Competition Ribs at Memphis in May

Competition Ribs at Memphis in May

Memphis in May is largest Pork cooking contest on the planet! Every May thousands of attendees gather on the banks of the Mississippi River to witness the “Super Bowl of Swine”. This year my team, The Killer Hogs, entered the Rib category at MIM and we shot a video of our rib recipe while we were there. At Memphis in May we face three rounds of judging – if you make it that far – so we cook plenty of ribs. This year I brought 24 racks just for the contest, plus another 15 just to practice. That’s a lot of ribs in my book! You can bet it takes a full team effort to tackle MIM and we even bring in extra help – shout out to Mark Williams from Swine Life (you’ll see him in the video) and to everyone else that helped pull it off. On Friday, the day before the actual contest, Mark and I ran a full blown contest recipe. We prepped and seasoned 15 racks of baby back ribs and fired up Jolene for her first ever Memphis in May smoke. competition ribs She dialed right in at 275, and we fed her a stick of hickory every 45 minutes throughout the cook. Our rib process is fairly quick. Each rack gets slathered with a touch of mustard to bind the seasonings, then on the back we layer on Swine Life Mississippi Grind and Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub. On top we layer Swine Life Mississippi Grind and Killer Hogs The Hot Rub. This combo produces a sweet and savory rib with a beautiful mahogany bark. The ribs are placed on the pit and spritzed with water every 30-45 minutes to keep them from drying out. After two hours in the smoke we wrap the ribs with brown sugar, Parkay margarine, Kosmo’s Cherry Apple Habanero and Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce. They go back on the pit for 1 hour or until a probe thermometer reads 204 degrees in between the bones. At this point we rest the ribs in a dry cooler to stop the cooking process and allow time for moisture to reabsorb into the meat. To finish the ribs off we take them out of the foil and place on aluminum foil boats for easy transfer. They get a final dusting of dry rub to pretty up the tops and a glaze of sauce. The final glaze is a combo of 18oz Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce, 9oz Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce, and 2oz Texas Pepper Jelly Rib Candy. Heat the glaze a little just so it’s not cool and brush it over each rack. Return the ribs to the smoker for 20-30 minutes to set the glaze. At this point the ribs are ready to be judged. For the blind round we cut them into 2 bone segments so the judges can pull the bones apart to check for tenderness. At Memphis in May no garnish is allowed so the only thing in the box is ribs. The next round is on site judging where 3 judges come at separate times. We get to set down with each for 15 minutes and convince them face to face why our ribs are better than the next team. It’s a daunting challenge but man it’s fun!! If you’re lucky enough to make it out in the top three of these rounds then you have to do it all again in a final round where the top 3 ribs face off against the best 3 hogs and shoulders. We didn’t finish as well as we hoped – 33rd in ribs, but man we sure had a good time and met a lot of new friends. There’s always next year, and you can bet that the Killer Hogs will be back trying to walk across that stage! Print
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Competition Ribs at Memphis in May


  • Baby Back Ribs (aka Loin Back 2.5lb & down)
  • Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub
  • Killer Hogs Hot Rub
  • Swine Life Mississippi Grind
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Parkay Margarine

  • Kosmo’s Apple Cherry Habanero Rib Glaze

  • Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce

Killer Hogs Rib Glaze

  • 1 Bottle Killer Hogs The BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 Bottle Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Texas Pepper Jelly Apple Cherry Habanero Rib Candy
  • Combine the sauces and warm before glazing on ribs.


  1. Prepare smoker for indirect cooking at 275 degrees. Add a chunks of hickory and cherry wood for smoke flavor.
  2. Remove the membrane and trim excess fat from each rack of ribs. In contest we also remove the end bones to straighten the rack but at home it’s not necessary. Apply thin coat of mustard to the back of the ribs; season with medium layer of Swine Life Mississippi Grind; sweat the ribs for 15-20 minutes; and season with medium layer of Killer Hogs Hot Rub.
  3. Flip the ribs over and apply mustard to the meat side. Season with a medium coat of Swine Life Mississippi Grind, sweat for 15-20 minutes, then apply medium layer of Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.
  4. Place the ribs on the smoker and smoke for 2 hours spritzing with water every 30-45 minutes as needed. Wrap each slab individually in aluminum foil. In the foil layer 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, Parkay Margarine, Kosmo’s Apple Cherry Habanero Glaze, and Killer Hogs Vinegar Sauce. Place the ribs meat down in the mixture and add a little Vinegar Sauce to the back side. Close the foil up and around the ribs folding the ends up for easy access to check tenderness.
  5. Return the Ribs to the smoker and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 204 degrees. Check the ribs after 1 hour in the wrap and every 15 minutes until desired tenderness.
  6. Rest the ribs for 1 hour in a dry cooler. Unwrap the foil and transfer the ribs to a foil boat for easy moving. Dust the bone side with Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub and glaze with the sauce mixture* recipe below.
  7. Carefully flip the ribs over and dust with a little Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub on the meat side. Brush the tops with the glaze and return to the pit for 30 minutes to set.
Malcom Reed Connect on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Follow me on Instagram Buy Killer Hogs Products Here Competition Ribs at Memphis in May

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17 responses to “Competition Ribs at Memphis in May”

  1. Guy Cellier says:

    Going to try these this weekend!

  2. Frank and Beans says:

    Hello from Hattiesburg Malcom. I love Texas Pepper Jelly. I discovered them years ago and every holiday season, I order from them. I have tried it (Pineapple Habanero) on smoked wings before and it was awesome. I will try some on ribs on ribs next time, which will be fathers day. That sounds great.

    Glad you had a great time at MiM.

  3. Craig Hood says:

    I made your ribs this weekend for a Father’s Day gathering, and they went over really well. I ordered all the ingredients from Killer Hogs, Kosmos Q, and TX Pepper Jelly and got a 3 pack of baby back ribs at Costco. There was about a half rack of ribs left at the end of dinner (with 5 adults). This is my new, go to recipe for ribs.

    Now I’m ready to try some of your other smoked meat recipes. Maybe a pork shoulder or some burnt ends?

  4. monte coleman says:

    So is there any particular reason why you think you finished so low?

    • Malcom Reed says:

      Sure there are lots of reasons. At MIM we’ve been in the top 10 more than we haven’t. You just gotta be perfect and lucky because you are competing against the best in the world and the judging is subjective.

      • Trent B says:

        You’re the real winner for the judges that matter….which would be all of the viewers of your videos. I buy your rubs and sauces to give back for the information and no-nonsense videos you share with us.

  5. Bob Kelly says:

    Looking for your old recipe for ribs where you wrap with parkay, Bob Kellybrown sugar etc.
    Not the more ingredient competition recipe

  6. OzarkMeatSmoker says:

    Dang! Sure looks like you finished well to me.
    Headed to Sam’s for ribs now!

  7. Ulysses Kelly says:

    Malcom love your videos love what you are doing. I ‘m a MBN judge and getting into cooking to compete. Can you tell me what in the internal temp of your ribs when you should take them off to rap them.

  8. Kyle Hammer says:

    How rib candy for the final glaze? Lets say I do 1/4 cup vinegar sauce, 1/2 cup of Original BBQ? Thanks!

  9. Ron Kinde says:

    I love your rib recipes. You have been so good in the past to share your recipes. Any chance of getting the one for your Vinegar BBQ Sauce?

  10. Jimmy says:


    Thank you for sharing your recipes! Your vast BBQ experience is reflected by your recipes and videos.

    I’ve smoked ribs probably close to thirty times, and my audience agreed these were the best ribs they ever had. It made me feel good to provide this gastro feeling to my family. Thank you Malcom!


    PS: I substituted the vinegar sauce with Carolina Mustard.

  11. Ben Furino says:

    Amazing recipe as always

  12. Nick says:

    Hi – I’ve tried this recipe but also added a small amount of honey in the wrap. My ribs temped at just over 200 degrees when I took them off BGE completely but the meat side was a little burnt and sticky. Can you explain why for this recipe you are cooking at 275 but other back rib recipes you cook at lower temps? Was adding the honey a mistake? Thanks Malcolm!

  13. Jason says:

    Been bbqin for 25 years. Been smoking for less than one. I’ve learned more from your videos and recipes than anywhere else. From your pastrami recipe to these ribs. Every one has been a success. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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