If you’ve ever been standing in the middle of a grocery store wondering what the difference is between St Louis vs Baby Back Ribs, welcome to my world. I wanted to know which tastes better, which cooks easiest, and which cooks the fastest, and all the other details that make these two versions of ribs different.
The bottom line is that both can result in great meals. However, each type of ribs has strengths and weaknesses that might make you choose one over the other for a specific recipe. We break it all down in a table for you so that’s it quick and easy to figure out which style is best for your menu plan.
A Comparison Chart of St Louis vs Baby Back Ribs
|Characteristic||Baby Back Ribs||St Louis Ribs|
|Texture||More tender meat. More dry if not cooked properly.||Tougher if not cooked properly|
|Cooking Time||Three Hours Slow Smoked||Roughly Two Hours Grilled|
|Value||Less meat between the bones. May have meat on top of the bone as well.||More meat between the bones. No meat on top of the bone.|
|Flavor Profile||Lower fat = Less flavor. Marinating recommended.||Higher Fat Content = More Flavor. Dry rub recommended.|
|Best Cooking Method||Indirect Heat Required. Marinated and Slow Smoked is best.||Grilled, Roasted, or Slow Smoked|
|Shape||Rounded and Curved||Flat and Straight|
|Location on Pig||Back ribs of the hog attached to spine. Baby back are the smaller ones.||Front ribs of the hog attached to breast bone.|
|Cost||More Expensive unless on sale.||Less Expensive|
🥩 Why You Should Make Ribs for Dinner
Sitting at a picnic table, leaning over a plate full of ribs, with your hands dripping with BBQ sauce and rib juice while you are enjoying the company of friends is one of the best parts of any day. Make your own Sriracha BBQ Sauce, Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce, Smoked Pumpkin Bourbon BBQ Sauce or Beer BBQ Sauce.
Ribs are quick and easy to eat with the hands, making them perfect for a picnic where you can throw everything away at the end of the day. There are no utensils necessary for this!
Whether you choose to make ribs covered in BBQ sauce or a snazzy dry rub you will have a tasty, crowd pleasing flavor and each guest can eat as much or as little as they like.
The difference between baby back and St Louis ribs is not as huge as you might think. If you are cooking for a crowd, you’ll get smaller pieces that are easier to eat if you go with baby back ribs. If you are eating with the family, St Louis style ribs are cheaper and just as tasty if prepared correctly.
Either way to look at it, you won’t have to worry about too many leftover ribs to reheat for leftovers.
The Facts About Baby Back Ribs
The tenderness of baby back ribs is legendary in the world of smoked meats. This portion of the rib is a short section that is attached to the spine on the back of the pig. It is attached to the spare rib but is the most tender and desirable rib section for both the meat between the bones and the layer of juicy meat on top.
Baby back ribs are between 3-6″ in length.
Baby back ribs are lean and can dry out very quickly if it is cooked for too long or at too high of heat. Don’t overcook them.
Use our homemade dry rub for ribs to bring on the flavor!
The Facts About St Louis Ribs
You won’t find a more succulent rack of ribs anywhere that can compete with the flavor of St Louis Ribs. They come from the portion of ribs below the breast bone on the front of the pig. This meat is very fatty and can be tough if cooked incorrectly. However if you cook it low and slow, the meat is fall-off-the bone tender.
St Louis Ribs are between 5-6″ in length.
They have more meat than baby back ribs between the bones where baby back ribs have more meat on top of the bone so it evens out in the end. St Louis Ribs tend to be cheaper.
St Louis ribs. With more fat and a slower cook time, these ribs just melt in your mouth with flavor.
Baby back ribs. With less fat and marbling, baby back ribs are less prone to toughness and have a strong reputation for tender meat.
Baby back ribs can be cooked faster because they have a lower fat content, but they must be cooked on indirect heat because of the shape of the bone.
The two types of ribs are equally easy to cook and both have different properties to watch out for as well.
This cut of meat is more tender than any other rib meat and also often includes more of the back meat and not just the meat between the bones.
St Louis Ribs have more meat between the bones. Baby back ribs are often cut with extra meat from on top of the bones. So in the end it is probably a wash with about 50 percent bone and 50 percent meat in the package for both types.
Both types of ribs will need about three hours in the smoker, crock pot, oven or grill on indirect heat. Both types can also be cooked in the pressure cooker in significantly less time, but without the smoky flavor or char that we all love.
No. They just come from a smaller section of the rib cage and this results in shorter segments of rib bone.
The location from which they are cut from the pig’s rib cage results in a smaller, or “baby-sized” portion of rib meat between 3-6″. The meat is also more tender, causing some to believe that they come from a baby pig, but that is simply not true.
Either type of rib can make a wonderful, tender, flavorful bbq meal your family or guests will thoroughly enjoy. Make sure to choose the right cooking method for your rib of choice to get tender fall-off-the-bone meat and your meal will be perfect!