Memphis Style Dry Ribs {On the Grill or In The Oven}

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Memphis Style Dry Ribs {On the Grill or In The Oven} recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Tender, caramelized meat that clings to the bone and requires just a gentle tug to pull it off makes for the perfect grilled spare rib. Mixing up an easy and flavorful dry rub for ribs makes them even more delicious.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

Would you believe that a week ago I had never cooked bone-in ribs?

I assumed that they would be more difficult and complicated than the country style boneless ribs I’ve always purchased. I was wrong. These were so easy; I made them twice just to make sure it would work the same.

Technically, I made three batches, because I mistakenly thought that I could get away with using the crockpot. Let’s just say they were not the same. (In all fairness, the ribs that started in the crockpot were edible and the flavor was great, but the texture was off and there was just no comparison to the grill or oven versions.)

When I decided to tackle cooking ribs for the first time, I went straight to my personal grilling expert. Nibble Me This is my first stop for grilling advice. Chris first tempted me with the Grilled Smokey Chicken and Bacon Cheeseburger.

Next, he convinced me to grill our steaks using the reverse sear method. I’ve used that method repeatedly and never looked back. (There is nothing else like it, I promise!) And for further proof that his recipes have never let me down, his Po’dunk Sauce is the ultimate dipping sauce for any potatoes in your life!

The grilling method he showed me for these ribs creates perfectly cooked ribs each and every time. I was also thrilled to find out that I could make dry ribs in the oven with just as much success!

Dry Rub for Ribs

The spice blend on these ribs adds an out-of-this world flavor to the meat. Cumin, chile powder, smoked paprika and black pepper give each bite of these ribs a kick of heat. The brown sugar in the rub tempers that spice with molasses-y sweetness while a blend of dried herbs brings everything together.

This memphis style rub is by far one of my favorite dry rubs for ribs. The flavor is phenomenal and creates a crust on the outside of each rib that is simply to-die-for. I just know you’re going to love this dry rub as much as we did.

Memphis Style Dry Ribs recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

How to Cook Ribs in the Oven

As much as I love grilled Memphis Style Ribs, sometimes you don’t have access to a grill. Or it’s the middle of winter and no one wants to stand outside in the cold just to satisfy your craving for delicous ribs.

I was happy to find out that cooking ribs in the oven worked beautifully. First, you douse one side of the ribs in the dry rub. After baking them in the oven for 3 hours, you douse the ribs in a vinegar solution and rub them in even more of the seasoning.

We were all more than happy with how these oven baked Memphis Style Dry Ribs turned out! I’m so excited that whether I cook these ribs on the grill or in the oven, they come out incredible.

Dry Rub for Ribs in the Oven

You can use the same dry rub for ribs in the oven as you use for ribs made on the grill. Only instead of rubbing both sides of the ribs with the spices before cooking, you apply them to one side only.

After the ribs finish cooking, you apply the rest of the spice blend to the other side. This method of applying dry rub to ribs in the oven means the flavor is evenly distributed without burning or smoking any of the spices.

Best Sides to Serve with Ribs

My meat-loving crew would probably be happy with nothing but a giant plate of ribs for dinner, if I’m being honest. But for the rest of us, these ribs pair well with dozens of different side dishes.

Serve your Memphis style ribs with a big scoop of Classic Memphis-Style Coleslaw and Rudy’s Slow-Cooker Creamed Corn for a true feast. They also pair beautifully with this Jalapeno Corn Coleslaw and a bowl of Easy Macaroni and Cheese.

I can’t wait for you to try these Memphis Style Dry Ribs!

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Memphis Style Dry Ribs {On the Grill or In The Oven}

4.5 from 4 votes
Recipe lightly adapted from and with thanks to Nibble Me This
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Servings: 5 -6 servings, recipe can easily be multiplied

Ingredients 

  • 1 slab pork spare ribs - see note
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  • GRILL METHOD: Preheat the grill to 250 degrees. If using wood or charcoal, situate the coals on one side of the grill only, leaving the other side open for indirect cooking heat. Stir together the sugar and all of the spices in a small bowl. Reserve 1/3 of the sugar/spice mixture in a separate bowl. Stretch the ribs out on a large baking tray, meat side down. Slide a knife just barely under the edge of the membrane at one end of the ribs and then use that loosened edge to pull the membrane off the ribs. (I found it really easy to grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off that way. Much like this example.)
  • Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Apply the rub generously (leaving the reserved 1/3 for later use) to the front and back of the ribs. Place the ribs meat side up on the grill and cook with indirect heat, for 3 - 3 1/2 hours, until the ribs are tender.
  • Pour the vinegar and water into a shallow baking dish. Remove the cooked ribs from the grill and dip them into the vinegar water. Place the wet ribs onto a cutting board or a clean baking sheet and season immediately with a coating of the reserved dry rub. Cut and serve. Enjoy!
  • OVEN METHOD: Adjust the oven racks to the middle and top 1/3 of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Stir together the sugar and all of the spices in a small bowl. Reserve 1/3 of the sugar/spice mixture in a separate bowl. Stretch the ribs out on a large baking tray, meat side down. Slide a knife just barely under the edge of the membrane at one end of the ribs and then use that loosened edge to pull the membrane off the ribs. (I found it really easy to grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off that way. Much like this example.)
  • Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Apply the rub generously (leaving the reserved 1/3 for later use) to the front and back of the ribs. Place the ribs meat side up on a foil lined baking sheet and cook on the center oven rack, for about 3 hours, until the ribs are tender.
  • Pour the vinegar and water into a shallow baking dish. Remove the cooked ribs from the oven and dip them into the vinegar water. Place the wet ribs onto a cutting board or a clean baking sheet and season immediately with a coating of the reserved dry rub. Cut and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

We grilled about 4 pounds of loin back ribs. This recipe can easily be multiplied and it will also work well with St Louis style ribs as well. The cooking time will need to be adjusted slightly longer for the thicker ribs.
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Anonymous says

    I really appreciate this recipe, dipping in the vinegar and water is a technique I don't know – will try it this week.

  2. Gary A Lazarus says

    The best oven ribs I have ever had. sometimes simple is better. I have also combined with bbq sauce on lo broil 1/2 hour before done. Have done with my own rub without the vinegar & water. I’m thrilled by the “chewy, pull off the bone” texture. Thank you so much !5 stars

  3. Pastor Mitt says

    When I made this before it was too sweet & salty so will reduce the sugar & salt. Otherwise good flavor & very tender! Thanks!4 stars

  4. Dale Zinn says

    Hi Mary, I’m Dale and have a quick question about your Memphis dry rub rib for the oven recipe. With the virus thing going on I’m really liking your recipes. Anyway, in one part you said to coat just one side with the rub and do the other side when done cooking. In another part it said to coat both sides before cooking. Which is the best way to go? I’m slow so bear with me. I do get that you do the vinegar/water then rub all at end. Just not sure about the beginning rub. Thanks

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Dale, I’m thrilled to hear that you’re enjoying the recipes. You’ll want to coat both sides of the ribs with about 2/3 of the spice mixture prior to cooking. After cooking, you’ll dip them quickly in the vinegar water and then season the wet ribs with the remaining spice mixture.

  5. Casey says

    Thank you for the recipe it was wonderful. I had cooked ribs once before and I was unable to find the spice rub again. I searched high and low and found this recipe. Thanks for sharing.5 stars