Did you trim a rack of spare ribs to do something with the leftover meat? Learn how to smoke rib scraps like a pro! You’ll end up with some delicious smoked rib meat that makes a fantastic appetizer or use in tacos or breakfast hash and eggs.
We’ve all been there. You’ve trimmed a couple of racks of spare ribs, and now you have all the leftover rib scraps. So, what do you do with it? Some backyard enthusiasts save these scraps soups or as stews. The riblet portion underneath the ribs is usually grilled and served as an appetizer. But, those meatier pieces are set aside for other uses. What if you could put all the extra rib scraps into the smoker? The days of relegating those meaty scraps to stir-fry or sausage filling are over with this method. We’ll turn them into burnt ends instead!
We can all agree that beef prices have increased recently, but pork remains an affordable option. That’s why I’ve been grilling spare ribs more often! However, I like to minimize food waste, so I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use leftover meat scraps. Typically, this involves a beer in one hand, tongs in the other, and my smoker hot and ready to go.
Now, I’ve already tried brisket burnt ends, pork belly burnt ends, and even turkey burnt ends. But, my experiments led me to a new recipe for smoked rib scrap burnt ends. Yes, it’s a mouthful and a great way to use up those meat scraps you might otherwise toss out. All you need to do is save 2-2 1/2 pounds of scraps, and you’ll have enough to make some delicious burnt ends.
What are rib scraps?
Rib scraps come from the excess meat on pork spare ribs. These ribs are trimmed to a uniform shape for even cooking. Most backyard cooks trim them into a St. Louis cut, leaving two meat sections (not including the riblets). These areas include removing the sternum section on the top of the rack and the flap located on the edge. Flip the rack of ribs over and cut off the protruding section known as the riblets. Separate the riblets from the other rib scraps, and cook them independently as appetizers.
What you’ll need for smoked rib scraps:
- Rib scraps: At least 2-2 1/2 pounds (riblets not included)
- BBQ Rub: Use your favorite commercial rub or one of my popular rub recipes.
- Apple juice: For spritzing
- Reliable Instant-Read Thermometer: Always have one nearby to check the temp of the meat.
How to smoke rib scraps:
Cook these pork rib scraps like you would pork ribs. Aim for a cooking temperature of 225 degrees F and a 2 1/2-3 hour cook time. You can hit them with a little smoke at the beginning but don’t overdo it. They are small scraps and can become too smoky.
Wood Recommendation: I recommend apple or peach wood for smoking ribs scraps.
Blot the meat dry. You can apply a little yellow mustard or brush on a thin layer of vegetable oil onto your rib scraps—season well, but do not overpack the rub.
Place the seasoned ribs scraps directly onto the grate of your smoker, close the lid, and let them cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours. This will give the meat enough time to form a good bark. Next, spritz the rib scraps with slightly warmed apple juice, as needed. Let the rib scraps cook for an additional 1- 1 1/2 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
*Please note that the smaller scraps will finish faster than the larger pieces. Remove them from the smoker once they are cooked.
Once cooked, remove the ribs scraps from the smoker and rest for a good 15 minutes before using.
Ways to use them:
- If I have a large amount of smoked rib scraps, I will chop them up (discarding any cartilage in the meat), coat the pieces in my favorite BBQ sauce, and serve them in sandwiches.
- I also use them in my delicious Pellet Grill Baked Beans.
- Chop them up small and use as a topping along with warmed BBQ sauce or pepper jelly on Smoked Cream Cheese.
Store your leftover smoked rib scraps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Place them into a vacuum-sealed bag and store them in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Smoked Rib Scraps
- 2-3 pounds rib scraps riblets excluded
- bottled or homemade rub
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- Prepare your smoker for 225 degrees F. Add your preferred wood. Fruit woods are recommended.
- Blot the meat dry with paper towels. Apply a little yellow mustard or vegetable oil onto your rib scraps—season well with rub.
- Place the seasoned ribs scraps onto the grates of your smoker, close the lid, and let them cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours.
- After this time, spritz with warmed apple juice, as needed.
- Let the rib scraps cook for an additional 1- 1 1/2 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
- Once cooked, remove the ribs scraps from the smoker and rest for a good 15-20 minutes before using.