Memphis Style BBQ Spareribs

I have never made ribs in my life!  Since it was Valentine’s Day and my husband loves ribs, I decided to give them a try.  The Science of Good Cooking has been on my shelf for a while, and I had yet to make a recipe out of it, so I decided to get it out and see if it had a recipe I liked that looked simple enough.  I found the recipe for Memphis Style BBQ Spareribs and thought it looked pretty good.  The recipe is a little confusing at first so I recommend reading it through a couple of times before you start, but once you start it doesn’t require too much work.  The results are excellent!  My husband prefers ribs covered in sauce.  I prefer ribs with a dry rub.  If you like ribs covered in sauce you might want a different recipe or to baste the ribs with a bottled bbq sauce while they are cooking in the oven.  I hope you like the recipe. Enjoy!

Memphis-Style Barbecued Spareribs


*recipe from The Science of Good Cooking

Don’t remove the membrane that runs along the bone side of the ribs; it prevents some of the fat from rendering and is authentic to this style of ribs.


2 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) racks of St. Louis style spareribs, trimmed

1 recipe Spice Rub (recipe follows)

3/4 cup wood chips, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained

1/2 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 (13×9 inch) disposable aluminum roasting pan (if using charcoal), or disposable aluminum pie plate (if using gas)

Spice Rub Ingredients

2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients in bowl.


1. Rub each side of each rack of ribs with 2 tablespoons spice rub. Let ribs sit at room temperature for 1 hour.


Picture of ribs with spice rub on them just going onto the heated grill.

2. Using a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, wrap soaked chips in foil packet and cut several vent holes in top. Combine apple juice and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

3A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. Place roasting pan filled with 2 cups water on 1 side of grill and arrange 15 unlit charcoal briquettes on other side of grill. Light large chimney starter one-third filled with charcoal briquettes (2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour on top of unlit briquettes to cover half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking , about 5 minutes.

3B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Place disposable pie plate filled with 2 cups water on other burner(s). Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking , about 15 minutes. Turn primary burner to medium-high and turn other burner(s) off. (Adjust primary burner as needed during cooking to maintain grill temperature between 250 and 275 degrees.)

4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place ribs meat side down on cool side of grill over water-filled pan. Cover (position lid vents over meat if using charcoal) and cook for 1 1/2 hours, brushing each rack with 2 tablespoons apple juice mixture and flipping and rotating racks halfway through cooking. During final 20 minutes of cooking, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.

BBQ ribs

Picture of ribs before going into the oven.

5. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and add enough water to cover bottom of pan. Transfer ribs to prepared rack and brush top of each slab with 2 tablespoons apple juice mixture. Roast for 1 hour.

6. Brush ribs with remaining apple juice mixture and continue to roast until meat is tender but not falling off bones (internal temperature should be 195 to 200 degrees), 1 to 2 hours. Transfer ribs to cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes. Slice ribs between bones and serve.

imagePicture of finished ribs.


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