Best Electric Smoker Recipes | A Beginner’s Guide

August 26, 2022

Some say it's hard to smoke in an electric smoker due to the lower temperature, but I'm out to prove them wrong with some easy electric smoker recipes. 

This type of smoker isn't as versatile or powerful as your gas or pellet smoker. However, modern models such as the Char-Broil or Masterbuilt electric smokers can reach around 250 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit on a summer day. This is pretty much within what you need for smoking meat to get tender and to have juicy, pull-back ribs that easily fall off the bones. 

The electric smoker recipes I'll show you today are really a throwback to how I used to do ribs when I started smoking. So most of these recipes are how I've made them in the electric smoker for a long time. 

Electric Smoker Recipes

3 Easy Electric Smoker Recipes

Recipe 1: Smoked Ribs for Electric Smokers

We'll be opening the electric smoker recipes with this spare rib. It's one of the most practiced Masterbuilt smoker recipes.

The goal, of course, is to get sweet-tasting, tender, and fall-off-the-bone ribs with good bark on. 

Smoked Ribs on a Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of pork spare ribs
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons of granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • BBQ sauce
  • Apple juice or apple cider vinegar 

Tools Needed

  • Digital thermometer 
  • Glass bowl with cover
  • Paper towel
  • A pair of scissors 
  • Knife 
  • Ziploc bags
  • Refrigerator
  • Foil pan 
  • Teaspoon 
  • BBQ brush

Method

Step 1: Prepare the dry rub

First, get your dry rub ready. We're going to start by adding brown sugar, granulated garlic, kosher salt, ground black pepper, and paprika in a small glass bowl that has a lid. 

Then take a fork and premix them, making sure that all the big clumps of brown sugar get broken up. 

Put the lid on the glass bowl and shake all those ingredients. 

Step 2: Prep up the ribs 

Next up is to get your ribs out. Again, I like to use St. Louis cut. The last time I tried this, I used a small three-pound rib. 

The first thing you have to do is get the membrane off the back side. Then, get under there with a knife, lift the membrane, and insert your finger underneath. 

You may want to use a paper towel to get a good grip and pull it off in one motion. 

Get the leftover skirt trimmed off with a pair of scissors. Cut off loose pieces, big pieces of fat, and ligaments you don't want. 

Step 3: Cut your ribs into two

Now, check the size of your smoker whether the rib can fit in the width. 

It doesn't matter whether it's a small or big smoker. When I do ribs in the smoker, I cut them into half axes. 

So I suggest that you do the same using your scissors. 

Step 4: Rub the meat with the spicy dry rub mix

Next, get your dry rub and coat the meat generously. I love sweet rubs. You could put the dry rub in a shaker and then apply it all over the ribs until they look good. 

Step 5: Refrigerate the ribs 

Now put the split rack of Saint Louis ribs in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator overnight. During this process, all the flavors will get absorbed in the meat. 

Step 6: Add some apple wood chips 

Get some wood chips in the wood box for some great smoke. Apple wood is my favorite wood to use with pork ribs. With the apple juice spritz, you'll get a nice smoky flavor.

Pecan works well, too, but I prefer apple. If not, use whatever works for you. There's no straightjacket rule here.

You don't have to soak the wood chips. I know some people do it. If you have to, only ensure the chips are moist and not wet. 

A good rule of thumb is 600 grams every three to five hours of smoking. 

Step 7: Fill your water pan 

Rib smoking in a smoker doesn't need a lot of moisture or water. So having the pan filled up to a quarter is enough. 

raw pork ribs
Step 8: Preheat the electric smoker 

Now you're going to preheat your electric smoker. Of course, you can try using the Char-Broil smoker, too, but I think the Masterbuilt electric smoker works for me. 

Set the smoker to a temperature of around 250 degrees Fahrenheit and smoke using the 3-2-1 method

This means we'll normally be smoking the ribs for the first three hours. Then we'll continue cooking for the next two hours, but the meat will be wrapped in foil.

In the last hour, we'll cook the meat unwrapped. 

Step 9: Place the ribs on the racks 

Get the St. Louis cut spareribs from the refrigerator and prepare them for smoking.

Since you've cut the rib in two, you'll be using two middle racks. Place the ribs bone side down. Close the smoker and get the smoker ready to work. 

Your St. Louis ribs are going to take somewhere around six hours to smoke. However, we're doing it for three hours for the first leg of smoking. 

Overall, what you're looking for is tenderness. The ribs are done when the meat can pull back from the bones. 

Step 10: Put the ribs in a pan and spritz them 

After three hours of smoking, it's time to check the ribs. They should be looking good with a nice color developing on them by now. 

You'll also see that the meat is starting to get some pull back on the bone but with some resistance. 

The ribs will still need some time in the smoker. However, at this point, I like to wrap them. Then, take them off the smoker and put each rib in a foil pan. You may put both ribs in the pan if possible. 

The moisture I like to spritz the ribs in the foil pan is a two-to-one mixture of water and apple cider vinegar. If the ribs overlap in the foil pan, lift them and get some moisture. 

When that's done, seal the foil pan up with a single layer of foil. 

Then get the ribs in the pan back on the smoker. You may put it this time in your second rack from the bottom.

Then close the smoker and let it smoke for about two hours before you check again. 

Step 11: Check the wood pan whether it needs refilling 

That first load of chips will probably last about an hour and a half to two hours as we're dealing with plenty of smoke for these ribs. If you need to add more, do it. 

Step 12: Rub with BBQ sauce 

After about two hours of additional smoking, it's time to get them out of the smoker to have them sauced. 

By now, you can see the meat pulling back away from the bones, which is exactly what we're looking for. 

Go ahead and sauce the ribs up before the flies get to them. I like to use a store-bought barbecue sauce. There's nothing special about this or the procedure. 

You can thin the sauce with two tablespoons of apple juice or apple cider vinegar.

Then, apply on both ribs again with your barbecue brush. 

Step 13: Return the ribs to the smoker 

Return the ribs to the smoker, this time without the pan.

Again, using your discretion, you need the ribs to smoke for about 20 minutes to one hour. 

This last smoking lap will give that glaze a little time to set in for more bark. 

Step 14: Turn off the smoker and let the meat rest

After that, I'm 99.99% sure your ribs are done. You can see they have a terrific pull back from the bones. 

Turn off the smoker and let the ribs rest for about ten minutes, then have your first taste. 

Recipe 2: Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop

One of the most common electric smoker recipes involves taking two parts of the pig and combining them. 

We're using pork chops and strips of bacon and combining them into a smoked bacon-wrapped pork chop.

This is an easy recipe. 

grilled pork chop

Ingredients 

  • 4 fresh uncured bacon strips 
  • 4 pork chops 
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika

Tools Needed

  • Bowl
  • Whisk

Method

  1. As usual, we're going to start by mixing brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder, and paprika in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. As mentioned, I like using either a whisk or a fork so you can break up ingredients that might be stuck together. 
  3. Get your pork chop rinsed, dry, and placed on a plate or anything flat. 
  4. After mixing the rub, generously apply the dry rub to the pork chop. 
  5. Then wrap the pork chop width-wise around with the bacon strips. You don't want to wrap it lengthwise because the bacon won't reach. You'll have to use some toothpicks to secure those bacon pieces onto the pork chop. 
  6. By wrapping it width-wise, it should wrap around quite nicely, and you can set it on top of the ends of the bacon. Make sure it stays in place. 
  7. Stick the pork chops on the top rack smoker and set it to 275 degrees. You'll need to keep checking the pork chops, which will be done in an hour and a half. 
  8. By now, they should start smelling great. Go ahead and pull them out. Let it sit for probably 10 to about 15 minutes so the juices can soak in. Then it's time to dine. 

Recipe 3: Hot Smoked Salmon Fillets

I'm trying a hot smoked salmon for the last electric smoker recipe. It's something that I love, but it costs an arm and a leg at the fishmonger. So, why buy a smoked salmon when you can make it home?

Smoked Salmon Fillets

Ingredients

  • 2 extra fresh 200-gram salmons
  • 8 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons blond cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon spice mix 
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil 
  • 5 handfuls of wood chips for your electric smoker

Tools Needed 

  • Electric smoker 
  • Fish bone remover tongs
  • Plastic food box
  • Refrigerator 

Method

  1. Start by rinsing the salmon. Then, remove the bones with fish bone remover tongs. You don't have to remove the skin. 
  2. Place the salmon fillets in a plastic food box with a cover. Coat the fish like we always do with salt, sugar, and all the spices you want. Close the box and put it in the fridge for four hours so the salmon can release water and the spices can soak in. 
  3. After four hours, remove the salmon, rinse it under cold water, and dry it in kitchen paper. Place it on a plate and let it dry for an hour in the refrigerator, uncovered.
  4. Next, rub the fillets with some oil. 
  5. Then soak the wood chips in water if you want and spread them on the tray. 
  6. Place the salmon in the electric smoker. Close the smoker and plug it in. Set the temperature to around 150 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and smoke for three to four hours. During smoking, monitor it to see if all goes well.
  7. When the fish reaches the FDA's internal temperature recommendation of 145 degrees, then it's done. 
  8. Leave the salmon fillet to rest and cool for 3 to 10 minutes. For this recipe, I used a piece of the tail (drier) and a piece close to the head (fattier). For cold use (salad, sandwiches), I prefer the first. The second brings softness (therefore fat) to the side dish.

FAQs 

What is the best meat to smoke in an electric smoker?

Meat with high fat content like cross ribs, shoulder roasts, and chuck roasts are suitable for electric smoker recipes. Also, recipes that require slow cooking are ideal for electric smoker cooking. 

The smoking of whole fish or fillets, beef briskets, pork, or salmon will have a unique taste and good smoky flavor when done in an electric smoker. 

What is the best thing to cook in an electric smoker?

Some of the best electric smoker recipes to try are spare ribs, chicken wings, whole turkey or turkey breast, potatoes, or even burgers. Smoked corn is also possible in this type of smoker. 

Do you soak wood chips before smoking in an electric smoker?

You don't have to soak your wood chips before smoking in an electric smoker or other types like a pellet, gas, or charcoal smoker. I don't do it. However, some grill masters like to soak wood chips when working with a traditional charcoal smoker. 

Conclusion 

Smoked ribs, bacon-wrapped pork chops, and salmon fillets are great electric smoker recipes beginners can start with. I have provided all the instructions you need to start. Suppose you're starting out with an electric smoker like I did. In that case, you don't need to have a lot of extra stuff for your electric smoker recipes. 

When making beef, chicken wings, or turkey breast, you can use seasonings and spices in your kitchen. These can include salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and some brown sugar. 

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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