St Louis Style Ribs vs Baby Back Style Ribs

Raw rack of pork.

Wondering the difference between St Louis Style Ribs vs Baby Back Style Ribs? St. Louis Ribs (also called spare ribs), and Beef Back Ribs (also called loin ribs) are among the most beloved cuts of meat for barbecue enthusiasts, each bringing its unique flavor and texture to the table. 

Below we break down the differences in texture, dive deep into flavor profiles, and help you decide which rib reigns supreme: st louis style ribs or baby back style ribs? Grab a napkin, because this juicy comparison is about to get saucy!

Also See: Skirt Steak vs Flank Steak, Prime Rib vs Rib Eye and Ribeye vs. New York Strip.

Rack of 3-2-1- ribs on a black cutting board.

St Louis Ribs vs Baby Back Ribs (+ Recipes)

St Louis Pork Ribs

As you can probably guess, St. Louis Ribs hail from the vibrant city of St. Louis, Missouri. In the 1930’s, meatpackers created a new method of cutting pork spare ribs. This method involved removing cartilage from the side of the ribs to create a rectangular rack with more meat.

St Louis Style Ribs are a hallmark of American barbecue culture. Known for its rich, marbled texture and delicious flavor, St. Louis ribs are cut from the belly of the hog, lending it a combination of both tender meat and fatty content that makes it incredibly juicy when cooked right.

Pork Rib Recipes: 3 2 1 RibsInstant Pot Ribs and Oven Baked Spare Ribs.

Rack of cut ribs for St Louis Ribs vs Baby Back Ribs.

Baby Back Ribs

On the other hand, Beef back ribs are a leaner cut of beef, therefore have less “meat” on them. They have less fat than St. Louis Ribs, but what it lacks in fat, it makes up for with its rich beefy flavor and tender meat.

Back ribs, also called loin ribs, come from the upper rib section of the cow, adjacent to the delectable prime rib.

Beef Rib Recipes: Sous Vide Short Ribs, 3 2 1 Ribs, Beef Plate Ribs, and Oven Baked Beef Ribs.

BBQ ribs cut on a cutting board.

Core Differences

Cooking Techniques

When it comes to ribs, the cooking method matters as much as the meat itself. Despite the varying fat content and size, Baby Back Ribs and St. Louis Ribs require the same cooking techniques. 

Both cuts are great for low and slow cooking methods. This allows the fats to melt, the meat to tenderize and boost the meat’s flavor.

Due to their larger size, St. Louis Ribs require a longer cook time. They’re also a flatter cut of meat, allowing for more even cooking.

In contrast, beef back ribs cook faster due to their leaner meat. They also have a curve to the rack, therefore may need a bit more attention to ensure even cooking. 

While we usually reference our Beef Temperature Chart and Pork Temperature Chart for temperature guidance, the temps don’t apply to ribs. Both require an internal temp of 190°-205°F.

Red silicon brush applying bbq sauce to meat.

Tenderness

While the St Louis Ribs boasts a higher fat content, creating a tender and buttery experience, the Beef Back Ribs are a bit firmer, offering more of a chew and denser bite.

Flavor

Both are loved for their savory flavors, but they do vary. St. Louis Ribs have a rich and buttery taste due to its fat content, whereas beef ribs provides a full-bodied, meaty flavor.

Price

In our neck of the woods, St Louis Ribs costs a few dollars more than Beef Back Ribs. Pork ribs are priced around $3-$5 lb. while beef back ribs are around $6-$8.

Two racks of meat on a grill grate.

Conclusion

Whether the St Lous Ribs vs Beef Back Ribs is the best choice depends on individual preferences. If you love a tender, juicy rib with a melt-in-your-mouth feel, go for the pork ribs. If you prefer a lean, beefy flavor with a firmer texture, go with the beef back ribs.

The secret to an awesome rack of ribs isn’t just the cut; it’s also about the prepration and cooking method.

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Temperature Chart For Prime Rib
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