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


One of the most popular barbecue dishes in America is spare ribs. However, not everyone agrees on what it means when you say “spare rib.”

Some believe that only the meaty parts are considered spare ribs while others think that any cut of pork can be called a spare rib. This article will provide information about both types of ribs and which one might be better for your next BBQ party!

What is a Spare Rib?

A spare rib is a type of rib that has meaty ends. These are just the 2-inches or so of meat that is found on the end of the rib, but they have a lot more fat on them than baby back ribs.

The spare rib bones are then trimmed to expose the meat before being slathered in a sauce or dry rub.

A spare rib is meat that has been cut from the lower side of a pig’s (or hog’s) rib cage.

Some people think spare ribs are all one type of cut while others think it’s any cut of pork with lots of fat on it. If you are someone who appreciates the amount of fat left on your ribs then you’re probably going to prefer spare ribs to baby back ribs because these have more fat.

How to Cook Spare Ribs?

If you want to make sure your spare ribs are cooked all the way, place them in a preheated oven or smoker at 225 degrees Fahrenheit. It should take about 1 hour per pound to cook thoroughly.

A few hours before you are ready to cook, cover the spare ribs in water and add a little barbecue seasoning.

Put on your oven mitts and slide the ribs into the oven or smoker. Set it on broil for an hour or two depending on how crispy you want them, flipping them over every 20 minutes or so for even cooking.

Remove them from the oven when they are done. Now, while they are still hot, brush some more barbecue seasoning onto the ribs.

Cut them with your favorite knife or use kitchen shears to cut off small pieces of meat with your fingers. Turn the ribs every few minutes until all of the meat has been removed from the bone.

What is a Baby Back?

A baby back rib is a type of pork rib that comes from the section between the blade bone and the loin. These ribs are shorter, curved, and meatier than spare ribs or St Louis Ribs.

Baby backs typically take less time to cook than other barbecued meats which make them perfect for grilling when you don’t have a lot of time.

If you’re looking for something that’s a bit leaner, then baby back ribs might be the better choice for you. While spare ribs are meatier in some ways than baby backs because they have more fat on them, it also means that these don’t dry out as fast when exposed to heat and oxygen.

This allows people who want their barbecue tender without being soaked in sauce to enjoy baby back ribs as well.

People who are looking for a leaner cut of meat might find that their best option is actually the baby back rib because it has less fat on them than spare ribs do. However, if you prefer something with more fatty pieces and tastes better when cooked longer then spares would be your choice.

How to Cook Baby Back?

If you’re looking for more of a BBQ dish that is on the sweeter and lighter side, then baby back ribs might be for you. Baby back ribs are easier to make, though they take more time than spare ribs.

One of the easiest ways to cook baby back ribs is to cut off the excess fat and membrane.

The key to cooking perfect baby back ribs is to make sure they are sliced thin — about 1 inch thick.

You can also use a butter or oil-based basting sauce to coat the ribs before you put them in the oven so they don’t dry out.

Baby back ribs also need to cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 75 minutes with a roasting rack. The easiest way to smoke baby back ribs is by using a smoke box on a gas grill, but you have to have a metal mesh rack so it traps all of the flavors.

After they are done cooking, you can use your favorite sauce to provide the perfect amount of sweetness and spiciness.

The Difference Between Spare Ribs and Baby Back

Baby back ribs are the most popular choice for grilling as they require less preparation and cook faster than spare rib cuts – thanks to their smaller size but still have that great barbecue flavor.

Spare ribs, on the other hand, can be cooked in a number of ways such as smoking or baking them with beer sauce until tender and delicious.

This is why spare ribs are often more popular among those who enjoy cooking their meat slowly and to perfection – as it’s the perfect dish for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Which One Should You Choose For Your Next BBQ Party?

The consensus among many barbecue pundits is that spare ribs are the gold standard in the world of BBQ. Spare ribs are meatier than baby back because they come from lower down on the rib cage.

Baby backs are closer to the shoulder so they’re easier to cut and cook, but they’re leaner because there’s no bone in them. They also come with a delicious layer of fat between the skin and meat, which is often removed before cooking.

So if you want something tasty and fatty, go for spare ribs. If you don’t want to spend too much time at your BBQ, then go for baby backs.


The type of ribs you cook at your next BBQ party should depend on how you like them cooked and what kind of meat is available near you.

For example, if the only spare rib option in your area comes from a pork loin roast, then it’s probably best to go with that for your party because cooking up an entire pig would be too labor intensive.

If there are plenty of other options though (such as beef or lamb) then by all means grill those instead. We can tell you that whichever variety you choose will taste just as good so long as you take care not to overcook it.

Bobby Johnson

When he's not writing about barbecue, you can find Bobby smoking meat for friends and family. He's been a backyard pitmaster for roughly half his life, and has worked with nearly every cut of meat. Not everyone has a hands-on guide to teach them BBQ, but that's what Bobby hopes to do with Electric Smoker HQ. He wants to help people create amazing food that they can be proud of.