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 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 Slaw / Pulled Pork Coleslaw Eggrolls / Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Nachos / Instant Pot BBQ Brisket / Grilled BBQ Chicken Flatbread
Looking for something more general for the summer? Check out my July 4th Recipe index!
Tools and Products to Make the BEST BBQ Ribs
Disclaimer: The links below are affiliate links. If you click through and take action, I will receive a small commission. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about the affiliate programs The Speckled Palate participates in.
- Sheet pan or roasting pan with rack
- Silicone Basting & Pastry Brush
- Porcelain Rectangular Platter in White (for serving)
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 cook, as you want the temperature to remain as consistent 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 1-2 more hours… or until the ribs are tender. You’ll know they’re tender when the meat starts pulling off the bones. When the meat does pull off the bones, your ribs are almost ready.
When the second bake is done, remove from the oven.
Finish the ribs on the grill OR finish in the broiler
If finishing 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.
If finishing in the broiler: Preheat your oven’s broiler. Mine goes up to 550F, so make sure that yours goes up that high, too. While it heats, brush the ribs with additional barbecue sauce.
When the broiler is screaming hot, transfer the ribs back into the oven. Broil for 6-8 minutes, or until the tops of the ribs are browned and sticky. Keep an eye on them because the sugar content in the BBQ sauce could cause them to burn.
When the final cook is done, sprinkle the ribs with additional Memphis-style dry rub to finish, and enjoy!
Serve with traditional barbecue side dishes and extra sauce. Enjoy in the company of friends and family!
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
Ribs are the PERFECT entree for outdoor entertaining because they can be eaten with your hands. They’re also good to make in a large batch, too, because they take so much time. (Keep in mind that it’s not all hands-on time, but they require planning.)
Backyard barbecues are one of my favorite events for the summertime, and you can’t go wrong with hosting one.
Here are a few tips and tricks for throwing one:
- Plan out your menu in advance. Choose to make dishes that can be made ahead of time that can also sit out for a little while without problems or assign dishes for your guests to bring.
- Give yourself extra time with the ribs. When hosting friends before, these ribs have taken longer to cook than usual, and I was s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d. Build extra time into your cooking timeline, and have a backup plan in case things go awry. (Like knowing you can broil these if your gas grill is out of gas, etc.)
- You don’t have to serve ribs piping hot. If they finish cooking earlier than expected, wrap them in foil, and keep warm in the oven (which is at 175F tops) until it’s time to serve.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Entertaining should be fun! Crack yourself open a beer (or any beverage of your choice!) as you get things ready to go for your gathering–it’s going to be FUN!
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Tell me a little more about dry rub. What is it? Why do we use it?
At Memphis barbecue restaurants, you can order your ribs wet or dry. “Wet ribs” are slathered in barbecue sauce before serving while dry ribs aren’t finished with 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. You can also finish them under the broiler.
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 Memphis 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.
Tips and Tricks to Making Memphis Dry Rub Ribs
- Give yourself some wiggle room. Timing ribs can be hard because everyone’s oven is different. If you want to, you can remove the silver skin and prep the ribs the day before so that you can simply season ’em and pop them into the oven the morning of your gathering.
- Make as many as you and your guests can handle. You’re going to spend a lot of time on them either way, so it’s worthwhile to make extra if you think they’ll be eaten. (Also, they’re great leftover, so don’t worry if you’ve got some leftovers.)
- 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 heartbreaking, to say the very least.
What dishes can I serve with Memphis-Style Barbecue Ribs?
- Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Easy Broccoli Salad
- Sheet Pan BBQ Chicken Nachos
- Red, White and Blue Brunch Punch
- Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Now who’s ready to for some ribs?
Here’s how we’ve made them time and again!
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!
- 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 ¾ 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 ¾ 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 ¾ 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!
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.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 943Saturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 335mgSodium: 727mgCarbohydrates: 20gSugar: 14gProtein: 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; April 11, 2019 and June 26, 2019.