Ribs are a cut of pork (or beef, etc.) from the loin or side between the shoulder and back legs. Pork ribs come in three basic cuts – back ribs, spare ribs, and country-style ribs – depending on the section of the hog where they originated.
A special cut of spare ribs, formalized by the USDA as “Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style,” are cut in a particular way with the sternum bone, cartilage and rib tips removed so that a well-formed, rectangular-shaped rack is created for presentation. The name St. Louis style ribs allegedly originated from numerous meat-packing plants located in the St. Louis area in the mid-20th century and although it was against the norm to use geographical terms to name a specific cut of meat, a diehard fan of the St. Louis Cardinal baseball team with the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the policy into place regardless.
Baby Back Ribs
Cut from the top portion of the rib cage, baby back ribs are shorter than spare ribs (hence, the name "baby") and are the most lean and tender ribs.
Cut from the belly, spare ribs have longer bones and less meat than baby backs, but are considered by some to have a richer flavor.
St. Louis-Style Spare Ribs
Spare ribs trimmed of rib tips and brisket flap gives this cut a uniform rectangular shape.
Located in front of the baby back ribs, near the shoulder blade, this style of ribs is the meatiest variety. However, this cut is not actually from the ribs and instead is more of a pork chop.
How to Cook Ribs
All types of ribs cook best slowly on low heat to achieve the super tender meat we all love. These recipes will help you master cooking your favorite type of pork ribs.
BBQ Sauces, Rubs and Marinades
Pair any type of ribs with one of these sauces, rubs or marinades to add bold and delicious flavors.