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Spiced & Sweet Smoked Pork Riblets

Thank you to Primo Ceramic Grills for sponsoring this post!

Surprise! Holidays aren’t only for turkey and prime rib! Spiced & Sweet Pork Riblets are festive, fun, and receive raving reviews at any gathering! Chinese-5 spice, smoked paprika, coriander, ginger, and garlic rub infuse bite size pork ribs before brushing a finishing glaze of agave, lime, and sriracha. Make plenty because this appetizer quickly disappears!

Smoking tender and flavorful pork riblets is always a crowd pleaser! The method is simple: smoke, wrap, and fire finish! Spiced & Sweet Pork Riblets are done in under 2 1/2 hours! And leftovers…haha…if there are any can be reheated in the microwave. I’d suggest doubling or tripling this recipe for a party.

My Primo Grill XL 400 does an outstanding job of 250°F low-temp smoking then allowing me to increase the temperature to 400°F for a fire finish. I love the design of the Primo Grill that allows for indirect and direct cooking zones.

Sweet Potatoe slicesare  on the #PrimoGrill with pork riblets.
Primo Smoked Pork Riblets are delicious!


  1. Build a mound of natural lump charcoal. Use a quarter bowl of Primo lump charcoal for smoking and searing temperatures. For riblets, fill the ceramic bowl just above the air holes. I don’t use as much lump charcoal for riblets as I would for 5-hour low and slow ribs.

  2. Light the charcoal with two Primo QuickLites. You can also use a chimney starter or electric starter. Leave the dome open.

  3. Wait 5-10 minutes for the charcoal to build a small bed of embers.

  4. Close the dome, then fully open the draft door and the top vent by sliding the top disk all the way to the right.

  5. Adjust the vents to control the airflow as the temperature rises to 225°F. Keep vents opened just enough to keep the grill’s internal temperature between 225°F and 250°F for smoking riblets.

  6. After the riblets have smoked at a low temperature for 2 hours, place riblets in a formed aluminum foil pouch, add apple juice, and tightly seal. Place foil packet on the grill for about 40 minutes.

  7. Remove the Pork Riblets from the smoker. Drain the apple juice and pork juices into a small bowl. Whisk in the agave, lime juice, and desired amount of sriracha sauce.

  8. Remove the heat deflector plates and racks, and insert the grill grates to the lowest position. Note: I flip the grill grates upside down.

  9. Open both the bottom and top vents to allow airflow. Airflow feeds the fire! I like to close the lid for a few minutes to really crank up the heat. Once the thermometer reads over 450°F the grill is ready for a fast finish.

  10. Position the riblets on the center of the grill grates, brush with glaze, turning the riblets over a few times and grill 4-5 minutes to char. Delish! You are ready for the tribe to devour!

A Primo Ceramic Grill bowl with lump charcoal and embers.
Primo Lump Charcoal ignites quite and burns for a long time!

For Helpful information:

Head to check out this link: Primo Grills to learn more on how to set up your Primo Grill

for different methods of grilling and smoking


For the freshest, tastiest, clean smoky flavor in foods,

NEVER use lighter liquid or any other combustible liquid to light the charcoal.

On Social Media Check out:

Pork Riblets on a cutting board after seasoning with Dijon Mustard and a spice rub.
Pork Riblets rubbed with Dijon Mustard then spices!


Riblets are made from the round bone ends of pork ribs by cutting the rib rack lengthways. This two-from-one-rib-rack cut or pork makes for small rib pieces.

Riblets are usually made from baby back ribs and tend to be a little fattier which means flavor.

When St Louis-style ribs are trimmed the results are Rib Tips. Don’t be concerned about Riblets versus Rib Tips, both are scrumptious and tasty in the recipe below.

Riblets taste like pork ribs, and are tasty with a rub or sauce!

Riblets adapt to many cuisines! Asian and Mexican flavors are my favorites for Pork Riblets.

Smoked Pork Riblets are an impressive game-day appetizer and can replace chicken wings! #OhMy

A homemade foil drip pan is in the Primo Ceramic Grill waiting for pork riblets.
Primo Grill is ready! Let's smoke some Pork Riblets!


There are a few reasons I enjoy smoking and grilling pork riblets!

At a party, pork riblets are a perfect 3-bite dish. They are not as messy or filling as pork ribs. Pork Riblets will soon become you #1 requested PaRtY FooD!

A lot of people don’t really know what or how to cook pork riblets therefore I constantly find this pork cut in the clearance section! YaY, I love a good bargain. Just make sure the pork riblets are not past their packaged expiration date.

Pork Riblets are packed with flavor and easy to smoke!

The small thin ribs, as compared to big beef ribs and pork ribs, guarantees every bite is enriched with a healthy amount of sauce to meat ratio.


I love to smoke pork riblets with apple, cherry, maple, or hickory wood chunks. It is fun to experiment with combinations of the above wood chunks. Do remember that Primo Lump Charcoal does infuse any meat with a subtle smokiness without added wood chunks or chips.

A platter of festive pork riblets with peppers and sweet potatoes.
Smoky Sweet Pork Riblets ~ Let's Eat!



For the Pork:

1-2 pounds pork riblets (I’d suggest doubling this recipe for a party)

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

For the Rub:

2 tablespoon raw sugar or brown sugar

1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic

1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

For the Glaze:

1/3 cup apple juice (for foil packet)

1/4 cup Agave Syrup

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon sriracha or desired amount

Quick Information

Servings: 4

Pork Internal Temperature: 145°F

Seasons: Any time

Category: Pork


Prepare the Pork: Trim the pork riblets by cutting any excess fat and pulling the membrane off the backside of the bones. Rub Dijon mustard on both sides of the pork.

2. Prepare the Rub: Combine raw sugar, Chinese 5-spice, smoked paprika, coriander, ginger, garlic, and salt.

3. Rub the Pork: Sprinkle and massage spice rub on both sides of pork. Riblets can be wrapped tightly, at this point, and refrigerated for 24 hours to infuse seasoning. If you are in a hurry go ahead and grill Riblets as instructed below.

4. Prepare Grill: Fill the fire box just past the air holes with Primo Lump Charcoal. Wedge 1 or 2 Primo Quick Light starter cubes in the charcoal and light.

Wait 5-10 minutes for the charcoal to build a small bed of embers. Close the dome, and fully open the draft door on the bottom.

Adjust the top vent as the thermometer begins to reach 225°F-240°F. Once the temperature has reached 250°F, close the top vent to one-third open. Add 3-4 smoking wood chunks. Insert heat deflector rack and plate. Wait 2 minutes for the temperature to stabilize.

Increase or decrease the airflow on the top vent as needed to retain 250°F or as low as 225°F.

Prepare for Indirect Heat: Insert both heat deflector racks and plates.

Position Drip Pan: Fold double sheets of aluminum foil to make a rimmed drip pan or use an old rimmed baking sheet (foil lines). Place the drip pan on the deflector plate, and insert grill grates.


Place Pork Riblets in the center of the grill and smoke for 2 hours.

Remove the Pork Riblets from the smoker and lay them out on aluminum foil. Lift the edges of the foil and pour the apple juice over the pork. Close and fold up the foil, and place the wrapped riblets back in the smoker and cook for about 40 minutes. This is a great time to smoke garnishes and side dishes.

Remove the Pork Riblets from the smoker. Drain the apple juice and pork juices into a small bowl. Whisk in the agave, lime juice, and desired amount of sriracha sauce.

Remove the grill grates, heat deflector plates and racks, carefully with BBQ grill gloves. Place the grates back on the grill. Increase grill temperature to 450°F by opening the draft vents and the daisy vent.

Once the grill is extremely hot, arrange riblets in the center, and brush with glaze. Char both sides of riblets, about 4 minutes, by continually turning and brushing with glaze. Pork riblets have completed cooking at 145°F.

Rest pork Pork Riblets for 5 minutes before cutting into 2-bone servings. Serve the riblets with your favorite BBQ sauce for dipping.

Recipe Author: Merry Graham from A Merry Recipe and Grilling Grandma

A long platter of pork riblets are ready to be eaten.
Pork Riblets are a festive and welcomed Party Food!

A Primo Ceramic Grill with smoke drifting from the daisy vent.
Primo Ceramic Grills hold a low temperature so well.



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