Best Memphis Dry Rub Recipe for Ribs {Make Your Baby Backs Sing!}

If you have the Baby Backs then I have a Memphis Style dry rub recipe that you are going to love!  

What is even better is that you are not going to have to read some stupid story about my Uncle Jack. Nope…all we have here is pure rib rub nirvana!

Let’s get started!

Dry Rub for Ribs

Don’t even think about breaking out the barbecue sauce when you are making Memphis style dry ribs.  Between the smoke, pork and rub these ribs are freaking awesome!

Memphis Style Dry Rub for Ribs

  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup Seasoned Salt (Lawry’s)
  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1 Tbls granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbls granulated onion
  • 1 Tbls black pepper
  • 1 Tbls mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbls dried oregano


Memphis Style Dry Rub for Ribs


How to Cook Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs

I have seen two very different techniques for smoking Memphis style baby back ribs.  The first approach, the one that I used in this cook, is to season the ribs with the dry rub and start mopping after a couple of hours into the smoke. 

The second approach is to put the ribs onto the smoker with no dry rub so they can absorb a lot of smoke.  After 45 minutes start mopping the ribs every 20 minutes to build up the flavor levels. I have tried this approach and it works okay but I like the first style better.

I hit the ribs with a heavy coating of the dry rub and smoked them on my Weber kettle for a little over four hours.  I was running the kettle around 275F but was letting the ribs guide the cook. (See How Long to Smoke Baby Back Ribs for more details.)

After the ribs had cooked for two hours and the rub had set I started mopping (1 cup of cider vinegar mixed with 1/3 cup of the Memphis rib rub). 

Mopped Memphis style ribs

The ribs got mopped about every 20 minutes until the ribs were just about falling off the bone.  What can I say?  These were finger licking fantastic and a real nice change from competition style 2-2-1 Baby Back Ribs.

Memphis style ribs


Memphis style ribs

Memphis Dry Rub Recipe for Ribs

This is a rib rub that is used for making "dry" Memphis style ribs.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Calories 450 kcal


  • Memphis Dry Rub Ingredients
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/3 cup seasoned salt (Lawry's or Morton's)
  • 1/3 cup smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup For the Mop: Cider Vinegar
  • 1 slab Baby Back Ribs


  • Combine the dry rub ingredients and mix well.
  • Season the baby back ribs liberally with the rub.
  • Smoke the ribs at 250-275F for two hours.
  • Combine the cider vinegar with 1/3 cup of the rub to make the mop.
  • Mop the ribs every 20 minutes for another two hours.
  • The ribs are done when the meat has pulled back from the bone and a toothpick easily slides through the meat.


These Memphis Style Dry Ribs are a wonderful change of pace from the super sweet "3-2-1" competition style ribs.  
Keyword Memphis Rub Recipe


  1. Damm, I should not have read this before dinner. I am so hungry now and what I am about to eat is not even close to those great looking ribs.

    • David

      Thanks, Craig! If it helps any I am suffing through some pasta tonight 🙂

  2. Hey David, all three recipes look fantastic. I love ribs, but I’ve never actually made them myself because I’m always afraid I’ll make them dry and tough. You’ve sold me with the Memphis Rib Rub, I could handle falling off the bone! Thanks for the well laid out bbq guide. Just subscribed by email. 🙂

    • David

      Thanks for dropping by and signing up! if you need ANY help let me know and I’ll give you a call!

  3. Another great post David! Lots of great info in here. Love seeing new recipes and trying them out. You rock!

    • David

      Very awesome of you to say! Thanks for the comments!!

  4. I forgot to ask how the texture was of the Italian Style Ribs… My wife (and her parents) are Italian and I think that they would really like this. They like ‘fall off the bone’ ribs that are super tender… Wondering how these would compare

    Thanks again David!

    • David

      If they want fall off the bone then you could just cook the Italian Style for longer at lower temperatures. I cooked the Italian Style hot and Fast since that is the style I found when I was over there once. The lack of sugar in the rub lets you go hot on these guys but they would also be great when taken to fall apart tender.

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