Memphis Style Ribs
paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, celery seeds, chili powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, cumin, baby back ribs
Years ago, our founder drove across the country on a culinary and cultural journey, gathering inspiration and local, authentic recipes. Her stop in Memphis for some ribs and live blues served as the inspiration for this dish.
While this recipe doesn’t call for B.B. King (explicitly), we highly recommend you put a B.B. King playlist together for yourself to listen to while you make these memphis-style ribs!
½ cup paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ cup garlic powder
3 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 ½ tablespoons celery seeds
3 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
4 slabs baby back ribs (6–12 pounds).
Combine all dry rub ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until thoroughly mixed.
Prepare your ribs and rub 1–2 tablespoons of your spice mixture onto each rack*.
Get your grill going for indirect barbecuing. Be sure to use a drip pan in the center. We use a charcoal grill*. When we cook these, we preheat our grill to a medium temperature (figure 325–375 degrees F). You can test the temperature with your hand—if you can hold your hand over the grill for 6–7 seconds before it feels like it will burn/melt off, it’s medium. Or you can just use a thermometer and save your hand.
Don’t forget to brush and oil your grill.
Arrange the ribs in a single layer on the grate above the drip pan.
Cover and let cook for 75 minutes. Make sure to check ribs after 75 minutes.
Sprinkle the top of each rack with another 2 teaspoons of the spice rub.
Your ribs are finished cooking when they are tender with the meat pulling back from the (tips of) the bones. If they are not yet done after 75 minutes: –If using a gas grill, continue to cook in 15 minute increments, checking on your ribs. (They likely only need another 15–30 minutes.) –If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add more charcoal (as it is only losing heat and essentially warming at this point, rather than cooking). You want to keep the temperature in the 325–375 degrees F zone. Continue to cook your ribs in 15-minute increments, minding them regularly so as not to overcook them.
When they are done cooking, wrap the ribs in aluminum foil and let sit for 15 minutes. This will help make them even more tender. Then, serve away!
Pro Tip 1:
Figure you will need 1–2 tablespoons of rub to smother each individual rack of ribs. We like using the full 2 tablespoons for really zesty flavor, but you can use less rub for less kick. Adjust your proportions accordingly to ensure you can cover all the ribs you are making.
Pro Tip 2:
We also like adding wood chips (mesquite is our preference) to our charcoal for a nice smoky flavor. This isn’t necessary if it’s not your thing. If you’re using a gas grill, you’ll need to use a smoker box. (Turn the gas to high. Once the wood chips start smoking, turn it down to medium).