Memphis Dry Rub Recipe, Rendezvous-Style

In Memphis it is common for BBQ joints to offer their ribs "dry", without sauce, just a liberal sprinkling of spices and herbs. The most revered Memphis style dry ribs are served at Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous (called "The Vous" by some fans). In fact, The Rendezvous is probably the most popular ribjoint in the world. It is easy to understand why. Click here for more about the Vous and how this recipe came about.

As background for this recipe, please read my article on the Science of Rubs.

Average: 4.4 (142 votes)

Average Rating - Votes are tabulated end of day

Please rate this recipe ONLY after you cook it: 

Share This Recipe:

Print Recipe


In Memphis it is common for BBQ joints to offer their ribs "dry", without sauce, just a liberal sprinkling of spices and herbs. This recipe is my Rendezvous-style Dry Rub Recipe.

Course. Sauces and Condiments.

Cuisine. Southern. American.

Makes. Makes a bit more than two cups, enough for about 12 pounds of ribs. You can keep in a jar for months.

Takes. 10 minutes


8 tablespoons American paprika

4 tablespoons powdered garlic

4 tablespoons mild chili powder

3 tablespoons ground black pepper

4 teaspoons whole yellow mustard seed

1 tablespoon crushed celery seed

1 tablespoon whole celery seed

1 tablespoon dried crushed oregano

1 tablespoon dried crushed thyme

1 tablespoon whole allspice seeds

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon whole coriander seed

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon Accent

About the Accent. The label of the Rendezvous Famous Seasoning states that there is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in the blend. Ac'cent is made of MSG and you can find it in the spice section of your store. MSG, also known as glutamic acid, is a flavor enhancer as well as a natural byproduct of some aging and fermentation processes. Click here to read more about it.

Where's the salt? The bottled stuff has a lot of salt in it, but I have left the salt out of this recipe. Read why in my article on the Science of Rubs.


1) Mix all the rub ingredients in a bowl, making sure to break up all lumps. Put it in an airtight jar.

2) Click here to learn how the Vous makes its mop and cooks its ribs in only 60 minutes!

"Put on my blue suede shoes and I boarded the plane. Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues in the middle of the pouring rain. W.C. Handy, won't you look down over me?"Marc Cohn, songwriter "Walking in Memphis"

About Rendezvous Famous Seasoning

Founded in 1948, Rendezvous is crammed with memorabilia, romance, history, and you can't beat the location right downtown Memphis in an alley.

Baby backs are the cut of choice, they are cooked hot and fast, and they are sprinkled liberally with their top secret seasoning. "We call it a seasoning, not a rub, because it is sprinkled on, not rubbed in," says Nick Vergos, Charlie's grandson.

Because The Rendezvous is so famous and popular, people, especially the media, are always asking the owners for their seasoning recipe. But, and I know this might shock some of you, the one they give out is most definitely not the one they use in the restaurant or sell in the bottle! Yet the bogus recipe is all over the internet.


How can I be so sure? The bottle label of Rendezvous Famous Seasoning says "Spices, paprika (color), garlic, monosodium glutamate, salt and less than 2% silicon dioxide added to prevent caking." The recipe they give the media contains only salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, celery seed, paprika, and chile powder. But if you eat there or buy a bottle and sprinkle some in your hand, you can't miss the whole coriander seeds, mustard seeds, and allspice seeds among other things. So I have tried to reverse-engineer it. My version is a lot closer to the real thing than the one so widely circulated.

Now for my disclaimer: When in Memphis, you've gotta do The Rendezvous because it is so much fun, the staff is great, and it reeks of history. But it is not even in my top five in the area in my book. One of my complaints is that the rub is sprinkled on the ribs raw, uncooked. Most other restaurants that serve dry ribs sprinkle it on the raw meat, cook, and perhaps sprinkle on some more and cook some more, but the spices lose their rawness and bloom their full flavors when cooked in the oils of the meat. And forgive me if I'm biased, but most folks think Meathead's Memphis Dust is a better BBQ pork rub. But if you are a fan of Rendezvous, this recipe will take you back.

Special thanks to several readers who have also attempted to duplicate the Vous technique and offered feedback.

Meathead Goldwyn

Meathead is the founder and publisher of, and is also known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", a New York Times Best Seller and named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.




Get Smoke Signals, our free e-letter. No spam. Guaranteed

Enter your email:

If you help us, we’ll pay you back bigtime with an ad free experience and much more!

Millions come to every month for quality tested recipes, tips on technique, science, mythbusting, product reviews, and inspiration. But it is expensive to run a website with more than 4,000 pages and we don’t have a big corporate partner like TV network or a magazine publisher to subsidize us. 

Our most important source of sustenance is people who join our Pitmaster Club, but please don’t think of it as a donation. Members get 21 great benefits. We block all third party ads, we give members free ebooks, magazines, interviews, webinars, more recipes, a monthly sweepstakes with prizes worth up to $2,000, discounts on products, and best of all a community of like-minded cooks free of flame wars. Click below to see all the benefits, take a free 30 day trial membership, and help keep this site alive.

Post comments and questions below


1) Try to post your question to the appropriate page.

2) Tell us everything we need to know to help such as the type of cooker and thermometer.

3) If you are a member of the Pitmaster Club, your comments login is probably different than your membership login.



Click to ask questions and make comments