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posted August 14, 2020

Memphis Dry Rub

My recipe for Memphis Dry Rub is the ultimate rub to provide a balance of sweet and salty flavors to your smoked meats. Nine herbs and spices come together to make for a rub that holds its own without overpowering that gorgeous smoky flavor of the meat.

Collage of two images. Top image is a close up of dry seasoning in a silver spoon, bottom image is the seasoning on 2 racks of raw ribs.

Memphis Style Dry Rub

Memphis rubs are traditionally slightly sweet with a great savory and earthy flavor profile. Most have brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. From there, it is all up to individual taste. Every pit master in Memphis has their own take on the flavors and spices that make up their rubs. Mine leans into herbs and seasonings that contribute a balance to the sweet and saltiness.

Memphis dry rubs and very, very important because in Memphis, the rub often stands on its own. They serve their ribs wet (with sauce) or dry (no sauce). The dry ribs are dusted with another sprinkling of this awesome rub right before being served, so having a great rub is the most important thing.

For best results, use freshly ground black pepper and coarse kosher salt. I like to use Morton kosher salt in all my rubs. This salt is a flat, almost flaky salt with a great flavor. 

Memphis dry rub being sprinkled from overhead onto two racks of pork ribs.

Ingredients for Memphis Dry Rub

Here’s everything you’ll need to assemble to make this dry rub. Full ingredient amounts are available in the printable recipe card below.

  • Smoked paprika
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Oregano
  • Celery seed
  • Mustard powder

Once you have all your ingredients, simply mix them in a bowl, using a whisk or a fork to break up any clumps. You can store this dry rub in a sealed contained for several weeks. I like to store my rubs in these glass spice bottles to keep my pantry organized.

The longer you store this rub, the more you lose the potency of the seasonings. While it can last quite long in your pantry, I highly recommend using in less than 4 weeks for the best flavor.

Overhead view of two racks of uncooked pork ribs seasoned with Memphis dry rub.

Memphis Dry Rub on Ribs

When preparing your ribs, begin by slathering the ribs on all sides with vegetable oil. While I usually coat my ribs in mustard, these Memphis style ribs are different and best with oil. Once the oil is on the ribs, season liberally with the Memphis dry rub. Use the palm of your hand to gently push the rub into the meat. Don’t “rub” the meat, or it will pull the seasoning off the meat and make it clump.

Once your ribs are cooked and off the smoker, give them another sprinkle of the dry rub to finish them off. 

Other Dry Rub Recipes

Rubs help to bring out the best flavor of your grilled and smoked meats (and veggies!). Making them yourself ensures you get the best flavor without any additives or preservatives. Check out some of my most popular dry rub recipes below:

Memphis Dry Rub Recipe

Spoonful of Memphis dry rub resting on top of a wooden bowl full of more seasoning.

Memphis Dry Rub

Susie Bulloch (
My recipe for Memphis Dry Rub is the ultimate rub to provide a balance of sweet and salty flavors to your smoked meats. Nine herbs and spices come together to make for a rub that holds its own without overpowering that gorgeous smoky flavor.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time : 5 mins
Total Time : 5 mins
Servings : 12
Calories : 19kcal


  • 3 Tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 3 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder


  • Make the Memphis Dry Rub. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well to combine. Use a fork or a whisk to break up any large clumps.
  • Store in an airtight container. Store unused rub in an airtight container for several weeks.


Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 862IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
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