Baby Back Ribs vs St. Louis Ribs: Which Is Better?

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Summer grilling season is just around the corner, and it’s a great time to experiment with different types of meat. Baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs are the two most popular types of pork ribs.

To assist you pick which ribs to serve at your next BBQ, we’ve put together baby back ribs vs St. Louis ribs comparison.

Baby Back Ribs vs St. Louis Ribs: Comparison Table

Baby Back Ribs St. Louis Ribs
Ribs 10 to 13 11 to 13
Size 3 to 6 inches long 5 to 6 inches long
Weight 1 1/2 to 2 pounds 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
Flavor more tender and less meaty more tougher and meatier
Cooking Time 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 300°F 2 1/2 to 3 hours at 300°F
Servings per rack two people three to four people

What Are the Differences Between Baby Back Ribs and St. Louis Ribs?


The shape is the most apparent visual difference when comparing baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs.

The baby back ribs are curved and shorter than the St. Louis ribs, which are flatter and straighter.

The St. Louis ribs are easier to brown and get just perfect on the grill since they are flat. They can cook more evenly, which is a benefit.

Size and Price

Each baby back rib rack has 10 to 13 curved ribs ranging in length from 3 to 6 inches and weighing between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds, enough to feed two people.

It costs more for baby back ribs than for St. Louis-style ribs because they are more popular.

St. Louis-style ribs are more accessible to brown because they are thinner than baby back ribs. They have a lot of bone and fat, which means they have an incredible flavor.

Each slab weighs at least 2 1/2 pounds and feeds three to four people. However, the meatier it is, the better. It is cheaper to buy St. Louis-style ribs than baby back ribs.

Meat and Fat

Baby back ribs usually have a reasonable amount of meat, although a rack can have as much meat as a set of spare ribs. They don’t have a lot of fat in them, but they’re usually more tender than St. Louis-style ribs.

St. Louis ribs are highly meaty, even when a large flap of meat is removed from the end of the rack. They also contain more fat than baby back ribs, but this adds to the flavor and juiciness of the ribs after cooking.


Between baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs, baby back ribs are more tender and less meaty. It’s because the cut is close to the loin area of the pig. You could find the added taste and softness of a half-inch or so of loin meat on the top of the rack in various cuts of baby back ribs.

In contrast, St. Louis-style ribs are a little rougher and meatier, but they have a significant amount of fat and marbling. A well-cooked rack of St. Louis-style ribs has the potential to be a culinary masterpiece.

Cooking Time

Because of the bigger size of St. Louis-style ribs, they will take longer to cook than baby back ribs. 

Baby back ribs will take approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours to cook at 300°F, while St. Louis ribs would take around 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Baby Back Ribs or St. Louis Ribs: Which Is Better?

It’s more common to find baby back ribs at restaurants because they’re leaner.

They’re easier to serve because of their smaller size, and they cook more rapidly than St. Louis ribs. In addition, their curved bones and tender texture make them a popular choice with many people.

If you’ve never had St. Louis-style spare ribs, don’t worry; they’re delicious and will have you craving in no time at all. They are more delicious than baby back ribs because of the more significant amount of meat and fat between the bones.

The meat of St. Louis-style ribs is generally considered tougher than baby backs but can be just as tender when properly cooked.

It’s just a taste for which type of rib is better.

Baby Back Ribs

After the loin is removed, the back ribs are sliced from where the rib meets the spine. The upper ribs are called baby back ribs because they are shorter than the spare ribs, but not because they come from a baby pig.

Louis Ribs

St. Louis ribs are cut from the rib cage’s very bottom, way down in the belly. That’s why they have so much meat on them. It is also where spare ribs are from, and St. Louis style ribs are spare ribs that have been trimmed to remove the hard breastbone and chewy cartilage.

You’ll recognize them by their medium-length and flat, rectangular rack shape.


If you’re cooking for a small group, the St. Louis style ribs are the most popular since they contain more fat, which results in a rich flavor and tender meat.

Baby back ribs are ideal for large gatherings because of their smaller size (which makes them easier to handle as finger food) and the lower fat content of each rib.

Both baby back ribs and St. Louis ribs are a must-have for every rib lover.