Smoked pork riblets are an addictive BBQ appetizer made from parts of the rib rack that are often discarded. But trust me, these bad boys are crunchy, tangy, and addictive!
Here’s everything you need to know about the beautiful meat snack, and how to make them with our foolproof BBQ riblet recipe.
What are pork riblets?
That’s right, these are different from regular pork or beef ribs, although you’d be forgiven for the confusion.
Riblets are made from regular pork ribs by cutting the rib rack lengthways. The two resulting slabs of ribs are then cut up to make small rib pieces.
They can also be made from the discarded rib parts that butchers make when trimming ribs.
This makes them more snack-like and better suited to creating party food snacks. It also allows you better coverage for your BBQ sauce or rub.
Riblets shouldn’t be confused with ‘rib tips’, which actually come from the boneless strip of meaty tips that are trimmed off St Louis-style ribs.
Riblets are different in that they come from the round bone ends of the rib rack, which are often discarded by butchers when trimming pork ribs for the sake of presentation.
Because riblets essentially come from discarded bits of pork ribs, they’re often fairly cheap to buy. They’re also extremely easy to cook, but are almost guaranteed to be a BBQ party hit.
What do pork riblets taste like?
Because they essentially are pork ribs, they taste almost exactly how you’d expect. Any variety will depend on what BBQ sauce or rub you use.
However because they’re smaller and sometimes contain less meat, they lend themselves very well to forming a crunchy texture. In this regard they’re quite similar to chicken wings, whereby they can have sections of tender and succulent meat, and then have addictive crunch tips and ends. Crunchy but tender, and in small BBQ appetizer form. They’re the perfect messy finger food.
How to buy pork riblets
You can sometimes find them already prepared, but it’s more than likely that you will have to get regular pork ribs. You can ask your butcher to cut pork loin back ribs in half to create two slabs, and you can then do the rest at home.
How to store pork riblets
Like a lot of meat cuts, riblets can be stored in your refrigerator for up to three days. They’ll need to be tightly packaged, but should last fine within that time period.
If you need to freeze them, then they will last in tight plastic packaging for up to three months.
If you have already cooked them, then they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days maximum.
Pork riblet recipe
These pork riblets are coated in a thick layer of deliciously sweet BBQ sauce and slowly smoked to give you fall-off-the-bone goodness.
Some people oven cook these, but I prefer to smoke them and finish them off with a quick sear.
The process for this recipe isn’t too dissimilar to the steps for my 3-2-1 ribs recipe, which some of you may be familiar with.
Quick tip: This recipe will require some knowledge around indirect grilling and 2-zone cooking, so if you haven’t tried that before then take a look at my guide on how to grill on indirect heat.
Riblets are made from regular pork ribs by cutting the rib rack lengthways and then into smaller pieces. They can also be made from the discarded rib parts that butchers make when trimming ribs. They are cheap, easy to cook, and are a great barbecue appetizer.
Riblets are not boneless. They are formed from the discarded strips of bone that remains after a rib rack is trimmed down. Riblets are often confused with ‘rib tips’, which are often boneless. In many recipes, riblets and tips are used interchangeably.
Both beef and pork can be made into riblets, although pork is far more common. In American BBQ cuisine, ‘ribs’ usually refers to pork but can also be used for beef.