Difference between Short Ribs and Spare Ribs

Updated on July 12, 2018

When we’re thinking about ribs, our mouths immediately start to water as our taste buds recall the deliciously sweet, juicy meat that falls off the bone. Ribs are a type of cut frequently associated to picnics where the grill is often fired up. The most commonly bought cuts are short ribs and spare ribs. Continue reading this article so you’ll know the difference between the two and see which one is best for your next get-together.

Summary Table

Short RibsSpare Ribs
BeefPork
Taken from the cattle’s rib or short plateTaken from the pig’s belly side of the rib cage, just above the breastbone
The two major cuts are called the flanken and the EnglishOtherwise known as baby back ribs
Best if braisedCan be braised, roasted, or grilled
Has slightly less saturated fat (5.5 grams per serving)Has slightly more saturated fat (6.9 grams per serving)

Definitions

Short ribs
Short ribs

Short ribs are beef ribs that come from the cattle’s plate cut or the short plate. This is the forequarter cut that comes from the cow’s belly. Short ribs include bones which are nearly straight and have around two inches of meat at the top.

Spare ribs
Spare ribs

Spare ribs are pork ribs, also popularly known as baby back ribs. This part is from the pig’s belly side of the rib cage, just above the sternum. Spare ribs usually have around eleven to thirteen long bones, with meat on top and in between the bones.

Short Ribs vs Spare Ribs

The main difference between short ribs and spare ribs is that short ribs are beef meat and spare ribs are pork meat. Short ribs are ribs that are taken from the cow’s plate cut, while spare ribs are taken from the pig’s rib section, near the breastbone. The two major cuts of the short ribs are usually called the flanken and the English, whereas spare ribs are also popularly known as baby back ribs.

In terms of cooking, short ribs are often braised. If one opts to grill short ribs, braising the meat is essential prior to grilling. Conversely, spare ribs are more versatile. They can be roasted, grilled, or braised. Both short ribs and spare ribs are a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, they also vary in terms of fat content.

Short ribs may be the better option for those watching their weight as they contain slightly less saturated fat per serving at 5.5 grams. Spare ribs, on the other hand, have slightly higher saturated fat content per serving at 6.9 grams. However, both cuts are not considered lean and must still be enjoyed in moderation.

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