Memphis Style Dry Ribs (in the oven or on the grill)

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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 Dry Ribs

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.

Memphis Dry Ribs

Memphis Style Dry Ribs

When I decided to tackle cooking ribs for the first time, I went straight to my personal grilling expert. Chris from Nibble Me This has been an expert in the grilling arena for a very long time now. He 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, even if the photos do desperately need to be updated.)

And for further proof that Chris’ recipes have never let us down, his Po’dunk Sauce is the ultimate dipping sauce for any potatoes in your life!

The grilling method here 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!

Spice Mix on Ribs

Dry Rub for Ribs

The spice blend on these ribs adds an out-of-this world flavor to the meat. The recipe and methods I’m sharing here are very lightly adapted from Chris’s Memphis Style Dry Ribs.

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.

Dry rub spice mix for ribs

How to Cook Ribs in the Oven

As much as I love grilling ribs, there are times when 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 delicious 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 Ribs made in the oven or on the grill

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.

As written, this recipe will provide enough seasoning for about 4 pounds of loin back ribs. The amounts can easily be doubled (as pictured) for two racks of ribs.

This recipe 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.

The PERFECT dry rub for ribs is at your fingertips!

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 Creamy Mac and Cheese.

For something a little lighter, the Cucumber Tomato Salad, Spinach Pasta Salad, and Shaved Brussels Sprout Salads are great options as well.

Can you tell that I’m excited for you to try these Memphis Style Dry Ribs?

Oven cooked Dry Rub Ribs

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The PERFECT dry rub for ribs is at your fingertips!

Memphis Style Dry Ribs (in the oven or on the grill)

4.60 from 5 votes
Tender, caramelized meat that clings to the bone and requires just a gentle tug to pull it off makes for the perfect spare rib. Mixing up an easy and flavorful dry rub for ribs makes them even more delicious.
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Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 5 servings, recipe can easily be multiplied

Ingredients 

  • 1 slab pork loin spare ribs, also called babyback ribs about 4 pounds
  • 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
  • ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

Oven Instructions

  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Stir together the sugar and all of the spices in a small bowl. Reserve ⅓ of the spice mixture in a separate bowl.
  • Place the ribs 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 find it easiest to grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off that way.)
  • Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Apply the rub generously to the front and back of the ribs (leaving the reserved amount for later use). Place the ribs meat side up on a large foil-lined baking sheet and cook 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 the ribs apart between the bones.

Grilling Instructions

  • Preheat the grill to 250°F. 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 ⅓ of the sugar/spice mixture in a separate bowl.
  • Place the ribs 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 find it easiest to grab the edge of the membrane with a paper towel and pull it off that way.)
  • Pat the ribs dry with a paper towel. Apply the rub generously to the front and back of the ribs (leaving the reserved amount for later use). Place the ribs meat side up on the grill and cook with indirect heat, for 3 – 3½ 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 the ribs apart between the bones.

Notes

The recipe as written will provide enough seasoning for about 4 pounds of loin back ribs. This recipe can easily be doubled (as pictured) for two racks of ribs.
This recipe 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 577kcal · Carbohydrates: 14g · Protein: 44g · Fat: 38g · Saturated Fat: 13g · Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g · Monounsaturated Fat: 16g · Trans Fat: 1g · Cholesterol: 158mg · Sodium: 2071mg · Potassium: 642mg · Fiber: 1g · Sugar: 12g · Vitamin A: 905IU · Vitamin C: 1mg · Calcium: 97mg · Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 5/29/14 – recipe notes and photos updated 7/21/22}

Dry 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

  6. Larry says

    Glad you discovered the oven for ribs, as the professional BBQers use a smoker which it just an oven with a smoker environment. Chris is a great source of info as he has worked very hard to become a first class griller and BBQer. He lives about 30 miles from me and beginning in 2010, we co-hosted an annual blogger party on our dock and had folks attend from Florida and Kansas City. He was just getting into cooking then and has gone more big time since then. Here is the post from our first one with Chris and Alexis in the last pic. https://bigdudesramblings.blogspot.com/2010/06/almost-heaven-south-hosts-blogger-party.html

    • Mary Younkin says

      Larry – Ribs can seem so intimidating. I am so glad I have discovered the oven method and could share it. Chris really is amazing at explaining things and his cookbooks are some of my favorites.

  7. Rosa Owens says

    Thank you. These ribs look like mine and the seasoning is similar. I am ready for my next rack of ribs. Delicious and easy.5 stars