How To Smoke Ribs In an Electric Smoker – Complete Process

How To Smoke Ribs In an Electric Smoker - Complete Process

Are you looking to smoke some flavor-packed ribs at home but don’t have a charcoal or gas smoker? Don’t worry, an electric smoker can work just as well and may even be easier for beginners. Using an electric smoker, you can make competition-worthy ribs right in your own backyard. All it takes is a few tips and tricks to get the flavor and tenderness you’re after.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to smoke ribs in an electric smoker.  From choosing the right cut of ribs to applying the perfect blend of rubs and sauces, you’ll be smoking like a pro in no time. Fire up your electric smoker, grab some cold ones, and get ready for a flavor explosion. So, without further delay let’s dive in straight:

How To Choose The Right Ribs For Your Smoker?

When it comes to smoking ribs in an electric smoker, choosing the right cut of ribs is crucial. For most people, pork ribs are the obvious choice. Pork ribs come in mainly three varieties that are spare ribs, baby back ribs, and St. Louis-Style ribs. 

Baby back ribs are smaller and come from the top of the pork rib cage. They are juicy and meaty so they are considered ideal for an electric smoker. On the other hand, spare ribs are long and curved and contain more fat content that’s why it takes  longer to become tender. But their bigger size makes them a great option for a big together.

St. Louis-style ribs are the spare ribs that come from the belly of pork with the sternum and ribs removed. They have a nice meat-to-bone ratio and are considered an ideal choice for an electric smoker. No matter which rib cut you choose, always look for ribs that are meaty with an even layer of fat throughout. 

Once you’ve selected your ribs, it’s time to get smoking! A good rule of thumb is to smoke baby back ribs for 5 to 6 hours, spare ribs for 6 to 8 hours, and St. Louis ribs for 6 to 7 hours at 225-250 F. Be patient and let the ribs get very tender. The extra time in the smoke is worth it. 

When the ribs are done, the meat will have pulled back from the bones by 1⁄2 inch or more. Test for doneness by picking up one end of the rack—the ribs should bend easily without breaking. Your patience will be rewarded with a rack of deliciously tender and flavorful ribs. Enjoy!

How To Prepare The Ribs?

To get mouthwateringly tender and flavorful ribs, preparing them properly is key.

• Trimming 

First of all, trim off if there is any excess fat on the ribs you have selected to smoke. Leave about 1/4 inch of fat for extra juiciness. Next, use a knife to slice between the bones so the ribs separate into individual pieces. This allows the smoke and heat to infuse better into the ribs.

• Seasoning 

Now for the fun part- seasoning! 

For the seasoning, you need to apply your favorite barbecue rub or make your own. To prepare your own seasoning, take some chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, and black pepper and mix them well. Now, gently apply and rub this seasoning all over the ribs to make sure they are coated evenly. 

For extra flavor, you can also brush the ribs with a flavorful mop or sauce during the last 30-60 minutes of smoking. A classic barbecue sauce, hoisin sauce, or teriyaki marinades all pair excellently with ribs.

Finally, let the seasoned ribs rest in the refrigerator all night or for at least 2 hours before smoking. This allows the flavors to infuse into the meat fully. Your patience will be worth it. 

When you’re ready to smoke the ribs, place them bone-side down on the grates of your electric smoker. Fill the water pan, set the temperature to 225 F, and let the ribs smoke for 5 to 6 hours until the meat has pulled back from the bones by 1/2 inch and reaches an internal temperature of 195-205 F.

Your ribs are ready to devour! The low, slow smoking process will have rendered them irresistibly tender and infused with a deliciously smoky flavor. Your friends and family will surely thank you. Enjoy!

How To Smoke Ribs In An Electric Smoker? 

If you want to smoke juicy and flavor-packed ribs in an electric smoker, then you need to follow the steps mentioned below. Following these will ensure you’re ready to start smoking those ribs in no time.

1. Season The Smoker

Before its first use, you’ll want to “season” your new electric smoker. Run it empty for at least 2-3 hours at a high temperature like 250 to 275 F. This will burn off any manufacturing oils and residues. Wipe down the inside with a damp cloth when done and you’re all set to smoke your ribs in the smoker. 

2. Prepare the Ribs

Get your ribs ready while the smoker is seasoning. Remove the thin membrane from the underside of the ribs and trim off any excess fat. Then dry your ribs with a paper towel. 

3. Choose a Flavorful Rub

Apply your favorite spice rub or make your own. A simple mix of chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper works great. Massage the rub all over the ribs so they’re evenly coated.

4. Maintain Steady Temperature

Set your electric smoker to 225-250 F. Add wood chips for extra smoke flavor if needed. Monitor the temperature and adjust as needed to keep it steady. Opening the smoker door too often can cause fluctuations, so only open it when necessary.

5. Check on Your Ribs

After 2 hours, check on your ribs. Carefully flip each rack over. Continue cooking until the ribs reach an internal temperature of 195-205 F. This usually takes 4 to 6 hours total for a full rack of ribs. The ribs are done when the meat has been pulled back from the bones by 1/2 inch and are tender enough to easily pull apart with two forks.

6. Rest and Serve

Once the ribs reach the right temperature, remove them from the smoker. Let them rest for 10-15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve. Your perfectly smoked ribs are ready to enjoy! You can pair them with your favorite barbecue sides like baked beans, coleslaw, or cornbread.

Monitoring the Internal Temperature

Once your ribs are in the smoker, the most important thing is monitoring the internal temperature. The ideal temperature depends on how you like your ribs—lower for fall-off-the-bone tenderness or higher for a bit of chew. 

• Check The Temperature Frequently 

Always monitor the internal temperature every 30-45 minutes to prevent your ribs from getting overcooked. For this, you need to place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of your ribs. If you are looking for fall-off-the-bone pork ribs then allow the internal temperature to reach 195-205°F. On the contrary, if you prefer a bit of chew, then allow the temperature to reach 185°F.

• Allow Ribs to Rest

Once the ribs reach the desired temperature, remove them from the smoker and let them rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This will help all the juices to fully absorb into the meat, resulting in very tender and flavorful ribs. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Now slice the ribs between the bones and enjoy some nicely smoked pork ribs. 

How Long To Smoke Ribs In An Electric Smoker?

Once your ribs are seasoned and in the smoker, the final step is letting them cook until they reach perfection. For most people, the ideal tenderness is when the meat has shrunk back from the bones by about 1/2 inch, and the bones wiggle easily in their sockets. At this stage, the ribs should be very tender but still hold together.


In an electric smoker set to 225-250 F, expect the following cooking times:

  • Baby back ribs (1.5-2 lbs): 3 to 4 hours
  • Spare ribs (2.5-3.5 lbs): 4 to 6 hours
  • St. Louis style ribs (2.5-3.5 lbs): 4 to 6 hours

These are just estimates. Cooking time can vary depending on factors like meat thickness, smoker efficiency, and outdoor temperature. The only way to know for sure if they’re done is to do the bend test: lift one end of the rack with tongs and see if the meat has shrunk back from the bones. If the meat cracks or splits apart easily, they’re likely overdone.

Don’t Peek!

Resist the urge to open the smoker for at least the first 3 hours of cooking. Every time you open the door, you release heat and smoke which adds time to the overall cooking. Only open if necessary to spritz or brush the ribs.

The Stall

At some point, the internal temperature of the ribs will reach a plateau, usually between 165 to 170 F. This is known as “the stall” and it can last for 1 to 3 hours. Don’t worry, it’s normal. The temperature will start rising again once the meat pushes through. Be patient – opening the smoker during the stall will only make it last longer.

Saucing (Optional)

During the last 30-60 minutes of cooking, you can apply your favorite barbecue sauce. Brush the sauce on the ribs every 10-15 minutes until it caramelizes. The sauce will add flavor, color, and a delicious sticky coating. Make sure to account for the extra cooking time when estimating the total time.

With some patience and the right technique, you’ll be enjoying fall-off-the-bone ribs in no time. Keep practicing and you’ll be a pro at smoking perfect ribs in your electric smoker!

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, everything you need to know about how to smoke ribs in electric smoker. When it comes to smoking, precision, and perseverance is the key. Now all you need to do is to gather your ingredients, fire up that smoker, and get cookin’. In just a few hours, you’ll be enjoying some of the most mouthwatering, fall-off-the-bone ribs. 

Following these steps, you can smoke some delicious and juicy ribs for your family and friends. Make sure you have the right tools and ingredients for this job and you are good to go. Happy Smoking!

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