Whether baby back or spare, you can’t go wrong with barbecue ribs. But do you know the difference between the two?
To an untrained palate, it may seem like all ribs are the same. But to a barbecue ribs lover, the difference is distinct. The confusion often happens with baby back ribs and spare ribs because many diners can’t recall what it is that truly sets them apart.
To understand the difference, you need to know that pork ribs come from the same two places on a pig, and the type of ribs depend on the area in which the meat is cut. Continue reading to learn more about the difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs.
🍖 Spare Ribs
Spare ribs are also known as side ribs. You can think of them as the bigger brother to baby backs. They come from the underbelly of the pig where the bacon comes from. Yes, BACON! Compared to the popular baby back cut, spare ribs are thicker and meatier, and generally come with the sternum, costal cartilage, and flap still attached. These are the ribs that are traditionally prepared St. Louis style or Louisiana style, which is something you will commonly see at restaurants and barbecue competitions. In these cases, spare ribs that are prepared in these styles usually have their costal cartilage trimmed from the top and the flaps removed from the back, giving the meat a uniform rectangular shape.
🍖 Baby Back Ribs
Baby back ribs are also referred to as loin robs or back ribs. They are cut from the backside of a pig along the spine, which also happens to be very close to the area where pork chops are cut from. Compared to spare ribs, they are less meaty and fatty, and cook much faster; however, they still retain flavors and moisture very well when cooked properly, making them very tender. They are also the more commercially-promoted meat. This actually contributes to their higher price points because they are higher in demand due to mass marketing.