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Slow-Cooked Memphis Ribs

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields 1/2 cup spice rub and 2 cups sauce

Servings: 4-6 as a main course or 6-12 as an appetizer.

Too cold to grill outside? Slow roasting in the oven yields a rib that’s just as tender and succulent. Rub the ribs with a zesty spice blend, and you’ll swear they came from a backyard BBQ pit.


For the ribs

  • 2 full (13-rib) racks of St. Louis-cut pork spareribs (about 3 lb. each)
  • Kosher salt

For the Memphis spice rub

  • 2-1/2 Tbs. hot chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 Tbs. paprika
  • 1/2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

For the barbecue sauce

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 can (14 ounces) tomato purée
  • 2 Tbs. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. hot chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size per rib, based on 26 ribs
  • Calories (kcal) : 230
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 150
  • Fat (g): 17
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Cholesterol (mg): 60
  • Sodium (mg): 360
  • Carbohydrates (g): 4
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 14


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Sprinkle and press 1/4 cup of the rub on both sides of each rib rack. Put the racks, meaty side up, on a broiling pan or a wire roasting rack set over a baking sheet. Lightly season the ribs with salt and put them in the oven. After the first hour,  rotate the pan every 30 minutes (Note: If you use two baking sheets, switch their position in the oven, too). The ribs will sizzle gently as they cook, and they’ll become tender after about 2 hours in the oven.
  • To test for doneness, pick up the center of the ribs with tongs; the ends of the ribs should flop downward (this means the fat and cartilage have broken down), and a skewer inserted between the ribs should meet little resistance. If the meat between the ribs is still tough, keep cooking, checking every 15 minutes and rotating the pan.
  • To make the sauce, heat the oil and add the onion to a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Season lightly with salt and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato purée, brown sugar, tomato paste, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, mustard, chili powder, paprika, and cayenne and stir well. Turn down the heat to low and let the sauce simmer until it thickens slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt, and let cool to room temperature. The sauce will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.  
  • Remove the rib racks from the oven, put them on a cutting board meaty side down (so they’re easier to slice), and slice them into individual ribs. Arrange the ribs on a platter and serve with the sauce on the side.


In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients for the spice rub.


Rate or Review


  • Monique1140 | 02/18/2018

    These ribs are absolutely delicious - easy to make and I liked the option of sauce or no sauce but, must admit, the sauce is excellent. Next time I will add all of the rub - only used about half as was concerned they might be too spicy but they weren't! All in all, would make these again.

  • mercato | 07/31/2016

    Been making this recipe (ribs only, no sauce) at least 1x year since the day it was published. Made the sauce the very first time, but prefer my own or a jarred favorite if i need one.Never ever fails. Tried different rubs depending on what I had in pantry, but regardless of the spice blend, the cooking technique is flawless and is all that matters. Thank you!

  • Onyxnox | 02/14/2016

    When we have to cook ribs inside, this is my preferred method. The technique is great - we have swapped in different rubs and sauces (homemade and store bought), and the ribs still turn out tender and juicy. We have cooked them this way dozens of times, and it is a very much loved recipe - guests love it too. It's best when the rub can be put on a few hours before cooking, but even if you forget until before cooking, the ribs still turned out lovely!

  • zzbb | 02/23/2013

    Not being able to grill (apartment living or bad winters) is no obstacle to excellent flavor. This is my family's favorite rib recipe (summer or winter). The flavor is amazing. (I can't image why anyone would find this recipe 1 star--unless s/he's maybe vegetarian).

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