Traeger 321 Ribs

Traeger Burgers for Beginners

Partway through 2019, our gas grill officially gave up on us. We couldn’t wheel the thing around without it nearly falling apart, and I was honestly scared to use it. We knew it was time to upgrade, and I wasn’t interested in another gas grill. I had some money left on a Nebraska Furniture Mart gift card from high school graduation (a long time ago, but those never expire!), so we went grill shopping and walked away with a Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill. The smoker can fit 7 racks of ribs, 8 chickens, or 40 burgers! It has truly taken my meal prep game to a whole new level.

Since purchasing the Traeger grill, I have smoked at least 3 pounds of meat every weekend. I even bought an extra turkey to smoke on Thanksgiving this year, just to test it out! Each time I experiment, I learn something new about what kind of pellets to use, what temperature to smoke a particular cut of meat, or how long to smoke it.

 

What's so great about a Traeger?

What can you smoke on a Traeger? Just about everything. So far, I’ve tried salmon, bacon, ribs, turkey, burgers, pork shoulder, and nearly every form of chicken.

The Traeger grill can maintain +/- 15 degrees of the set temperature. Even in the cold winter months, the temperature is reliable. I prefer this to gas and charcoal grills, which have variable temperatures that are hard to regulate. With a Traeger, I’m able to leave the meat on for hours and not worry about temperature fluctuations that could affect the meat.

We have the Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill.

The smoker can fit 7 racks of ribs, 8 chickens, or 40 burgers. Needless to say, meal prep is no issue with this guy.

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What are Traeger Pellets?

Similar to how propane tanks and charcoal are required for other types of grills, wood pellets are used for smokers. The pellets come in different flavors and the type you use depends on what you’re smoking. For example, Cherry BBQ Wood Traeger Pellets are recommended for ribs, beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and baked goods. However, they are not best for seafood or vegetables. The cherry flavor naturally enhances the flavor of the dish with subtle sweet notes.

Each week, I try to smoke something different whether it’s a different cut or variety. However, there are a few staples that I smoke at least once a month because I know they will turn out well and I like experimenting with different seasonings and pellet flavors.

Traeger Pellets are made from 100% natural, food-grade hardwood. There are over a dozen different varieties of pellets, and they’re all great in my experience.

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How does a Smoker Work?

A smoker, specifically a Traeger, has the ability to maintain a precise temperature for hours while providing your food with delicious wood-fired flavors. A Traeger uses hardwood pellets that are fed into the smoker automatically to feed a flame that heats up the smoker and cooks your food.

Since the pellets are keeping the fire going, the smoke from the fire has notes of the hardwood, and that’s where the smoky flavor comes from. Traeger makes pellets from 100% hardwood that come in several flavor combinations. Each combo is recommended for a different type of cooking.

To keep things simple Traeger offers their Signature Blend of pellets that “pairs well with everything”. If you are just starting out with the smoker, these pellets will be great to keep things simple. As you experiment more with different flavors and cooking styles, other Traeger pellets are a way to incorporate some variety into your dishes.

Traeger pellet pairing

What Cuts of Beef are best on a Smoker?

Really, you can’t go wrong when picking something to put on the smoker. All cuts of beef will turn out to be delicious if given enough time on the smoker.

Some of the more difficult cuts of beef to smoke, like brisket, will take a decent amount of time, but it’s arguably the best way to prepare these cuts. The most important part is to be patient. If a recipe says to smoke for 3 hours, but your meat is still tough at the 2:45 mark, let it keep going! Use the probes to keep an eye on the temperature, and let the smoker work its magic as long as it needs to.

When I’m looking for cuts of beef to smoke, I like to keep an eye on new finds at Crowd Cow. They sell craft cuts of beef that are fun to try out on the smoker.

Crowd Cow has an amazing selection of high quality meat and seafood. My favorite is their boneless ribeye.

You can get 5% off every box when you choose “Autoship” at Check-Out.

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Traeger Ribs, Burgers, and Salmon, oh my!

There is no real limit to the amount of things you can stick on the smoker to make a delicious meal.

My go-to options on the Traeger are burgers, salmon, and ribs. Below I’ve included 3 of my favorite recipes so you can try them yourself.

Traeger Burgers

Smoked burgers are my go-to option on the Traeger. They’re great as meal prep options, or if you’re having a BBQ with lots of friends. Everyone loves burgers. Not to mention, they’re one of the easiest things to smoke on a Traeger because they come out perfect every time.

Preparing the Burgers

I get my burgers pre-formed for convenience, usually from ButcherBox or Crowd Cow. Since the burgers come frozen, I’ll leave them in the fridge overnight so they’re completely thawed when I’m ready to smoke. Once I’m ready to start up the smoker, I season each burger with a bit sea salt and both sides and that’s it.

I use any of the Traeger pellets when smoking burgers. The pellets add a subtleness of flavor that compliments the meat. In the case of burgers, you really can’t go wrong with the flavor of pellets you choose. So, whatever’s leftover from the last smoking session is usually what gets used.

Traeger Pellets are made from 100% natural, food-grade hardwood. There are over a dozen different varieties of pellets, and they are all great for smoking burgers.

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Smoking the Meat

To make these delicious Traeger burgers, set the Traeger to “smoke” with the lid open and let it sit for a few minutes. This is the time I spend seasoning the burgers and preparing the probes. After 10-15 minutes, set the temperature to the lowest option, place the burgers on the grate, plug in the probes, and close the lid. Depending on your desired doneness, the burgers will be finished in 2-4 hours with a perfect smoke ring inside. Personally, I smoke the burgers until they’re 135F-140F. I stick to the lower end if I’m using these for meal prep because they’ll cook a bit more when they’re reheated.

Once you’ve had a Traeger burger, it’s hard to go back to a burger cooked on a standard grill. The low and slow cooking method keeps the moisture in the burger so it doesn’t dry out. And the smoky flavor can’t come from anywhere else. As a bonus, smoking burgers takes minimal effort, which makes it my preferred method of preparation.

Traeger Smoked Salmon

Similar to the burgers, Traeger smoked salmon is one of my go-to meal prep options. I usually prep 2-3 filets every week along with burgers and whatever else I’m smoking. The process is almost identical to the burgers, and they take about the same amount of time.

Preparing the Salmon

I buy my salmon in filets from Butcher Box that are usually 4-6oz each. Before smoking, I thaw the filets in the fridge and then season each one with a “savory” seasoning blend. At a minimum, you’ll want salt, but there are plenty of great seafood seasoning blends that will work.

Butcher Box is a monthly meat subscription service that delivers high-quality, grass-fed meat and wild-caught seafood right to your door.

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Smoking Instructions

To make Traeger smoked salmon, start by setting the grill to “smoke” with the lid open and leave it for 10-15 minutes. During this time, season your salmon, insert the probes, and optionally spray your Traeger grates with grill-safe cooking spray. The spray will prevent the skin from sticking to the grate.

When the smoker is ready, turn the temperature to the lowest option and place your salmon skin-side down on the grate and close the lid. Leave the salmon to smoke for approximately 3 hours, or until it has reached an internal temperature of 135F-145F. I lean towards the 135F range if I’m making the salmon as meal prep because it will cook further when it is reheated. If I am smoking the salmon to eat immediately, I’ll allow it to cook a bit longer.

The Traeger smoked salmon cook time and the temperature is nearly identical to the smoked burgers, which is intentional. I want to keep my meal prep as minimal and as straightforward as possible. If I’m preparing these for a BBQ or other special occasion, I might mix up the spices or attempt a marinade. Otherwise, I keep things simple. The Traeger pellets add a bit of variety to the flavor. Also, since it’s just the protein portion of my meal prep, there are still plenty of other ways to enhance my meals.

Traeger Ribs

I have a Butcher Box subscription and every month I can customize a box full of meat that is shipped to my door. Every couple of months, I add a rack or two of ribs to my order so that I can smoke them. So far, I’ve had great success!

Preparation

To make smoked ribs, I use pork ribs and pecan Traeger pellets. You can also use any other nutty or fruity pellets like apple, cherry, hickory, and maple.

I prefer sauced ribs over dry rub, so a great BBQ sauce is very important. Most BBQ sauces are loaded with sugar, but homemade sugar-free BBQ sauce is easy to prepare. An even easier option is G Hughes Sugar-Free BBQ sauce. It is sweetened with sucralose, which isn’t optimal, but it’s a great alternative to the real stuff. G Hughes is available in most big box grocery stores and on Amazon. I use the original variety, but any of them would be delicious for these ribs.

G Hughes is my favorite sugar-free BBQ sauce.

There are only 2g of carbs per serving, but it still tastes like a traditional BBQ sauce. If you’re looking for a low-carb substitute, I’d highly recommend G Hughes!

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Smoking the Ribs

To cook, start with the ribs dry and smoke for 4-5 hours at 180F. Then, put the ribs in foil and cover generously with your BBQ sauce of choice. Close the foil and put them back on the Traeger at 350F for 45 minutes to an hour. The end result is delicious Traeger ribs that are tender and moist.

Traeger turkey

Is a Traeger Worth It?

The Traeger has been a game-changer for me. I can make some of the most deliciously smoked meats with minimal effort. I’m all about efficiency, so having something that is foolproof but also effective is invaluable.

I also like that the Traeger uses pellets, instead of charcoal, which is messy, or gas, which freaks me out. Whenever I’m running low, I’ll pick up a new bag of Traeger pellets and fill up the hopper. That’s it. No mess, and it takes less than a minute. The toughest part is figuring out which flavor to add! Rest assured – they’re all amazing.

We have the Traeger Pro Series 34 Pellet Grill.

The smoker can fit 7 racks of ribs, 8 chickens, or 40 burgers. Needless to say, meal prep is no issue with this guy.

We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Another great thing about using pellets in a Traeger is that you don’t have to worry about the flame going out when it’s freezing cold outside! I smoke meat through the winter time, which means some days the Traeger is fired up when it’s well below freezing outside. However, the flame has never gone out because the Traeger keeps the flame safe and the pellets are continuously being dumped into the auger to feed the fire. This means that the typical 4-5 month seasonality of a grill is extended to a full 12 months.

Initially, I was intimidated by the price tag. But I have no regrets. This Traeger is one of my most used cooking tools, even in the dead of winter!

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