Memphis BBQ Rub for Smoked Beef Ribs

beef ribs on grill
To make a rub for smoked beef ribs, combine your favorite herbs and spices with salt and brown sugar. The most popular spices are paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, coriander, thyme, and oregano. Once you combine your dry ingredients, coat your ribs in olive oil and sprinkle your dry rub over the surface on both sides before smoking.

The Memphis-style barbecue rub is the perfect rub for smoked beef ribs because the spices are just right – and it will make your smoked beef ribs taste as if you smoked them in the great state of Tennessee.

The rub’s ingredients, which include paprika, brown sugar, ground ginger, and garlic powder, have been combined to create a warm and spicy taste that is not overpowering but still leaves its mark on your palate.

Why Use Dry Rub for Smoked Beef Ribs?

Dry rubs are easy to apply and do not require any liquid or marinade. This makes them a convenient option for smokers who want to add flavor to their bbq beef ribs without spending time preparing a marinade or soaking it in liquid.

Dry rubs can help to create a crispy, flavorful crust on the outside of the ribs. When the herbs and spices in the rub are applied to the ribs and then exposed to the smoker’s heat, they can create a tasty crust that adds texture and flavor to the ribs.

Dry rubs are versatile and can be customized to suit different tastes and preferences. You can create different dry rubs by combining various herbs and spices in different proportions. Smokers can experiment with different flavors and find the perfect combination for their smoked beef ribs.

Dry rubs can be added to bbq sauce or side dishes for even more flavor and cohesion in a barbecue dish!

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bbq beef ribs

Smoked Beef Ribs with Memphis-Style Rub Recipe

  • Author: Alexandra
  • Total Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes


These smoked beef ribs are tender and juicy, and the all-purpose Memphis-Style rub gives them a strong kick. The flavors of the rub blend with the beef ribs perfectly for an ideal mix of sweet, spicy, and earthy. Ensure you cook the ribs low and slow until they’re fall-off-the-bone tender!


Units Scale
  • One rack of beef ribs (beef short ribs, plate ribs, or beef back ribs).
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Dry Rub Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp rosemary powder


  1. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs with a sharp knife and pull it off.
  2. Prepare the dry rub: mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, and eliminate any potential lumps by breaking them up with a fork or whisk. You can store the rub for months in an airtight container.
  3. Rub your chosen cuts of beef on both sides of the ribs with olive oil and then coat with the dry rub mixture. This coating will ensure a crunchy exterior to your ribs.
  4. Wrap the ribs in butcher paper or aluminum foil and leave the ribs in the fridge for about 2 hours or (ideally) overnight.
  5. Preheat the grill to 225 degrees F and place your ribs on the grill grates. Close the lid.
  6. Let it smoke for an hour undisturbed.
  7. Continue smoking until the ribs reach the ideal safe internal temperature of 145°F. Once they reach this temperature, take them out of the smoker, and wrap them Texas-style in aluminum foil along with a little butter and barbecue sauce.
  8. Place them back on the grill and allow them to continue smoking until they reach the ideal doneness temperature of 200°F.
  9. Pull the ribs off the smoker and allow them to rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours


  • Serving Size: 1 rib
  • Calories: 226
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 510mg
  • Fat: 10.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 25g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 9g

How Long Before Smoking Should Dry Rub Be Added to Beef Ribs?

The longer you leave the rub on, the better. You can leave a dry rub overnight on beef ribs for the best flavor.

What is the Best Way to Get Dry Rub to Stick to Ribs?

Follow these steps to ensure your dry rub sticks to your ribs:

  1. Make sure the ribs are clean.
  2. Use a binder such as a light coating of oil or cooking spray on the ribs before applying the dry rub. Many people choose to use mustard. These can all help the rub adhere to the meat.
  3. Apply the dry rub evenly over the surface of the ribs, using your hands or a pastry brush to distribute the spice mix evenly, taking care to coat individual ribs and both the meat and bone side.
  4. Allow the dry rub to sit on the ribs for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking to give the flavors time to penetrate the meat. For better flavor, allow the rub to sit on the ribs overnight.

Should Ribs Covered in Dry Rub Be Spritzed While Smoking?

A spritz is typically made from apple cider vinegar and apple juice and spritzing ribs is a popular method for keeping ribs moist while smoking.

As long as you don’t spritz your ribs too early in the cooking process, you can spritz your ribs while smoking. Wait at least 2 hours before spritzing your ribs to ensure your dry rub has a chance to form a nice crust on the meat.

The spritz will help ensure your ribs stay juicy. Plus, the liquid helps enhance the rub’s flavor and can add a subtle tanginess to the meat.

Should Extra Rib Rub Be Added When Foiling Ribs?

You can use a dry rub even if you wrap your ribs while smoking. It is best to leave them unwrapped at the beginning to allow for smoke penetration and the rub to infuse into the meat. After about two hours of smoking, your dry rub will have penetrated your meat. 

What are the Differences Between a BBQ Rub and a Rib Rub?

The main difference between a BBQ rub and a rib rub is their intended use.

A BBQ rub is a mixture of spices and herbs applied to meats before grilling or smoking. It is typically used to add flavor and texture to the meat and can be applied to various types of meat, including pork, beef, chicken, and fish.

A rib rub is specifically designed for use on ribs, though it may have similar ingredients to a bbq rub. It typically includes a blend of sweet and savory spices, such as paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar, and is used to add flavor and tenderize the ribs.

Top Tips for Smoking Ribs with a Dry Rub

While smoking ribs, there are many ways to make sure they come out extra delicious and moist!

  1. Make or buy a high-quality dry rub that includes a blend of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors.
  2. Apply the dry rub generously to the ribs, covering them completely.
  3. Let the ribs marinate for at least 4-6 hours to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  4. Use a smoker to cook the ribs slowly over low heat for at least 4-6 hours.
  5. Experiment with different dry rubs and sauces to find the perfect flavor combination for your taste preferences.
  6. Use white sugar to help your ribs caramelize and form a bark.

12 Best Spices and Ingredients for Smoked Beef Ribs Dry Rubs

When you’re smoking ribs, using the best spices in your dry rub is essential to enhance the flavor of your ribs. Any smoked beef ribs recipe worth its salt needs a variety of seasonings.

1. Paprika

Adds a rich flavor. Smoked paprika adds additional smokiness while sweet paprika is a mellow, background flavor note.

2. Garlic Powder

Adds a savory depth of flavor to dry rubs. Use in equal amounts with onion powder.

3. Onion Powder

Adds a sweet, mellow flavor and complements garlic powder.

4. Cayenne Pepper

Adds a deep heat to dry rubs. Use in small amounts.

5. Cumin

Adds a warm, earthy flavor. It is best used in small amounts because it can easily overpower other flavors.

6. Coriander

Adds a slightly citrusy, nutty taste. Coriander works well with cumin in equal amounts.

7. Thyme

Adds a delicate, herbal flavor that works well with beef ribs.

8. Oregano

Adds a bold, Mediterranean feel to your rub. Use sparingly.

9. Brown Sugar

Adds a subtle sweetness to balance the savory flavors in dry rubs.

10. Salt

This is essential for use in dry rubs. It enhances the flavors of the other spices and the meat. Kosher salt is a great choice of salt for dry rubs.

11. Black Pepper

Adds a sharp, spicy kick to dry rubs and is an essential ingredient in dry rubs.

12. White Sugar

This sugar helps your ribs form a crusty bark from caramelization.


Alexandra is a passionate writer who loves everything related to food: from buying local produce and sourcing the best ingredients to finding the perfect spice mix and sauce to complement each dish. She loves getting together with friends near a campfire and grilling up some barbecue goodness while having quality conversations - no screens allowed.

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