Memphis-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs

Although I’m convinced that they’re the ideal first date meal, I’ve never really been a particularly big fan of pork ribs, no matter what the kind. I think it’s that most of the barbecue pork ribs that I’ve had are nothing of the sort. An overly sweet and sticky mess of a glaze isn’t just gross, it’s also nothing to do with any real style of barbecue, from America or anywhere else.

memphis-style barbecue pork ribs

I started dabbling in making ribs with a dry rub (Memphis-style apparently) about three or four years ago. The spice mix for the rub that I came up with then did the job alright but was never as good as I wanted it to be. As I previously mentioned in the Sriracha and Honey Spicy Chicken Wings Blog, it’s easy to put in too many flavours and just swamp your taste buds. This is what happened here, I was trying too hard and ultimately failing. When I dug out the old recipe for barbecue pork ribs after moving to Singapore I realised that it was just a big muddle and that I had to start again.

This new incarnation of the barbecue pork ribs cuts back on the complexity of the rub, ultimately providing a more flavoursome, tasty and moreish result, with less of an assault on the store cupboard required. Also, by combining the left-over rub not used directly on the ribs with some apple cider vinegar and water, you give the ribs a great tang to counterbalance the fattiness of the rib meat. Yes, sugar, salt and fat taste great, but sugar, salt, fat and acid are the real winning combination.

applying rub to pork ribs

In this recipe, the primary flavour of the barbecue pork ribs is paprika, bolstered by much smaller amounts of seven other herbs and spices. This provides the complexity of flavour you’re looking for while still giving your mouth an easy enough time to tell what’s going on.

One common criticism and question for rubs like these is whether the amount of salt and sugar suggested is necessary to give a good result, and the short answer is yes. These are what gives you the rich and tasty ‘bark’ on the outside of the meat, and is what’ll keep you coming back for more. Ribs are a treat and are not meant to be consumed regularly. Occasionally is fine for stuff like this, just don’t go having them every day, no matter how good they make your mouth feel.

The other criticism for this recipe is obviously going to be; “but Paul, if these are barbecue pork ribs, where is the barbecue?”. Well, if you’ve got easy access to a barbecue in your garden or yard or whatever then lucky you, but I don’t. However, when using the method below, you’re going to get the best result you can in the comfort of your own kitchen. Also if you are having a barbecue, just cook them as described then give them a baste and heat through outdoors for some extra flavour and char, perfect!

Memphis-Style Barbecue Pork Ribs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 15 mins

This recipe brings you the epic and moreish flavour of American barbecue straight into your kitchen. The tasty rub and baste bring these pork spare ribs to the next level.

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 330 kcal
Author: Marbling and Marrow
  • 1 kg pork spare ribs
Spice Rub
  • 2 tbsp salt uniodized
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried garlic ground
  • 2 tsp black pepper ground
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp coriander ground
  • 100 mL apple cider vingear
  • 100 mL water
  1. Using a sharp knife carefully remove any silver skin and excess fat from the ribs. The silver skin is found mostly across the bones and meat on the concave side of the ribs. 

  2. Combine the ingredient for the rub together well in a bowl. Rub all over the ribs to ensure a good coating a tablespoon at a time. Reserve the unused rub, about 3 tbsp. 

  3. Mix the remaining rub with the water and vinegar for the baste. 

  4. Cook the ribs for 2 hours at 150oC. Baste every 20 minutes throughout the cooking time with a pastry brush or similar. 

  5. Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes before slicing before serving. Goes great with a simple coleslaw. 

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