How To Cook Ribs in an Electric Smoker

Even if you’ve been cooking ribs in your electric smoker for years, there are still a few important things you need to remember. If you don’t follow certain steps then you may not be getting the best results. But never fear, with our help, it’s time to take a quick look at some of these steps and learn exactly how to cook ribs in an electric smoker – to perfection!

First Steps

how to cook ribs in an electric smoker

First, make sure your smoker is plugged in and turned on! I know it sounds silly but I can’t tell you how many times I have people come onto this website for advice only to reveal (after some digging of course) that their smoker was actually unplugged – and they wondered why they didn’t get any smoke flavor!

Next, try adding more wood chips if needed-you want them soaked through before placing them inside the grill.

Finally, don’t forget to add a little water or apple juice onto the grate every so often while smoking- this helps keep the meat moist during cooking.

Watch The Temperature

First of all, make sure that the coals have settled and are not too hot. You can adjust this by blowing on them with your mouth or using tongs to move them around. This will also depend on the type of wood chips you use and how much smoke flavor you want from those chips. The level of heat is also dependent upon the number and frequency of puffs coming from your smoker’s chimney vent. If it’s smoking heavily then it might be too hot inside for cooking anything but if it just has one puff every minute or so then it’s probably about right for cooking ribs in an electric smoker.

What About The Cook Time?

The cook time of ribs in an electric smoker will vary based on which breed of pig the ribs are from, the age at which they were slaughtered, and whether or not they have been previously frozen. One cook usually yields enough meat for party-size appetizers plus three to four meals for two people. Whole racks should be removed after about 30 minutes and they can cook in an electric smoker for up to 3 hours.

Here are my tips for properly cooking ribs in an electric smoker:

Cook them over a medium heat (tongs, your mouth, or the smoke stack will tell you if they are too hot). Pull them when they’re done – count on 20 minutes per pound of ribs and experiment on cook times, temperatures, and cook frequency to get it just the way you like it.

You can cook more than one rack of ribs in an electric smoker at once but have only one layer of racks in there or the layers will overlap, preventing smoke from being absorbed by each layer of meat. For this reason I cook only one or two racks at a time. Once the meat is cooked and removed from the smoker, cook will continue as long as there are drippings in the smoking pan.

Keep this in mind should you cook more than one rack of ribs – allow for extra cook time to avoid having burned leftovers.

When it’s cook time, set the temperature to a medium cook and cook with a good amount of smoke. Remember: don’t cook them if there isn’t good smoke being generated by the wood chips.

Pro Tip: Use an instant-read meat thermometer or other device to tell when your ribs are done. There is no one standard cook time for each type of rib; cook them according to the cook time and temperature indicated on the package or cook by pulling one off after 30 minutes (remember: count about 20 minutes per pound).

If you want a crackly crust, cook for at least 3 hours in an electric smoker. You can do this, but I prefer my ribs soft with a lot of smoke flavor.

Ribs cook best in an electric smoker with a good amount of smoke. Be careful not to cook them too hot, since that will cause them to cook too quickly and end up dry.

If you want your ribs to cook faster, you can cook at higher temperatures but, as mentioned above this makes for more rubbery meat; this isn’t a problem if you cook ribs in an electric smoker without smoke, but it’s not what I recommend.

You can cook too much fat off of your meat and end up with drier than normal ribs. If you like your ribs on the dryer side then cook enough that there is about a half-inch of natural fat on the ribs before you cook them. This will cook off and leave the meat with a greater proportion of meat to fat, which I prefer.

If you cook your ribs for too long in an electric smoker with no smoke then the outside will cook very quickly, leaving the inside raw and undercooked (but you can cook this way if you like it).

You can cook ribs in an electric smoker without smoke by not adding wood chips. Don’t cook for so long that the pork gets tough, and cook it over a medium heat range (use your tongs or the chimney as a smoke stack to tell if there is good ventilation and proper cook temperature). Cook this way on low heat if you like.

How long do you need to cook ribs in an electric smoker?

The cook time for ribs in an electric smoker will vary based on the cook temperature and cook frequency, with longer cook times yielding a tougher meat that is less likely to fall off the bone. I cook mine for about an hour at a time without overlapping cook times too much; this keeps the meat from getting tough while retaining a lot of the natural juices.

You can also cook baby back ribs and other bone-in ribs in an electric smoker. If you cook them during the temperature doesn’t allow for good ventilation then cook them with smoke to get a good amount of smoke flavor without exposing your meat to high levels of heat. Once they are done, serve them with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Let me know if you cook ribs in an electric smoker by leaving a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. If your recipe is one that has been passed down through generations, share it with me in the comments section – I’d love to hear the family history behind your recipe.

How to prepare pork ribs for the electric smoker

To cook in an electric smoker, you have to cook all of your ribs at once (unless you cook them over a long period of time). Make sure to thaw the ribs if they are frozen. Also remember: cook baby back ribs and St. Louis style ribs for the same amount of time because they cook evenly; spareribs take longer to cook than baby back ribs.

This following cook time is for an average rack of beef ribs (a normal sized rack). If your ribs are larger or smaller, you can adjust the cook cook cook time accordingly. Just remember: cook for at least 1 hour per pound of meat if you don’t smoke them in an electric smoker.

Take the ribs out of the wrapper (this will cook faster than leaving them in the wrapper – but don’t cook them with the wrapper on because it will cook too slow and the ribs won’t cook properly. It is ok to cook with a little bit of the wrap still attached if you want.)

My famous TonyTheTigersSon homemade secret recipe barbecued ribs

When you cook your ribs, make sure they are at room temperature before they go into an electric smoker (if they are still frozen, cook at a lower cook temperature for about 1 hour, until they reach room temperature).

It is best to cook beef ribs in an electric smoker over a low cook temperature (about 175 degrees F) with really good ventilation so that your meat won’t cook too fast and get tough. Cook it without smoke or using wood chips if you cook at a cook temperature of 350 degrees F or more.

You can also cook pork ribs in your electric smoker while they are still in the package if you cook them on a low cook setting (about 200-225 degrees F)  for about 2 hours, until the cook time listed on the package is done. This way you don’t have to worry about removing the bones before you cook them.

Then cook your ribs over a medium cook temperature (about 350 degrees F). So if cook time is about 3 hours, cook at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and then lower it to 175 or 200 degrees F for 2 hours more. Make sure they cook evenly and that the cook temperature is not too high.

The cook time will vary based on the cook frequency and the cook temperature, so experiment with the cook settings and cook times until you find a good combination that produces juicy meat that isn’t dried out or overdone.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook ribs in an electric smoker, then this article should be a good place for you to start. We’ve covered the basics of what makes cooking ribs so easy in these devices and also given some general tips on which smokers are the most popular among consumers.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? If so, why not let us know by commenting below–we love feedback from readers like yourself!

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