Memphis-Style Ribs

Memphis-Style Ribs

Ready in 6 hours

It never fails to amaze me how one simple idea can give birth to so many great regional variations. Consider ribs. The pork rib is one of the most perfect morsels ever to occupy a grill. The meat is generously marbled, which keeps it moist during prolonged cooking. As the fat melts, it crisps the meat fibers and bastes the meat naturally. The bones impart a rich meaty flavor (meat next to the bone always tastes best), while literally providing a physical support - a gnawable rack on which to cook the meat. Yet depending on whether you eat ribs in Birmingham or Kansas City, or Bangkok or Paris for that matter, you'll get a completely different preparation.

I've always been partial to Memphis-style ribs. Memphians don't mess around with a lot of sugary sauces. Instead, they favor dry rubs-full-flavored mixtures of paprika, black pepper, and cayenne, with just a touch of brown sugar for sweetness. The rub is massaged into the meat the night before grilling, and additional rub is sprinkled on the ribs at the end of cooking. This double application of spices creates incredible character and depth of flavor, while at the same time preserving the natural taste of the pork. Sometimes a vinegar and mustard based sauce-aptly called a mop sauce-is swabbed over the ribs (with said mop) during cooking; I've included one here, for you to use if you like.

You can choose any type of rib for this recipe: baby back ribs, long ends, short ends, rib tips-you name it. Cooking times are approximate. The ribs are done when the ends of the bones protrude and the meat is tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. I like my ribs served dry, in the style of Memphis's legendary barbecue haunt, the Rendezvous.

"Whoa, these were stellar! I enjoyed your story about ribs too, the explanation was helpful even for a tried and true BBQer like myself. Keep it up bud, this one's a keeper!"

- SanchoPanza

Top-ranked recipe named "Memphis-Style Ribs"

4.4 avg, 7 review(s) 71% would make again


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Advance Preparation:
4 4 to 8 hours for marinating the ribs
1 Special Equipment
1 1/2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory); soaked for 1 hour in cold water to cover and drained
3 pounds ribs
1/4 cup sweet paprika
4 3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 3/4 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
1 3/4 teaspoons celery salt
1 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
1 3/4 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 For the mop sauce (optional)
2 cups cider vinegar
3/4 cup yellow (ballpark) mustard
2 teaspoons Salt

Original recipe makes 6



1. Prepare the ribs and rub: Remove the thin, papery skin from the back of each rack of ribs by pulling it off in a sheet with your fingers, using the corner of a kitchen towel

to gain a secure grip, or with pliers.

2. Combine the paprika, black pepper, brown sugar, salt, celery salt, cayenne, garlic powder, dry mustard, and cumin in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Rub two thirds of this mixture over the ribs on both sides, then transfer the ribs to a roasting pan. Cover and let cure, in the refrigerator, for 4 to 8 hours.

3. Prepare the mop sauce (if using): Mix together the cider vinegar, mustard, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and place a large drip pan in the center.

If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; when smoke appears, reduce the heat to medium.

if using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium.

5. When ready to cook, if using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips on the coals. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the ribs on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke cook the ribs for 1 hour.

6. When the ribs have cooked for an hour, uncover the grill and brush the ribs with the mop sauce (if using). Recover the grill and continue cooking the ribs until tender and almost done, 1/4 to 1/2 hour longer for baby back ribs, 1/2 to 1 hour longer for spareribs. The ribs are done when the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bones. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side after 1 hour. Fifteen minutes before the ribs are done, season them with the remaining rub, sprinkling it on.

7. To serve, cut the racks in half or, for a plate-burying effect, just leave them whole.


Added on Award Medal
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"I recommend following it with this recipe  The Memphis Style Ribs paired with the simply awesome!!!" Rachelree Rachelree

"If you like it, you might also try this  Same recipe, but adjusted for iron skillet. Amazing" olivera1975 olivera1975

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gonjabi1 11 month ago
Whoa, these were stellar! I enjoyed your story about ribs too, the explanation was helpful even for a tried and true BBQer like myself. Keep it up bud, this one's a keeper!
SanchoPanza 1 year ago
just phenomenal!
olivera1975 1 year ago
Best ribs ever! Thank you!
Lbradshaw 1 year ago
I chose not to use the wet rub and maybe should have... The rub was so spicy I nearly couldn't handle it. It was definitely done but the rub was just to much.
MoyeMan 3 years ago
Clearly a very tasty recipe. Everybody invited has been enthusiastic about the ribs. I Had to share the recipe.
valentina.fabio 3 years ago
[I posted this recipe.]
ocsteven 5 years ago
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