How to Master Cooking Ribs, According to a BBQ Expert - Men's Health Magazine Australia

How to Master Cooking Ribs, According to a BBQ Expert

BBQ enthusiast, pit master, Josh Dixon shares his top tips. - by Josh "traegerdixon" Dixon

A fan favourite amongst grilling guru’s, ribs are one of the key meats any tradie of the tongs is eager to master. With spring and summer very much on the horizon, it couldn’t hurt to fire up the grill a tad early and perfect that smokey flavour for when guests come knocking at your door. 

For a finger-licking good rack of ribs, I highly recommend you follow the 3-2-1 cooking method. Super simple and direct: smoke the ribs low and slow for a total of three hours, apply your desired sauces/rubs/seasoning before wrapping in foil and continuing to cook for another 2 hours, then, remove all foil and get heavy handed with the glaze before grilling for a final hour. Voila!

Consider yourself a bit of kook in the kitchen, then it’s specifics you’ll need. My top three tips for succulent meat time and time again would revolve around the following: 

1. Properly apply the rub. 

To get rub seasoning to penetrate the meat, you need to apply a sticky substance first (mustard’s a great one), before the seasoning itself. If you follow these steps all will stay in place, and the meat will be perfectly and evenly coated with flavour. 

2. Learn to tenderise the ribs. 

To tenderise the meat before cooking you want to use a slightly acidic ingredient directly on the exterior of the protein. Apple juice and vinegar are fantastic options, and what this will do is slightly loosen the meat fibers for more smoky flavour to seep in. 

3. Seal in the flavour. 

This tip revolves around the ‘2’ of said 3-2-1 cooking method. Always, always apply the foil as this will keep the juices from cooking off and the unique flavours from burning out. You want to trap as many secret herbs and spices in those ribs for maximum foodie pleasure. 

Now that I’ve got hot meat on your mind, I highly recommend you give this recipe a go. 

Josh Dixon’s ultimate rib recipe


·   2 racks of St. Louis Ribs (if Baby Backs are your preference, go for it)

·   1 bottle of mustard 

·   500ml of apple juice 

·   Traeger Pork & Poultry rub

·   100g of brown sugar

·   100g of honey 

·   100g of butter

·   Traeger Sweet & Heat BBQ Sauce 


  1. Remove the silver skin (membrane) from the underside of the ribs. 
    1. There’s a couple of ways you can do this, but I find it easiest using a butter knife or teaspoon to gently lift up the corner. Once you’ve got some of the skin lifted, grab a paper towel to grip it and rip it all off (plenty of vids on youtube if you get stuck). 
  2. Apply a thin, even coating of mustard to the bones followed by the Traeger Pork & Poultry Rub, making sure you are spreading evenly across all sides and edges. 
  3. Set your Traeger to 85 degrees Celsius and allow it to preheat with the lid closed for at least 15 minutes (use the super smoke function if your grill has this).
    1. Leave your ribs to ‘sweat’ while waiting for the grill, this simply allows for more flavour to build. 
  4. Place your ribs meat-side up on the grill for 3 hours. 
    1. During this time period feel free to spritz your meat with apple or cranberry juice to keep the ribs moist and tender. 
  5. Just before the 3 hours is up, prepare your butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small bowl, along with 2 pieces of aluminum foil per ribs. 
    1. Ensure you have 50% more foil than the length of the ribs. 
  6. Remove ribs from your grill and increase the temperature to 110 degrees Celsius. Place the ribs meat-side down in your butter sugar and honey mix, before repeating on the bone-side. Tightly fold the foil around the ribs ensuring there are no leaks. 
    1. You can at this point add more liquid if you’d like the ribs more tender.
  7. Return foil wrapped ribs back to the grill and cook for a further 2 hours. 
  8. At the end of 2 hours, carefully remove the ribs from the foil, and brush, mop, even dunk both sides in Traeger Sweet & Heat BBQ Sauce, the level of lathering is completely up to you.
  9. Return the exposed ribs to the grill and cook directly on the grates for another 45 minutes, this is usually around the time your sauce will tighten up. 
  10. Let your ribs rest (as hard as it may be!), and after 5 minutes start slicing and serving. 

Simply delicious. If you live on the wilder side of life try topping your ribs with jalapenos, or crispy bits of bacon, or you could even try using buffalo sauce with a blue cheese crumble to finish. 

If you’ve been eyeing off one the @treagergrillsoz for a while now, consider this a sign. With my helpful tips and tricks, and your undying interest in ribs, what better way to win over your loved one’s this summer than with a heart feed every Sunday arvo.  

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