Memphis Dry Rub Ribs (Steven Raichlen)

Total Time
1hr 30mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 1 hr

Fashioned after Charlie Vergos' famous ribs—grilled over charcoal, mopped with vinegar sauce, and coated with a dry rub just before serving. Nearly impossible to duplicate these famous ribs at home because Vergos cooks them in a one-of-a kind pit and the rub recipe is a closely guarded secret. Here is Mr. Raichlen’s take on my favorite ribs.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. You will need a barbecue mop.
  2. Make the rub: add the rub ingredients to a bowl; stir to mix.
  3. Store rub in an airtight container away from heat and light; will keep for 6 months.
  4. Make the mop sauce—add the vinegar, salt, and rub in a bowl; add 1 cup water; whisk until the salt dissolves; set aside.
  5. Remove the thin, papery membrane from the back of each rack of ribs.
  6. Generously season the ribs all over with salt and pepper.
  7. Set up grill for direct grilling (charcoal is more accurate); preheat to medium.
  8. When ready to cook, brush the grill grate, place the ribs on the hot grate, bone side down, and grill until that side is sizzling and golden brown, about 35 minutes.
  9. Turn the ribs and grill meat side down until that side is sizzling and golden brown, about 25 minutes longer.
  10. When fully cooked, the ribs will be nicely browned and tender enough to pull apart with your fingers.
  11. The dripping fat may cause flare-ups; if this happens, move the ribs to another spot on the grate.
  12. Transfer the grilled ribs to a platter or cutting board.
  13. Generously brush or mop the ribs on both sides with the mop sauce.
  14. Thickly sprinkle the meat side with the remaining rub to form a crust.
  15. You can use all or the rub or just a part, depending on your fondness for spice.
  16. Mr. Raichlen likes a crust about 1/8 inch thick; serve the ribs as whole racks, cut the racks in pieces, or carve them into individual ribs and serve any remaining rub on the side.
Most Helpful

5 5

Really excellent! Amazing flavour. I don't think we followed the directions to the letter, but all turned out fine in the end. We made the rub as directed and coated our rib racks in it about 2 hrs prior to cooking (in the recipe the rub is only used at the end). We also weren't sure about when to use the mop sauce, so we brushed it on about every 10 minutes or so throughout cooking on our gas grill. (Yes, charcoal probably would be even better.) Followed the directions for timing as well as the finishing steps to get a nice crust and it worked great. We were afraid the rub was going to be too spicy, but it was perfect. We will be making these many, many times!