How to Smoke Ribs in an Electric Smoker

Are you dreaming of the perfect BBQ? You don’t need to be an outdoor griller to enjoy delicious, succulent smoked ribs. With an electric smoker, you can make mouth-watering ribs that will satisfy even the most experienced barbecue connoisseur.

This guide will help you smoke BBQ ribs like a pro!


Welcome to the world of electric smokers! Smoking ribs is an art form and there is no better way to practice it than with an electric smoker. Electric smokers produce a great barbecue flavor while keeping the temperature low and consistent. This complete guide will walk you through the process of using an electric smoker to perfectly smoke ribs every time.

Electric smokers cook with indirect heat, which means that there’s no need to move the meat or turn it often, as you would with a charcoal smoker or grill. The low, constant heat also helps keep moisture in the ribs as they cook, producing moist and tender barbecue. Additionally, electric smokers facilitate faster preheating times compared to traditional wood and charcoal smokers; often reaching 260°F within 15 minutes of power-on.

When smoking ribs on an electric smoker, precise control over temperature and smoke are key for exceptional results every time. Follow this comprehensive guide to learn how to master your smoker for perfect ribs each and every time!

Explanation of smoking ribs

Smoking ribs is an involved process which begins with seasoning the ribs, then smoking them low and slow to ensure maximum tenderness. It’s important to understand the types of wood used when smoking and how they affect the flavor of your ribs. The type of smoker you’re using will impact the temperature you reach and maintain, along with the suggested cooking times.

In this guide, we will cover all aspects related to smoking ribs in an electric smoker, from prepping your ingredients to using an ideal mix of wood chips for maximum flavor.

Purpose of the article

This article is specifically designed to provide detailed instructions to readers on the proper steps and techniques involved in smoking ribs in an electric smoker. Through clear, concise instructions and helpful tips, this article aims to give the reader a comprehensive understanding of how to smoke ribs so that they can be successfully cooked.

After reading this article, readers should have the knowledge they need to confidently use an electric smoker and cook tasty ribs. Furthermore, this article only discusses the usage of an electric smoker; other types of smokers (such as charcoal or gas) may require different techniques.

Overview of the steps for smoking ribs in an electric smoker

For a succulent and juicy finished product, smoking ribs in an electric smoker is the way to go. To start off, you must choose the right type of ribs for your recipe. Once you’ve selected a quality cut of meat, here is an overview of the steps you will need to take to successfully smoke your ribs in an electric smoker:

  1. Prepare the Wood Chips: Add water and soak wood chips for at least 30 minutes before smoking. Wood chips are flavoring agents which add flavor to your ribs while they are cooking;
  2. Preheat the Electric Smoker & Set Temperature: turn on your electric smoker and set it to 225-240°F, 5-15 degrees higher than other smokers;
  3. Season the Ribs: liberally apply a dry rub or marinade of your choice onto the surface of your ribs, making sure to evenly coat both sides;
  4. Arrange Ribs in Smoker: place the ribs flat on top of the grates inside of your smoker;
  5. Smoke/Monitor Temperature & Doneness: Place as many wood chips as necessary onto hot coals before closing the lid and monitoring temperature levels until cooked through;
  6. Rest & Serve Ribs: Let cooked ribs rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes before serving!

Choosing and Preparing the Ribs

When preparing ribs for smoking, it is essential to start with high-quality meat. Look for racks with even-sized ribs and an even thickness of meat throughout. If you are not sure of the quality, ask your butcher for advice. Additionally, if you’re planning on smoking your ribs a few hours before serving time, it is recommended to use cryovac sealed bags as they help keep the ribs at a safe temperature when in the refrigerator or outside during colder weather.

To prepare the ribs before smoking them, begin by seasoning them with your favorite dry rub or marinade. Make sure to cover both sides and then let them sit for a few hours so that the seasoning can settle into the meat and make it even more flavorful. Afterwards, wipe off any excess seasoning before putting them in your electric smoker. This will ensure that they do not burn while they’re cooking and give you evenly smoked flavorful ribs every time!

Types of ribs

There are three main types of ribs sold in grocery stores: spare ribs, baby back ribs, and St. Louis-style ribs. All three types come from the same area but differ in size and preparation techniques.

Spare Ribs: Spare ribs are cut from the lower section of the rib cage and come with a long bone and some cartilage on each side of the meat. They have a slightly higher fat content than other rib varieties, giving them great flavor when smoked.

Baby Back Ribs: Baby back ribs are cut from the top part of the rib cage. They are shorter than spareribs, have more meat than bones, and cook faster because of their smaller size.

St. Louis-Style Ribs: These short, wide slabs come from removing a portion of the spareribs’ cartilage and sternum bone, resulting in a rectangular slab with even thickness all around the rack. St. Louis-style ribs take longer to cook compared to baby back ribs due to their size but they provide a larger portion per serving due to their consistency in shape and thickness throughout the rack.

Preparing the ribs for smoking

Before you begin smoking the ribs, you should prepare them for the smoker. Begin by rinsing the ribs under running water and then pat them dry with a clean dish towel. Use a sharp knife to remove any excess fat on the ribs and trim off any dangling pieces of meat that are not attached properly.

Once you have trimmed the meat, season it with a dry rub or marinade of your choice. Make sure to rub it all over both sides of each rib and let it sit in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for up to 8 hours in your refrigerator. When ready to cook, remove the ribs from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before putting into your electric smoker.

Applying dry rub or marinade

Before you start smoking the ribs, the surface of the meat should be prepared. This is done by applying a dry rub or marinade to spice and flavor the ribs. If you’re using a dry rub, it should be mixed together and then lightly sprinkled on both sides of each rack of ribs. The rub should be massaged in gently so it evenly coats the entire surface of the rib’s meat.

When using a marinade, it can either be spread over ribs or brushed on lightly using a barbecue brush. For best results, the marinade should be refrigerated for at least two hours before cooking to allow flavors to properly infuse into the meat. It is also important to keep in mind that not all marinades are suitable for smoking, as they may burn while cooking due to their high sugar content. Therefore it might be better to stick with dry rubs when possible as they generally won’t burn while cooking in an electric smoker.

The amount of time needed to smoke ribs varies depending on how large they are and what type of flavor you are looking for. Most smokers recommend between 1-4 hours for smoking ribs at between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit (107-121 degrees Celsius).

III. Preparing the Electric Smoker

Once you have selected your ribs and seasoned them as desired, the next step is to prepare the electric smoker for smoking. Electric smokers generally come equipped with a temperature control device, allowing you to set the temperature of your smoker in order to achieve the perfect smoky flavor.

Before turning on the smoker, set it up outside in a safe location. Make sure that the electric cord is connected and that the power source is on and working properly. Then follow these steps:

  1. Remove any removable parts from inside your smoker (grill grates, water pans, wood racks) and clean them thoroughly with warm soapy water.
  2. Place wood chips in either a foil tray or blu-ray disc inside of your electric smoker according to directions provided in the user manual.
  3. Place a shallow pan filled with warm water underneath the food grate inside of your smoker. This will ensure that there is adequate moisture in your smoker while it smokes your ribs, giving them a perfectly moist texture when they’re finished cooking.
  4. Set up thermometers on both sides of your food grate and below the grate if possible for greater accuracy of monitoring temperature levels throughout smoking process.
  5. Turn on electricity for electric-powered smokers or begin heating charcoal for charcoal burning smokers as directed in user manual.
  6. Preheat electric smokers to 225F or charcoals based smokers to 250F before beginning to smoke ribs.

Preheating the smoker

A smoking session may last anywhere from four to eight hours, so you must ensure that your electric smoker is set at the correct temperature to ensure consistent and even cooking throughout the duration. Preheat your electric smoker to 250° F. Allow the smoker to reach its target temperature before you add any food.

For safety purposes, it is important to use a thermometer when smoking food in an electric smoker as charcoal-based smokers are often hotter than they appear and can cause discomfort when touched. As a rule of thumb, you should start preheating 30 minutes before adding meat or other items so that all parts of the smoker have ample time to heat up completely and attain an even temperature.

Adding wood chips

Adding wood chips can give your ribs a smokey flavor and aroma. Most electric smokers come with a small tray or box specifically designed to hold the smoking chips. Before filling it up with wood chips, place several wads of aluminum foil into the bottom of the tray. This will help keep the temperature even and prevent any burning of the wood chips.

You can mix different types of hardwood according to your taste preferences, such as hickory, mesquite, and applewood. When you’re ready to add them to your smoker, loosen up any tight clumps before adding them in, otherwise they won’t smolder evenly or have any chance to fully ignite. When possible buy quality pre-soaked wooden chips, since they tend to carry more moisture which will produce more smoke during cooking. Allow the smoker to reach 225F before adding the woodchips so that you get maximum flavor out of them and don’t over-smoke your ribs.

Setting up the drip pan and racks

Setting up the drip pan and racks in an electric smoker is relatively straightforward. To begin, place a drip pan in the bottom of your electric smoker and set the cooking racks in place. The number of racks used will depend on your recipe, so be sure to reference the directions provided. Each cooking rack should be able to hold two large ribs or four smaller rib sections comfortably. You’ll want to leave at least an inch between each piece of meat, so adjust accordingly if needed.

Make sure that any foil or parchment paper used on the racks is secured tightly so that it doesn’t interfere with ventilation throughout the process. Once everything is in place, close the lid and lock it for safety before setting your desired temperature and timer settings according to your recipe instructions.


It takes time, patience and practice to perfect the art of smoking ribs in an electric smoker. Although, experienced pit masters can get superior results with all different styles of smokers. With a little bit of experience and some studying you will be able to master the art of electric smoker ribs in no time.

It is important to realize that there is no universal way to smoke electric smoker ribs as every cook’s personal taste and techniques will vary from person-to-person. However, following are some essential tips that can help you gain successful results:-

  • Start with high quality meat – Get the best-quality spare ribs you can find. Choose meat with over 1 inch thickness for tenderness.
  • Trim & prepare your meat – Remove all fat membranes rendering your ribs less chewy and sharply crisp after smoking them. Make sure to marinade your meats properly with desired rubs or sauces if desired before cooking them up in the smoker.
  • Practice frequent temperature checking – Monitor and check internal temperatures frequently as it helps maintain air temperature uniformity throughout the cooking period/time inside round smokers while also preventing any harsh peaks or drops in temperature as experienced sometimes in grills and ovens during smoking meat processes
  • Use Mesquite wood chips for most roast- If you’re unsure which type of wood chips to use for your smoke filled barbecues then mesquite chips should do just fine for most roast types including that of pork ribs. You may use other types viz; hickory, oak or maple etc if desired too..

By following these simple steps, you should have delicious smoked ribs without much hassle! Enjoy!

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