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No one would be happy to order a full rack of ribs only to find half of what they ordered. The best way to ensure that your order of full ribs is not short is to equip yourself with all the relevant information. So, how many ribs should you expect in a rack?

The number of ribs in a full rack depends on the type. Generally, there are nine ribs in a full beef rib rack, 10-13 ribs pork rack, and eight loin rib chops in a lamb rack. The number of ribs you get in a full rack depends on the type of animal.

Any pit master will tell you there are no simple answers to questions such as how many ribs are in a rack. Whether you are after prime rib vs ribeye or other ribs, read on for more information to better understand the quantification of different cuts of ribs.

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The Different Types Of Rib Cuts

If you have shopped for ribs before, you have probably noticed the difference in the rack sizes. The apparent explanation for this is that all ribs are not created equally. In addition, there will always be different styles and cuts of ribs.

To make your work easier, we have examined some of the most popular ribs you are likely to see in your favorite BBQ spot or at the grocery.

Pork Ribs

Pork ribs are pretty famous, and they are the type many people will think of when purchasing rib cuts. While pork ribs come in varying cuts, a pig has 14 ribs. In other words, you will never get a full rack of pork ribs with 14 bones.

Considering how pork ribs are removed and processed, you can expect a quality rack of pork ribs to have 10-13 ribs. In some situations, the damaged ribs compel the butcher to convert the rack into half a rack.

Spare Ribs

Spare ribs are obtained from the breast bone and tend to be fatty and chewy when cooked. Notably, they are popular since they yield a decent amount of meat per rib and are inexpensive.

Generally, an average rack of spare ribs can yield 11-13 ribs, while a trimmed version of spare ribs known as St. Louis ribs will have 10-13 ribs per rack.

To avoid making the ribs chewy and challenging, you must ensure that you cook them properly. A good cooking tip is to marinate them before putting them on the grill.

The Back Ribs

The back ribs are obtained from the upper spinal region of the pork. They are tender, leaner, and take less time to prepare. If you spot the back ribs labeled as baby back or loin back ribs, do not be surprised because they are the same.

Beef Ribs

Beef ribs are easily identified by their large stature. They are the largest of all the ribs, with bones measuring up to 8 inches. A full rack of beef ribs weighs 3-4 pounds. So how many ribs will you expect to find in a rack of beef ribs?

A full rack of beef ribs should have 7-8 ribs each. Keep in mind that even though a cow has 13 ribs in total, the front ribs are typically reserved for the chuck, and this explains why you should expect about 7 to 8 ribs in a full rack.

The Lamb Ribs

The lamb ribs are best known for their tender meats, making them one of the popular cuts of lamb. If you are out to shop for a full rack of lamb ribs, then the whole rack should be 6-8 ribs each.

How Many Ribs Are In A Full Rack: Summary

When establishing the correct number of ribs in a full rack, one of the essential things to remember is that the number of ribs you get in a full rack depends on the animal. Therefore, understanding how many ribs different animals have will help ensure that no one misleads you. The most common types of ribs are;

  • Beef Ribs – A full rack of beef ribs contains 9-12 ribs depending on the store or grilling spot
  • Lamb Rack – A full lamb rack is made up of 7 – 8 ribs
  • Pork Ribs – A rack of pork ribs is usually made of 10 – 13 ribs per rack.

How Many Ribs In A Half Rack?

To choose between a half a rack and a full one, you need to know how many ribs are in half a rack. If you know the number of ribs in a full rack of the animal in question, then dividing by half will give you the exact number of ribs in half a rack.

Depending on the type of animal, here is what to expect in terms of the number of ribs in half a rack;

  • Beef Ribs: 5-6 ribs
  • Lamb Rack: 3 – 4 ribs
  • Pork Ribs: 5 – 6 ribs

Full Slab Ribs

If you are wondering how many ribs are in a slap, you are not alone. Many people queue in restaurants or their favorite BBQ joints to order full slab ribs when they do not know the exact number of ribs they should get.

If you want pork ribs, expect 10-13 ribs in a slap with a length range of 3-inches and a maximum weight of 3 pounds. On the other hand, beef ribs should have 11-13 ribs with a length of 3-8 inches per rib.

Note that the terms slabs and racks are the same thing and are sometimes used interchangeably. Therefore, do not get confused if you read full slab ribs in a restaurant or meat shop.

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How Much Does A Half Rack Ribs Cost?

If you have never purchased ribs before, you may not be familiar with the pricing. A rack of ribs can weigh about six pounds and is large enough to feed about five people. The average price per pound is about $3.50, depending on the shop. A heavier rack usually indicates tougher meat from an older animal.

How To Choose The Best Ribs

Besides counting the ribs to prevent a situation where the butcher or the store sells you a full rack that is short of some ribs, the other essential knowledge is choosing the best ribs. Ribs are never created equal. Therefore, if you want to cook a delicious meal for yourself or your guests, you must ensure that you settle for the best quality. Here are some of the essential tips to pay close attention to;

  • Ensure that there is enough meat surrounding the bone and that there is a minimal amount of fat
  • Avoid enhanced ribs because they are usually treated with sodium phosphate, flavorings, and water. It is a good idea to purchase fresh ribs to decide how to cook them.
  • Pay attention to the color of the ribs. If you purchase beef ribs, ensure they are darker and not pale. In addition, it should not have a thick mold-like appearance. Fresh ribs should be moist and juicy.
  • The best quality of meat is not the one that has been frozen. Frozen meat may have undesirable alterations in its flavors. Fresh ribs are always the best.

However, if you purchase a slab of ribs that you are not ready to consume, the best way to extend its shelf life is to freeze them.


Now you know that the number of ribs in a slack depends on the animal. Generally, expect a full rack of prime rib vs. ribeye ribs to contain 9-12 ribs, a lamb rack containing 7-8 ribs, and pork ribs 10-13 ribs. Besides paying attention to the number of ribs on a rack, you must also check the appearance. Avoid purchasing frozen ribs as they are not likely to be the best.