The Definitive List of Ribs: Beef Ribs, Lamb Ribs and Pork Ribs

Is there anything better than tucking into a plate of your favorite ribs slathered in bbq sauce? Of course there isn’t.

 Its possible (but not likely) the classic baby back was the first (and maybe only) type of rib that you have ever tried. This is because across the country baby back ribs are the most common ribs.

Compared to other types of ribs baby back ribs contain a lot of meat and are ideal if you prefer your ribs smoked.

In this article, I will show you all the different types of ribs that exist so that you can know your options, and maybe step out of your comfort zone.

This is a huge debate about pork ribs vs. beef ribs so I will be breaking down each different rib type and give you a quick method on how to cook your ribs.  I hope this gets your mouth watering!

Cooking Rib Racks

Types of Beef Ribs

Beef ribs are one of the most popular types of rib out there because of their delicious taste. When properly cooked, well-marbled beef ribs are flavorful and irresistible.. even to those out there who aer not the most meat focused eaters. 

There are three types of beef ribs; baby back ribs flanked style ribs and short ribs. All of them have a rich flavour and are easy to cook.

Beef, lamb, and pork ribs are not the same thing and should not be confused for each other. Meat lovers know and can taste the difference. Beef ribs are much larger than almost all other types.

This should not be a surprise as they come form a much larger animal. They also have gelatinous and unctuous fat running through them and almost look like sticked brisket. Love brisket? Check out my smoked brisket recipe in electric smoker.

Flanked Beef Ribs

Flanked style ribs come from the shoulder of the cow. They are a thinner cut of rib, usually a half inch thick. They are cut along the length and across instead of between the ribs.

his means they contain a lot of meat and have a lot more bone than other styles of rib. Because of the ribs smaller size they are popular in Asian cooking and not so common here in the USA. 

How To Cook Flanked Beef Ribs

This beef rib is different from the others and is best cooked using a different method. That’s because the placement of bones in the flanked style ribs are very different and need to be cooked slightly different for best results. I know, I know, I love smoked ribs the most too but trust me on this one. 

My suggestion is that you braise flanked-style ribs instead of cooking it and slow cook for 5 to 6 hours in the smoker. This braised beef flanken rib recipe is great. 

Beef Back Ribs

Back beef ribs come from a similar place to pork baby back ribs. They come from the ‘rib’ part of the animal. You are left with the back rib when you remove boneless ribeye roasts and steaks.

 Beef back ribs are far larger than other types of beef ribs, This is why they are more commonly known as ‘dinosaur ribs’.

You will definitely get a slice of decent meat from them, and they are usually eaten in portions instead of racks. If you cook them for several hours, they will become extremely tender.

How To Cook Baby Back Ribs

Given their size, I recommend that you cook them on a grill or on the smoker. I love keeping it simple with dinosaur ribs. Put a simply dry rub of salt, pepper and some cayenne pepper. You don’t want to. overpower the ribs flavor too much. 

Pre heat your smoker with your favourite wood, and slap the ribs down for around 2 – 3 hours.

At this point you want to wrap the ribs in foil or heavy duty paper. Pour in some of your favourite stock, water, beer (or anything else) and wrap tightly for another hour until tender and super juicy! 

Short Ribs

Short ribs are also known as plate or beef short ribs. They are another big rib type. Again because of their size they are usually eaten by serving and not by the rack.

When cooked properly, they are tender and almost melt instantly in your mouth.

This type of meat comes from between the second to fifth rib in the chuck. Then the sixth to the eighth rib, in the plate or rib areas of the cow.

They are full of fat and collagen, rectangular and just like brisket. Short ribs have alternating layers of fat and meat.

How To Cook Short Ribs

You can braise, grill or oven-roast beef short ribs. When over-roasting, cover them in a dry rub and bake slowly in a temperature oven. Obviously being a big meat smoker I would suggest smoking your beef short ribs for the best results.

However, you can also grill your beef short rib to get a tender cut or even cook sous vide for a whole day finishing them very quickly on the grill.

Types of Lamb Ribs

Lamb Riblets

Lamb’s ribs are fleshy slabs of meat with lots of smaller bones. They contain a lot of fat and are very flavorful. This uncommon type of ribs can be cut in so many ways.

Personally I think there is only one type of lamb rib worth mentioning; lamb riblets. Lamb riblets come from the upper rib / breast area of the animal and are quite small compared to beef and pork ribs, hence the name ‘riblets’.

Here in the USA lamb ribs are. not the most popular cut and it can actually be quite difficult to find true lamb ribs from the lax USDA rules about what the classification of ‘lamb’ is.

If you are looking into getting some lamb riblets I highly recommend talking to your local butcher first so you know exactly what you are getting. 

How To Cook Lamb Riblets

Because of their size lamb riblets are very easy and versatile. You can roast, grill, braise or sear lamb riblets. When roasting, I recommend you season it richly and use vinegar, olive oil or rosemary. After doing this, I suggest that you marinade the riblets for 6 to 8 hours so get the ribs beautifully tender and packed full of flavor. Otherwise cook them low and slow for several hours to get a delicious, tender bite

Types of Pork Ribs

Pork ribs come from the ribcage of a domestic pig and are popular in both Asian and Western cuisines.

The types of pork ribs are of different thickness, bones, and amount of fat. However, in all of them, the inner surface is removed because it is difficult to cook and chew.

Every pig has 14 ribs that are connected to the spine, and this is where the four popular cuts are cut from.

Baby Back Pork Ribs

Baby back ribs are sometimes referred to as the loin back or simply back ribs. They are called ‘baby’ since they are smaller than other ribs, and ‘back’ because the bones where they are cut from are attached to the pig’s backbone. Baby back ribs are about 3 to 6 inches in length.

Loin back ribs have a slight curvature on them and are lean, meaty and with just a little cartilage.

How To Cook Baby Back Pork Ribs

There are many ways to cook loin back ribs. Any good recipe should have the following steps:

  1. Inspect and trim the meat dangling from the sides.

  2. Slide only the tip of the knife over the bone and under the membrane to cut it.

  3. Season and rub your favorite BBQ rub.

  4. Place it in a smoker or oven to cook low and slow.

  5. Midway through the cook and periodically after, slather in your favorite bbq sauce for the remainder of the cook. 

Country Style Pork Ribs

Country-style ribs are pork chops cut from a pig’s loin. Compared to regular pork, country-style ribs are meatier and super easy to cook. You will definitely need a fork and a knife to eat this one.

You can get a bone in or boneless country-style ribs. The latter is a long strip of muscle laced with intercostal meat.

How To Cook Country Style Pork Ribs

Country styled pork ribs are not actually ribs These ribs need to be slowly cooked. I recommend you cook these ribs is over a fire for the best flavor. However, you can use a gas or charcoal grill to get the job done if you prefer.

Country-style pork ribs go well with cider vinegar or any of your favorite vinegar based BBQ sauces. You can season them with salt and pepper but I would avoid too much additional flavor.

Pork Spareribs

Pork spareribs come from down the side and towards the breastbone of the pig. They are also called spares or side ribs. If you ever hear anyone say ‘ribs’ without specifying the type, then they are referring to this type of pork ribs.

Spareribs are straighter and flatter than baby back ribs. On one end, you would notice the bone marrow where they are cut from.

The ribs are tapered from the animal’s chest at the other end. There should be a meat slab, cartilage, and gristle at this end as well. Despite that they are not meaty, most love this rib because it is very flavorful and generally tender and juicy.

How To Cook Pork Spareribs

I highly recommend only smoking pork spare ribs.There is something about smoking them that just makes them that much better. 

For those of you who are not quite sure how to smoke pork spare ribs here is a fantastic smoked spare rib recipe that you can master and then make your own with little ingredient changes. 

St. Louis Style Ribs

St. Louis Style ribs originated back in. the the mid-twentieth century when St. Louis meatpackers started cutting their pork meat this way. St. Louis Style ribs are cut from the same part of the ribcage as spareribs.

Many people even refer to it as trimmed up spareribs as they have a neater and regular look. However, the penetration and cooking methods between these two pork ribs are different.

Another difference between St. Louis ribs is that they do not have gristle or cartilage at the bottom. A typical St. Louis style rib is shorter than spare ribs but longer than baby back ribs. However, the shape of the bones in this rib is the same as in spareribs.

How To Cook St. Louis Style Ribs?

Before you begin cooking, make sure you have a sharp knife.

First cut off the pointy ends of the ribs. Then, trim the flap of the meat at the back.

Next, remove the fat if you don’t want them. This will leave you with an aesthetically pleasing rib that you can smoke, grill, braise or cook sous vide.

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