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The Speckled Palate
June 9, 2017

Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs

Last Updated on

Summertime is the season of barbecue… so it’s time to learn how to make a barbecue classic. Even though ribs take time, they’re well worth the effort, and these Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs are PERFECT for any summer get-together. Makes 4-5 racks of ribs.

Dry rubbed Memphis Barbecue Ribs are served on a platter, shown with beer and barbecue sauce

I’m a Memphis girl through and through, and even though I haven’t lived in the Bluff City since I was 18, I’ve still got some Memphian ways.

I have a fondness for all things Elvis. Heck, he and I even share initials.

I eat my pulled pork sandwiches with the slaw on ’em, not on the side.

I love the Grizz. (Sorry, Mavs. I don’t know if I’ll ever adopt you as my hometown team, no matter how long we’ve lived in Dallas.)

I prefer dry rubbed pork ribs.

And barbecue is my comfort food.

This week, Lady A and I have been in my hometown for my mom’s wedding.

And it’s fitting that I share this recipe today because we are currently in the one place I can devour the pork-centric barbecue of my dreams. 😉

As a native Memphian, I never made my own barbecue before I moved away. But since I can’t get my hands on Memphis-style barbecue in Texas, I’ve had to figure it out since I’ve found myself craving Memphis-style dry rubbed ribs more than once.

Other favorite BBQ dishes for the summer: BBQ Chicken Burger Bites with Avocado SlawPulled Pork Coleslaw Eggrolls Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken NachosInstant Pot BBQ BrisketGrilled BBQ Chicken Flatbread

Looking for something more general for the summer? Check out my July 4th Recipes landing page!

Ribs finish on the grill, slathered in BBQ sauce

Tools and Products to Make the BEST BBQ Ribs

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Close up of Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs on a platter

How to make Memphis-Style Ribs

Preheat the oven to 275°F. We’re going for a slow roast here, so we don’t want the temperature any higher than this.

Line a roasting pan or a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set aside. If you’re making a lot of ribs, you might need more than one baking sheet. 

Rinse the ribs in the sink with water, and pat dry with paper towels. If need be, remove the silver skin from the underside. To do this, you can dig your fingers beneath the filmy skin and yank it off. 

Optional: Trim the ribs into 4-5 rib sections. Each rack should have 2-3, depending on how large they are.

Season the ribs liberally with Memphis-style barbecue rub. As a rule, I use about 1 tablespoon per pound.

Arrange the ribs on the prepared roasting pan or baking sheets. Cover with foil, and transfer to the preheated oven.

The ribs will bake for 5 hours. Don’t be tempted to open the oven as they bake, as you want the temperature to remain as constant as possible.

Once the 5 hour bake is up, remove them from the oven. Brush with barbecue sauce and sprinkle with additional dry rub.

Then you’ll put ’em back into the oven and bake for 2 more hours… or until the ribs are tender. 

How will you know if the ribs are tender? The meat will start pulling off the bones. When the meat does pull off the bones, you’ll know your ribs are almost ready.

When the second bake is done, remove from the oven.

From here, you can choose your own adventure:

Finish the ribs on the grill

Preheat the grill. When it reaches the optimal temperature, turn off the burners on the side where the ribs will be finished, as the barbecue sauce will cause them to catch fire.

Baste the ribs with additional barbecue sauce, and grill until sticky sweet and darkened. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Finish the ribs in the broiler

No grill? No sweat!

Preheat the broiler on your oven. While it heats up, brush the ribs with additional barbecue sauce.

When the broiler is screaming hot, transfer the ribs back into the oven. Broil for 8 minutes, or until the tops of the ribs are browned and sticky. 

Enjoy the Ribs!

When done with the final cook, sprinkle with additional barbecue rub to finish, and enjoy!

Serve with traditional barbecue side dishes and extra sauce. Enjoy in the company of friends and family!

Sliced ribs are shown, sprinkled with barbecue dry rub, and ready for eating

What’s the story behind this ribs recipe?

In 2011, my younger sister drove to Baton Rouge for a visit before she and I drove cross country to Denver.

The day before we left, we made a ton of barbecue and fixings, including RIBS!

That weekend, I spoke with one of Winston’s friends from South Carolina, whose ribs we enjoyed on multiple occasions. He shared his recipe to give me an idea of what cooking ribs actually was like.

Then I took what he shared and adapted it to make the ribs reminiscent of Memphis ones.

Memphis Dry Rubbed Ribs are served with slaw, barbecue sauce and beer

Tips and Tricks to Making Memphis Dry Rub Ribs

  • Make as many as you and your guests can handle. You’re going to spend a lot of time on them either way.
  • When you finish them on the grill, ensure the fire isn’t lit directly beneath the ribs. Our first batch caught fire, and it was very disappointing.

What’s the deal with the dry rub?

At Memphis barbecue restaurants, you can order your ribs wet or dry. “Wet ribs” are slathered in barbecue sauce before serving while “dry” ribs have been sprinkled with additional spices after smoking without the extra sauce. 

Dry rubbed ribs are a Memphis thing.

Before cooking, the pitmaster seasons the ribs with a delicious blend of dry spices. As they cook, the pitmaster slathers them in vinegar and barbecue sauce. When they’re fall-apart tender and ready to be eaten, the pitmaster adds more dry rub before serving ’em up.

Do you smoke or bake these Memphis-style ribs?

I don’t have a smoker, so we bake these ribs, then finish ’em off on the grill (or the broiler, if you don’t have a grill!)

Close up of dry rubbed ribs on a platter, ready for eating

Why do you call them “Memphis-Style?” Are they really Memphis ribs?

These ribs aren’t traditional Memphis ribs. I don’t have the equipment, and as much as I’d love a barbecue pit, I don’t think my family would be in support of me taking over the backyard to have one. 😉

Chances are, you don’t have the equipment to make true Memphis ribs, either, and that’s OK.

These ribs have got a killer dry rub to give ’em tons of flavor (a signature in Memphis ribs!) and are slathered in a homemade barbecue sauce that’s sweet and a little spicy and vinegary without being too much in any direction.

Pinterest graphic for Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs, showing the ribs on a platter

 

What dishes can I serve with Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs?

Now who’s ready to for some ribs?

Here’s how we’ve made them time and again!

Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs
Yield: 10 large servings

Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 10 minutes

Summertime is the season of barbecue... so it's time to learn how to make a barbecue classic. Even though ribs take time, they're well worth the effort, and these Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs are PERFECT for any summer get-together. Seasoned with homemade barbecue dry rub, these ribs cook low and slow for hours. Finish this nod to the Memphis dry rib on the grill or in the broiler, and serve with traditional barbecue sides to complete the feast!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a roasting pan or a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set aside. (This may require more than one pan if you're making a lot of ribs.)
  2. Rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towels, and remove any silver skin from the backs. (You should be able to remove this with your fingers.)
  3. If you want, trim the ribs into 4-5 rib sections.
  4. Season the ribs liberally with Memphis-style barbecue rub. You'll use about 1 tablespoon per pound.
  5. Arrange the ribs on the roasting pan or prepared baking sheet(s), and cover with aluminum foil. Transfer to the preheated oven, and bake for 5 hours.
  6. Once the ribs have baked for 5 hours, remove from the oven. Brush the ribs with ¾ cup barbecue sauce, then sprinkle with additional barbecue rub. 
  7. Transfer the pan(s) back into the oven, and cook uncovered for an additional 2 hours or until the ribs are tender. The meat will start pulling off the bones, and once it does, you'll know your ribs are almost ready!
  8. When the second bake is done, remove from the oven.

To finish on the grill

  1. Preheat the grill to 350°-400°F.
  2. Turn off the burners on the side where the ribs will be finished, as the barbecue sauce will cause them to catch fire.
  3. Baste the ribs with an additional ¾ cup of the barbecue sauce, and grill until sticky sweet and darkened. (About 10-15 minutes.)
  4. Sprinkle with additional barbecue rub to finish, and enjoy!

To finish in the broiler

  1. Preheat the oven's broiler.
  2. While the broiler is heating up, brush the ribs with an additional ¾ cup of the barbecue sauce.
  3. When the broiler is screaming hot, transfer the ribs back into the oven, and broil for 8 minutes, or until the tops of the ribs are browned and sticky.
  4. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with additional barbecue rub to finish, and enjoy!

    Notes

    You can easily double this recipe or half it. Keep in mind that you'll have to have enough space in your oven if you double it and that if you want to make a smaller batch, you're still going to be doing the same amount of work. Ribs are a labor of love, so it's worth making a bigger batch, in my opinion.

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    10

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving:Calories: 943 Saturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 335mg Sodium: 727mg Carbohydrates: 20g Sugar: 14g Protein: 88g
    Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

    Have you ever made your own barbecue?

    Would you do it again?

    The photos and recipe for these Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs were originally published on August 23, 2011. The photographs, along with the text of this blog post and the recipe, were updated on June 9, 2017; April 11, 2019 and June 26, 2019.

    40 Comments

    1. Maris (In Good Taste)

      These are mouthwatering ribs and put all other ribs I have ever seen to shame! Awesome!

      • Erin

        Thanks so much, Maris! That means a lot coming from you. 🙂

    2. Jessica

      Sweet goodness. I bow before you. I love ribs SO MUCH and these sound beyond amazing.

      • Erin

        Thanks, lovely! No bowing necessary, though. If you come to Baton Rouge, I’ll make you some of your own!

        • Susan

          Erin, I just found your ribs. I’m in Memphis and these sound great. In Baton Rouge, the best place is Ralph & Kakoo’s – try the Red Fish Lafitte. (or Flounder if Red Fish is out of season).

          • Erin

            Thanks, Susan. Glad to know that another Memphis girl thinks they sound good. 🙂

            And I love Ralph & Kakoo’s! One of my good friends worked there during college, so I had the opportunity to try several things there, including the Red Fish Lafitte.

    3. mandy

      Oh my goodness. I love bbq ribs but I’ve never made them. A friend of my parents makes excellent ones but after reading this, I might just have to give it a whirl.

      • Erin

        Give it a shot! They sound terribly time consuming and complicated, but they’re really easy. And I’d be interested to know your parents’ friend does with their recipe!

    4. Micah

      I like ribs

      • Erin

        I like ribs, too!

    5. Mary

      Do you have to grill them? Is there an alternative to that step?

      • Erin

        Mary, I’m sure you could leave them in the oven to continue roasting, but I’ve never tried making ribs without throwing them on the grill. (Granted, they might have been better one time when the ribs CAUGHT ON FIRE — true story.) I’d be interested to see how just roasting them the entire time would be.

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    14. Meghan @ Cake 'n Knife

      These ribs are GORGEOUS!!! I want all of that finger-licking goodness right NOW.

      • Erin

        Thank you, Meghan! I wish I could’ve shared this finger-licking goodness with you because OMG, it was ah-mazing!

    15. Susannah // Feast + West

      We are OBSESSED with Memphis style ribs! I am so sharing this with BF so we can make it soon!

      • Erin

        YAS! I am, too. (Obvs.) I hope you and the BF enjoy this recipe sometime soon!

    16. Amanda | The Chunky Chef

      What a great way to have ribs!

      • Erin

        YES! It definitely is! Thanks, Amanda!

    17. patricia @ Grab a Plate

      Scrumptious! Whenever someone asks me what kind of BBQ I like, I never know what to say. I think this is the style I love 🙂 Your sauce sounds ah-mazing!

      • Erin

        Hey, you can like ALL the BBQ. There’s nothing wrong with that. 😉 But it makes me happy that you think THIS is the style you love. And the sauce is totally drinkable, haha.

    18. Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      Wow, those look so thoroughly finger-licking good!!

      • Erin

        Thank you, Kimberly! It totally is finger-licking good!

    19. katerina @ diethood.com

      mmmm…finger lickin’ GOOD!!! Looks fantastic!!

      • Erin

        Oh YES! Thank you so much, Katerina!

    20. eatgood4life

      Wow, this looks the bomb. My husband and kids would love a batch of these. They look juicy and very tasty!

      • Erin

        Thank you! I hope your husband and kids and you enjoy these ribs if you have a chance to make them!

    21. Krista

      Any Dad would be lucky to have these on Father’s Day! They look amazing!

      • Erin

        Yes, he definitely would be SO lucky to have these beauts on Father’s Day! Thank you!

    22. ComfortFoodMadeElegant

      would you have a suggestion if any sides or garnishes to pair with these ribs?

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