Memphis Rib Rub With Paprika and Cayenne Pepper

Spareribs, Memphis Rub For Ribs

Diana Rattray

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 2
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
203 Calories
5g Fat
42g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 203
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 1g 4%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2154mg 94%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 12g 44%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 4mg 19%
Calcium 190mg 15%
Iron 10mg 56%
Potassium 896mg 19%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Memphis-style ribs are delicious dry ribs that are generously seasoned with a mixture of herbs and spices. They are cooked to perfection either low and slow in the smoker, high and fast on the grill, or hands-off in the oven. The irresistible crust encases a perfectly juicy rib. This style of rib needs the perfect rub to achieve maximum flavor. Our easy recipe combines the pungent flavors of onions and cumin with spicy chili powder and cayenne—and there's a touch of sugar to balance out the flavors. Different from the wet and sticky ribs that we all know and love, dry ribs are a classic Memphis tradition that you must try. If you're looking for a dish that screams flavor and is not in your backyard cooking repertoire, this rub puts a great style of ribs in reach. This mixture makes enough for up to 16 slabs of ribs.

To make this mixture you need a few easy-to-find spices, but before you start mixing them check that they're still fresh and fragrant, as spices lose flavor and strength with time and when not stored properly. If possible, buy whole spices, because they maintain their freshness and flavor longer than ground. Store them in glass jars with a lid away from sunlight and heat, and if you don't have one yet, buy a spice grinder so you can make this and multiple other mixes in no-time. Our recipe can be adjusted to your palate, so more or less chili powder can make it super spicy or not too hot, whereas replacing the paprika with smoked paprika can help you achieve a smokiness that sometimes oven-baked ribs are missing.

For the best Memphis-style ribs, buy St. Louis-cut ribs or spare ribs, but not baby back. St. Louis ribs are meatier and fattier and definitely the best option to make the best out of our rub. These ribs are generally larger than baby back, with the average size ranging from 2 to 3 pounds per rack, which is better for larger gatherings. If you have enough time, apply the rub all over the ribs, cover, and place in the fridge overnight. Then bring them to room temperature and cook according to your preferred method the next day. Serve your ribs with beans, mac and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, and cornbread for a true feast.


  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons onion powder

  • 2 tablespoons black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons paprika

  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

  3. Rub seasoning using 1 to 2 tablespoons per slab of ribs (the more you use, the spicier they will be).

  4. Put on a grill in a single layer away from the direct heat source. Cook slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low heat.

  5. After cooking wrap the ribs in foil and let them rest for 30 min. (This makes for very tender ribs.)

  6. Enjoy!

How to Store

Store this dry rib rub in an airtight jar or container for as long as the nearest "best-by" date on the various spices.

Which pork ribs are meatiest?

Country style ribs are cut from the shoulder and have the most meat per rib, plus they are usually boneless. For slab ribs, baby back ribs are the leanest and most tender cut, and have more meat than spareribs.

How long far ahead of time should the rib rub be applied?

You should rub the seasonings on the ribs (or other meat) at least 15 minutes before it's time to cook. For even more flavor, apply the dry rub, wrap the meat in plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate it for 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

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