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Slow-Cooker Memphis-Style Ribs

After my dad and I had dinner at the legendary Rendezvous Restaurant in Memphis, I was inspired to create a slow-cooked version of tasty dry-rub Memphis ribs. Smoked paprika in the rub mimics the flavor that the ribs would get from being grilled over hot coals. —Matthew Hass, Ellison Bay, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 15 min. Cook: 5 hours
  • Makes
    6 servings


  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 5 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Combine vinegar and water; brush over ribs. Pour remaining vinegar mixture into a 6-qt. slow cooker. Mix together remaining ingredients, reserving half. Sprinkle ribs with half the seasoning blend; reserve the other half. Cut the ribs into serving-sized pieces; transfer to slow cooker.
  • Cook, covered, on low until tender, 5-6 hours. Remove ribs; skim fat from cooking juices. Using a clean brush, brush ribs generously with skimmed cooking juices; sprinkle with reserved seasoning mixture. Serve ribs with remaining juices.
Nutrition Facts
1 serving: 509 calories, 35g fat (13g saturated fat), 136mg cholesterol, 1137mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (5g sugars, 2g fiber), 38g protein.

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  • Kimosaabe
    Sep 2, 2020

    Lydia ... no one cares about your Memphis 70 years but everyone is offended by your negativity.

  • Laura
    Jun 30, 2020

    I used this rub on a pork butt and smoked it with apple

  • annwiklins1
    Jun 6, 2020

    Thank-you, Monica!!! I don't think Lydia's remarks are going to sway other readers, as they'll realize that hers was not a true review. As she so delicately put it, it comes down to personal taste. As the chef titles it "Memphis-Style" , that simply tells me it's "interpretative" cooking as in interpretative dance.

  • Monica
    Jun 4, 2020

    Lydia, please do not criticize a recipe you have not made, just so you can give your editorial comments on the use of language of which you do not agree. You may be correct, but you rated a recipe negatively which might keep people from enjoying it, and that is rude. I always thought Memphis natives were raised to be polite. Now I am disappointed.

  • Karen
    May 17, 2020

    Love the rub. I put the rub on the night before and slow baked in the oven for 4 hours and then grilled them with BQ sauce. Amazing

  • Lydia
    May 16, 2020

    I am a Memphis native for 70 years, grew up with and frequented the Rendezvous as well as other BBQ restaurants in the area, and have NEVER experienced vinegar as the main, heavy ingredient in any of the sauces I've tried. And we definitely don't slosh it on the meat. Not even in a Crockpot. That sounds more like North Carolina Q sauce that relies heavily on a vinegar base. Genuine Memphis BBQ traditionally uses a sweet type of tomato-based sauce, can be tangy (ENHANCED with vinegar), includes molasses and seasonings, and can be served on the side, as is preferable, in order to allow for the taste of the special flavor of genuine pit smoked Q without the heaviness of sauce. Dry rubs are OK, (the Rendezvous - their specialty) but when rubs overtake the flavor of the Q with spices and seasonings, then that's all you taste - spices and seasonings. However, a sauce that is used SPARINGLY can ENHANCE the smokey flavor of the meat, as in BBQ chicken on the grill. If you want to try a really good sauce, go to Leonard's Pit BBQ - it genuinely represents the flavor of Memphis BBQ and is a Memphis original. The bottom line is that, no matter how BBQ is produced in ANY particular area, it all comes down to personal taste. Although I am not a fan of vinegar based sauces of any kind, others seem to like it and I sincerely hope the gentleman who developed this recipe has much success with it.