memphis style dry rib
August 1, 2014

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

If you’ve ever been to Memphis, chances are you tried the Memphis Style Dry Ribs. Other than Rock-n-Roll, nothing is more famous than the bbq and every bbq joint has dry ribs on the menu.

In Memphis, Loin Back ribs rule. There are some places that serve spares, but true Memphis Style Dry Ribs are cut from the loin section of the hog.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

I always remove the membrane (because it’s tough and blocks the seasoning from getting to the meat on the underside), but some restaurants don’t bother. If I was cooking 400 racks a day, I guess I would get tired of pulling skin too, but at home go ahead and pull it off.

Next comes the seasoning. To be a Memphis Style Dry Ribs you have to have a good dry rub. Typically it’s a sweet & salty blend accented with Paprika to give the ribs color. The Paprika really brings out the mahogany color in the finished product. I suggest using my Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

Give the Memphis Style Dry Ribs a good coat of dry rub on both sides and let them rest for a few hours.

Bring the ribs to room temperature for 30 minutes and place them on the smoker. Memphis Style Dry Ribs are slow smoked at 250 degrees for about 5 hours over charcoal & hickory wood.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

After 1 ½ hrs mop the Memphis Style Dry Ribs with a mixture of:

This style rib doesn’t get wrapped, so keeping it moist is crucial. The mopping sauce adds flavor to the ribs as they cook and it’ll keep the ribs from drying out.

Repeat the mopping step every 45 minutes for the remainder of the cook.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

At the 4 hour mark, start checking the ribs for tenderness. It normally takes 4-5 hours total cooking time for Memphis Style Dry Ribs. You’ll see that the meat has pulled away exposing the ends of the bones.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

Lift the ribs up and gently tug on the bones. When you feel the ribs start to tear or give a little, they’re done. Just before serving dust the ribs with extra dry rub and you’ll have true Memphis Style Dry Ribs.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

Malcom Reed

Malcom Reed
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Memphis Style Dry Ribs

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  1. Tim Lane says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    I did these on my UDS today with The BBQ Rub I just received the other day. Wow, these were awesome! Thanks to the channel and the website, we are eating well here in NE Ohio. Keep it up!

  2. John F says:

    I’m gonna try it tomorrow on my Weber Smokey Mountain. I’m a Memphis guy living in Kansas City. miss this stuff.
    Great site, man. And thanks!

  3. kevin L greene says:

    High Malcom, I have a question, I noticed that under your tips and tricks for cooking ribs, the first dusting of rub be a rub of low sugar content but I noticed after reading the ingredients on your rub that I purchased that the first two ingredients are sugar essentially, are you sure your killer hog recipe won’t burn my ribs when I go to use it. The main reason I brought this up is I did have my ribs burn the first time and I had my temperature set between 250 and 275 on my kamado Joe. The rub I used the first time was the recipe from that BBQ Queen Diva Q it was her rib rub recipe recipe and I think it had a lot of sugar in it, and Malcolm I just want to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart , for teaching us backyard grillers how to do it right, watching your YouTube instructionals you definitely have a way about you keep up the good work. I don’t mean to be a pain in the butt I just want to learn how to do it right thanks so much.kevin.

  4. Dwayne says:

    I’ve got a lot of smoker experience but have never been happy with my ribs on a consistent basis. I tried your Memphis style dry ribs technique a couple of weeks ago and they were probably the best I’ve ever made. I did two slabs today along with some bologna and once again, the ribs were excellent. I think I’ve got a reliable technique thanks to you.

    Dwayne in Germantown.

      • Dwayne says:

        Update: Have done 3-4 smokes since then and this technique gave me excellent ribs each time. I’ve tried foiling, etc., and it was always hit or miss, but this is easier and I now know it’s reliable and I will get consistently good results. Thanks again.

  5. Robert Pearson says:

    Hi Malcom.
    I have tried a couple of your rib recipes
    Your videos are professionally done, easy to follow, and great information on the art to BBQ.
    Last night I made Memphis dry rib, and they were on the Wellerkettle drum for five hours. Instead of spritizing with apple juice, I used a local dry cider to spritz the ribs. The results were also very good with hickory wood, giving me a nice vivid pinkish smoke ring, excellent bark, nice deep dark brown color. Not dry but tender with just a nice bite, no pulling or tearing to get off the bone.
    I’m still having difficulty in controlling the heat. Trying to keep a 20 degree ferenheit difference.
    Any info is extremely appreciated.
    Thanks again and keep up the good work.
    Robert Pearson

  6. Cathy says:

    Question: You said in the video to use 2 cups apple juice, but in the recipe it says 8 oz of apple juice. What is right? BTW LOVE your recipes!

  7. Rick says:

    I made some Memphis ribs on my new yoder 640. The best Ribs. Thank you

  8. Mitch Morgan says:

    Malcom, picking your brain a little for some advice. I have no issues making these Memphis style ribs, I dont wrap and they turn out great however I have a situation coming up. I have a Good One Marshall, and have had some contact with Chris Marks about this but wanted your input. With the 4 shelf configuration I can fit 5 BB and 4 STL racks per shelf. I have a retirement party to do in which I need to cook up 35 racks. I do have some issues with the cooker being uneven in the center of the racks but hotter at the back and the door side when fully loaded. There is a kit where I can add shelves to house 7 total but this might make it worse. One piece of advice I had gotten is to put a couple hours of smoke on the first batch then stack in a alum pan and cover to cook on up while cooking the next batch. Then finish when tender open on the grill. Your thoughts? Also what about holding the finished racks wrapped in butcher paper until serving? Thank you in advance.

    • If you have to cook that many ribs 4 at a time – I would try to find another smoker or two smokers first. But either way I would go ahead and cook all the ribs ahead of time. Wrap them in foil and place them in the fridge. When it comes time, pull the ribs out of the fridge and let them come up to room temp. Then place them on the smoker (and you can even do these in the oven too) and apply the glaze – or just more dry rub if you are serving them dry – and allow them to warm up for 30-45 minutes while the glaze or dry rub sets.

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I'm Malcom Reed and these are my methods and techniques for mouth-watering, slow-smoked BBQ. Recipes, videos, detailed procedures and BBQ tips.

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