Grilled pork bbq ribs served with marinated onions. cherry tomatoes. basil and barbeque sauce on wooden cutting board over dark brown texture background. Top view. flat lay. (Photo by: Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Baby Back Vs. Spare Ribs: What's The Difference?
By Garth Clingingsmith
From sticky ribs at dim sum to all of the regional styles of barbecued ribs, the popularity of great ribs is undisputed, but the term covers many different cuts that sometimes come from different animals. When choosing between baby back pork ribs or pork spare ribs, the two have some key differences to take note of.
The meat on baby back ribs is from the loin of the animal, which is lean and tender, while spare ribs are larger, more irregular racks of fatty meat connected to the sternum, full of cartilage and collagen. While not as lean as back ribs, those bits of connective tissue melt into gelatin-rich meat that's tender and juicy after slow-cooking.
Also, since baby back ribs are leaner, they cook faster than spare ribs. Either way, Bon Appétit recommends choosing ribs with meat that is at least ¼ inch thick and fat that is evenly distributed; just choose baby back if you want fall-off-the-bone tender ribs, and spare ribs if you like fatty, juicy meat and don't mind some chew.