Recipe: Sweet Memphis Style Ribs

Recipe: Sweet Memphis Style Ribs

Recipe by Chef Melissa Cookston, images from Melissa Cookston

During the summer, ribs are the kings of the smokers. I wanted to share a simple method for cooking absolutely great Memphis style ribs in your backyard. These are not competition-style, but they are how I cook them when I am cooking at the house for myself and my family.


  • Ribs
  • About 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ rub per slab
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar per slab
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup per slab
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice per slab
  • BBQ glaze, made with 4 parts BBQ sauce and 1 part honey (make enough to glaze and serve on the side!)

Cooking the Ribs

I generally prefer loin ribs (also called back or baby back) as opposed to spare ribs (when trimmed, called St. Louis ribs).

As I am cooking these for the house, I’m not going to marinade, brine or trim the meat. I just want a good solid home-style rib for a nice dinner. First, remove the membrane from the back of the meat. Then, season thoroughly both sides with a sweet Memphis BBQ rub or your favorite seasoning. I try to season the meat at least 30 minutes before cooking and then let them sit out and “sweat.”

Membrane removed

Place on the smoker and allow to cook for two hours. You may need to rotate them depending on the size and the type of grill you are using.

Melissa's ribs after smoking for about one hour.
Melissa’s ribs after smoking for about one hour.

After two hours, get a large piece of heavy-duty foil for each slab you are cooking.

Sprinkle one tablespoon of your rub, one tablespoon of brown sugar and drizzle about one tablespoon of maple syrup on the middle of the foil. Place the ribs meat side down on the foil. Repeat the brown sugar/rub/maple syrup on the bone side. Pour in about two tablespoons of apple juice, then wrap in foil and place back in smoker.

Place back on cooker (leaving meat side down) and cook for about two hours. Check after one hour, then every 15 to 20 minutes after for proper doneness. The meat should be pulled back from the bone approximately 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch, and the meat should feel tender.

Carefully remove from foil and place back on grill bone side down. Glaze with the BBQ glaze.

Let sit on grill for five to ten minutes to tighten if desired.

Serve and enjoy!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here