Electric Smoker Ribs Recipe
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you couldn’t use a gas or charcoal grill, much less a smoker, you know the pain of not being able to make ribs at home. However, electric smokers can serve as an able replacement for those situations. So how do you smoke ribs in an electric smoker?…
If you’ve ever been in a situation where you couldn’t use a gas or charcoal grill, much less a smoker, you know the pain of not being able to make ribs at home. However, electric smokers can serve as an able replacement for those situations. So how do you smoke ribs in an electric smoker?
How Do Electric Smokers Work?
At their core, electric smokers utilize an electric heating element to create the desired temperature. The more advanced and expensive versions will have greater control over the temperature as well as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity so you can monitor the smoker from your phone.
Electric smokers typically use wood chips to add wood smoke to the cooking chamber. Some come with included trays or boxes for you to put the chips in. For others, you might have to create a foil packet to hold the chips or purchase a smoke tube or box to hold the chips.
Regardless of the method, electric smokers can generate wood smoke flavor so you can make ribs at home. Whether your preferred ribs are baby backs or spares, these smokers can do the job.
If you’re in the market for a new smoker, take a look at our top-ranked electric smokers.
What Flavor Of Chips Should I Use In My Electric Smoker For Ribs?
There are a wide variety of flavors of wood chips on the market. If you don’t know what to look for, it can be overwhelming. You don’t want to overpower the flavor of the ribs and whatever rub you put on them, but you do want to get that wood smoke when you bite into them.
We have a write-up on the best wood for smoking ribs to help you make an informed choice. My personal favorite is a blend of oak and apple to get a bit of heavier smoke flavor and color from the oak while the apple wood brings some sweetness. Take the time to read over the various options and experiment!
How Do I Prepare My Ribs For The Electric Smoker?
When you get your rack(s) of ribs ready for your electric smoker, the preparation is very similar to any other smoker. The biggest concern with smoking ribs in an electric smoker is the cooking area. A lot of electric smokers are not very wide. Manufacturers instead tend to make electric smokers tall to maximize space.
That means you will likely need to cut your racks in half to ensure they will fit without issue. If you do have a larger electric smoker, you won’t need to do this. Beyond that, the preparation process of the ribs themselves is essentially the same.
You want to remove the membrane/silverskin that covers the bone side of the rack. If you’ve struggled with that, we’ve got a video to help you with that.
After you’ve removed the membrane and trimmed your ribs to fit your smoker, pick your favorite rub to generously season the ribs. A big question is whether you need to use a binder with ribs. A binder, like mustard, will help the dry rub stick to the ribs. Is it a necessity for ribs? Not really, but if you are concerned about the rub coming loose, it will not hurt your ribs.
If you’re looking for a new homemade recipe to try, check out our recipe for a dry rub for ribs. You can use your favorite recipe or your favorite store-bought rub as well.
Once you’ve figured out what rub you’re using, make sure to coat both sides of the ribs, taking the time to firmly press the rub in. While it’s called a rub, actually rubbing it won’t get it to sit well on the surface of the meat.
After you’ve coated both sides of your ribs, you want to put your ribs in the fridge in a covered container or a gallon bag. Make sure you let it rest at least two hours to allow the rub to set up and penetrate into the meat. You can go as long as overnight, approximately 10-12 hours, if you want.
How To Smoke Ribs On An Electric Smoker
You want to pull your ribs out of the fridge about half an hour or so before you put them on your smoker. Then load your preferred wood chips into the smoker and start it preheating to 225°F. Your electric smoker will dictate how you use the wood chips. If it has a spot designated for wood chips, put them there. Otherwise make a foil packet or use a smoking tube.
It’s also beneficial to have a water pan in your smoker. Humidity aids in adding smoke flavor to meats and helps keep an even cook. A pan full of hot water is ideal in an electric smoker, typically placed on the lowest rack close to the electric heat element.
Once your smoker has preheated, approximately 20-30 minutes, put your ribs in. Let them sit for around three hours to give them time to absorb some of the wood smoke from the chips.
After three hours, you want to pull the ribs and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. This will help the rib meat become more tender. You can add ingredients to your ribs when you wrap. I’ve added butter, honey, and even additional rub prior to wrapping.
Let the ribs smoke for anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on how tender you want your ribs. We’ll discuss more on that later.
When you remove your ribs from the foil, return them to the smoker and brush them with your favorite barbecue sauce. If you’re a fan of making sauces at home, give our homemade barbecue sauce a try.
Once your ribs are coated in sauce, let them smoke another half an hour or so. You want the sauce to set and start to caramelize, but you don’t want burned carbon in place of the sauce. You can check to see if the ribs are done by lifting them at the middle with a pair of tongs and gently bounce them. If they bend and some small cracks appear in the surface without the rack falling apart, they’re done.
Let them rest for around 10 minutes and slice into individual bones and serve.
Wait, aren’t ribs done when they fall off the bone?
That depends on who you talk to. Read on to figure out how long to smoke your ribs and whether we think ribs should be fall-off-the-bone tender or a slight pull.
How Long To Smoke Ribs In An Electric Smoker
(Or “What About The 3-2-1 Method?”)
First of all, barbecue is an art as much as it is science. We can do the math to figure out approximately when a cut of meat will be done based off the temperature we smoke it at and how much it weighs.
However, there are all sorts of factors that can change that. Time is a guideline, not a rule, when it comes to barbecue. So we can’t tell you exactly how long that rack of baby back ribs or spare ribs will take. In truth, only you can because you know how you like your ribs.
A good guideline is about four to six hours at 225°F, however. If you enjoy ribs where you can just slide the meat off the bone, then you’re looking at roughly six hours. You’ll essentially follow the 3-2-1 method.
There are those that will argue that ribs cooked in that method are overcooked. In fact, a lot of people will argue that.
However, if that’s what you enjoy, have at it. The beauty of cooking barbecue in your own backyard is that you get to cook it however you want.
Just be aware that Angry BBQ collectively might be shaking our heads.
Electric Smoker Ribs
- Electric smoker
- Wood chips (I prefer oak and apple)
- Paper Towel
- Cutting Board
- Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil
- Grill Basting Brush
- Chef’s knife
- Grill Tongs
- 2 Racks Pork Ribs We Did Baby Back Ribs
- 6 TBSP of honey
- 4 TBSP butter
- 8 TBSP dry rub
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- 4 TBSP Mustard Use as Binder
- Remove the membrane from the bone-side of the ribs.
- Trim ribs of excess fat and then slice them into half-racks to fit your electric smoker if necessary.
- Apply your choice of binder (mustard) if you prefer, then cover the ribs generously with your dry rub and pat it firmly in.
- Cover your ribs and place them in the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to overnight (no more than 12.)
- Remove the ribs from the fridge and let them rest on the counter approximately half an hour before you’re ready to put them on the smoker.
- Load your electric smoker with wood chips (I prefer oak and apple.) If it has a spot for wood chips, use that. Otherwise, create a foil packet and fill it with a cup of wood chips. Start preheating your smoker to 225°F.
- Once your electric smoker is preheated, place the half-racks of ribs in the smoker meat-side up.
- Let the ribs smoke for three hours. You can choose to spritz or not. If so, mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spritz the ribs every 30-45 minutes.
- After three hours, remove the ribs and place them meat-side down on sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil.
- Put a pat or two of butter on each half-rack of ribs, then drizzle lightly with honey. You can also sprinkle extra dry rub on the ribs if you desire.
- Wrap the ribs tightly in aluminum foil, then return them to the smoker bone-side up. Let them smoke for 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your taste in tenderness.
- Remove the ribs from the foil and place them back in the smoker meat-side up. Brush them with your chosen barbecue sauce before smoking them for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Check for tenderness by lifting the ribs in the middle with your tongs and seeing how much bend you have. If you want ribs that you need to bite through, you want some bend and a little cracking to appear on the surface of the meat. If you want fall-off-the-bone ribs, you don’t have to do the bone test. Check to see how much the meat has pulled back from the bones and see if the bone takes much effort to pull out.
- Remove the ribs from the smoker, cover with foil and let them rest for 10 minutes.
- Carve into individual bones and enjoy!
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