How long is a rack of ribs? Creative Techniques & Tips

Are you wondering how long is a rack of ribs? It’s an important question if you plan to barbecue this weekend or any time soon. If there’s one thing that can make or break a good BBQ, it’s the size and length of its rib racks. That’s why in today’s blog post, we’ll be discussing not only the answer to “how long is a rack of ribs,” but also other important things such as what kind of size variations you can expect for different types of rib racks, best practices when barbecuing with them, and more! Read on to learn everything you need to know about these delicious cuts.

Types Of Ribs

Types Of Ribs

Types Of Beef Ribs

Short Ribs:

  • Short ribs, also known as “English cut,” “barbecue ribs,” “braising ribs,” or “fancy cut ribs,” come from the beef chuck and are the meatiest type of beef ribs. They are typically cut shorter, about 2 to 3 inches long, and are perfect for stews, chilis, and soups. While they can be cooked on the grill or in a smoker, braising is the most popular method. Braised beef short ribs, served with a red wine sauce, are a delightful pairing with mashed potatoes or gnocchi.

Flanken-Style Ribs:

  • Flanken-style ribs are thinly cut, about half an inch thick, and are high in fat, offering an ultra beefy flavor. These ribs, popular in Asian and Mexican cuisines, are taken from the same part of the cow as short ribs. They are commonly cooked at a high heat on the grill or by braising. If you have ever had kalbi-style beef at a Korean barbecue restaurant, chances are you have indulged in flanken-style ribs.

Baby Back Beef Ribs:

  • Baby back ribs, also known as back ribs, are taken from the upper part of the ribcage, around the loin. These curvier and shorter ribs consist of a significant amount of bone and fat, with a small amount of meat between the bones. The best way to cook baby back beef ribs is low and slow on the grill or in the oven.

Types Of Pork Ribs

  • Spareribs: Spareribs come from the lower section of the ribcage, extending around the stomach. They are fattier compared to the baby back cut. Spareribs are generally flatter, about 6 to 8 inches wide. The most tender and juicy spareribs are achieved through braising, smoking, or grilling.
  • Baby Back Ribs: Baby back pork ribs are from the top section of the pig where the backbone meets the ribcage. Despite the name, they do not come from baby pigs but are shorter spare ribs. Because they are smaller in size, about 3 to 6 inches wide, they take less time to cook than other types of ribs. Baby back ribs are a leaner cut and are commonly cooked low and slow on the grill, in the oven, or in the smoker.
  • St. Louis-Style Ribs: St. Louis style ribs are cut from the hog’s belly after the removal of the belly itself. They consist of some rib bone and its attached meat, along with a narrow portion of the backbone. These ribs are similar to spare ribs but have been cut and trimmed into a rectangular shape, resembling baby back ribs. St. Louis-style ribs are meaty and flavorful, with a high amount of fat making them tender and delicious. They are best prepared low and slow on the grill, in the smoker, or in the oven.
  • Country-style ribs are boneless and are cut from the chuck eye roll. Although they may occasionally contain a piece of the scapula or shoulder blade, they do not have rib bones. These ribs are best cooked low and slow to achieve tender results. Despite not being true ribs, country-style ribs have a similar flavor profile and texture, with lean meat layered with flavorful fat.

Beef Ribs Vs Pork Ribs

When comparing beef ribs and pork ribs, it is important to note that pork ribs are usually meatier and juicier than beef ribs. However, pork ribs can be tougher if not cooked properly due to their relatively leaner nature. On the other hand, beef ribs tend to be fattier, but their muscle structure makes the meat easier to eat. In terms of flavor, pork ribs generally have a slightly richer taste due to their higher fat content.

Popular Types Of Rib Cuts

Meaty ribs come in various cuts that offer different flavors and textures when cooked correctly. Understanding the distinctions between these popular types of rib cuts is essential.

  • Baby Back Ribs: These ribs are cut from the area where the ribs meet the spine and curve downward. Although they have larger bones and less meat between each bone, their meat is exceptionally tender and flavorful. It is worth noting that store-bought baby back ribs often have minimal remaining meat as they are cut from the same area as prime rib roast.
  • Short Ribs: Cut from the rib tips that extend from the sternum backward, short ribs are approximately three inches long. They consist of thin bones and cartilage. While this cut offers the most meatiness among all rib cuts, it is also the toughest and least flavorful.
  • Spare Ribs: Spanning from the end of the baby back ribs to the short ribs, spare ribs are typically sold in cryovac packaging and may come with attached short ribs. These ribs are meatier compared to baby back ribs and have a richer flavor profile in comparison to short ribs.

How Long Is A Rack Of Ribs?

How Long Is A Rack Of Ribs?

The length of a rack of ribs typically varies, with a minimum of 8 ribs and a maximum of 13 ribs, depending on the butcher and preparation. If the rib count falls below 10, it may be referred to as a “cheater rack.” In a full pork rack, the rib count ranges from 10 to 13, while a full beef rack consists of 9 ribs, and a lamb rack typically has 7 or 8 ribs.

How Much Does A Rack Of Ribs Weigh?

A rack of pork ribs typically weighs around 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and consists of 10 to 13 ribs, each measuring approximately 3 to 6 inches in length.

How Many Ribs In A Rack: Ribs Serving Guide

Generally, it is recommended to purchase a minimum of four ribs per person to accommodate your guests. Due to variations in bone and meat count, determining the exact quantity to feed a party can be challenging. However, a rough estimate can be made. A full rack typically contains between 8 and 13 ribs, depending on the animal and cut, although sizes may vary.

It is important to note that the number of ribs does not affect the price. Most butchers price ribs based on weight. Therefore, regardless of the quantity per order, the amount of food remains the same. In some cases, fewer bones may result in more meat, as there are fewer bones contributing to the overall weight.

Can You Cut The Rack In Half To Fit The Smoker?

Yes, you can cut the rack in half to fit the smoker. However, there should not be any issue with moisture loss, and the taste of the ribs remains the same when cooked in halves.

5 thoughts on “How long is a rack of ribs? Creative Techniques & Tips”

  1. I love this ribs recipe! Since I am a by-the-book recipe follower (what that means is that I don’t really know ‘how’ to cook, lol), so what cooking modifications do I need to make when using boneless ribs in the oven?

  2. I was looking to do something different with the beef ribs and like always I come to your site or youtube page! I followed it but didn’t really measure it out(Instinct cooking like my mama say) and the ribs came out good!! I didn’t really had time to let it marinate but I just added a little extra seasoning. Love your recipes!! Big fan of yours for a few years now!!!

  3. I just found your site today while searching for a beef rib recipe. So far I can say I love the anecdotes and the overall layout of your site. I just slid the ribs into the oven after seasoning them with your spice combo. Of course, since I love spicy, I added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper powder. I will keep you posted and let you know how they turn out, but so far so good I think! Thanks!

  4. Made these for dinner yesterday! Started in the morning with the liquid smoke and dry rub and let them sit & cook as long as you suggested. THEY WERE EXCELLENT. My husband was still talking about them this morning on our commute. Thanks! I’ll definitely bookmark these for our next BBQ.

  5. Hi! This recipe looks super delicious! But I have a question about the dry rub. I’ve never seen a BBQ dry rub recipe with cajun seasoning. Does that end up giving the finished product a kind of “Cajun” taste at all? It’s sounds interesting (in a good way), but I’m just so curious how you came to include the Cajun seasoning in the recipe!


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