Difference between Baby Back Ribs and Spare Ribs

January 14, 2017 by Editorial Team

Pork ribs are popular in North American and Asian cuisines. This meat comes from the pig’s rib cage. There are different varieties of pork ribs, depending on the section of the rib cage they were cut from. Some people can not differentiate baby back ribs from spare ribs because both of them are pork ribs. What is the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs? Let’s find out in this article.

Descriptions

Baby back ribs

Baby back ribs are a variety of pork ribs. These are from the top of the rib cage, between the spine and the spare ribs. Baby back ribs are also known as “pork loin back ribs,” “back ribs,” or “loin ribs.” There is meat between the ribs and on top of the bones. The length of baby back ribs varies from 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 cm), depending on the size of the pig. Each slab of baby back ribs can feed one to two people.

Baby back ribs need to be slow cooked to become nice and tender. They can be smoked, braised, grilled, or baked in the oven. To have tastier and savory flavor, sauces and spices can be rubbed into the ribs while grilling.

Spare ribs
Spare ribs

Spare ribs are a variety of pork ribs. These are from the lower portion of the ribs, behind the shoulder, specifically the belly and the breastbone. It is also known as “side ribs” or “spareribs.” Each slab can feed about three to four people. There are a lot of bones in each slab but there is also a high amount of fat. This is the reason spare ribs are flavorful when cooked properly. Spare ribs can be further trimmed to St. Louis-Style Spareribs by cutting away the breastbone and the cartilage.

Spare ribs can be slow cooked, smoked, braised, grilled, or baked. Spare ribs need to be cooked thoroughly by simmering in boiling water for 30-45 minutes and by marinating overnight with herbs and spices. The next day, they can be grilled or barbecued in 15 to 20 minutes. But if they will be roasted or braised, they need about 45 minutes to be nice and tender.

Comparison

While both baby back ribs and spare ribs are a variety of pork ribs, there are differences in their cut, size, meat content, and method of cooking.

Rib Cut

Baby back ribs are from the top of the rib cage, between the spine and the spare ribs. Spare ribs are from the lower portion of the rib, behind the shoulder, specifically the belly and breastbone.

Size

The length of baby back ribs varies from 3 to 6 inches (7.6 to 15 cm), depending on the size of the pig. Spare ribs are larger than baby back ribs and can be further trimmed to become St. Louis-Style Spareribs.

Meat Content

Baby back ribs have meat between the ribs and on top of the bones and each slab can feed one to two people. Spare ribs are flatter than baby back ribs. There are a lot of bones in each slab but they can feed about three to four people.

Method of Cooking

Both baby back ribs and spare ribs can be slow cooked, smoked, braised, grilled, or baked. But because spare ribs are larger than baby back ribs, they need to be cooked thoroughly and longer than baby back ribs.

Comparison Chart

Baby Back RibsSpare Ribs
From the top of the rib cageFrom the lower portion of the ribs
Also known as “pork loin back ribs,” “back ribs,” or “loin ribs”Also known as “side ribs” or “spareribs”
Length varies from 3 to 6 inchesLarger than baby back ribs and can be further trimmed to become St. Louis-Style Spareribs
Each slab can feed one to two peopleEach slab and can feed about three to four people

Video

Here is a video that briefly discusses the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs: