The Biggest Tip To Remember When Cooking Pork Ribs Vs Beef Ribs

Cooking meat outdoors is one of the great American pastimes. True: This cooking method is present in a lot of cultures. But Americans (particularly Texans) take to grilling and smoking meats with a gusto that's virtually unmatched around the world. We even have an entire grilling season — though you shouldn't let that arbitrary window stop you from grilling during the winter.

Of course, as with any other type of cooking, the key to grilling (or smoking) meat is knowing how to use the different types of ingredients at your disposal. You can't simply prepare everything the same way, after all, since some meats don't take well to certain cooking methods.

Enter ribs. One of the most common meats cooked outdoors, you may be unsure which of the two primary barbecuing methods (grilling and smoking) you should use for ribs. But as it turns out? The answer comes down to which type of ribs you're using — because beef ribs should be grilled, while pork ribs are best smoked.

Smoke pork ribs, but grill beef ribs

Beef and pork ribs are undoubtedly similar to each other, but they aren't interchangeable. Just as a pork steak and beef steak need to be cooked in completely different ways, pork ribs and beef ribs require similarly varied methods of management.

Pork ribs are known for having tons of flavor, but they're also relatively lean oftentimes (particularly pork loin ribs). Since the primary rule for lean meat is it will dry out if exposed to high heat, letting pork ribs smoke slowly over a longer period of time will keep them nice and juicy (in addition to really bringing out their flavor).

Beef ribs are usually much fattier than pork ribs. Fattier meats, of course, respond much better to high heat than leaner ones. But it's not merely the fact they won't lose as much moisture as leaner pork ribs that makes beef ribs better suited for grilling's higher heat. Beef ribs also benefit tremendously from the sort of hard outer crust you get from grilling, making this barbecuing technique a win-win all around.

Ribs aren't the only meat you need to be careful with

There are other things to keep in mind when it comes to barbecuing meats — such as the best way to cook certain items. And while you may be able to grill or smoke a meatloaf, not every meat is as amenable to multiple cooking methods. In fact, in some cases, whether to smoke or grill a meat is even more important than it is with ribs.

Brisket is regarded by many as the king of barbecue meats (and one of the toughest to cook correctly). But assigning that title to brisket only comes down to one type of barbecuing: smoking. After all, you should never grill a brisket, because it's filled with connective tissues that need time to break down. When exposed to the slow, steady heat of a smoker, those tissues melt, and infuse the meat with unparalleled flavor; conversely, when brisket is grilled, it simply hardens, creating a tough, inedible piece of meat.

Cooking is all about knowing how to treat the ingredients you're working with properly. As long as you follow the rules, though, your barbecue experience should go just fine.