If you’re going to explore Memphis BBQ cooking then you’ll need to core recipes before you get that far into your journey. The Memphis BBQ sauce and the Memphis BBQ rub are both quintessential parts of the Memphis food scene, master them and you’ll soon be on the road to becoming a great barbecue chef.

What is Memphis BBQ?

Memphis BBQ generally means pork. The city can’t get enough of it, and their bbq sauces and rubs are styled to make the meat. Pork will feature in every barbecue restaurant, but the other core feature is the dry rub method. Rather than marinating meat in a sauce-based marinade, Memphis chefs rub their meat with a dry rub, then use a mop sauce to baste during the cooking process.

How To Make Memphis BBQ: 2 Quintessential Recipes

Following these two recipes will give you a real insight into Memphis food. The sauce and the dry rub are used in almost all Memphis-style bbq recipes, especially the famous dry-rubbed ribs. Enjoy creating both of them and do feel free to experiment with their uses, they’re not solely for traditional recipes and could be used in all manner of ways.

How To Make Memphis BBQ Sauce

Memphis BBQ sauce is just a wonderful concoction that has so many different uses. It works wonders as a simple marinade, but also as a dipping sauce. Some people even combine it with some mayo to use a sandwich spread. You’ll notice that many of the same spices and flavors feature in both the sauce and the dry rubs, creating the Memphis-style.

Memphis BBQ generally means pork. The city can’t get enough of it, and their bbq sauces and rubs are styled to make the meat.

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A friendly note, if you’re using this on the smoker or grill, only apply it right at the end of cooking. The sugar content within the ketchup, molasses, and brown sugar will caramelize really quickly. Left unchecked this can turn acrid and ruin the flavor of your meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pureed onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard (yellow from a bottle works great, or make your own using powder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mild chili powder (Want more heat? Go for a hotter one!)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

The Process

  1. The first step in the process is to melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Gently fry the onions and the garlic in the butter, you’re looking for a slight golden color.
  3. Add all the ingredients, saving the apple cider vinegar for last.
  4. Stir frequently and simmer for around 12-15 minutes.
  5. Take off the heat and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately or store in a sealed jar/bottle for a week.

How To Make Memphis-Style BBQ Rub

The beauty of the Memphis-Style rub is that every barbecue joint in the city has a slight variation. Maybe they have a little extra mustard powder, or more smoked paprika, some go heavier with the salt, others a bit more sugar. Some even remove ingredients altogether and add their own. The recipe that follows is a standard Memphis-style base, simply combine everything and mix to create the rub

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds

There are more ingredients below, but I’ve purposefully added these first. The seeds need to be processed by you first before they can be added. A quick toast in a dry pan (you’re looking for a slightly brown golden color, definitely not black) and then ground down using a pestle and mortar or a spice blender. The toasting of the seeds helps release the oils from within which hugely enhances the flavor and takes your rub to another level.

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Ground versions are also perfectly fine, but you might consider slightly smaller volumes as ground spices tend to be more intense in flavor and can easily overpower the rub.

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne

Once you’ve combined all of the ingredients you can use the rub immediately. If you can store it in a sealed jar or container it will keep for around 6 months, meaning having a batch to hand will always be easy if you’re the prepared type.

The beauty of the Memphis-Style rub is that every barbecue joint in the city has a slight variation. Maybe they have a little extra mustard powder, or more smoked paprika, some go heavier with the salt, others a bit more sugar.

Key Takeaways

You won’t be able to stop yourself from making these recipes once they’ve been mastered. Not only because you’ll love their flavor but also because your friends and family will demand them time and time again.

  • Remember to feel free to experiment with different flavors and uses.
  • Both recipes will keep for a while, so can be made plenty of time in advance.
Author

Jenny has always been interested in food and cooking. She grew up in a family where meals were made from scratch and food was always celebrated. After college, Jenny began working in restaurants and catering. She soon realized that she wanted to help people cook at home more often. In 2016, Jenny started Nourish as a way to share her love of simple and nourishing food. Jenny's recipes are all inspired by her own experiences with food allergies and sensitivities. She knows how hard it can be to find recipes that are both delicious and safe to eat, so she creates recipes that everyone can enjoy. If you're looking for recipes that are easy to make and good for you, then you've come to the right place! Jenny's recipes are all tested and proven to be both delicious and nutritious.