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Traditional Memphis Style Ribs Recipe


Traditional Memphis Style Ribs with Smoked Bros Dry Rubs, Uncut sitting on a table with tongs

If you consider yourself a BBQ enthusiast, then you know that Memphis style ribs are a must-have in your cooking arsenal. These smoky, tender ribs are a staple of BBQ culture, and my homemade Memphis dry rub takes them to the next level. In this guide, we'll delve into the origins of Memphis ribs, the type of rib traditionally used, and the steps to make these delicious ribs in your own backyard.


The Origins of Memphis Ribs.


In the world of barbecue, there are few things as iconic as Memphis style ribs. And as with many classic dishes, the origins of these succulent ribs can be traced back to a single man: Charlie Vergos.

In the 1940s, Charlie opened up Rendezvous, a small BBQ joint tucked away in a side alley in Memphis. But what set Charlie's ribs apart from the rest? Well, he had a few tricks up his sleeve.


First, he grilled his ribs at a higher temperature than most, creating a beautiful char on the outside while keeping the meat tender and juicy on the inside. And to keep them moist and flavorful, he spritzed them frequently with a secret blend of liquid. But perhaps most importantly, he generously seasoned the ribs with his own secret dry rub, which struck the perfect balance between sweet and savory.

A photograph of Charlie Vergos. In the 1940s, Charlie opened up Rendezvous

Despite being unconventional for the time, Charlie's use of charcoal instead of wood only added to the unique flavor of his ribs, and it wasn't long before they became a local sensation. As other pitmasters in Memphis took note of the success of Rendezvous, they began to develop their own take on the "Memphis style" rib, with each recipe becoming more unique and varied.


Today, many BBQ joints in Memphis offer their own version of the classic Memphis style rib, and patrons can choose whether they want their ribs "wet" or "dry". "Wet" ribs are slathered with sauce, while "dry" ribs are sprinkled with more of the delicious dry rub that made Charlie Vergos's ribs a legend.


 

What Type of Ribs are Traditionally Used for Memphis Style Ribs?


The BBQ community is divided over which type of ribs is the most fitting for Memphis style ribs. According to some experts, baby back ribs were the original choice for early Memphis tables, while others argue that St. Louis Style ribs cut from spare ribs were the more authentic choice. However, the majority of Memphis BBQ spots these days offer baby back ribs as their go-to option. That being said, if you have a preference for St. Louis spare ribs or they're the only ones you can get your hands on, don't be afraid to use them for your Memphis-style ribs.


Smoked Bros Knuckle Dragger Dry Rub and Grill Rub in a palm being rubbed into pork ribs

 

What Makes Memphis Style Ribs Special?


Let's dig into the details of what makes my Memphis style ribs so special. I've crafted a recipe that delivers an authentic Memphis flavor right from the comfort of your backyard.


It all starts with the Memphis dry rub, which strikes the perfect balance between sweet and savory. Make sure to print the recipe out so you can easily access it whenever you're ready to start cooking. The spritz is a combination of apple juice and apple cider vinegar, which provides a hint of acidity and sweetness similar to that of a great BBQ sauce. It also plays a key role in developing the bark's beautiful color as the ribs smoke.


What I love about these ribs is their simplicity. You can focus on just a few key elements without any unnecessary steps, allowing you to feel like a true pitmaster. All you need are high-quality ribs, clean smoke, a great dry rub seasoning, and your spritzing liquid. No need for braising, wrapping, or saucing - just sit back, relax, and let the ribs cook to perfection. Keep an eye on them to ensure they're at your desired level of tenderness.


 

Do I need to remove silver skin from ribs?

If you're looking to make the perfect Memphis style ribs, then you'll want to pay attention to the little details, like removing the silver skin. The silver skin, also known as the connective tissue or the peritoneum, is a thin, tough membrane that runs along the underside of the ribs. While it's edible, leaving it on can make your ribs chewy and less enjoyable.


To remove the silver skin, start by grabbing a corner of the membrane with a paper towel or a pair of pliers. Gently pull the membrane up and away from the bone, being careful not to tear it. You may need to use a knife to help loosen it from the bone in some places. Once you have a good grip on the membrane, continue pulling it off in one piece, using a paper towel or a pair of pliers as needed.


Now, some people argue that removing the silver skin isn't necessary, as it can add flavor and moisture to your ribs. However, if you want to make the best Memphis style ribs possible, then removing the silver skin is a step you won't want to skip. It allows the dry rub and smoke to penetrate the meat more evenly and ensures that your ribs are tender and easy to eat.


So, to answer the question, yes, you should remove the silver skin from your ribs if you want to make authentic Memphis style ribs that will impress your friends and family. Trust me, it's worth the extra effort.


Using paper towels to remove silver skin from the underside of pork ribs

 

How to Make Memphis Style Ribs on a Smoker.

First things first, remember that the key to these ribs is simplicity. No braising, wrapping, or saucing, but plenty of finger-licking once the ribs are done.


To start, preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F and use hickory wood for that authentic Memphis flavor. While your smoker heats up, prepare your ribs by removing the papery membrane on the back and trimming off any loose pieces of ribs or thick pieces of fat. Then, generously season your ribs with your Memphis dry rub and press the seasoning in with your hands.


Once your smoker is preheated and your ribs are seasoned, it's time to smoke those ribs. Place them bone side down on the smoker and close the lid. Don't peek or lift the lid for the first hour. After the first hour, combine apple cider vinegar and apple juice in a spritzing bottle and spritz the ribs every 30 minutes.


Continue to smoke and spritz your ribs at 275 degrees F until they are tender. You'll know they're ready when the meat starts to pull away from the bones about 1/4 inch and the color turns a nice, deep mahogany. Another way to check is by picking up the ribs on one end with your tongs; they should bend easily, and the top of the ribs should start to shred apart. You can also check for an internal temperature of around 200 degrees F with an instant-read probe thermometer (although temps can be tricky to read on ribs, be sure not to hit any bones!). The total time of the ribs on the smoker is typically 4.5-5 hours.


Once your ribs are ready, take them off the smoker and let them rest for about 15 minutes on a cutting board. Season the ribs with another dusting of your Memphis dry rub seasoning before slicing and serving.


And there you have it, my friends. A simple and delicious recipe for cooking Memphis style dry rub ribs that are sure to be a hit at your next barbecue. Remember, keep it simple, keep it tasty!


Pork Ribs On a Smoker

 

How to make Memphis Style Ribs on a grill.


Grilling is a great way to cook ribs, and with a few tips and tricks, you can easily make Memphis style ribs right in your backyard.


First things first, preheat your grill to a medium-high heat of around 350-375 degrees F. You can use either a gas or charcoal grill for this recipe.


Next, prepare your ribs by removing the papery membrane from the back of the ribs and trimming off any loose pieces of ribs or thick pieces of fat. Using your Memphis Dry Rub, season your ribs liberally on both sides and press the seasoning in with your hands (don’t actually rub it).


Once your grill is heated, it’s time to get your ribs on. Place your ribs bone side down on the grill and close the lid. Don’t peek or lift the lid for the first hour.


After the first hour, begin spritzing your ribs with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and apple juice every 30 minutes. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to maintain a consistent temperature.


Continue grilling and spritzing your ribs for about 3-4 hours, or until the meat starts to pull away from the bones and the color turns a nice, deep mahogany. If you pick up the ribs on one end with your tongs, they should bend easily and the top of the ribs should start to shred apart. You can also look for an internal temperature of around 200 Degrees F with your instant read probe thermometer (although temps can be tricky to read on ribs, don’t hit any bones!)


Once your ribs are cooked, take them off the grill and let them rest for about 15 minutes. Season the ribs with another dusting of your Memphis dry rub seasoning before slicing and serving.


And there you have it! Delicious and authentic Memphis style ribs made right on your grill.



Pork Ribs on a grill with Smoked Bros Rib Rubs and Craft Spices

 

Smoked Memphis Style Dry Rub Ribs Recipe


Ingredients:



Instructions:

  1. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F using hickory wood.

  2. Prepare your ribs by removing the papery membrane on the back and trimming off any loose pieces of ribs or thick pieces of fat. Season both sides of the ribs with 3 tablespoons of Memphis Dry Rub and press the seasoning in with your hands.

  3. Smoke the ribs on the smoker with the bone side down, without lifting the lid for the first hour.

  4. After the first hour, begin spritzing the ribs with the apple juice and apple cider vinegar mixture every 30 minutes.

  5. Continue smoking and spritzing the ribs until the meat starts to pull away from the bones about 1/4 inch and the color turns a nice, deep mahogany, which usually takes 4.5-5 hours.

  6. Once the ribs are done, remove them from the smoker and let them rest on a cutting board for about 15 minutes. Season the ribs with another dusting of Memphis Dry Rub before slicing and serving.

Enjoy your finger-licking, authentic Memphis Style Dry Rub Ribs!



What is Smoked Bros?

Smoked Bros is a Special Forces veteran-owned spices & seasoning company serving craft flavors to people who love the All-America pass time of BBQ. We develop our kinetic flavor profiles with the same surgical precision as our military missions, defending the greatest country on the planet.          During our military travels around the world, we uncovered lesser-known BBQ techniques, cuisines, and BBQ spices. We use the highest quality ingredients ethically sourced from around the globe. With every purchase, we give back to America’s warfighters, First Responders, and underserved communities.

Smoked Bros is a company that knows a thing or two about flavor. They're veteran-owned and

operated, with a mission to bring craft seasonings to the masses. But this isn't just any company - they've got military precision when it comes to their flavor profiles. Just like defending our great nation, creating the perfect seasoning blend takes skill, dedication, and attention to detail.


Smoked Bros has traveled the world, discovering unique BBQ techniques, cuisines, and spices that are lesser-known but no less delicious. They use only the highest quality ingredients, ethically sourced from around the globe. And, they don't just make great seasonings - they're also committed to giving back. With every purchase, they donate to our brave warfighters, First Responders, and underserved communities.


So, whether you're a BBQ fanatic or just love good food, Smoked Bros is a company worth checking out. They've got the flavor, the expertise, and the heart to make a real difference.


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