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Baby Back Ribs vs. Spare Ribs: What’s the Difference?

What is the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs, and how can I tell the difference?  It seems location makes all the difference in the world with ribs.

baby back ribs

Baby back ribs are taken from the top of the pig’s rib cage, cut from the loin section.  Thus they are sometimes referred to as loin ribs or back ribs.  This loin section is where we get our pork chops.  So a baby back rib is just basically a pork chop with the majority of loin meat removed.  Since they come from the loin section baby back ribs are lean and tender in comparison to spare ribs.  The shortness and tenderness of baby back ribs make them a popular choice.

On the belly side of the pig’s rib cage below the back ribs is where spare ribs or “spareribs” are taken.  The spare ribs are bigger, tougher, and meatier than baby back ribs.  Being larger, tougher, and meatier means that spare ribs will generally need to be cooked longer than baby back ribs to become tender.

You wouldn’t think that there would be that big of a difference in these two types of ribs, but section that each is cut from makes a big difference in taste and tenderness.

Later I will get into different variations of ribs, from St. Louis and Kansas City style to country style ribs.

If you are going to barbecue some ribs, nothing beats a good rib rack. A good rib rack won’t rust and will be non-stick. If you want a really good rib rack, you will definitely want to check out Steven Raichlen’s Ultimate Rib Rack.

It is an over-sized rib rack that is prefect for grill lots of tasty baby back ribs. And not to mention it is non-stick and also rustproof. You can check it out here >> Steven Raichlen’s Ultimate Rib Rack


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