Embarking on the quest to indulge in the most succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs leads us into the realm of electric smoking—an art where technology harmonizes with tradition. Here, a symphony of flavors is orchestrated, heightened by the precision of modern innovations.
In this comprehensive guide, Cook Eat Delicious unveils the optimal approach to cooking ribs in an electric smoker, guaranteeing that every bite is a symphony of smokiness and tenderness.
How to prepare to cook ribs in electric smoker
There are various rib cuts to choose from, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s opt for a 3lb St. Louis cut of ribs today.
You can, of course, use a different cut, but I’ve chosen a smaller cut to keep things straightforward for this recipe, requiring us to trim the ribs.
To start, we’ll take off the membrane from the ribs.
For a detailed guide on removing the membrane from ribs, you can refer to my complete instructions here, but in summary:
The membrane sometimes peels off smoothly in one piece, but more often than not, it might come off in bits. Either way is acceptable! It can be a bit time-consuming and is almost never as effortless as it sounds.
Once the membrane is removed, use meat scissors to cut away any additional fat or excess skirt.
If you’ve purchased the smaller rib cut directly from a butcher, they may have already taken care of this. However, if you’ve cut the ribs from full spare ribs yourself, you might notice some remaining fat attached to the rack.
Sometimes the membrane comes off easily in one go, but it often comes off in pieces. That’s okay! It may take some time and is almost never as simple as it sounds.
After removing the membrane, use meat scissors to trim away any excess fat or skirt.
If you bought the smaller rib cut directly from a butcher, they may have already removed all of this. If you cut the ribs yourself from full spare ribs, you might notice some residual fat still attached to the rack.
Best way to cook ribs in electric smoker
After allowing your ribs to rest overnight, it’s time to ignite the smoker. Bring it to a steady 225°F, a universally preferred temperature for smoking ribs. This may take approximately 20-30 minutes, providing you just enough time to prepare your wood box with a choice wood—hickory or pecan are always safe bets for their rich flavors.
Place a water pan in the chamber to maintain a moist atmosphere, but be cautious not to overfill; one-third to half full is sufficient. Now, position your ribs on the smoker racks, preferably on the middle ones to ensure even cooking. If you have a meat probe thermometer, place it near the ribs to monitor the ambient temperature, as ribs can be a bit tricky to measure directly.
Close that smoker door and let the magic unfold. In about 4 to 6 hours, those ribs should become a masterpiece of tenderness and flavor. However, don’t forget about them; after the first 2 hours, give them a quick check. If they aren’t as tender as you’d like, wrap them in foil, add a splash of apple cider vinegar and water, and let them absorb that extra moisture and flavor.
As the ribs approach perfection, it’s time for the sauce. A good BBQ sauce, slightly thinned with apple cider vinegar, generously brushed over the ribs, will elevate the flavors. Place the sauced-up ribs back in the smoker, uncovered this time, for an additional 20-30 minutes.
When those bones exhibit a significant pullback, and the meat is tantalizingly tender, you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Remember, the Bend Test never lies. Use tongs to lift the ribs; the more they bend and crack, the more heavenly they’re going to taste.
Finally, let your masterpiece rest, tented in foil, for about 10-15 minutes before indulging. Slice them up, or serve a half-rack as is, and relish ribs that aren’t just ‘fall off the bone’ but a perfect union of tender meat and flavorful bone, with each bite a testament to your smoking prowess.
As you savor the heavenly aroma and flavors of your impeccably smoked ribs, bear in mind that patience and precision are your greatest allies in this culinary journey.
Every detail of the process, from selecting the wood chips to maintaining the precise temperature, converges into a dish that’s not only a visual feast but also a celebration for the taste buds. Here’s to many more delightful and savory smoking adventures, where each perfectly cooked rib serves as a testament to the artistry of electric smoking.