Are Pork Loin Ribs Baby Back Ribs? – What’s the Difference, Really?

Published Categorized as Journal

Ribs are one of the most common cuts of meat that can be thrown on a grill and enjoyed endlessly. Although similar to other cuts of meat, such as steak, there are quite a few choices for what type of ribs you are looking for. All kinds of ribs are delicious, there is no doubt about it. However, some cuts are better than others depending on what you are looking for. Understanding and comparing different kinds of ribs is quite a skill and not one that comes easily to everyone. If you are wanting to learn what the difference is between baby back ribs and loin ribs, I suggest you read on.

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Are Pork Loin Ribs Baby Back Ribs?

Table of Contents

What are Pork Loin Ribs?

Pork loin ribs are a special cut of ribs. They can be requested specifically from your butcher, or found in packs at the supermarket. These ribs are cut from the top of a pig’s rib cage which is just below the loin muscle.

As they are so closely connected to the muscle, these ribs will have meat on the top and in between each rib. This makes them a much meatier cut. When compared to other types of ribs, such as spare ribs, these are a lot meatier and more densely packed with meat.

While the size of each rib will vary heavily depending on the size of the pig, this particular cut ranges from 3-6 inches in length.

Pork Tender Loin

Are they the Same as Baby Back Ribs?

While the two names are not very similar at all, they both are used for the same product.

Because of where they are cut from, loin ribs are a lot shorter in size than other cuts of ribs. This causes them to be called baby back ribs. The two names are interchangeable as they are the same product. So asking your butcher for either name will be completely fine. This can be super handy as it can be difficult to ensure you always use the right name for a certain cut of meat from a butcher.

Despite being short enough to be titled ‘baby’, these ribs are a lot more tender and lean than a lot of other cuts of ribs. The meat is in between each rib, also on top of the ribs. This makes them very lean and densely covered.

Not to mention that because they are so tender, they are also the preferred cut for a lot of recipes involving ribs.

The name is more used to insinuate that the ribs are very miniature in size. This can sometimes be misleading, as uninformed or unaware shoppers can sometimes come to the conclusion that these ribs are cut from baby pigs. Thankfully, this is not the case.

If you are shopping around in a supermarket and see two packs of the same-titled ribs that are incredibly varying in size, this is not something to be worried about. Pigs come in all different shapes and sizes, just like us. So sometimes there can be pigs with smaller ribs and pigs with larger ribs.

If you are familiar with cooking a lot of different meat products, you will know that lean meat can dry out incredibly quickly. There is no fat to be rendered and moisturize the meat. Take extra care when cooking these ribs as drying them out is a lot easier than you may suspect.

Are Pork Loin Ribs Baby Back Ribs?

How many Racks should you Buy for a Serving?

When shopping around for ribs, you may be wanting to buy enough food for a family or a small group. If you are exclusively buying baby back ribs, you will need to know how many to buy in order to satiate everyone who is eating them.

As mentioned, baby back ribs are a lot smaller than other cuts of ribs and can be a lot more expensive too. As they are smaller, you will have to buy more than usual in order to ensure that everyone is well fed and that you have enough meat.

Portion sizes can differ a lot from person to person. Although there are a lot of guides to understanding how much a relatively good portion is for the average person.

While the number of ribs in a pack will vary depending on shops and butchers, the average rule of thumb is that 5-6 ribs should be enough for serving a single person. This may differ depending on the age, appetite, and general hunger of your guests. The number of ribs needed will also change if you are serving a lot of sides with them. Or if the ribs are the main part of your meal.

5-6 ribs per person might not sound like a lot when looking at the size of the ribs. However it is important to note that they are very lean. They also have meat on the top of the ribs in addition to the sides as well. This means that while they are smaller, the higher density of lean meat will mean you are a lot more well fed from them.

Even if you buy too many ribs and have some leftovers, it is better than some people going hungry. Any leftover ribs can be stored quite easily. They will last for long enough that you have sufficient time to be able to eat them.

Pork Loin Back Ribs Vs Spare Ribs

While mentioning baby back ribs, it is also worth mentioning the other most common type of rib – spare ribs.

Spare ribs are quite easy to distinguish from baby back ribs once you know what you are looking for.

Firstly, when looking at a collective of ribs, you will notice that baby back ribs have a very curved shape. This shape is unlike any other type of rib. In comparison, spare ribs are very flat and rectangular.

While this is great for differentiating between each kind of rib, some chefs get annoyed at the curvature of back ribs. It can be very tedious and difficult to get a good sear on the entirety of the ribs. This is why spare ribs are used in some recipes instead of loin ribs.

Another way to identify the two types of ribs is by looking at the meat on them. Spare ribs are a lot larger and tend to be fattier than loin ribs. However, to contrast this, loin ribs are a lot leaner and will have more tender meat covering all of them. The meat will also be on the top of the ribs whereas spare ribs only have meat on the sides.

Baby back ribs are leaner and more tender, which means they can also be pricier. As they are, by definition, a nicer cut of meat; they can fetch a higher price. When you look at the higher price tag and the smaller size of baby back ribs, you can expect to have to pay a lot more for a large quantity of these ribs than you would for the same quantity of spare ribs.

While shopping around for ribs, specifically spare ribs, you will sometimes find some that are labeled as “St. Louis ribs”. These are a type of spare ribs that have been trimmed and altered to look nicer. Mostly, the sternum and cartilage have been cut away to make them appear neater. The meat is still very much the same in flavor and texture.

Are Pork Loin Ribs Baby Back Ribs?

Cooking Pork Ribs

No matter what type of ribs you are working with, there are a lot of interesting ways that you can cook them which will result in a delicious meal.

The most common way of cooking ribs is to grill them or BBQ them. If you make sure you marinate them first, they will turn out incredibly flavorsome. BBQ ribs can be very addictive when they are done properly and have the perfect amount of sauce on them.

Pork ribs are very meaty and ultimately tender as they are right on the bone which can keep them moist. This is no different than a pork hock being tender. It is also connected to the bone which helps it retain moisture.

After cooking your pork ribs, they will last for a while. Yet if you cannot eat them all in one go, it is important to know how long cooked pork is good for and how to properly store it.

Are Pork Loin Ribs Baby Back Ribs – FAQs

What is the difference between pork loin and pork ribs?

A pork loin is a cut of the fat and muscle that runs along the backbone of a pig. This can sometimes be cut into tenderloin and is generally a very fatty piece of meat that can be boneless or bone-in. Pork ribs are taken from just under this muscle as they need the rib bones to hold them together. There are spare ribs, which are the bigger ribs further away from the loin, and then there are baby back ribs which are smaller, closer to the muscle, and also a lot leaner and meatier.

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By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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