How to Smoke Ribs on an Electric Smoker

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Things You'll Need

  • Wood chunks

  • Seasonings

  • Resealable bag or dish

  • Oil

  • Pan of water

  • Sauce or glaze

  • Basting brush

  • Instant-read thermometer

It's difficult to beat the convenience of an electric smoker when all you have to do is plug it in, turn it on and smoke just about anything to flavorful, tender perfection. Smoking is a low-temperature cooking method that slowly cooks meat while infusing it with the flavor of the wood used for smoking. Unlike using a charcoal smoker or an open pit, electric smokers lose a significant amount of heat every time you open the lid, which is why you should only baste the ribs with sauce once during the cooking process.


Step 1

Soak wood chunks in water for 30 minutes or longer before adding them to the smoker. Use a blend of woods or a single type to infuse the ribs with the kinds of flavors you enjoy. For example, hickory or mesquite add a hearty, strong smoky flavor; pecan adds a subtle richness; and apple or cherry woods add a hint of sweet fruitiness.

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Step 2

Season the ribs with salt and pepper the night before smoking them. To build bolder flavors, use your favorite purchased dry rub or make a homemade quick rub by combining dried seasonings such as paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt and black pepper. Alternatively, marinate the ribs in a sauce.


Step 3

Place the seasoned ribs into a resealable plastic bag or a dish covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate them. Pull them out of the refrigerator about 30 to 40 minutes before smoking them so they can return to room temperature.


Step 4

Lightly oil the racks in the smoker. Preheat the electric smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.


Step 5

Place a pan of hot water on the bottom of the smoker and arrange the wood chunks near the electric coil, without letting the wood touch the coil.



Step 6

Add the ribs to the smoker. Glaze the ribs with your barbecue sauce when you place them into the smoker. Alternatively, glaze about an hour before they are finished smoking.


Step 7

Smoke the ribs until the meat shrinks from the bone. The slab should bend when you pick it up with tongs, cracking the surface of the meat. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the meatiest part. Ensure the temperature is at least 145 F.


Step 8

Remove the ribs from the smoker and baste with additional sauce, if desired. Alternatively, serve extra sauce on the side.


To increase the exterior crust, baste smoked ribs with sauce and then place them on a hot grill for 5 minutes per side to let the sauce caramelize and intensify in flavor.

The cooking time differs depending on your smoker and the type of ribs. Beef ribs and pork baby backs or spareribs usually take about three hours. Country-style ribs take three to four hours and beef short ribs typically take four to five hours.


Avoid smoking frozen or partially thawed meat. The electric smoker cooks at low temperatures that cannot thaw and thoroughly cook meat to safe temperatures.


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