleslaw, corn bread, and mac ‘n cheese.   A few racks of ribs can really bring out the smiles at a fourth of July or memorial day picnic. 

These St Louis ribs are perfectly smoked, and then covered in a sweet vanilla glaze that draws out the savor of the meat. 

This recipe is adapted out of one of my first books on smoking, “Project Smoke” by Steven Raichlen.   It’s well written, and I’ve tried several of its recipes to great success. 

st louis ribs with cornbread, beans, mac and cheese, and Cole slaw on a plate

What about 3-2-1 Ribs?

If you’ve googled rib recipes, you’ve likely come across the 3-2-1 smoking guide for ribs.  I can tell you that it works well and you will end up with a great meal.   In short it involves cooking the ribs at different temperatures and wrapping it over the course of six hours.

This recipe does not use this method, it instead cooks at 250 for around four hours.    Raichlen offers the opinion that cooking wrapped ribs boils them in their own juices.   Personally, I found this recipe great for when you’re short on time.

Smoking with the pellet grill

I love my pellet grill.   It’s as easy as an oven to turn on and set a temperature, and once started I never need to adjust its temperature.  I used hickory pellets for these St Louis ribs, which worked out great.  That said, any number of pellet types will work, just follow your whims.

On its own, I don’t think my pellet grill adds enough smokey flavor.   To add a healthy level of smoke to the meat, I add a smoke tube to the grill chamber.  I’m in no way affiliated with these tubes, but I’ve been really happy with its performance.   Just fill the tube with pellets, and light it on fire.  After about 15 minutes of cooking, blow it out and stick it into the chamber.   It will smoke for 4-5 hours. 

Other tips for savory pellet grilled St Louis ribs

  • You can use baby back ribs in this recipe.  Baby back ribs have less meat but are popular for their tenderness.  
  • Don’t skimp on letting the meat rest with the rub.   By letting the meat sit overnight with the rub, you’ll have a big effect on the overall flavor.
  • St Louis ribs have a membrane on the bottom.   Raichlen recommends removing this membrane at the very end after cooking, but I found that to be a messy option.   I recommend peeling it off before adding the rub. 
  • Let the ribs rest after smoking.  This tip applies for most smoked meats, as the meat will equalize its temperature and juices, and end up tasting better on the plate.   I let these ribs rest covered in aluminum foil for about 20 minutes after adding the glaze. 
  • If you have leftover glaze, try adding it to your beans.  Nothing goes better in baked beans than some brown sugar!
  • Scale the ingredients. You can scale the rub for however many racks you’re smoking.   I made enough glaze for 2 or more racks because it was easier to scald the sugar that way. 
  • Save your leftovers!  Rib meat is a great thing to reuse in other meals.
  • Serve with cornbread!  A good BBQ always has some delicious moist honey corn bread!

Let’s pellet grill some St Louis ribs!

Start by mixing the dry ingredients for the rub.   Flip the ribs over and pull off the thin silvery membrane.  You can use a knife (be careful) or other thin object to slide under the  membrane to help you pull it up.  Rinse and dry the ribs, then generously rub both sides with the dry rub.  Cover the ribs and store in the fridge overnight.

Raw st louis ribs showing the membrane
Membrane on the left side
st louis ribs dry rubbed with spice

Preheat your smoker to 250F, and place a tray of water at the bottom of the smoke chamber.  If you’re using a smoke tube, start it now.

st louis ribs on the pellet grill

Smoke the ribs for 3.5-4.5 hours.   I used a meat probe to make sure the ribs were over 165F, but you’ll most likely be well over that by the time you’re done.   When the ribs are done, you’ll be able to easily pull them apart by hand.

St Louis Ribs on the pellet grill at the end of the smoke

About a half hour before the ribs finish, start the glaze.  Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan, and add the vanilla, brown sugar, honey, and water.  Stir well, and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes, stirring every so often.  You want the glaze to bubble and thicken, but not burn.  It’ll be noticeably more thick when it’s ready, but still pourable like chocolate sauce. 

glaze for pellet grilled st louis ribs

When the ribs are done, pull them inside on a pan or cutting board.  Pour the glaze over the top of the ribs and spread it with a spoon or brush.   Cover the ribs with foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.   Prepare your sides while you wait, then serve and enjoy 🙂

glazed st louis ribs
pellet grilled st louis ribs

Recipe for St Louis Ribs

pellet-grilled-st-louis-ribs-featured

St Louis Ribs on the Pellet Grill

Savory, Meaty ribs with a smokey flavor and vanilla glaze
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Resting Time 12 hours
Total Time 16 hours 20 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Rack
Calories 300 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Pellet Smoker
  • 1 Smoke tube optional
  • 1 tray to rest ribs on
  • 1 sauce pan for glaze

Ingredients
  

  • 1 rack St Louis Ribs

Dry Rub

  • ¼ cup brown sugar lightly packed
  • ¼ cup Paprika Sweet or smoked per your preference
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper freshly ground is better
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin

Vanilla Glaze

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp water

Instructions
 

  • Flip the ribs over and pull off the thin silvery membrane. You can use a knife (be careful) or other thin object to slide under the membrane to help you pull it up.
    Raw st louis ribs showing the membrane
  • Mix the dry ingredients for the rub. Rinse and dry the ribs, then generously rub both sides with the dry rub. Cover the ribs and store in the fridge overnight
    st louis ribs dry rubbed with spice
  • Preheat your smoker to 250F, and place a try of water at the bottom of the smoke chamber. If you’re using a smoke tube, start it now.
    st louis ribs on the pellet grill
  • Smoke the ribs for 3.5-4.5 hours. I used a meat probe to make sure the ribs were over 165F, but you’ll most likely be well over that by the time you’re done. When the ribs are done, you’ll be able to easily pull them apart by hand.
    St Louis Ribs on the pellet grill at the end of the smoke
  • About a half hour before the ribs finish, start the glaze. Melt the stick of butter in a saucepan, and add the vanilla, brown sugar, honey, and water. Stir well, and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes, stirring every so often. You want the glaze to bubble and thicken, but not burn. It’ll be noticeably more thick when it's ready, but still pourable like chocolate sauce.
    glaze for pellet grilled st louis ribs
  • When the ribs are done, pull them inside on a pan or cutting board. Pour the glaze over the top of the ribs and spread it with a spoon or brush. Cover the ribs with foil and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Prepare your sides while you wait, then serve and enjoy 🙂
    glazed st louis ribs

Nutrition

Serving: 4ozCalories: 300kcal
Keyword Pellet Grill, Pork Ribs, Smoking, St Louis Ribs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Nutrition Facts
St Louis Ribs on the Pellet Grill
Serving Size
 
4 oz
Amount per Serving
Calories
300
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Join My Newsletter

Subscribe and we'll send you recipes and meal plans.

Freshly Subscribed

Something went wrong

Join My Newsletter

Subscribe and we'll send you recipes and meal plans.

Freshly Subscribed

Something went wrong