Spare Ribs vs St. Louis Ribs
Spare ribs come from the area closer to the back of the animal. This type of rib is fairly small but low in fat with a lot of meat. St. Louis style ribs come from the area closer to the stomach. These ribs are much bigger with a lot more fat. The best way for you to remember the difference is when the rib cage is cut through the center, the ribs closest to the stomach are St. Louis ribs. The ones near the spine are spare ribs.
Spareribs are necessary for making St. Louis style ribs. The ribs are trimmed down, then the rib tips, cartilage and sternum are removed. This makes the ribs easier to prepare and eat because they are a uniform rectangular shape. The majority of spareribs are sold or served using the St. Louis cut. This cut is also less expensive than purchasing the St. Louis style ribs.
Since St. Louis style ribs have more meat, they are generally preferred when serving a larger group of people. Despite the differences between the two styles of ribs, there are also numerous similarities. Both types of ribs can be cooked using your smoker, electric or charcoal barbeque or in your oven.
When cooked properly over low, indirect heat, both types of ribs will provide you with tender meat that falls off of the bone. You can use a marinade, rub or barbeque sauce to cook both styles of ribs. The actual taste of the meat is slightly different. Most people enjoy them both but you may have a preference for one or the other. Your best option is cooking them both to see if one is more appealing to your tastes than the other.
You can purchase St. Louis style ribs all over the United States as opposed to just in St. Louis as the name implies. The average rack weighs approximately three pounds as opposed to roughly the two-pound weight of a rack of spare ribs. Most people think of spare ribs when they hear pork ribs mentioned. These types of ribs have less meat but are served much more frequently at restaurants.
Spare Ribs and St Louis Ribs Recipes
Both cuts of ribs take well to barbeque sauces, marinades and rubs. For the recipes we have provided, you can use your rub and marinade or try our recipes below. For our rub, you will need the following ingredients. Pro Tip: Always use a marinade or sauce when preparing St. Louis style ribs to ensure tender meat.
- One-quarter cup brown sugar
- One teaspoon garlic powder
- Two teaspoons black pepper
- One teaspoon ground mustard
- One-half teaspoon celery salt
- Two teaspoons Kosher salt
- One-half teaspoon cinnamon
- One teaspoon onion powder
- Two teaspoons smoked paprika
- One-quarter teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all of your ingredients together in a bowl. Apply your rub thoroughly and evenly over both side of your ribs before cooking. For our marinade you will need:
- Three-quarter cup chicken broth
- Six tablespoons cider vinegar
- Three-quarter cup soy sauce
- Three minced garlic cloves
- One cup of sugar
- Six tablespoons olive oil
Combine all of your ingredients into a bowl and mix them thoroughly. Take two racks of St. Louis style ribs and place them into your shallow baking pan. Pour two-thirds of your marinade evenly over your ribs. Turn your ribs over to make sure both sides are marinated. Pro Tip: Pour your marinade into a large cup with a pour spout to coat your ribs easier and more evenly.
Cover your ribs, place them in your refrigerator and let them marinate overnight. Remove your ribs from the refrigerator then drain and throw away the marinade leftover in your pan. Gently pat your ribs dry with a paper towel so your rub will stick to your meat better. Using your fingers, coat both sides of your ribs with your rub.
You must grill your ribs slowly over indirect heat. The connective tissue will cook away providing you with perfectly tender and delicious meat. If you cook your ribs too fast using high heat, you will be left with tough and chewy meat.
Preparing Your Ribs for Grilling
If the silverskin has not been removed from your ribs, you will need to do so. This is a membrane you will find on the underside of your ribs. Removing this membrane is not difficult. Insert a knife between the meat at either end of your ribs and the membrane. Make certain the membrane is not pierced by your knife. You can loosen the skin by working your fingers beneath it.
Get a good grip on the membrane then pull it off firmly but gently. The silverskin should peel off cleanly. Pro Tip: Use a paper towel to wrap around your hand before pulling off the silverskin. This will enable you to get a much better grip. This is where the debate over spare ribs vs St. Louis ribs becomes important because you must know which type of ribs to purchase.
Grilling Your Ribs
Preheat your grill for 200 degrees Fahrenheit. You need to cook your meat slowly over indirect heat to ensure your meat does not become dry. Once your grill has reached the ideal temperature, place your ribs on the rack using barbeque tongs. St. Louis style ribs require approximately three hours per side.
Occasionally baste your St. Louis style ribs with either barbeque sauce or your reserved marinade. When you see your meat starting to pull away from the bones, you need to test the internal temperature to see if they are done. Use a meat thermometer to check your ribs. When the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, your ribs are fully cooked.
Carefully remove your St. Louis ribs from your grill using barbeque tongs. Cover your ribs with aluminum foil and let them sit on your kitchen counter for about ten minutes. This is the secret for moist and juicy meat. Your ribs need time to enable the juices to work their way throughout your meat. After ten minutes, cut your ribs apart with equal meat on both sides using a sharp knife. Pile them onto a platter and enjoy.
Another excellent recipe is for barbecued spare ribs with Gochujang sauce. You will need:
- Two racks of spare ribs
- One-half cup lime juice (fresh)
- Three tablespoons plum sauce
- Three-quarter cup Korean hot pepper paste
- Black pepper
- Kosher salt
- Ten peeled garlic cloves
- One three-inch piece ginger, coarsely chopped and peeled
- One-half cup ketchup
- Four scallions (cut into one-inch pieces)
- One tablespoon fish sauce
- Two tablespoons vegetable oil
- Two tablespoons light brown sugar
- Lime wedges (for garnish)
- One tablespoon soy sauce
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Pat your spare ribs dry then season both sides using your salt and pepper. Use heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap each rack. Seal tightly and place your spare ribs on a baking sheet. Bake your ribs for two to three hours or until your meat starts falling off of the bone.
Remove your spare ribs from the oven and let them cool. Put your ginger, garlic and scallions into your food processor and finely chop. Heat your oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Add all of your herbs and stir for about four minutes or until your mixture begins sticking to your pan. Add the rest of your ingredients, stir often until thick or for roughly five to ten minutes. Remove you pan and season to taste with salt.
Remove the foil from your spare ribs. Cut your racks in half in a crosswise direction. Put them on your grill on medium heat with the meaty side down. Grill for about one minute until your ribs are charred lightly. Brush your spare ribs with more sauce and turn over. Continue cooking another two minutes. Remove your ribs, let them rest for ten minutes, cut them apart with a sharp knife and serve them with your remaining sauce and lime wedges.
The Final Conclusion
No matter which type of rib you choose to cook, we are sure your results will be delicious. If you prefer more meat on your ribs, want to save some money or intend to feed a lot of people, we recommend St. Louis style. If you want to experience slightly more tender meat, start with spare ribs. Either way, we hope you enjoy our recipes and will continue cooking ribs for a sensational meal.