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4.23 from 9 votes

How to Make Memphis Style Ribs

When making Memphis Style Ribs, it's all about the dry rub. The rub of pepper and spices is your source of flavor since this is a rib that doesn’t rely on a BBQ sauce. A light mop sauce of vinegar is most often used during cooking, but I like to use apple juice and another sprinkle of the dry rub before slicing.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main
Cuisine: American, Southern, Western
Keyword: dry rubbed ribs, Memphis, Memphis ribs, rib recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 1021kcal
Author: Kevin Is Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 racks baby back ribs or St. Louis-cut spare ribs (4-5 lbs total)

Dry Rub

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds (See Note 1)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (See Note 1)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds (See Note 1)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne

Mop Sauce

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar (See Note 2)
  • 1 tbsp dry rub
  • 3 tbsp butter melted

Instructions

  • Toast the fennel, coriander and cumin seeds in a sauté pan until fragrant and oils have been released. Grind in a spice grinder until in powder form. Feel free to use ground spices if you prefer, but use a 1/2 tsp LESS of each.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the toasted/ground spices and all remaining dry rub ingredients. Set aside. Whisk together the mop sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  • Peel membrane off from the back of ribs. Apply 3/4 of the dry rub all over both sides of the ribs. Reserve 1/4 of dry rub to apply before slicing after cooked.
  • Let sit for 30 minutes minimum (or 8 hours, covered and refrigerate overnight).

For Low and Slow:

  • Preheat gas grill or smoker to 225°F. Add smoker chips per manufacturer's instructions if using. Set up the grill for indirect grilling (See Note 3).
  • Place the racks, bone side down on the grill, close the lid. Let the ribs cook for about 4 to 5 hours for baby backs or 5 to 6 hours for spare ribs, brushing with mop sauce every 15 minutes.
  • Brush once more with mop sauce and remove from grill and sprinkle with one more round of the dry rub. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

If short on time:

  • Preheat gas grill or smoker to 325°F. Add smoker chips per manufacturer's instructions if using. Set up the grill for indirect grilling (See Note 3).
  • Place the racks, bone side down on the grill, close the lid. Let the ribs cook for about 1 1/2 hours for baby backs and 2 hours for spare ribs, brushing with mop sauce every 15 minutes.
  • Brush once more with mop sauce and remove from grill and sprinkle with one more round of the dry rub. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

For the Oven:

  • Preheat oven to 325°F.
  • Place the ribs, bone side down, on top of a wire rack set in an aluminum foil lined baking tray and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours for spare ribs or 1 1/2 to 2 hours for baby back ribs. Halfway through, cover ribs with aluminum foil to protect them from drying out. 
  • In the last hour of baking, baste the top of each rack with mop sauce every 15 minutes. At this point they should be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. You want the ribs to have an internal temperature of 145°F. Sprinkle with one more round of the dry rub. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. If you are not using whole spices, use a 1/2 tsp LESS of each. These are optional spices.
  2. For a sweeter mop sauce substitute apple juice for the apple cider vinegar.
  3. Grill using indirect heat: For gas grill do the 2 Zone set up which is either half the grill is lit to achieve desired temperature and the meat is placed on opposite side, or have sides lit leaving the center NOT on or lowest temperature. To grill using indirect heat on a charcoal BBQ or smoker ignite charcoal and place it to one side of the grill, creating a space for the food or the center with meat you’re cooking not directly over those lit coals. Typically use a drip pan under the meat to avoid any flareups.

 

Nutrition

Calories: 1021kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 89g | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 350mg | Sodium: 1376mg | Potassium: 1664mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 30.6% | Vitamin C: 1.3% | Calcium: 18.9% | Iron: 34.9%