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Smoked Spare Ribs 4-1-1 With Butter Inside

Smoked spare ribs injected with butter mixed with my original rib rub and cooked 4-1-1 style are just what the doctor ordered and they are a nice way to do ribs just a little different.
Course Entree
Cuisine Hot Smoking
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 4 -6
Author Jeff Phillips


  • 1-2 racks of spare ribs (trimmed to St. Louis style)
  • Olive oil
  • Jeff’s rub (purchase recipes here)
  • Butter injection (recipe below)
  • Injector
  • Plastic wrap
  • Heavy duty foil


St. Louis Style Trimming

  • I found these ribs already trimmed and membrane removed and they were at a great price. If you have regular spare ribs, you will need to remove the membrane and trim off the bone on leading edge so that you are only left with actual ribs.

Season the Ribs

  • Brush some oil onto each side of the ribs to help the rub to stick. I often use mustard, honey, and an assortment of other things as well to serve this purpose.
  • Apply Jeff’s rub (purchase recipes here) to the ribs generously.
  • Wait until it has that “wet” look, flip the ribs over and apply oil and rub to the meaty side.
  • Once both sides are oiled and rubbed with Jeff’s rub, my original naked rib rub recipe, wrap the ribs in plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 8-10 hours in the fridge.
  • The next morning, pull the ribs out of the fridge and remove the plastic.

Making the Butter Injection

  • Make the butter injection right before you pull the ribs out of the fridge.
  • Run about a cup of my rub through the coffee grinder to powder it. This helps it to not get stuck in the small holes in the injector.
  • Mix a heaping tablespoon of the powdered rub into a stick (¼ lb) of melted butter and mix thoroughly.

Inject the Ribs

  • Lay the marinated ribs on a piece of plastic wrap then cover the ribs with a piece of plastic wrap. This prevents the butter from becoming a geyser that can shoot across the kitchen suddenly.
  • Fill the injector with hot melted spicy butter and push the needle into the meat between each bone so that the tip is about 1 inch into the meat.
  • Depress the plunger as you move the needle left and right at different angles to ensure that the butter is getting in there real good.
  • Slowly pull it out as you continue to depress the plunger.
  • Keep injecting butter until you see it seeping out somewhere.
  • Flip the ribs around and do the same on the opposite edge at about 1 inch into the meat.
  • If you need more butter, make another batch so you don’t have to scrimp on it. Give it all it will take!

Rub it Down Again

  • Spread the butter that seeped out all over the top of the ribs and sprinkle on a little more of my rub.

Get the Smoker Ready to Smoke

  • Pre-heat your smoker to between 225 and 240°F and make sure you have at least 3-4 hours of smoking wood available.

Smoking the St. Louis Style Spare Ribs

  • I wanted to use a Bradley rack (I love those things in case you haven’t noticed) so I cut the rack of spare ribs in half as you’ll notice above. This makes them very easy to maneuver, flip over, wrap, etc.
  • Place the ribs on the smoker grate bone side down and let the smoking begin!

The 4-1-1 Style Spare Rib Cooking Method

    Step One

    • Place the ribs on the smoker bone side down, as mentioned above, and let them smoke their little porky hearts out for about 4 hours at 225°F.

    Step Two

    • Wrap the ribs in a double layer of heavy duty foil, not real tight but tight enough so they can steam real nice inside and find their tender side.
    • Place the wrapped ribs back into the smoker for 1 hour at the same exact temperature.

    Step Three

    • After the ribs have tenderized for 1 hour, remove the foil and place the ribs back into the smoker, just like in step one, for one additional hour. This additional hour, resets the crust, brings a little more color to the outside of the ribs and can even give them an extra bit of smoke should you choose to add smoke during this time.

    Serving the Smoked Spare Ribs

    • When the ribs are finished, bring them in, let them rest for about 10 minutes then slice them up.
    • I recommend placing them bone side up to slice since that allows you to see the direction of the bones making it easy to slice between them.