Dear BBQ Friend:
There seems to be a little confusion amongst BBQ rib fans about the various terms used to describe pork ribs. Several versions of pork BBQ rib cuts look almost identical in the meat department of your favorite grocery store. It’s important to properly identify your BBQ rib type purchase before slow smoking because one cut is leaner than the other and does not require as long cooking times. So here are the most popular BBQ rib types...
Baby Back Ribs - Baby backs are also called loin back ribs. The grocery stores usually label them as loin backs. Baby backs are usually smaller in size and have a fairly pronounced curve to the bone. The meat is leaner than spareribs so be sure to reduce your cooking time accordingly. Baby backs are most often confused with St Louis cut spareribs because they are similar in size. But St Louis style ribs will be much flatter with more fat and meat.
Spareribs - A full slab of spareribs is hard to confuse with any other type of BBQ rib type. The sparerib comes from the side and belly of the pig and they are larger than baby backs, contain more fat, and are flatter than baby backs. The extra fat provides more flavor. Most slow smoking BBQ rib enthusiasts prefer the taste of the sparerib over the baby backs. It is also a cheaper cut of BBQ rib.
St Louis Cut - This is a sparerib that has been trimmed to remove the tips or brisket end of the spareribs. There is also a flap of meat called the skirt on a full rack of spareribs that is removed. The result is a fairly flat rack of ribs that is easier to handle, looks nicer, and cooks up more evenly. To learn how to trim your spareribs St Louis style, please click here: St Louis Style Ribs.
Country Style Ribs - These are NOT ribs at all. They are just strips of meat cut from either the Boston Butt or the shoulder. They may or may not contain a bone (shoulder blade).
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