memphis style dry rib

Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe

Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe

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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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41 responses to “Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe”

  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.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      there is nothing wrong with using a high sugar content – as long as you don’t let it burn. You can’t use a heavy sugar – you have to use a rub with balance.

  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.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      glad to hear it!

      • 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.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      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.

  9. Bryan says:

    Do you put use a water pan with this recipe? I figure you don’t but wanted to clarify.

  10. MattR says:

    How long is too long for dry rub marinating with “The BBQ Rub”?

  11. Greg Rempel says:

    I am in 3 hours into smoking these amazing looking ribs. After a couple of hundred racks of competition type 3-2-1 ribs these are so simple and probably my new go to recipe. Thank you for posting such a detailed and complete video, very few guys with your experience take the time to show everything from start to finish.

  12. Aaron M. says:

    Are the loin back ribs the same as baby back ribs?

  13. Malcolm, you are a great teacher of BBQ! as i write this, i’m trying the Memphis dry babyback ribs on my new GMG Davy Crockett pellet smoker. since the rub i made has a little mustard powder, i figured it might work as an emusifier for your mop, so i used an immersion mixer in the ball jar, and it hasn’t separated! the ribs look great, and i expect another H2BBQR winner.

    quick question: what kind of insulation do you wear under the waterproof glove?

  14. Mike Hill says:

    followed recipe, tenderness cooked to perfection, bone falling out… taste was bland.. next time will try adding salt as well as the rub

  15. Michael Nelson says:

    Can this mop be used on a Pork Shoulder?

  16. Dave Chmielowski says:

    Hey Malcolm,

    I just obtained an offset firebox smoker grill . So I ordered the 5 pounder bag of your BBQ rub. I have smoked Memphis style ribs before with a rub recipe that was floating around on the net and wasn’t satisfied withn the results of the taste. I am looking forward to the arrival of your rub and will smoke at your style. Can’t wait till they’re done.

  17. Kenneth Guenther says:

    I have made these ribs on the BGE and also on my Traeger pellet grill. They came out perfect in both cases and got rave reviews from my guests. Thank you so much, Malcom. I won’t make ribs any other way from now on.

  18. Kevin Grant says:

    Malcom, I love this site! Have been making your Memphis Ribs in my G2 Chubby last 2 years. I have to make a bunch today for a party tomorrow early afternoon. I usually serve immediately…what is best way to cook today and keep fresh for tomorrow

  19. Blakeney Adams says:

    I have tried all of your rib recipes that call for the 3-2-1 type recipe that calls for wrapping the ribs. While I respect and appreciate the technique, this Memphis style way of cooking ribs is what I was raised on. Except the RUB seasoning and mop sauce makes all the difference. I made a simple mop of apple cider vinegar, water, oil, and rub. I cooked the ribs for 6 hours at 250 and just wow! My wife likes her ribs sauced so I put hers on the grill with some Killer Hogs BBQ sauce for about 30 minutes. I will never cook ribs any other way. Thank you Malcom and Rachelle for your knowledge, insights and products!

  20. Arthur Orduna says:

    Hi – I have an electric smoker with a water/liquids pan – can I put the mop sauce in the water pan instead of mopping the ribs and smoke it that way for 5 hours, keeping the smoker closed the entire time? Or should I mop as well as putting the mop sauce in the pan? Thanks…!

  21. Martin Wright says:

    Hi Malcom,

    I saw this recipe about a month ago and have used it twice. This is my new go to rib recipe, the 3,2,1 never really worked for me but this is absolutely the perfect rib recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Mark says:

    I love the recipe and make my ribs this way often. I refer people here frequently that ask how I do it. When I went to visit today to confirm the link, I noticed all the photos were gone. Would be great if all the links could be fixed to get the images back.
    Thanks Malcom!

  23. Drew Franyo says:

    I think I’ve found my cure for “rib analysis paralysis” (321, wrap or no wrap)
    I am excited to make this my go-to method for cooking ribs….

  24. Ben Moore says:

    Hey man, that’s awesome you’re in Southaven! I’m in olive branch and just got a pit boss. It’s been tough finding REAL Memphis style recipes from people who KNOW Memphis style. Glad I found your site!

  25. Rob Wignall says:

    I have a few rib recipes that I like, but this one has become my go-to. To me, this is ribs the way ribs are supposed to taste. I think using some of the same dry rub in the mop sauce is probably the biggest secret to success here. I’m using a Traeger Ironwood 880, and almost any type of pellets seems to be great for these ribs. I like hickory, but so far I like apple and cherry too.

  26. FrankU says:

    Hi Malcolm – love your site & products. Question – taking longer to cook aside, is there any advantage to doing this cook at 225 ( ie more bark, more tender)? Thanks

  27. Aaron Bronner says:

    Thanks for this! I really like the dry approach best. Any advice for tweaks for a pellet smoker. 250 deg or something less?
    Also, any suggested tweaks for St Louis cut ribs?

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