Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

While I usually use a bbq rub as the base for a properly sauced rack of ribs (like my oven baked ribs with my spicy homemade bbq sauce, sometimes it’s nice to change it up a little and go with just a dry rub and leave it at that. This is a fantastic rub adapted from Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe’s Slow Fire cookbook, which is among the best bbq cookbooks I’ve found. Everything I’ve cooked out of there has been amazing, so I’d highly recommend picking it up. As for these ribs, the rub I use is amazing, but feel free to use your own, or change it up a little. Leave out the coffee, throw in some chipotle chili powder, or cut back on the salt. It’s pretty well rounded as it is, but also open to endless variation. And please, comment and let me know how you change it, and how that works for you.

Start by mixing up the rub. There are no photos here, because I keep a container of this around as a general purpose rub for just about anything bbq. If you really want to make this ribs good, take the spices and toast them in a skillet over low heat and cook them, stirring constantly, until they start to become aromatic, about two to three minutes. Once you have the rub made, reserve a quarter cup of the rub, remove the membrane from the back of the ribs, then spread 2/3 of the remaining rub on the meat side of the ribs, and 1/3 on the bone side. Let the ribs rest in the refrigerator for a half hour, then prepare your grill or smoker for indirect cooking at 235°F, or even your oven at that temperature.


Smoke or cook the ribs for 2 hours, spritzing lightly with apple juice every half hour to keep them moist. After 2 hours, lay each rack on  a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Pour 1/4 cup apple juice in with the rack, and seal it up. Seal airtight, but leave a little room on the inside for air and steam to circulate.


Cook them for another 2 hours in the foil, then place the racks back on the bbq, pouring the liquid from the foil packets back over them. Cook them for 15 more minutes, sprinkle the remaining rib rub over them, and cook for another 15 minutes.


Cut each rack into thirds, or individual ribs, and serve.

Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs
5 from 3 votes

Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs

Course Entree
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 55 minutes
Servings 8
Author Cooking Madly


  • 3 racks baby back ribs about 2 pounds each
  • 1 cup apple juice divided
  • Rib Rub:
  • 1/3 c kosher salt
  • 1/4 c sugar in the raw
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/6 c paprika
  • 1/6 c chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground coffee


  1. Mix together rub, toasting spices first for 2-3 minutes over low heat in a dry skillet if desired.
  2. Peel the membranes off of the backs of the ribs. Reserve 1/4 cup spice rub for later use, and spread the remaining rub on the ribs evenly, using 2/3 on the meat side and 1/3 on the bone side. Refrigerate ribs for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare smoker or grill on indirect heat for 235°F, or preheat an oven. Cook ribs, bone-side down, for 2 hours, spritzing every 15 minutes with apple juice to keep moist.
  4. Lay out three double-thick pieces of heavy-duty aluminium foil. Place ribs on foil, pull up the sides so they aren't flat, pour 1/4 cup of apple juice in with each rack of ribs, and seal packets airtight, leaving some room inside for air to circulate. Place back on smoker, bbq, or oven for an additional 2 hours.
  5. Remove racks from foil packets and place back on grill, pouring excess liquid from the foil back over the ribs, and cook for 15 more minutes.
  6. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of rub over all 3 racks evenly and cook 15 minutes more.
  7. Cut ribs into thirds, or individual ribs, and serve.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Easy Life Meal & Party Planning June 14, 2013, 11:01 am

    I have never had just a dry rub rack of ribs but it sounds great! It’s funny how you just add the wet sauce at the end because that is what is expected and it is usually done that way. I think this is a great recipe and I am so hoping that you share it on our BBQ Block Party!!
    Terri Henkels
    Easy Life Meal & Party Planning

  • Shawna June 15, 2013, 7:32 am

    The recipe sounds really good and your pics are awesome! Thanks for sharing this recipe on our BBQ Block Party.

  • mittsandmeasures June 19, 2013, 9:03 am

    My husband loves dry rub bbq’d ribs. I’m going to try this recipe… thanks so much!

    • Cooking Madly June 19, 2013, 9:59 am

      You’re welcome! Let me know how he likes them, and if you adapt the recipe at all. Hopefully he’ll like them as much as I do… which is a lot!

  • Easy Life Meal & Party Planning June 19, 2013, 11:23 am

    Dustin, wanted to let you know your Memphis Style Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs will be featured as a “Can’t Miss” on this Thursday’s BBQ Block Party. We are taking the party live tonight around 7:30 PM. Hope you can join us again this week and share another great dish.

    • Cooking Madly June 19, 2013, 5:28 pm

      Thank you! I’ll certainly delve into my archives and see if I can come up with something else for you this week.

  • john July 31, 2013, 5:22 pm

    The recipe indicates total cook time is 2 1/2 hours but in the directions you have 4 hours 15 minutes of total cook time. Which is it?

    • Cooking Madly July 31, 2013, 5:27 pm

      It’s 4:15, I made a mistake on the total cooking time there, sorry.

  • Jim August 10, 2013, 4:15 pm

    Awesome recipe. I had never BBQed ribs before trying this recipe. I’ve done this four times now, each time for company, and it has been a big crowd pleaser every time. I’ve adapted it slightly – half the salt tastes better to me although nobody else ever complained that it was too salty. Either way it is easy and guaranteed to succeed.

    • Cooking Madly August 10, 2013, 5:37 pm

      I’m glad everyone’s been liking the ribs so much! I agree with you that it is pretty salty, and will give the low-salt version a try sometime soon. Good luck with further adventures BBQing ribs!

  • Deb February 18, 2017, 10:09 pm

    My entire family loves these ribs. Even the fussy eaters come home for dinner when I tell them that I am making these ribs.

    • Cooking Madly February 18, 2017, 10:59 pm

      Thank you, Deb! I’m glad your family enjoys them so much. I haven’t cooked these in far too long, myself, now that I think about it…