Meat Sweats: Get Ready For Memphis In May With Some Competition Style Ribs

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest goes down every year at the Memphis In May festival. It's basically like the Champions League of BBQ competitions with some of the biggest names in the game all cooking to become the world's best. And it all gets going again this Wednesday. 

Now personally I'm not a huge competition guy. I've never competed, and it's just not the way I typically cook. But I've watched enough episodes of BBQ Pitmasters to at least have an idea of what the judges are looking for. You want to have that deep mahogany color, you want to pack in a ton of flavor, and you want to have ribs that are tender enough to get a nice clean bite through the meat without having to tug at it but not too tender to the point where they're falling off the bone. A bite that looks a little something like this. 

So competition cooking is a little more involved than just throwing some salt and pepper on a rack of ribs. But if you're into the competition scene and want to start dialing in your ribs, I think this is a quality recipe to start with. 


  • Dry brine the ribs with salt a few hours before getting your smoker started
  • Season the ribs with ~1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of paprika, and then about a tablespoon of garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, cayenne, and black pepper. Don't add anymore salt to your rub since you already added all the salt you needed to the dry brine. 
  • Smoke at 250 until you get that deep color you're looking for and the bark has set on the ribs. Probably somewhere between 2-3 hours. 
  • Wrap ribs in foil with brown sugar, hot honey, bacon grease and/or butter. 
  • Put ribs back on the pit until you've achieved desired tenderness. Probably another hour to an hour and a half. 
  • Glaze with sauce. Let the sauce set for another 20 or so minutes on the smoker. 
  • Rest, slice, serve.