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10 Types of Ribs (Pork, Beef, Lamb)

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Learn all about the 10 types of ribs, what to look for, and how to prepare them!

10 types of ribs

If you own a smoker or grill, you will be familiar with spare ribs, baby backs, and perhaps beef ribs. However, did you know that there are more options out there, and even better, did you know that you could prepare some of these ribs without outdoor cooking equipment? Read on and find out more about the 10 types of ribs!

10 Types of Ribs: Pork

Pork butchery

Spare Ribs

Raw pork spare ribs
pork spare ribs

What are spare ribs?

These are most popular rack of ribs for used for BBQ. This cut originates from the end portion of the rib section that runs along a pig’s breast bone. Full spares appear bow-shaped and contain well-marbled meat on long, flat-shaped bones. Flip it over, and you’ll find a small flap of meat and cartilage. These are the rib tips. Remove this portion and cook them separately. 

Most full racks of spare ribs weigh about 3 1/2-4 pounds, or enough meat to feed 3-4 people. Spare ribs benefit from low and slow cooking in order to break down the tough connective tissue. Remember to remove the membrane on the bone side of the ribs before cooking! This goes for St. Louis cut and baby backs as well.

The optimal cooking temperature for spare ribs is between 225-250 degrees F. I recommend following the 3-2-1 method for spare ribs. Braise these ribs in a Dutch oven or cook in your oven at low temps.

St. Louis Ribs

Rack of Pork Spareribs
St. Louis Ribs

What are St. Louis ribs?

They are simply spare ribs trimmed into a uniform, rectangular shape. The top portion, edges, and rib tips from the back are all removed. I recommend smoking these rib scraps and using them in BBQ baked beans or serving them as an appetizer. St. Louis ribs similarly to spare ribs and feed about 2-3 people per rack. 

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs
Baby Back Ribs

What are baby back ribs?

These smaller back ribs derive from the upper section of the rib cage near the backbone. They sit just above the spare ribs but differ in a few ways. First, baby backs contain shorter bones and are not as wide as spare ribs; hence the term “baby.” The meat is also different and contains more loin-like qualities. 

Low and slow cooking works best for baby back ribs, with a target cooking temperature of 225-250 degrees F. I recommend grilling and using the 2-2-1 method for baby backs. They are also delicious when cooked in a slow cooker or braised in a Dutch oven.

Country Style Pork Ribs

Country Style Pork Ribs
Country Style Pork Ribs

What are country-style pork ribs?

Country-style pork ribs aren’t really ribs but rather cleverly cut blade chops that look like large, boneless ribs. These “ribs” come from the blade portion by the shoulder and contain tough connective tissue interspersed with fat. This makes them ideal for low and slow hot smoke cooking or cooking in a crockpot. Aim for a cooking temperature between 250-275 degrees F. Serve size is one 1 large rib, or two smaller ones per person.

10 Types of Ribs: Beef

Cuts of beef diagram

Plate Ribs

Beef Plate Ribs on the Smoker
Beef Plate Ribs

What are beef plate ribs?

The second category on my 10 types of ribs list are beef plate ribs, also known as beef spare ribs or dino ribs. These enormous ribs come from the belly portion of the animal. These ribs have ample marbling with thick slabs of meat nestled around large bones. This cut benefits from low and slow cooking. If you plan on making beef plate ribs plan on a 6+ hour cooking time at 225 degrees F. Please note that there is no need to remove the membrane on the bone side of beef ribs. A 3-bone rack of beef plate ribs will feed 3-6 people.

Back Ribs

Beef Barbecue Rib Rub
Beef Back Ribs

What are beef back ribs?

Though quite different, beef back ribs are often confused with beef plate ribs. Beef back ribs are located near the spine and contain less meat. While beef plate ribs have a thick portion of meat on top of the bone, beef back ribs do not. In fact, the meat concentration is largely between the bones. Back ribs provide a cheaper alternative to plate ribs. The racks come whole, or cut in half lengthwise, and relabeled as “beef finger ribs.” These ribs are ideal for BBQ and require less time than beef plate ribs. The ideal cooking temperature is between 225-250 degrees F. One large rack of beef back ribs will feed 4 people.

Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs
Beef Short Ribs

What are beef short ribs?

These ribs originate in front of the backbone and near the steer’s prime rib and ribeye sections. Short ribs are meaty but tough. They benefit from a low and slow cooking method like grilling and braising in a Dutch oven or crockpot. Serve 1-2 short ribs per person.

Flanken Ribs

Korean Flanken Ribs (Kalbi)
Flanken Ribs

What are beef flanken ribs?

Remember those beef plate ribs up above? Well, flanken ribs actually come from them. Butchers will cut these ribs into thin strips across the bone to form flanken ribs (popular in Korean cuisine). Since they are quite thin, they cook quickly. I recommend marinating them first, then cooking 2 minutes per side over medium-high heat, or 450 degrees F. Serve 2-3 flanken ribs per person.

Country-Style Beef Ribs

Country-Style Beef Ribs
Country-Style Beef Ribs

What are country-style beef ribs?

Like its pork counterpart, beef country-style ribs are not ribs but rather cut from chuck roasts. The butcher will split a chuck roast, cut the meat into 2-2 1/2″ strips, and package them for sale. Country-style beef ribs are packed full of rich beefy flavor. I recommend braising these ribs in a tomato-wine sauce until tender and juicy. You can also sous vide them first and finish them off on the grill. The serving size for country-style ribs is 1/2 pound per person. 

10 Types of Ribs: Lamb

Spare or Denver Cut

Lamb Spare Ribs
Lamb Spare Ribs

What are Denver cut spare ribs?

Last on our list of the 10 types of ribs is lamb! When we think of lamb ribs, most of us envision a rack of lamb. And while they come from the rib section, they contain a lollipop-shaped portion of meat. Lamb spare ribs, however, do not. Lamb spare ribs, also called Denver cut or Denver ribs, come from the lower section of the rib cage. Some butchers will remove the connective tissue around this cut, but you will need to trim them of fat and gristle in some cases. This cut works best grilled at moderate heat for 15-20 minutes per side, depending on size. Two racks will feed 4 people or 2to 3 ribs per person.  

Derrick Riches

I began writing about Barbecue & Grilling in 1997 with one mission, to help the backyard chef have the best experience possible.

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