Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to Cook

This article will help you understand the difference between these types of meat and help you choose what will suit your taste better.
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Last updatedLast updated: October 09, 2021
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What makes ribs in demand is that you can season them in various ways and pair them with a wide array of dishes for diverse culinary delights. Apart from the animals they come from, there are other notable differences between beef ribs vs pork ribs. For starters, the cuts are different in size, and they also vary in their respective textures and flavors. Beef cuts have more fat, and they are obviously larger than pork ribs. Because they differ in their compositions, flavor, and nutritional value, the ease and methods of cooking pork ribs and pork ribs will also be different.

We have discussed these differences in detail to help you choose the ribs that most match your lifestyle and dietary needs. We have also compared the cost and availability of beef ribs vs pork ribs to provide you with more information for an informed decision.

Beef ribs

We will start by explaining the types of beef ribs, their size, composition, and how easy they are to cook.

Cut types

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookThere are two types of beef ribs, depending on the part of the body they are cut from. These are usually the upper or lower sections of the cattle’s rib cage.

Back Ribs: They are cut from the upper half of the rib cage after removing the ribeye meat. For this reason, they have a lower meat-to-bone ratio, and they are less flavorful compared to short ribs. This makes them a favorite for a prime rib roast with the meat sandwiched between bones.

Short ribs: This type comes from the lower half of the rib cage. They are more expensive and meatier than beef back ribs, which makes them very tender and flavorful. They have also known as plate short ribs when they are cut in large sizes or chuck short ribs, which are smaller and easily available at the grocery store.

Taste

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookBeef ribs have a signature smell and robust flavor that has made barbecues very popular. For this reason, we recommend using minimal seasoning that will not highlight instead of overwhelming the ribs’ natural beefy flavor. Prominent chefs such as Aaron Franklin only season with black pepper and kosher salt in equal parts. You could also add chili powder or garlic, or paprika.

To infuse a smoky flavor, use hickory, whose strong, nutty flavor favors beef as well as pork, or pecan, which is a milder version of hickory. Otherwise, the strong flavor of beef ribs will overpower woods like maple, which has a light aroma.

Size

Earlier in our comparison of beef ribs vs pork ribs, we established that the former is larger in size. But just how large are those ribs? Well, that depends on the cut; some cuts are so big that they are sometimes marketed as “dinosaur ribs” for restaurants, while others are small enough to almost match the typical size of pork ribs. You are likely to find a single rob weighing at least 2 pounds with a length of 8 to 12 inches.

Cooking difficulty

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookBarbecuing is the most recommended method for beef ribs. What makes beef ribs trickier to cook is their relatively large size and their cooking method, which depends on the specific cut to prevent tough, chewy beef ribs. For example, short ribs need to be cooked slowly for hours to make them tender as opposed to lean-back ribs, which you can cook the same way as pork ribs.

Leaner or small-sized meat takes shorter to cook.  So, a budding chef may find it more convenient to cook back ribs more than short ribs or prefer pork ribs to beef ribs.

The advantage of beef ribs is their low-calorie fat content which you don’t have to remove before cooking. Use a slow cooker, Kamado Joe smoker, or a grill set to between 225°F to 250°F. You could speed the process by wrapping the ribs in foil halfway through the cooking. This also keeps them moist and tender. Another way to cook faster is to get the Magma gas grill with infrared for intense heat and a viewing window to limit smoke and heat loss. Also, remember to keep beef ribs seasonings simple.

Fat content

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookAlthough most people consider pigs fat, beef ribs tend to have more meat and fat than pork ribs. They are also lower in cholesterol, so you don’t have to trim off the fatty layers from beef ribs. Leaving the fat in will yield more beef flavor.

Beef ribs also feature plenty of heavily marbled meat which makes the ratio of meat to fat almost even.

The fat and meat content also varies according to the type of cut, animal, and breed. For instance, short ribs are meatier than back ribs.

Cost

Beef ribs cost much more than pork ribs. For beef cut types, back ribs are cheaper than short ribs because they have less meat.

Where is it popular?

As expected, beef ribs are almost synonymous with Texas, which is known for its ranches and barbecues. They are also popular in Korea Trusted Source Korean grilled beef short ribs (galbi gui) For Koreans, galbi is the ultimate grilled beef dish. Serve it with salad leaves, rice, kimchi and pickled onions, using the leaves to make small parcels containing a little of everything. www.bbc.co.uk .

Pork ribs

Compared to beef ribs, how do pork ribs fare when it comes to their cut types, fat content, taste, or how they should be cooked? Find out more below.

Cut types

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookPork ribs are available in different types of cuts with unique qualities that influence the flavor and texture of each cut.

Back ribs: This type comes from the upper rib cage. It is also known as loin ribs since it includes meat that remains after you cut away the loin primal. They are curved and leaner than other pork ribs and also tender. This is convenient because it shortens their cooking time, making them ideal for beginners. You may also see these ribs referred to as baby back ribs due to their size, which is smaller than spare ribs.

Spare ribs: These ribs are widely available in American South. They are cut from the sternum around the pig’s belly. Due to this, they consist of a fair bit of fat and more meat that makes them more flavorful than back ribs. They are also flatter and cheaper.

St. Louis Ribs: They are not as easily available as other types of pork ribs, but you may find them in specialty markets and in cooking competitions where they are a popular choice. St. Louis ribs come from trimmed spare ribs that have the cartilage and bones from their ends removed with a steak knife to make a flat, rectangular cut that is packaged for presentation and cooks evenly.

Rib tips: These are the cartilage and the bits of bones that are trimmed off to make St. Louis ribs. They have a bit of meat with plenty of fat marbling that makes them very tender. Instead of discarding them, chop them into small pieces and cook them for tasty nibbles.

Country-style ribs: Technically, these are not pork ribs but bone-in pork chop from the loin. It may be cut as one bone or two bones.

Taste

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookPork ribs are more popular than beef ribs because they have a mild flavor due to their lower fat content. Since they don’t have a distinctive and intense flavor on their own, this gives you the liberty to season pork ribs with a wide variety of seasonings, use pellets or wood chips to effectively infuse them with your preferred smoke flavor, and slather the ribs with barbecue sauce Trusted Source Best BBQ sauces and rubs, according to chefs | CNN It’s time to heat up the grill, get your favorite chicken, pork, steak, fish and veggies at the ready and prepare to get, well, fired up with these recommended barbecue rubs and sauces sure to take your meal to the next level. Who’s hungry? www.cnn.com once they are ready. Their gentle flavor makes them versatile because it also allows you to use large amounts of seasoning to customize their final taste.

Size

If you consider where beef ribs and pork ribs come from, it is obvious that cattle are larger than pigs. This also applies to the sizes of their respective ribs. Pork ribs are significantly smaller and have shorter bones.

The cuts are measured in ounces. You can buy many rib racks if you need larger portions or if you want to use different seasonings for different batches.

Cooking difficulty

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookSince pork ribs don’t have a strong flavor, you can pair them with various dishes and cook them with cast iron griddles using different methods. You can also use woods such as hickory or mesquite for an intense smoky flavor or maple chips for a lighter, fruity taste and aroma. Remove the membrane and the excess fat and meat, and then apply your seasoning of choice.

Depending on the cut, smoking pork ribs take up to 6 hours at a temperature of 225F to 250F. This Masterbuilt smoker comes with reliable built-in temperature control that will maintain consistent heat.

Add sauce during the last hour of smoking to prevent an undesirable flavor.

The most common way of smoking ribs is the 3-2-1 method. You smoke the ribs for 3 hours, and then wrap them in foil and cook them for another 2 hours with fluid in the smoke. After that, increase the temperature and smoke the pork ribs for 1 hour while they are unwrapped. Variations of this method include the shorter 2-1-0.5 and 2-1-1 for fewer crispy ribs with a chewy back or for a smaller batch of pork ribs.

Fat content

Beef Ribs vs Pork Ribs: Types, Taste and Ways to CookPork ribs, particularly St. Louis ribs, which have most of the fat trimmed off, are ideal if you are looking for a low-fat option. Despite pork ribs having smaller individual bones, they are leaner than beef ribs and have less meat and fat overall. However, they have higher cholesterol, so you may need to remove some of the fatty layers for a healthier meal.

While the meat-fat ratio of beef ribs is almost equal, pork ribs have more meat than fat. This is most notable in cuts derived from the upper section of the rib cage. Rib tips are mainly composed of fat; these trimmings are from spare ribs that require special care to render the fat for moist and tender pork ribs. On the other hand, back ribs that are cut from the upper rib cage are leaner and thus healthier.

Cost

Pork ribs are cheaper than beef ribs. Also, spare ribs are the least expensive option among the other cuts of pork ribs, such as back ribs.

Where is it popular?

Pork ribs, especially spare ribs and baby back ribs, are readily available at your local grocery store. They are most common in Chinese cuisines and in the Midwestern region of the United States.

Final thoughts

As you must have noticed, there are many factors that will determine the superior option for you if you are in beef ribs vs pork ribs dilemma. Beef ribs cost more, but they have intense barbecue flavor, low-calorie fat that helps to keep the meat moist and tender, and you only need to buy a few ribs per person. On the other hand, pork ribs are a great low-fat choice that is cheaper, easy to cook, and compatible with varied recipes. We have also explained the recommended wood and seasonings as well as the areas where you can find pork ribs or beef ribs.

References

1.
Korean grilled beef short ribs (galbi gui)
For Koreans, galbi is the ultimate grilled beef dish. Serve it with salad leaves, rice, kimchi and pickled onions, using the leaves to make small parcels containing a little of everything.
2.
Best BBQ sauces and rubs, according to chefs | CNN
It’s time to heat up the grill, get your favorite chicken, pork, steak, fish and veggies at the ready and prepare to get, well, fired up with these recommended barbecue rubs and sauces sure to take your meal to the next level. Who’s hungry?
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