Two years ago we bought an electric smoker on Father’s Day from Academy. At the time, I really wondered how much we would actually use it but it did seem like something that would be fun to have. Now, two years later, I don’t understand how we lived without it for so long. One of our favorite things to make is smoked BBQ ribs. We uses a 3-2-1 method to cook the ribs that works really well.
The 3-2-1 method calls for smoking the ribs directly on the rack for 3 hours, then wrap the ribs tightly in foil and put back in the smoker for 2 hours, then remove the foil and coat the ribs with sauce and put them back in the smoker for a final hour of cook time. It comes out to about 6 hours of cook time. When you factor in the prep time and pulling them in and out of the smoker, it usually is a minimum of 7 hours for us from start to finish. I want to also point out the smoking temperature is relative to your smoker. We have found that most recipes call for a 225 degrees Fahrenheit smoking temperature but this isn’t enough for our specific smoker. When we cook at 225 degrees, our food isn’t ready in time so we’ve found we need to up the cooking temperature a little for most recipes. I assume there is a little bit of variability in these electric smokers so you might need to experiment a little to find out how your smoker does with different meats.
For the 2 of us, we just do one rack of ribs. However, you can do multiple racks of ribs at a time, depending on the size of your smoker.
- One rack of ribs
- 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
- 1/4 cup of dry rub (we used our Ring of Fire Rub)
- 1/8 cup of apple juice, wine or beer
- 1 cup of your favorite BBQ Sauce
Start out by coating your ribs with the yellow mustard. This helps the dry rub stick to the ribs and adds some vinegar to help tenderize them. You won’t taste the mustard when they are done cooking.
Once you’ve coated the ribs with the yellow mustard, then coat them generously with your dry rub. You can use our Ring of Fire Rub or any dry rub you have available. Here in Texas, there are dozens of varieties available at the grocery store.
With your ribs coated in yellow mustard and dry rub, wrap the ribs tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil. Put the ribs in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours but preferably over night if you are planning ahead.
Prepare your smoker by heating it up to 250 degrees Fahrenheit and get the wood chips smoking. Then unwrap your ribs from the aluminum foil and put them in the smoker. Save your foil because you will use it again to wrap the ribs for part 2 of the cooking. Smoke the ribs for 3 hours. Check for smoke every 30 to 45 minutes and add wood chips as necessary.
After 3 hours, pull the ribs from the smoker so you can wrap them back in the aluminum foil. I want to point out to close the smoker door after you take out the ribs so you keep the heat in the smoker. I will admit, I learned this the hard way because the first time we smoked them, we were so excited to get them cooked that we forgot to close the door and had to wait for the smoker to get back up to temperature.
We bring the ribs back in the kitchen to wrap them back in the foil that we used to hold them while they sitting in the refrigerator. Before you seal the foil to wrap them, add the 1/8 cup of liquid. You can use apple juice, wine, beer, or any liquid you want. We use beer because it’s Texas and that’s what we do here.
With the ribs tightly wrapped in foil, put them back in the smoker and cook them for 2 hours. At this point you’re halfway through and you don’t have much to do for the next 2 hours. Grab the remaining beer (you know, the one you opened to put in 1/8 cup of liquid in with the ribs) and hang out near the smoker and visit with your family or friends. I find the smell of the smoker is a magnet for getting people to show up in the backyard.
At this point you have a decision to make. Do you want to continue using the smoker or move to your oven for the last hour. We usually move to the oven because it makes it easier to add extra layers of BBQ sauce to the ribs during the last hour. My instructions are for using the oven, however, you can certainly continue using the smoker. If you use the smoker, you won’t need to add multiple layers of BBQ sauce.
Before the 2 hours is up, heat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re using convection bake.
At the end of 2 hours, it’s time to bring your ribs back in the kitchen. Remove the ribs from the foil wrapping and apply a thick covering of the BBQ sauce. Place the ribs on a a sheet of foil on a baking sheet and put them on center rack of your oven.
For this last hour, we pull the ribs out every 15 to 20 minutes and reapply a thin layer of BBQ sauce.
You can adjust the amount BBQ sauce you apply to your individual taste. We like them really messy with a thick coating of BBQ sauce.
We served these Father’s Day ribs with some steamed Patty Pan squash and German Potato Salad.