There is nothing better than a rack of fall off the bone, messy, finger-licking ribs. Commonly cooked low and slow to get that fall off the bone tenderness.
Let’s clear up any confusion between back ribs, loin ribs, and baby back ribs. They are all the same cuts of meat just different names.
I also have to ease your mind by telling you that baby back ribs do not come from baby pigs. They refer to them as baby back ribs because of their size in comparison to the spare ribs.
Now that we know that back ribs and baby back ribs are the same things you should know that there are other ribs that are not the same cut of meat.
Spare ribs are also pork but not the same thing as back ribs.
There are also “short ribs” which come from cows or lambs.
Let’s go over what the difference is between other ribs now that we have cleared up our back and baby back rib confusion.
It is also important to learn how to reheat ribs.
What Are Back Ribs
Back ribs, also known as baby back ribs, loin back ribs, or pork loin back ribs are connected to the spine of the pig, hence the “back” rib name.
Pork loin back ribs come in racks that are 11-13 bones anywhere from 1 1/2-2 lbs and the length of each rib is 3-6 inches.
The length of the ribs depends on the size of the pig that they come from not the age of the pig.
So let me reiterate that they do not come from baby pigs.
The meat that comes from back ribs is tender and if cooked correctly the meat literally falls off the bones. You can expect to get about 1/2 an inch of meat on top of each bone.
It is important to cook ribs low and slow to allow them to render. Rendering meat is the process in which you cook low melting away the fat from the connective tissue making for a tasty bite.
Being that back ribs are lean meat you can ruin them easily by cooking them too hot or too fast and drying them out.
Baby back ribs are generally more expensive than spare ribs but also have more meat on the bones so it’s worth every penny. One rack will satisfy 1-2 people.
Learn more about how to tell when grilled baby back ribs are done.
What Are Spare Ribs
Spare ribs are similar to back ribs but are a different cut. These ribs come from the stomach side under the belly of the pig.
Spare ribs tend to have less meat on them but are fattier which offers lots of great flavors. The meat is typically found in between the ribs instead of on top.
You will often see them called St. Louis-style spare ribs and all this means is the way that they were butchered.
They will trim away the breast bone and chewy unwanted cartilage. They will take on a rectangular shape and cut into smaller racks.
Spare ribs are less expensive than back ribs as they have less meat on them but are more cost-effective when feeding larger crowds.
Check out my post on how to tell when grilled pork chops are done.
Tips For Grilling Ribs
There are so many ways that you can cook back ribs. The most common way is by grilling or smoking them. You can also get great-tasting ribs by braising or cooking them in the oven.
The key to finger-licking, falling off-the-bone, and messy ribs are to cook them slowly at a low temperature. And don’t forget they will be mouth-watering also.
Usually, pork is recommended to be cooked to 145°F but with baby back ribs you want to cook them even longer.
The ideal temperature for pork ribs is 195°F. This allows for the collagen in the ribs to become gelatin-like and makes for great-tasting ribs.
Rubs and sauces are great for enhancing the flavors of ribs. You can achieve so many different flavors by using rubs and spices, making them sweet or spicy, whichever is your preference.
There are a few different cuts of pork ribs. Find out what types of pork ribs are there.