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Baby Back Vs. St Louis Ribs: [Differences Explained]

Baby Back Vs. St Louis Ribs: [Differences Explained]

Both the St. Louis ribs and baby back ribs are pretty flavorful cuts. However, there are some instances where you will have to choose either, which is why it is essential to understand the difference between the Baby Back Vs. St Louis Ribs.

Although a proper preparation of the baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs will offer tender and juicy meat, they differ in several ways. Differences in the shape, amount of meat, flavor, and fat content will always emerge when comparing baby back vs. St Louis ribs.

Read on for more details on the differences associated with the baby back vs. St Louis ribs and how they can impact your choice.

st louis ribs

Difference Between St Louis and Baby Back Ribs

Either St. Louis ribs or baby back ribs have the potential to offer a tender, juicy and delicious meal as long as you prepare them well. Nonetheless, the two cuts feature differences that might influence your choice. Here are some of the ways that these two famous cuts vary.

The Shape

The shape is the most apparent difference between the two cuts that anyone should not have a hard time noticing. The baby back ribs have a definite curved shape at the end of the bone. Also, the meat on baby back ribs covers below and above its bone. On the other hand, the hand St. Louis ribs are ordinarily flat and straight, and their meat concentrates between the bones.

The Fat Content

Another critical distinguishing factor is the fat content on the two cuts. The St. Louis ribs are tougher but have higher fat content and more marbling than the baby back ribs. The higher fat content and more marbling give the ribs a distinct pork flavor, reducing the seasoning necessary to make the ribs delicious.

The Flavor

Different people are bound to have different opinions when deciding on the flavor. However, the baby back ribs are leaner since they come from the pig’s loin. Hence, they will lose their flavor and become dry if you overcook them. On the other hand, since St. Louis ribs contain a higher concentration of fats and marbling, they have a strong flavor. If the flavor is your most important consideration, you better go for the St Louis ribs.

The Size

When comparing the difference between St Louis vs. baby back ribs in terms of size, there are a lot of similarities. Both ribs consist of 10 to 13 bones, and the racks weigh about 3 pounds. However, the St. Louis ribs may be a bit thicker and weighty due to their higher fat content. You will not tell the difference between the ribs based on the size.

The Texture

The St Louis ribs come from the pig’s underbelly, which means that it contains a higher concentration of fat. If you prepare them well, you will have tender and delicious meat that pulls away from the bone at the slightest touch. On the other hand, the baby back ribs are leaner, implying that they can easily dry out if you are not careful when smoking them.

Cooking Time St Louis Ribs vs. Baby Back

When cooking either St Louis ribs or baby back ribs, you must be time conscious to avoid overcooking or undercooking them. Notably, if you overcook the baby back ribs, they are likely to dry out, which you should avoid by all means possible.

The St. Louis ribs are slightly larger than the baby back ribs; hence they take a bit longer to cook when compared to baby back ribs. In other words, the baby back ribs take 1 ½ hour to 2 hours to cook at 300 degrees F, While the St. Louis ribs take 2 ½ hours to 3 hours to cook at the same temperatures.

How to Prepare Baby Back Ribs

The first step to cooking a delicious rib meal is preparation. Here is how to prepare your baby back ribs for any flavoring and dry rub.

Remove the Membrane

Since the Membrane is too tough to consume, it is vital to remove it. It would help to have a sharp knife and a chopping board that will serve as a flat surface for the entire process of membrane removal. If you find removing the Membrane from the meat challenging, you can break it into small sections.

Season the Ribs

Once you have successfully removed the Membrane, the next step is to apply your favorite seasoning. Start by applying vegetable oil to the ribs and then a generous dry rub. Chill powder with classic BBQ marinade will do fine. Salt is a must because it makes the meat flavorful and tender.

Marinate Overnight

If you want a strong flavor, consider marinating the ribs overnight in the fridge. However, you do not have time to wait overnight; there is nothing wrong with cooking the ribs immediately.


When cooking the baby back ribs, you must cook them low and slow to give room for the meat to absorb the woody flavors. Generally, you need to cook the ribs for three hours at 225 degrees F.

How to Prepare St. Louis Ribs

The St. Louis ribs are more expensive than the baby back ribs. Therefore you do not want to mess them up by rushing the cooking process. Here is how to prepare them.

Remove the Membrane and cartilage.

To remove the Membrane and cartilage, you need to lay the ribs on a clean flat surface and use a sharp knife.


Pick your favorite seasoning and start the process by rubbing vegetable oil into the meat so the seasoning can easily adhere to it. Coriander, dry mustard, and brown sugar will make your seasoning perfect.

Marinate Overnight

If you have enough time to wait until the following day, then putting the marinated meat in the fridge overnight will give you a strong flavor. However, if you do not want to wait that long, you can leave the meat to rest in the marinade for at least one hour.


Set your grill to 350 degrees F and grill your St. Louis ribs for about a half before removing them from the grill to slather them with apple cider vinegar. Wrap the meat between aluminum foils, return to the grill, and cook for another 30 minutes. After that, sauce the ribs in barbecue and grill for another hour.

baby back ribs

Baby back vs. st Louis Ribs for Smoking

The baby back ribs are leaner compared to St. Louis ribs. Therefore, the best way to cook them is to smoke them low and slow to prevent their drying. If you overcook them, they will be dry, interfering with their flavor. Always set your smoker at 225 degrees F when cooking the baby back ribs.

On the other hand, the St. Louis ribs have a higher amount of fat, making them quite flavorful. The best way to cook the St. Louis ribs is to grill them at 350 degrees for about 2 hours.

Baby Back Ribs vs. St Louis Cooking Temp

As you may have noted from the above discussions, the St. Louis ribs are slightly bigger than the baby back ribs; therefore, they take longer to cook due to their size.

You can cook both ribs at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the difference is the time you will have to wait for their doneness. St. Louis ribs will take about 2 ½ hours to 3 hours to cook, while the baby back ribs will only require 1 – 1 ½ hours to cook to perfection.


Both baby back and St. Louis ribs are delicious cuts of meat to try out. However, it is essential to note that baby back ribs have many good qualities and are easy for beginners to cook. On the other hand, though quite flavorful, St. Louis ribs require more care when cooking. Hence they might not be best for novices.