How to smoke ribs in an electric smoker

How to smoke ribs in an electric smoker

Smoking ribs may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and equipment, it can be an easy process. There are many different types of smokers on the market today for both gas and electricity, so finding the one that is best for your needs should not be difficult. 

Electric smokers are great because they use electricity to heat up instead of propane or charcoal which makes them much more convenient than other types of smokers.

They also do not require any tending during cooking because there is no open flame to extinguish while you’re smoking meat in your smoker.

The only disadvantage would be that electric smokers don’t get as hot as gas or charcoal grills which means food may take longer to cook in some cases.

In this blog post, I will show some different types of wood smokers and how to smoke ribs in an electric smoker.

After a while of producing these blog posts, I have noticed that people are more interested in really showing you how to prepare their food than telling you about the recipes themselves.

#1 How to smoke ribs in an electric smoker without a smoker box for wood chips

Ribs are one of my favorite foods and this is an easy way for smoking ribs in an electric smoker without having to purchase a wood chip box for your smoker.

You will have to experiment with different types of wood because not all woods work well, but I use cherry when smoking meat in my electric smoker.

Wood chips vs chunks: Wood chunks do not produce as much smoke as wood chips do, but it’s probably better that you use small pieces instead of large chunks of wood that will not smoke as long.

You can also use a mixture of both for a more complex flavor.

Here is what I use to smoke my ribs in an electric smoker:

  • 2lbs Pork Back ribs (St. Louis style)
  • 1/8 cup Hickory Wood Chips
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder 
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder

Method

Clean and pat dry the back ribs on both sides. Season meat side with garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Lay seasoned ribs on a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side up. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of water to the middle of the foil and wrap the top tightly like a package.

Put on top rack above water pan in the electric smoker for 2 hours at 225 degrees F or until internal temperature reads 160 degrees F in the center of meatiest part largest bone end.

Pork will be well past the pink stage when done, but this is the only way to cook pork back ribs without making them too tough.

If you want to know more about how to smoke ribs in a gas grill, there are many different ways to cook these delightful morsels so I will not go into great detail here

#2 Cooking ribs on the top rack of an electric smoker without foil

There is no need for aluminum foil when cooking your ribs if desired, but it does make clean up easier and can help with cooking time because they don’t have direct heat from the element which speeds things up.

If you plan on removing the membrane then definitely do it before cooking or check out my post about how long to smoke spareribs.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend doing it without foil on a charcoal smoker because of the longer cooking time and you won’t be able to wrap them in foil during the 2nd half of the cook.

If you want more smoke then just add wood chips into your electric or gas smoker box for extra flavor. A little trick if using an electric is to put wood chips in a foil ball and poke holes into the top then place that on the element.

If you are smoking ribs without foil, then at 2 hours check your ribs for doneness with an instant-read meat thermometer. You want it to register at least 185 degrees F.

Once they are done, then remove them from the smoker and wrap them in a double layer of foil for an hour if you plan on eating that day or into a freezer bag if you would like to eat them later.

They will stay good for up to 3 days in the fridge when wrapped securely in foil or several months in the freezer if wrapped securely in a freezer bag.

#3 Dry ribs vs wet ribs

I always cook my ribs dry when smoking them in either a wood smoker or an electric smoker. I do have a preference, however, and I always cook them dry in an electric smoker vs cooking them with a wet mop on a wood smoker.

I like the texture of dry ribs better than wet ribs because they are not as tender and softer. You can do both ways of course but I don’t think it’s going to make a difference in taste.

If you do decide to mop your ribs with a wet rub, then definitely check out my article on how long to smoke spareribs.

#4 Spareribs vs Baby Back ribs

I usually buy baby back ribs because they are leaner and have less fat than spare ribs which makes them healthier. Baby back ribs take a lot less time to cook so if using a wood smoker or electric smoker then I would just go with those.

Spareribs will need more time in the smoker unless you get the ones that have been pre-cut into smaller sections of 2 or 3 bones per section.

Of course, this is assuming that you don’t remove the membrane from the underside of them before cooking as I do.

I have cooked both types of ribs on my wood smoker and electric smokers, but I don’t prefer to cook spareribs with too much smoke or for very long because the meat is tougher so it’s not as enjoyable in my opinion.

That being said, some people swear by cooking their baby back ribs on a wood smoker only! If you want to try this method out then check out my article on how long to smoke spareribs.

No sauce is needed when cooking ribs

I know that some people might be surprised by this statement and completely disagree with me, but I honestly don’t think you need sauce when smoking ribs unless they really lack flavor.

When smoking them in either a wood smoker or an electric smoker, the cooking process and smoke will give them plenty of flavor on their own.

I prefer to cook the ribs with dry rubs only and sauce them after they are done because I like them crispy without any sauce if possible (some people don’t like this).

If you do want to use a wet mop for your ribs then make sure you check out my article on how long to smoke spareribs.

 

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