A classic Memphis Dry Rub recipe from the famous Memphis BBQ restaurant Marlowes of Memphis. Bring the great taste of Memphis to your grilled ribs or other BBQ recipes.
Memphis Dry Rub is sweet and full of spices, perfect for grilled ribs but works well for other pork, brisket, and chicken. It is also great for any other smoked meat.
The recipe is now right-sized for the home cook and adjustable to your needs using only pantry ingredients for great taste.
Use this rub on ribs like Grilled Baby Back Ribs, Crock Pot Baby Back Ribs, Baked Ribs, or Grilled Boneless Ribs. Or pulled pork like Oven Pulled Pork, Crock Pot Pulled Pork, or Grilled Smoked Pulled Pork.
Check out other rubs like Black Magic Seasoning, BBQ Dry Rub, and Homemade Blackened Seasoning.
This recipe is from the famous Marlowe Restaurant in Memphis (on Elvis Presley Boulevard). The restaurant gave the recipes to Guy Fieri, but adjustments were needed since the original recipe (apparently already cut down) produced 11 ½ cups of rub.
- Sugar—white, but I frequently use brown sugar
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Seasoned salt—Lowery's or similar
- Chili powder
- Black pepper
- Black Magic seasoning —optional for me-see discussion in the FAQs
- This rub is good enough; you don't need a sauce. If you use a rub, serve BBQ sauce on the side, do not apply it during cooking.
- Dry rubs and the sauce you use should complement each other. I suggest my Memphis sauce listed below or another sweeter sauce like a Kansas City or St. Louis sauce. Not a Carolina vinegar-based sauce.
- This is generally a rub for ribs, but you can use it anywhere that a dry rub is needed.
- There is not much sugar in this rub, so don't pack it on as much as the higher sugar-based rubs.
- I like to use dark brown sugar instead of white sugar.
- There is also a large amount of salt between the seasoning salt and regular salt in the recipe. I usually use half the salt and use coarse salt that cuts it even more.
↕️How to adjust the recipe size
Even though the original recipe was "cut down," I would say it was not really "Cooking For Two" friendly nor home cooking friendly as originally published. The rub was 11 cups, and the Black Magic was 12 cups. So I cut it down to a more reasonable size.
The recipe is now set to make ½ cup (8 tablespoons) of dry rub which is the amount for one slab of baby back ribs. I always make double or more and store it for later.
Use the recipe card and adjust the number of tablespoons. Remember 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon. 1 cup is 16 tablespoons.
Like all spices, dry rub loses flavor over time. But we can minimize it. If stored correctly, you will still have a good flavor for up to 6 months.
1) Store airtight in a glass container.
2) Store in a "right-sized" container that has no more air than needed.
3) Store away from light.
4) A cool area is best but do not refrigerate or freeze.
Several different seasonings are called Black Magic, but we are referring to Marlowe's version of a classic Southern seasoning mixture here.
It brings a spicy Creole flavor that is similar to blackening seasoning. It is commonly added to fish, chicken, or steak.
No, it is your rub—you will still have a great rub without it. The seasoning shares several spices with this rub but does add a touch of other flavors and some heat, but it is not mandatory.
As a substitute, you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper, blackening, or Creole seasoning to replace it.
Memphis Barbecue Sauce - A Wonderful Thing
The Best Grilled Pork Tenderloin - Memphis Style
Grilled Memphis Boneless Country Style Pork Ribs
Memphis Dry Rub
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 4 teaspoons sugar - or brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt - Lowery's
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Black Magic seasoning - skip if you don't have
- Mix well.
- Store in an airtight container.
Your Own Private Notes
- This recipe makes ½ cup (8 tablespoons) of rub, the amount used on one slab of baby back ribs.
- Use the recipe card and adjust the number of tablespoons. Remember 3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon. 1 cup is 16 tablespoons.
- The original recipe uses Black Magic seasoning. The post discusses this, but skip it if you don't have it. A few substitutes are discussed in the post.
- I usually use brown sugar instead of white sugar.
- Dry rubs and the sauce you use should complement each other. I suggest my Memphis sauce or another sweeter sauce like a Kansas City or St. Louis sauce. Not a Carolina vinegar-based sauce.
- This is generally a rub for ribs, but you can use it anywhere a dry rub is needed, like pulled pork or chicken.
- This rub has very little sugar, so don't pack it on as much as the high-sugar rubs.
- There is also a large amount of salt between the seasoning salt and regular salt in the recipe. I usually use half the salt and coarse salt that cuts it even more.
- This will keep fresh in tightly closed containers for up to 6 months. More storage tips in the post.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Publisher's Note: Originally published June 26, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
HELP! Love your recipes and generally trust them without much questioning...
But, you say above in the text "There is no sugar in this rub...".
However sugar is the 2nd ingredient in the recipe.
Was presented with frozen ribs (defrosting as no room in my freezer) and want to pop them in the slow cooker on Low for overnight. No label on package (probably donated from a restaurant that closed here in these times) that came home from the food shelf. From the size I'd guess they are NOT baby back, but probably spare ribs. My slow cooker is 7qt and I plan to cook them vertically/on edge.
Would love to use your dry rub recipe; please verify ingredients. Thanks, a very faithful reader, Margaret
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
My bad on the wording but the ingredients are correct. I should have said it was low in sugar. Usually the sugar will be about 2/3 of the volume but it is much less here. I have fixed all the wording. If somebody is use to a heavy coat of a typical high sugar rub and uses the same amount here, it will be way over spiced.
Hope that helps. If they fit in the crock pot, that works well. I have recipes around here for grill, oven and crockpot.
Hope that helps and thanks for asking so I could fix it.
Thanks for the quick response Dr Dan. As it turns out, the package of ribs was still hard frozen when I sent you my query and it took another 2-3 days to finish defrosting in my refrigerator (much like a Thanksgiving turkey). Ended up using this rub (modified to our taste preferences, of course) and baking in a 300F oven. The ribs were spare ribs, not baby back, so very dense. There was a lot of fat to trim off and it took closer to 3 hours for the bones to stick out as you've described elsewhere. The flavor from the rub was Very Good. One day I'll try this in my slow cooker, when the timing works out. Thanks again for your thorough coverage and explanations surrounding the cooking of ribs. It's been an education.
Having first found this recipe on food network I feel your scaling down is well off mark for the reasons..1 tbl of sugar will weigh a lot more than 1 tbl oregano etc better to scale it down weight for weight from the original recipe
Welcome to the blog.
I just went to the original recipe and everything is in cups and not by weight so my ratio using volume is correct.
You are correct that if they were using weight, things like sugar would weight a lot more. But to do this by weight. First you would convert the volume to weights. Then cut them down proportionally. Then since most people do volume at home and can not measure by weight in small volume at home, convert back to volume. The results would be the same.