There’s nothing better than an excellent old-fashioned dry rib! This Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe is my take on a classic. Juicy ribs are coated with Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub and mopped with a tangy, sweet basting mixture. These ribs are cooked low and slow, giving you a taste of old-school BBQ.
Memphis BBQ is a class all its own. This region is known for its tangy sauces and brilliant dry rubs. There’s a heavy focus on using fragrant pellets to impart flavor to the meat. I know you’ll love this unique style as much as I do.
These delicious ribs may have a long cook time, but they’re easy to pull together. Once you learn how to cook Memphis-style, you’ll be invincible! My Memphis Style Dry Ribs are a crowdpleaser that everyone craves. Serve these ribs for a special gameday meal, or treat yourself to a rack. Either way, you’re in for a treat!
This recipe comes together with just six ingredients, including the basting elements! You won’t believe what simple kitchen ingredients can do. Here’s what you need to add to your shopping cart.
- Baby Back Ribs. For this recipe, I used baby back ribs. This cut of pork is taken from around the loins, and it is one of the most tender parts of the pig. Expect to pay a little more for baby back ribs, but they’re worth every cent.
- Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub. My best-selling rub contains multiple notes of garlic, salt, pepper, and a hint of spice on the back end. Though it includes hot peppers, it’s mild enough for anyone to enjoy. It gives these Memphis Style Dry Ribs a great flavor profile.
- Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub. This rub was the first in my product line and has always had a special place in my heart. It features brown sugar, paprika, salt, and onion powder. The rub is perfectly sweet and just a little spicy. Use it on ribs, steak, and bloody marys!
- Apple cider vinegar. Vinegar is the base of my mop. Apple cider vinegar has a mild taste with a bit of fruitiness. You have an award-winning combination when you pair it with my delicious rubs and a tad of dressing.
- Italian dressing. This tangy dressing gives the mop a full-bodied flavor. Bottled sauce is one of the easiest chef’s hacks. Many pitmasters use it to marinate their meat. These dressings usually contain lemon juice, a great all-natural meat tenderizer.
The Smoker Setup
Here’s the main setup I used for this cook. You can find more of my grilling favorites in the Equipment and Tools section.
- Pellet grill/smoker. I used a Traeger Timberline 1300 for these ribs. This pit is incredible because you can use it to grill or smoke. The Traeger Timberline 1300 has many excellent features like a pellet sensor, a super smoke button, and easy transportation. This setup was perfect for smoking my ribs low and slow.
- I usually remove the top and middle racks when making ribs so the heat circulates evenly. If you’re looking for a pellet grill that holds its heat and will last a lifetime, go with this one.
- Pellets. For this cook, I used Traeger Pecan Hardwood Pellets. The pecan added such wonderful flavor to the ribs. If you like nutty notes, you’ll adore these pellets. They complement the natural flavors of the pork without overpowering it.
The Process for Making Memphis-Style Dry Ribs
You can see this recipe's detailed demonstration in the video and recipe card. For now, here’s a quick overview of how I pulled my Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe together.
- Fire up the Traeger. I stoked the Traeger Timberline 1300 with Traeger Hardwood Pecan Pellets and fired it up to 250℉.
- Prep the ribs. I took the ribs out of the package and patted them dry. At this point, I would remove the membrane if it wasn’t already done for me. My ribs came ready to go, but if you use a different brand, you may have to trim any large pockets of fat.
- Add seasoning. I laid down a thick layer of Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub, followed by a sprinkle of Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub. I patted the rub in, then flipped the ribs to repeat the process.
- Start cooking. I laid the ribs directly on the lower rack of the Traeger Timberline 1300 and let them go for 1 ½ hours before checking them.
- Make Memphis-Style mop. To make my basting mixture, I combined strained Italian dressing, apple cider vinegar, and Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub until smooth.
- Mop the ribs. After doing my “smear test,” I started basting the ribs. The goal is to keep the meat wet, so I basted the ribs every 45 minutes-1 hour. Pro tip: Stir your basting mixture every time you mop the ribs.
- Finish and dig in. I kept repeating the mopping process until the ribs reached 195℉-203℉ internally. I removed the ribs from the grill and finished them with a little Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub. The only thing left was to chow down!
Keeping the ribs moist made for one juicy cut of meat. The Traeger Timberline 1300 outdid itself and created the perfect smoke ring. Each bite of rib was infused with notes of pecan, smoky sweetness, and enough heat to keep things interesting. This recipe is proof that dry ribs don’t mean flavorless!
Serving Suggestions for Memphis Style Dry Ribs
There’s nothing better than a wide variety of BBQ sides. Here are some of my favorite recipes that go great with Memphis Style Dry Ribs.
- Sweet Heat Baked Beans. Easy side dishes make life easier. This recipe calls for canned baked beans and a few additions that make the recipe taste like it simmered all day. Baked beans are a classic side that everyone enjoys.
- Mississippi Coleslaw. I added a few tweaks to a classic slaw recipe and wound up with this masterpiece. If you enjoy white BBQ sauce, you’ll adore this simple side. Make it in advance to save time in the kitchen.
Storing Memphis Style Dry Ribs
With a recipe this good, I doubt you’ll have leftovers. If you do, you can store them in the fridge for up to four days or freeze them for up to 4 months. To reheat, thaw in the refrigerator, then heat in the oven or grill until warm.
Equipment and Tools
Traeger Timberline 1300, Traeger Pecan Hardwood Pellets, disposable cutting board, small mixing bowl, metal tongs, BBQ mop, ThermoWorks Thermapen ONE, Nechtik BBQ Gloves.
Memphis Style Dry Ribs Recipe on the Pellet Grill
Baby Back Ribs
Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub
Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub
2 cups (16 oz) Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup (8 oz) Italian Dressing (strained)
3 tbsp Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub
Ingredients for Mop Below
Fire up Traeger Grill (or any grill / smoker of your choice) to 250º. We used Pecan pellets for this recipe.
Season ribs with a base layer of Heath Riles BBQ Garlic Jalapeño Rub and then a layer of Heath Riles BBQ Sweet Rub.
Place ribs on grill / smoker for 1 and a half hours before mopping / basting.
After 1.5 hours, mop ribs (recipe for mop above). Continue mopping / basting ribs every 45 mins - 1 hour after initial baste until ribs are done. You are looking for an internal temperature of 195º-203º. Our ribs cooked for approximately 5 and a half hours.