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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.
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 love the Grizz. (Sorry, Mavs. I don’t know if I’ll ever adopt you as my hometown team.)
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 get 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.
Six years ago, my little sister drove to Baton Rouge for a visit before she and I took a cross country road trip to Denver.
To send her off, I made a ton of barbecue and fixings, including RIBS!
That weekend, I spoke to 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.
The last time we made these dry rubbed ribs, we made a little more than 10 pounds of ribs, which sounds crazy.
That day, EIGHT adults and TWO littles enjoyed all this barbecue goodness. When all was said and done, a lone half rack was left.
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!)
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.
Tools and Products to Make BBQ Ribs
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- Sheet pan or roasting pan with rack.
- Silicone Basting & Pastry Brush.
- Porcelain Rectangular Platter in White (for serving)
What dishes can I serve with Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs?
- Sriracha Baked Beans
- Instant Pot BBQ Brisket
- Honey Mustard Coleslaw
- Pulled Pork Shoulder
- Instant Pot Vegetarian Baked Beans
Now who’s ready to for some ribs?
Here’s how we’ve made them time and again!
- 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.)
- 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.)
- If you want, trim the ribs into 4-5 rib sections.
- Season the ribs liberally with Memphis-style barbecue rub. You'll use about 1 tablespoon per pound.
- 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.
- Once the ribs have baked for 5 hours, remove from the oven. Brush the ribs with 3/4 cup barbecue sauce, then sprinkle with additional barbecue rub.
- 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!
- When the second bake is done, remove from the oven.
- To finish on the grill: Preheat the grill to 350°-400°F. 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 an additional 3/4 cup of the barbecue sauce, and grill until sticky sweet and darkened. (About 10-15 minutes.) Sprinkle with additional barbecue rub to finish, and enjoy!
- To finish in the broiler: Preheat the oven's broiler. While the broiler is heating up, brush the ribs with an additional 3/4 cup of the barbecue sauce. 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. Remove from the oven, 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!
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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Amount Per Serving:Calories: 943 Saturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 335mg Sodium: 727mg Carbohydrates: 20g Sugar: 14g Protein: 88g
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 and again on April 11, 2019.