Smoking ribs can be tricky because there isn’t always a great place to insert a thermometer probe, but you can easily smoke ribs in an electric smoker. All you need to do is set the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit and use the 3-2-1 method for smoking ribs.
A general rule of thumb for the 3-2-1 method is to prepare 2-3 racks of ribs and do the majority of the cooking during the beginning of the process. The sooner you get the smoking started, the more intense the flavor of smoke you are going to get in your ribs. If you are smoking only 1 rack, you may find the ribs to be done before the 6 hours, resulting in overcooked ribs. For 1-2 racks, a 2-2-1 method should work better.
The 3-2-1 Method for Cooking with an Electric Smoker
Preheat your smoker. Fill up the water pan with water and the smoker box with wood chips. While the smoker is preheating, prepare the ribs. Remove membrane from the inside of the ribs so that your spices and seasonings can really flavor the meat. Once you’ve rubbed the ribs, you’re ready to smoke.
3. Smoke your ribs directly on the racks for 3 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Remove the ribs from the racks and tightly wrap them in aluminum foil. Before closing the aluminum foil pocket, pour a little apple juice, wine, beer, or any other favorite flavor (about 1/8 of a cup) into the packet to enhance the steam process that will tenderize the ribs. Place them back in the smoker for 2 hours.
1. Remove the ribs and liberally coat both sides of the ribs with BBQ sauce. Put the ribs directly on the racks for 1 hour.
After a total of six hours of smoking, you’ll have tender, fall-off-the-bone ribs.
Best Wood Chips for Ribs
Hickory and mesquite are both very popular woods chips for smoking ribs, but don’t limit yourself to trying new wood.
- Hickory has a sweet to strong taste that is almost bacony.
- Mesquite is a strong flavored wood, but it can create a bitter taste if used on its own.
- Cherry, apple, maple and pecan woods are all lighter woods that have a mild sweet flavor.
Try combining mesquite with hickory or a fruit wood to reduce the bitterness and for extra flavor. You can read more about different smoking wood flavors here.