9 Types of Ribs (Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Fish?)

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Planning to make ribs the next time you have a cookout but are not sure what type you should purchase? Don’t worry because we have all the information you need to select the best ribs for you here.

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide you will discover:

  • The different types of ribs you can choose from
  • What part of the animal’s body do they come from
  • Tips for cooking the best ribs
  • And much more!
a rack of BBQ ribs over a grill

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Types of Ribs Overview

If you know anything about ribs, then you probably have your personal preferences in the type of ribs you like. While some people prefer the traditional pork baby back ribs, others prefer to bounce around to the different types of ribs for variety.

No matter what type of ribs you prefer, there are a variety of cooking methods that you can use for them. While some people prefer to grill them, others prefer to smoke them over a long period of time.

The one thing that rib connoisseurs can agree on is that due to the massive amount of connective tissue they have, they are best cooked low and slow. This will ensure that you have a final product that is both delicious and juicy.

Whether you choose pork, beef, lamb, or even fish ribs, you should get familiar with what you can buy where you live. Most places sell the most common types of ribs that come from pork or beef, while you may have to look elsewhere for the rare varieties.

Another factor to consider when deciding which type of ribs to purchase is the various ways you can prepare them. While cooking methods are typically smoking, grilling, or roasting, there are many different rubs and sauces you can choose from as well.

The bottom line is that if you are in the market for ribs, you may want to do some research to discover the various types that exist. Following your research, you will want to check out your local butchers to see the varieties they offer before making your final decision.

What Are the Different Types of Beef Ribs?

While not the most popular type of rib, due to them being a tougher cut of meat generally, beef ribs have come a long way. Many grillers have learned that just because beef is a tougher cut, does not mean that it cannot be transformed into deliciously tender slabs.

Since the cow is a larger animal, there are typically more connective tissues that are holding the ribs together. This translates into a tougher cut which is not easily manipulated in traditional cooking methods.

Because of the large amounts of connective tissue in beef ribs, experts recommend that you cook them using the low and slow methods. By doing this, the ribs have the time to tenderize enough to turn into a succulent meal.

If you are curious about the different types of beef ribs you can purchase, read below.

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Short Ribs

These ribs are named for the fact that they are shorter than most other ribs, measuring about 2-3 inches in length. Being shorter, however, does not mean that they provide less meat they are said to be some of the meatiest types of ribs out there.

Depending on the butcher in your area, the short ribs you purchase tend to come from the rib plate area that is left over after other rib cuts are taken. Short ribs tend to come from the short plate that is left that is nearer to the breastbone and tends to have more meat attached.

Since these types of ribs are somewhat different from other ribs, they are typically not always cooked in the same way. In most cases, short ribs are braised instead of grilled or smoked and they are usually not the typical barbeque ribs most people eat.

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Beef Back Ribs

This type of rib comes from the back of the cow along the shoulder area, which is the same area butchers get the ribeye steak and prime rib roasts. Because of this, beef back ribs tend to be more fatty than meaty and should be cooked using a low and slow method.

Many people like the versatility and affordability of this type of rib since it makes it easier to use for large groups of people. While most cuts of ribs tend to be more on the expensive side, this type can be purchased for a reasonable price.

Whether you choose to grill, smoke, or cook them in the oven, you should be aware that for best results they need to be cooked slowly. Since they are so versatile, the result is a tender, succulent rib that people will be talking about for some time.

Flanken-Style Ribs

Short ribs and flanken-style ribs are typically cut from the same area of the cow but are cut differently by butchers. While short ribs are cut to be thick and hearty, flanken-style ribs are intended to be a much thinner cut.

This style of the rib is often used in a variety of Mexican and Asian recipes since they are thinly sliced and tend to be pretty beefy. Keep in mind that this type of rib is also higher in fat than some of the other cuts of ribs.

Since flanken-style ribs are cut thinly, they will not hold up well using the low and slow method without burning or becoming tough. This is why this type of rib is best when cooked at high heat or even braised.

Types of Pork Ribs

When it comes to types of ribs, most people prefer pork ribs over any other type for a wide variety of reasons. As you are considering what type of rib you want to cook, you should keep in mind that in most traditional cookouts, pork ribs are typically a staple.

One reason people prefer pork ribs over other types of ribs is that they are packed with a more robust flavor and tend to be juicer. This translates to a final product that is not only delicious but also tender and full of flavor.

Wondering what types of pork ribs there are to choose from? Keep reading to find out.

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Baby Back Ribs

One of the most popular types of ribs, the baby back rib, despite what some people think, does not come from baby pigs. Rather, they are cut from the back part of the pig where the backbone connects to the ribcage.

They also get their name from the fact that they are a smaller rib portion than other cuts, measuring in at around 3-6 inches wide. This means that they do not take as long to cook as some of the wider and thicker cuts of ribs.

Even though they do not take as long to cook, the most popular cooking method is using the low and slow methods. This ensures that the meat is not only tenderized and cooked thoroughly but also that the flavors are set into this leaner, less fatty type of rib.

Related >> Easy Smoked Ribs Recipe

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Spareribs

Spareribs are from the portion of the cow that is similar to baby back ribs along the back, but they extend around to the stomach area. This means that they are not only a thicker and wider type of rib, but they also tend to be a bit fattier.

This type of rib tends to be cut by butchers to be around 6-8 inches wide and is much flatter than the curvy baby back ribs. Spareribs are typically what is left on the bones after the meat for bacon or pancetta has been removed.

The best way to cook spareribs can vary depending on your personal preference, but most people prefer cooking them using the low and slow methods. This typically means using either the smoker or grill, depending on what you prefer.

St. Louis-Style Ribs

Most people who have tried this type of rib agree that it tends to be a much meatier and more flavorful cut of ribs. Since there is more bone that the meat is attached to, there tends to be more fat, but this just adds to the flavor of the overall final product.

The St. Louis-style name comes not from a particular type of pig, but from the meatpacking plant that cut them in a certain way. These slabs tend to be similar to those of baby back ribs, in that they are cut in a uniform rectangular pattern.

Most people who prefer St. Louis-style ribs do so because they are easy to manipulate since they are cut the same way. This also makes them easier to either smoke or grill, depending on your personal preference.

Country-Style Ribs

While not technically ribs by definition, this cut is referred to as ribs because of the similarities in both texture and flavor. Country-style ribs are the only type of ribs that are boneless since they come from the shoulder area of the pig.

Butchers take this cut of ribs from the fatty area around the shoulder blade that tends to be more muscular. This translates to a final product that is both flavorful and tender depending on the cooking methods used.

To reach a maximum in tenderness, most people prefer to cook this type of rib using the low and slow method either on the grill or the smoker. The result is a country-style rib that is so tender that it may seemingly melt in your mouth.

What Other Types of Ribs Can You Purchase?

Most people who enjoy eating ribs tend to stick to either beef or pork ribs since they are more readily available in most butcher shops. There are others, however, that tend to want to branch out to other types of varieties.

Lamb Riblets

Although not often found in most backyard cookouts, lamb riblets are a type of rib that many people enjoy. This is typical because they are packed with a robust and unique flavor that other types do not have. The lamb riblets are cut from the spare ribs of the animal and tend to be well known for being meatier than other types of ribs. They are meatier mostly because they carry less fatty tissue in the area they are sourced from.

Fish Ribs

This type of rib is not as popular as beef or pork ribs but is considered delicacies in some regions of the world. While they have to be prepared differently since fish tends to be more delicate, you may change your mind once you get a taste. There are typically two types of fish ribs that you may be able to get:
  • Pacu Fish Ribs is a Brazilian fish that tends to be more on the meaty side and is a relative to the piranha. Although not often found, they can be found in some restaurants and are considered a delicacy.
  • Tuna Ribs are also a rare find and tend to be found more often in Asian restaurants. The biggest difference between tuna ribs and your more traditional ribs is that these do not require heat for preparation.

Final Thoughts on Types of Ribs

Overall, when it comes to types of ribs is that it comes down to your personal preference and the availability of ribs in your area. If you are a more traditional person, you may want to stick with either beef or pork ribs, but if you are more daring, you may want to seek out other varieties just to satisfy your curiosity.

Hope Davis

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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