Ribs are among the more popular cuts of pork for barbecue. They are particularly flavorful and are ideal for low and slow cooking. When it comes to classic American barbecue, there are two main rib cuts: loin back ribs, which are better known as baby back ribs and spare ribs. Below, we compare spare ribs vs baby back ribs to look what makes each of them special and the best methods to cook them.
How are spare ribs different from baby back ribs?
The first big difference between spare ribs and baby back ribs is the size of each rib. The rib bones in spare ribs are longer and flatter than those in baby back ribs. Spare ribs also have more fat to make them more flavorful when cooked slowly, while baby back ribs leaner meat. Leaner meat means that there is a higher risk of the ribs being dry and flavorless. In addition to the amount of meat, the texture is another factor that makes a difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs. The meat from baby back ribs is more tender than the meat from spare ribs, despite the fact that it contains less fat.
Where on the pig do we find spare ribs and baby back ribs?
Baby back ribs are taken from the part of the pig’s rib where it meets the spine. Note that they are called baby back ribs simply because they are cut shorter than spare ribs and are located closer to the animal’s back; they do not come from piglets. Spare ribs are cut from the section of ribs around the pig’s belly. Many butchers will trim away the breastbone, but some may also leave it intact along with the cartilage at the top. Trimming off the breastbone gives the rack a consistent shape, which means that it is more likely to cook evenly.
Is one easier to smoke than the other?
The difference between cooking spare ribs and baby back ribs is more about the time it takes than the level of difficulty involved. Both spare ribs and baby back ribs are best when cooked slowly over low heat. Your grill’s temperature should be no higher than 300 degrees Fahrenheit, but closer to 250 is preferable. The tougher meat of spare ribs requires that they must be smoked for no less than three hours. The fact that the meat is more tender and leaner on baby back ribs means that you should take them off the grill or out of the smoker after about 2 hours.
Is one more expensive than the other?
The demand for baby back ribs is higher than the demand for spare ribs, which means that they tend to be harder to find and more expensive as well. Baby back ribs are often more expensive than pork tenderloin.
When should you use spare ribs and when should you use baby back ribs?
Opt for baby back ribs if you are cooking for a smaller number of people or need something that cooks relatively quickly. The size and cost of these ribs can make them an expensive proposition for large groups. The fact that have they less fat makes them a slightly healthier choice as well. Spare ribs are better for cooking for more people or if you are willing to fire your grill up a few hours before dinner.