Baby Back Ribs vs Spare Ribs – What’s The Difference?

If you’re wondering what makes baby back ribs and spare ribs different, you’re in the right place!

In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:

  • The part of the rib where each come from
  • If you can tell a difference just by looking
  • Which cut of ribs are the best 
  • And much more!
Baby back ribs vs spare ribs

Calling for a “spare ribs vs baby back ribs” war may sound a bit extreme, but like it or not, that’s exactly what it is when it comes to knowing the differences between the two tasty cuts.

The average person could probably care less because, hey, a rib is a rib — and knowing the difference definitely won’t change the fact that it’s going to be devoured either way.

To the rib connoisseur or grill master, on the other hand, baby back ribs and spare ribs mean a world of difference. To them, bringing the wrong type of rib to a barbeque could make for a very interesting discussion.

After all, pork is only second to chicken as the most consumed food in the world. It’s kind of a big deal.

Regardless, being able to recognize the difference between the two can not only be a good conversation starter, but is also knowledge worth having.

So, what are baby back ribs? What are spare ribs? Let’s look into the differences.

Table of Contents

What Is the Difference Between Spare Ribs and Baby Back Ribs?

Baby back ribs are found and cut from around the backbone part of the pig, right underneath the loin muscle and the area that meets the spine.

The word “baby” is used to describe this cut because as far as rib parts go, this part is likely the shortest.

Spare ribs, on the other hand, are those that are just by the end of a pig’s breast and up until where the baby back ribs stop.

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Can You Tell The Difference By Looking At Ribs?

The main visual difference between baby back ribs and spare ribs is the thickness and texture of the meat.

For the most part, baby back ribs have a bit of loin meat attached to the top of the main set of ribs. Usually, this loin meat can be cut to leave a bit of fat on top of the meat.

Spare ribs, however, are usually cut flat, leaving the rib exposed. This is because spare ribs usually have more meat in between the bones.

The meat on spare ribs also has more marbling, too, so leaving a thick cut of meat and fat above it may be unnecessary.

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Baby back ribs vs spare ribs Facts

Which Is Better – Baby Back Ribs or Spare Ribs? 

In terms of texture, baby back ribs are usually the majority winner over spare ribs for most individuals.

The thick-cut above the ribs just works so well.

Depending on the cooking process (smoking ribs, as an example), the fat can also melt into the meat, enhancing the flavor.

Baby back ribs are naturally softer and more tender than spare ribs, making them easy to prepare and quick to cook.

Therefore, it goes without saying that baby back ribs can be a bit pricier than other pig parts.

Spare ribs are a close contender, though, considering the marbling advantage they have going on. Not only that, but the price is more affordable, too.

Since they’re larger than baby back ribs and contain more bone, they do take longer to cook, which is an important consideration.

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Do Baby Back Ribs and Spare Ribs Taste Differently?

Now, this is where it gets interesting.

Meat straight off the bone is obviously a very tasty and wonderful experience, and if you go right into it, it may seem that the two are evenly-matched.

But the fact of the matter is that baby back ribs are superior in terms of taste for the simple reason that there’s more meat to go around for your spices.

Ultimately, there’s a reason why people want their baby backs.

Baby back ribs elevate any barbecue event to a whole new level and can surely impress your guests the moment they see it.

If you don’t manage to get your hands on any, however, going for the spare will also impress — just be sure to add on some extra cooking time.

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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