The Differences Between Baby Back vs Spare Ribs

One dilemma faced by those who love steak is the dilemma of baby back vs spareribs. To settle once in for all this dilemma, it would be good to know the difference between these two types of steak cuts. Back ribs are derived from the part of the pig’s body wherein the spine meets the rib after the loin has been removed. The spareribs, on the other hand, are taken from the pig’s lower portion, along the breastbone and the belly, just behind the shoulder.

Differences between Baby Back and Spareribs

The other names for baby back ribs are back ribs, pork loin, loin ribs, and back ribs. The baby back ribs refer to the upper ribs. These ribs are called “baby” because they are shorter as compared to the larger spareribs. The average baby back rib usually consists of 10 to 13 curved ribs.

Each baby back rib is usually 3-6 inches long. It also weighs around two pounds and could feed two persons. Baby back ribs are also lean and very tender. They are also usually more popular than the spareribs. Thus, they are more expensive than spareribs.

The spareribs, on the other hand, is also called “breastbone-off pork spareribs.” The spareribs are characterized by meaty rib cuts derived from the cow’s belly after removing the belly. The hard breastbone along with the chewy cartilage is cut away, making it look a bit rectangular.

The spareribs are also flatter compared to the baby back ribs and are not difficult to brown. The spareribs also carry more fat that provides more flavor to the meat.

Each slab of spareribs weighs around 2 1/2 pounds and can feed up to four people. The sparerib is also less expensive than the baby back ribs.

Cooking Difference between Spareribs and Baby Back Ribs

Spareribs are a type of cuts of meat that you can use for slow-roasting barbecue. Since the baby back ribs are smaller and leaner in size than the spareribs, the time for cooking the baby back ribs is faster than that of the spareribs. On the other hand, spareribs take longer to cook than the baby back ribs.

In the southern U.S., spareribs are very popular. They are either cooked on an open fire or barbecue. They are also served as bones-and-all or slab along with a sauce. Spareribs may be derived from the pig’s rib cage along the belly side and just underneath the back ribs.

Pork spareribs have a flatter appearance than the curved back ribs. Moreover, they contain more bones. Spareribs also contain some fat that gives the ribs its tenderness.

Spareribs can also be taken from the cattle’s rib cage along its belly side. The spareribs of beef are longer and wider and appear to be more curved than that of the pork spareribs. Moreover, spareribs are usually eaten individually or alone by hand. The one who eats usually gnawed off on the meat that adheres to the bone.

St. Louis Cut Ribs

The St. Louis Cut Ribs are also pork spareribs wherein the rib tips are already removed. The rib tips include the sternum bone, surrounding meat, and the cartilage. St. Louis Cut Ribs come in rectangular shapes.

St. Louis Cut Ribs appear to be flatter than that of the baby back ribs. Thus, they are easier to brown. They also contain lots of bone, along with a great amount of fat. Furthermore, if you cook them properly, you will end up having a flavorful food. The St. Louis Cut ribs are also less expensive compared to the baby back ribs.

St. Louis Cut Ribs, just like the baby back ribs, require slow low heat cooking time to make it more tender and flavorful. They are also ideal for grilling, braising, and smoking. Moreover, you can cook them using an oven. They are also best cooked along with spice rubs and sauces.

St. Louis Cut Ribs are larger in sizes, which means you will take longer to cook them compared to the simple pork spareribs. You will take around one and a half of the time that you use to cook baby back ribs. So, if you are cooking at 300°F, it will take you around two hours to cook baby back ribs. On the other hand, using the same level of heat, it will take you up to three hours to cook the St. Louis ribs.


The dilemma of back ribs vs spareribs all boils down to your preference. Both are popular among diners. However, since the spareribs contain more fat, they are more flavorful compared to the back ribs. Moreover, their sizes spell out the difference in cooking. The spareribs are larger and thus takes more time to cook than the baby back ribs.

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