Type of Ribs: Everything You Need to Know and Eat

Do you know how many types of ribs there are? The answer is many. From pork baby back ribs to exotic fish ribs.

ribs-on-a-plate-different-types-of-ribs

The best thing about ribs is that they all are versatile. Not only do they go well with barbecue sauce, but they also make a great addition to any stew! Keep reading to learn which are the best types of ribs and how to cook them.

What are the different types of ribs?

The different types of ribs can be classified based on where they’re sourced from. There are pork, beef, lamb, and even fish ribs. Popular types of pork rib cuts are spare ribs, St Louis style ribs, and baby back ribs.

Common types of beef rib cuts are short ribs and flanken-style ribs. If you’re not into pork or beef ribs, there are other types of ribs you can try. For example, there are lamb spare ribs and lamb riblets.
Other types of ribs that have gained popularity in recent years are fish ribs. Tuna ribs are the most common. Pacu ribs are also extremely popular and are sourced from an exotic Brazilian fish.

Pork versus Beef Ribs

The two most popular types of ribs are pork and beef ribs. One of their main differences is their size. On average, beef rib bones measure between 8 and 12 inches and, along with the meat, can weigh two pounds or more.

In contrast, pork ribs weigh one to four pounds. A rack of baby back ribs, for example, can weigh as little as one and a half pounds. And a rack of spare ribs weighs up to four pounds.

Another difference is how much fat they have. Beef ribs are fattier, with more even portions of meat and fat than pork ribs. But, because they are bigger, beef ribs also tend to have more meat than pork ribs.

The flavor is also a major difference. Beef ribs have a strong, beef-like flavor, while pork ribs have a much tamer and sweeter flavor. Because of this, many chefs and barbecue enthusiasts prefer pork ribs.

Pork vs beef ribs - different types of ribs

Types of Beef Ribs

Beef ribs are not sold as complete racks, instead, they are broken down into back ribs and short ribs. Back ribs come from the section of the back of the cow behind the shoulders. Beef short ribs come from the lower section called the short plate.

Besides these types of ribs, there are beef flanken ribs and country-style ribs. The list below explains the differences between the most popular cuts of beef ribs.

  • Beef back ribs. This type of beef ribs comes from the dorsal area in the back of the cow. They don’t have as much meat as other types of beef ribs, such as plate ribs. These ribs are ideal for a backyard BBQ, as they take a short time to cook.
  • Beef short ribs. This type of beef ribs tends to be meaty but tough. That’s why they’re best for cooking ribs low and slow. Two popular types of beef short ribs are chuck short ribs and plate short ribs.
  • Beef plate ribs. Also known as spare ribs, beef plate ribs come from the belly of the cow. They tend to be big and meaty. Their high-fat content enhances their flavor greatly.
  • Beef country-style ribs. Country-style ribs are not really ribs, but rather a Chuck Eye Steak split into strips. Once cooked, they are tender, flavorful, and juicy. These boneless ribs go well with a coke and barbecue sauce.
  • English cut beef ribs. These are short beef ribs cut between the rib bones to separate them. As a result of this, English cut ribs have a thick piece of meat that sits on top of the bones. They are often sold as a rack of four bones, or as individual cuts.
  • Flanken style ribs. This is a style of short ribs with long cuts across the bone. They are very popular in Korean barbecues.

Types of Pork Ribs

The three most popular cuts of pork ribs are back, spare, and country-style ribs. Besides these, St Louis ribs are another popular type of pork ribs. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of pork ribs.

  • Pork spare ribs. Spareribs come from the belly of the pig. A rack of spare ribs can weigh anything between two and four pounds. They are best cooked with low heat for a long time to break down the connective tissue that surrounds them.
  • Pork baby back ribs. These ribs are sourced from the top of the rib cage. They’re called baby back ribs because of their size and not because they come from baby pigs. Baby back ribs have small bones, they are also leaner and more tender than other pork ribs.
  • Country-style pork ribs. These are not really ribs, but rather pork chops cut into strips. Country-style ribs come from a section near the shoulder blade of the pig. They are very meaty and often surrounded by connective tissue and fat.
  • St Louis style pork ribs. These ribs are made by removing the sternum bone and rib tips, forming a rectangular rack. They have less meat and tend to have more fat than other types of ribs.
  • Pork loin ribs. These ribs come from the back of the pig where the rib cage meets the backbone. Because they wrap around the loin muscle, they have a slight curvature. Barbecued pork loin ribs are great for a backyard BBQ party.

Most Popular Types of Ribs

We’ve talked about the types of ribs and their differences, but what are the most popular types of ribs? Keep reading to learn which are the 10 types of ribs everyone should try!

If you’re looking for traditional ribs, you should go for pork or beef ribs. The most popular types of ribs you can choose from are:

  1. Spare ribs
  2. Beef back ribs
  3. Baby back ribs
  4. Beef Short ribs
  5. Beef or pork country-style ribs
  6. English cut ribs
  7. St Louis style ribs

If you want to try something different, you won’t go wrong with lamb, venison, or fish ribs. Read below to learn more about these types of ribs.

  • Lamb riblets. Lamb riblets come from the shoulder of the animal. The meat is sawed off the bones to form a rack of ribs. Cooked correctly, they are flavorful and tender.
  • Venison ribs. These ribs are very versatile and healthy. Because venison is a great source of protein with very low fat. The best part is that you can cook venison ribs at home easily. 
  • Tuna ribs. These come from the ribs of tuna fish. What makes tuna ribs different from other types of ribs is that they are typically served raw. 
buying different types of ribs

What to Look for When Buying Types of Ribs

To buy the best types of ribs for your next barbecue, you have to ensure you’re getting high-quality meat. You can always ask your butcher for help, but it’s always good to know how to pick the best products. Keep reading to learn more about what you should look for when buying ribs!

Cut

Understanding the differences between the types of ribs is crucial. This will help you choose the right ribs for your needs. It can also help you make sure you are getting the exact rib cuts you are asking for. 

In addition to this, you should look for even cuts when buying ribs. If one side is thinner, it’s easier for your ribs to overcook. If one section is thicker, you might end up with raw ribs. 

Color and Marbling

You should look for ribs with a vibrant pink or red color. Avoid pale-looking ribs or meat with dark spots. These are signs of rotten meat.

Another thing to look for is marbling in the meat. Marbling refers to the white flecks of fat in the meat. It enhances the juiciness, texture, and flavor of your ribs.

Fat

You want to buy ribs with the least amount of exterior fat, as you’ll have to remove most of it when cooking. It’s important to remember that some cuts, especially beef rib cuts, tend to have more fat than others.

Meat Distribution

When buying ribs, make sure to pick a rib with an even layer of meat. Don’t choose slabs with exposed bones or with a poor meat-to-fat ratio. This is a sign that the ribs were cut too close to the bone and will fall out when you cook them.

Freshness

Two things you can do to choose fresh meat are inspecting its color and smell. Fresh beef ribs have a bright red color. Meanwhile, fresh pork ribs tend to be pink, with grayish undertones. 

As for the smell, fresh meat has almost no smell. If you’re not sure about the freshness of the ribs you want to buy, you can always ask your butcher!

grilling different ribs on a grill

Ways to Cook Different Types of Ribs

Ribs are one of the most popular cuts of meat because of their versatility. They can be grilled, fried, smoked, and baked or cooked in a crock pot or sous vide. Keep reading to learn more about the best ways to cook ribs!

Grilled Ribs

Grilling ribs is extremely easy, even if you only know the basics of barbecue grilling. You can use a charcoal or gas grill. Depending on the heat, your ribs should be ready in one and a half or two hours.

It’s important to prepare the ribs before cooking. You should pat them dry with a paper towel and remove any excess fat. Then, rub the ribs with the seasoning of your choice and put them on the grill.

Braised Ribs

Braising is a slow cooking method that’s perfect for those that don’t have a grill! To braise ribs, you can use a Dutch oven or a slow cooker. Beef short ribs and pork ribs are the best types of ribs for braising.

The first step for braising ribs is to sear them with oil or butter. Then, cover them with liquid, it can be anything from broth to red wine, and season them. Finally, cook them at low heat until they are tender.

Baked Ribs

If you want a simple dinner recipe, baked ribs are a great choice. To prepare them, first, you’ll have to preheat your oven to 275 degrees. Season your ribs however you like, we recommend these oven-baked barbecue ribs!

Once the ribs are seasoned, you should put them in a pan and cover them with aluminum foil. Ribs can bake at a low temperature anywhere between two and four hours. You’ll know they’re ready when they are tender.

Fried Ribs

Fried ribs are a great alternative for those that want to try something new. Just clean the ribs, cover them with flour, and throw them into hot oil! If you want something more elaborate, you can try these crispy deep-fried ribs.

Smoked Ribs

If you’re craving BBQ ribs, you should prepare some smoked ribs using the 3-2-1 method. In short, this slow cooking method requires:

  • 3. Smoking the ribs on the grill for three hours.
  • 2. Wrap the ribs in foil and cook them on the grill for two hours. 
  • 1. Unwrap the ribs, cover them in barbecue sauce, and cook for one more hour.

No matter how you cook them, ribs will always be the star of your meals! They’re so versatile that they’re great for all occasions. From a backyard barbecue to a holiday dinner party. 

There are so many different ways to cook ribs that you can’t get tired of them. If you want to take your rib-cooking skills to the next level, you should try all the types of ribs! 

Have questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments below. Until next time: Stay salty, and sweet 😉

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