Spare Ribs Trimmed to St Louis Ribs and Smoked Using the Snake Method

  • Recipe Type


  • Skill Level


  • Grill Time

    5+ hours

  • Method

    Snake Method

  • Servings

    Serves 4-6

Snake Method 2-2-1 Ribs

Mastering the Art of St. Louis Style Ribs: A Guide to Trimming and Smoking with the 2-2-1 Method and Snake Technique

There's something magical about the aroma of slow-cooked barbecue wafting through the air, and few cuts of meat are as tantalizing as St. Louis style spare ribs. In this guide, we'll delve into the art of transforming spare ribs into St. Louis ribs and explore the 2-2-1 method of smoking using the snake technique.

Part 1: Trimming Spare Ribs into St. Louis Style

What are St. Louis Style Ribs?

St. Louis style ribs are a trimmed and more uniform version of spare ribs. The process involves removing the brisket bone, excess fat, and cartilage, resulting in a rectangular-shaped rack that cooks more evenly.

Step-by-Step Trimming Process:

  1. Inspect the Rack: Lay the spare ribs on a clean surface and inspect for any loose pieces, excess fat, or uneven portions.
  2. Remove the Brisket Bone: The brisket bone is usually located at the larger end of the rack. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut along each side of the bone, removing it and creating a more uniform shape. For more in depth instruction, see the full recipe above. 
  3. Trim Excess Fat: Trim any large areas of excess fat from both sides of the rack. Leave a thin layer to add flavor and moisture during the smoking process.
  4. Square Off the Rack: Trim the edges to create a rectangular shape. This not only enhances the presentation but also ensures even cooking.

Part 2: Smoking with the 2-2-1 Method

What is the 2-2-1 Method?

The 2-2-1 method is a popular technique for smoking ribs, providing a perfect balance of tenderness and smoky flavor. It involves two hours of direct smoking, followed by two hours wrapped in foil, and a final hour unwrapped.

Snake Method for Smoking:

The snake method is a charcoal arrangement that allows for a slow and consistent burn, perfect for low and slow cooking.

  1. Set Up Your Grill: Create a two-zone fire by arranging charcoal briquettes in a snake-like pattern along one side of your grill. Light a few coals at one end of the snake. 
  2. Maintain Temperature: (OPTIONAL)- Place a drip pan on the opposite side of the charcoal snake and fill it with water. This helps regulate the temperature and adds moisture to the cooking environment.
  3. Prepare the Ribs: Rub the trimmed St. Louis style ribs with your favorite dry rub, ensuring an even coating. We really enjoyed the flavors that Cptn Ron came up with.
  4. Start Smoking: Once the grill reaches the desired temperature (around 250-275°F), place the ribs on the cooler side of the grill, bone side down. Add wood chunks or chunks for that signature smoky flavor.
  5. 2-2-1 Method: Smoke the ribs uncovered for the first two hours. Afterward, wrap them in foil for the next two hours to tenderize. Finally, unwrap and smoke for the last hour to develop a beautiful bark.


Transforming spare ribs into St. Louis style ribs and mastering the 2-2-1 smoking method with the snake technique requires patience and attention to detail. The result, however, is a mouthwatering rack of ribs with a perfect balance of tenderness and smoky goodness. Whether you're a barbecue enthusiast or a weekend griller, this guide is your key to achieving rib perfection every time. So fire up the grill, embrace the art of smoking, and savor the delicious rewards of your culinary efforts!

I think that once you try these ribs, you will have a new favorite way to go from here on out.  They are always juicy, tender, and delicious.  I mean, how can you go wrong?  Enjoy the ribs, remember to get out and grill and we will see you the next time on The FOGO Life, Captain Ron out….


  1. Remove the spare ribs from the packaging and lay them out on a cutting board, meat side down with the bony breast plate side facing away from you. Use a paper towel to pat them dry.  Line up the rack along the bottom edge of the cutting board.  Find the longest bone in the rack.   It is usually the fourth bone in from the end.  Using your boning knife, from the end of the longest bone, cut the rack straight across, perpendicular to the edge of the cutting board.   This will separate the breast bone or sternum area from the rest of the rack.  Now go to the skinny end of the rack and cut the thin end off.  This is a flap of meat that would just get overcooked and useless if you leave it on.  Next, cut off the flap of meat that runs up the rack on the bone side of the ribs.    Lastly, trim off any excess fat or loose meat still attached.  (save all of the trimmings, there are lots of good uses for it.  (stock, sausage, or cook it alongside of your ribs.  They will cook faster though)  The last thing to do is to either peel the membrane off of the back of the ribs or do what I like to do and simply score the membrane.  I just cut a crisscross pattern into the membrane.  You should now have a beautiful rectangular rack of ribs.  Congrats, you have just trimmed spare ribs into St Louis Ribs.
  2. Sprinkle the ribs with a small amount of Kosher salt & black pepper, a dusting of Honky Tonk Nashville Hot Seasoning, a coat of Tina Cannon’s European Blend and finish them off with some Jacobsens Infused Garlic Salt. Allow them to sit out on the counter while you prepare the grill.
  3. Snake Method setup- Place 2 FOGO Fire starters in a Blazaball. Place it at the edge of your grill grate where it meets the side of the grill.   Pile a few FOGO all natural briquets on top of it.  Now lean 2 briquets, side by side, leaning against the Blazaball in the direction that you want the “snake” to go.  Continue laying down 2 rows of briquets, side by side, making sure that each layer overlaps the previous briquets.  In other words, they should lean on the last briquets that you laid down.  Continue this until you have as much charcoal as you may need.  I like to go about ½ way around the grill. 
  4. Now, starting back at the Blazaball, Lay down another layer of briquets on top of the first layer. You could go with a single row or a double row, having the briquets side by side for the length of the “tail”.
  5. If you’d like, you could place an empty drip pan in the center of the charcoal grate to catch the drippings. It is really optional with ribs.  Now use your Grill Torch to light the Starters.  This will ignite the charcoal on top of the Blazaball and on the sides of it.  Place 3-4 smoking chunks on top of the snake right near the beginning.  As the snake burns, it will in turn light the smoking chunks, giving off an extended period of smoke on your ribs. Place the dome back on the grill with the vent 180° away from the fire.  Adjust the vents so that you are cooking at 250-275°.   For my grill, it meant the bottom vent only open a sliver and the top vent almost wide open.
  6. Lay the rack of ribs on the grate so that the fire will never go underneath them. They should be perpendicular to the snake.  Close the dome and smoke them for 2 hours.  Keep an eye on the temperature to make sure it does not jump up on you.  As the snake burns, you should turn the dome so that the vent is always straight across from the fire.
  7. After 2 hours, they are ready to be wrapped. Start by laying a sheet of aluminum foil down on your work surface.  Lay down 5 pats of butter in a row where the ribs will lay.  Now using your long tongs, remove the ribs from the grill and lay them on the butter on the foil with the meat side down.  Wrap the ribs and return them to the grill for another 2 hours.
  8. Once 2 more hours are up, use your tongs to remove the ribs from the grill again. Remove the aluminum foil wrapping and return the ribs to the grill for 30 minutes, again making sure that they are not over the fire.  Once 30 minutes has past, brush your favorite BBQ  Sauce on in a thin, even coat.  Allow them to cook for an additional ½ hour and remove them to the cutting board.
  9. Let the cooked ribs rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice them in between each bone and serve, Just watch the smiles on your families faces!


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