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Baby Back Vs Spare Ribs: What’s The Difference? [ANSWERED]

Baby Back Vs Spare Ribs: What’s The Difference? [ANSWERED]

The ability to distinguish between the different portions of meat is a great skill that any grill boss would want. One of the common answers that many people seek is the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs.

The common difference is that the baby back ribs are leaner, tender, and more expensive than the spare ribs. In addition, baby back ribs are cut from the ribs connected to the backbone beneath the loin muscles, while the spare ribs are obtained from the ends of the baby back ribs and run to the pig’s breast bone.

If you are looking for the differences between the baby back and the spare ribs before you can decide on the one to buy for your special occasion, this article is for you.

babyback ribs grill

What are Babyback Ribs?

Baby back is a darling to many people who love BBQ, but what are they exactly? And what makes them a timeless BBQ classic?

Baby back ribs, also known as long Canadian back ribs, are portions of pork connected to the backbone, beneath the loin muscles. They derived their name from the fact that they are the most tender and the leanest ribs. So if you thought they are called baby back ribs because they come from a baby pig, you would have to think again.

Further, these ribs are also called babies because they are shorter than the spare ribs. They are curved like a hockey stick at the point where they meet the spine. Since baby ribs weigh less than the spare ribs, they cook faster.

Are Baby Back Ribs Pork or Beef?

If you are not entirely acquainted with the term baby back ribs, you may start wondering whether you are talking about pork or beef if you hear it for the first time.

Baby back ribs are pork. Pork ribs are derived from the pig’s rib section and come in two cuts: pork spare ribs and pork back ribs.

The baby back ribs, also referred to as the loin ribs, are cut from the upper part of the rib cage connecting to the spine.

Notably, the baby back ribs have shorter bones and are tender and leaner, making them popular for many people. On the other hand, the spare ribs are fattier and juicier.

What Are Spare Ribs?

These juicy racks are known as the Kansas City or St. Louis cut. Spare ribs are commonly found in supermarkets and are a daily delicacy for many.

They are meatier, and thicker ribs from the pork belly of what remains after the bacon is cut away. A full slab of St. Louis cut consists of the front of eleven ribs and the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone.

BabyBack Ribs VS Spare Ribs: What’s The Difference?

As a chef, you want to get the most out of your meals, and knowing the differences between these two cuts is the starting point. The following are the main differences of babyback ribs vs. spare ribs that you need to know.

Where Are They Cut From?

One of the main criteria that can help distinguish between the two cuts is knowing where each rib is cut from.

Baby back ribs are obtained from the back and loin of the pig. They comprise the meat connected to the backbone under the loin muscle.

Spares, on the other hand, are derived from the pig’s underside. They are cut from along the pig’s breast bone where the baby back ribs end. In addition, they are made of exposed bones on the end near the baby back ribs.

The Size Difference

Another criterion you can use to tell the difference between the two cuts is the size. While the rack of baby back is 11-13 ribs, enough to feed a hungry adult, a rack of spare ribs is enough to satisfy two people. In other words, if you are after feeding many guests, the spare ribs should be the best option.

Further, the length of the baby back ribs can be up to six inches, and they taper off to a smaller 3-inch rib. However, it is crucial to understand that about half the weight of the two types of ribs is attributable to the bones and cartilages.

The Cost

The price tag on baby back ribs is usually higher than that of spare ribs. One of the explanations for this is the high demand for leaner and tender baby back ribs. Although the spare ribs tend to be more flavorful, they cannot match the baby back when it comes to tenderness.

The Quality of the Meat

If the spare ribs are larger than the baby back ribs, why are the latter so expensive?

First, where the meat is cut from in a pig determines the texture, the flavor, and the tenderness. For spare ribs, the meat is between the bones as opposed to baby back ribs where the meat is on top. The high concentration of the marbling gives the spare ribs more value, making them juicier than the baby back ribs.

Technically, the baby back ribs are more expensive because of their tenderness.

The First Impression

If you are a grilling boss, you should be able to tell the difference between the two cuts by looking at them. The baby back ribs have curved racks, while the spare pork ribs tend to have a rectangular shape. In addition, the spare ribs have latter bones and marbling in the meat.

The Cooking Difference

Boil, grill, or barbecue your baby back ribs as soon as you get them from the store. The meatier and thicker spare rack is the best if you adopt slow cooking. Due to the location where the spare rib is obtained from, the slab is tougher and requires braising and slow cooking to soften.

Different Types of Ribs

Ribs are among the most satisfying cuts regardless of the cooking medium. Knowing the right ribs to purchase is key to ensuring that you prepare a mouthwatering meal. Here are five famous ribs that you should know.

Pork Back Ribs

Pork back ribs are also called baby back ribs and come from the back of the pig where they meet the back born. Like all the ribs, they require slow cooking if you are to make them delicious. Another thing to mention is that they are curved because they wrap around the loin.

Pork Spare Ribs

The spare ribs are derived from the lower section of a pig extending the belly where they meet the sternum. These ribs are juicier and fattier than back ribs. However, they are a bit tougher and contain more cartilage than back ribs.

Country-Style Ribs

The country-style ribs are less popular when compared to the other two pork libs. They are pork rib chops cut from the front end of the loin close to the shoulder. Note that boneless country-style ribs are long strips of loin muscle.

Beef Back Ribs

The beef back ribs come from the upper part of the cow. These ribs are mostly bone and fat with cartilage and bits of meat.

spare ribs bbq

Beef Short Ribs

The beef short ribs come from the lower part of a cow, where it meets the sternum. Like the spare ribs, these ribs are also tough and heavy due to the connective tissue. They acquired their name from the fact that they are shorter. The typical way to prepare beef short ribs is to braise them.


While ribs are the best for the barbecue, you must be careful to ensure that you purchase the right cut and quality. Some of the crucial tips to consider before making your order includes;

  • Good meat coverage
  • Even thickness
  • Visible fats throughout the rack
  • Pink-red in color