Pork Ribs vs Beef Ribs: Which Is Better?

There are many difficult choices in life.

Whether you’re going to college or not, whether you should rent or buy your own place, whether you should purchase the car of your dreams or one that’s more practical, etc.

Another difficult choice?

Whether to buy pork ribs or beef ribs.

The choice is difficult not only because the perfect choice for BBQ changes from country to country, and even state to state but also because both kinds of ribs are absolutely delicious, but what’s the difference between beef ribs and pork ribs?

Keep reading to find out!

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Pork Ribs vs Beef Ribs: What’s The Difference?

Since both come from different animals, there’s a number of differences you should keep in mind when thinking about the pork ribs vs beef ribs debate.

Taste


beef ribs vs pork ribs - taste

When it comes to taste, the difference is so clear even non-meet lovers will be able to tell it’s there.

  • Beef Ribs have a stronger flavor, very beefy and hard to miss. Properly seasoned, this flavor will be enhanced even more, letting you know exactly what kind of rib you’re eating from the very first bite.
  • Pork Ribs have a mild, almost sweet flavor. Because of this, they’re often seasoned more than beef ribs, but this allows you a variety of flavors beef ribs just don’t have.

Size


beef ribs vs pork ribs - size

This one is pretty obvious.

  • Beef Ribs are almost always larger than pork ribs, if only because the animal they come from is bigger.
  • Pork Ribs are almost always smaller than beef ribs. We say almost always, because butcher shops and supermarkets tend to reserve the largest beef ribs for restaurants and other big time customers, so it’s possible to find beef ribs that are almost the same size as pork ribs.

Cuts


beef ribs vs pork ribs - cuts

While both beef ribs and pork ribs come from relatively the same area of the animal, there are different cuts you should know about.

  • Beef Ribs

When it comes to ribs, you can find two kinds of cuts:

- Back ribs, which come from the upper part of the rib section. These are less beefy, as they’re basically what’s left after you remove all the ribeye meat.

- Short ribs come from the lower part of the rib section, and as such they’re considerably meatier, as well as more flavorful.

Short ribs are generally more expensive than back ribs.

  • Pork Ribs

Pork ribs also have two different cuts:

- Back Ribs, which come from the upper part of the rib section, also called loins. This too is what’s left after all the loin meat is cut away and as such, they tend to have less meat than spare ribs.

- Spare Ribs, come from the lower part of the rib section, also known as the belly. These are longer and have a triangle-like shape, and they’re meatier and have a stronger flavor.

The price tends to be even between the two.


Cooking Methods


beef ribs vs pork ribs - cooking method

While there’s no doubt that the perfect BBQ takes talent and time, no matter what kind of rib you use, it’s true that both ribs offer different challenges.

  • Beef Ribs tend to be, as a whole, harder to cook than pork ribs. Not only because of their larger size but also because they require different kinds of cooking depending on what kind of beef rib you’re using.

- Back Ribs can be cooked using the same techniques as pork ribs and will take anywhere between 1-2 hours to cook.

- Short Ribs can’t be cooked like back ribs, or else you risk ending with a tough and chewy meat.

The best way to cook short ribs is to cook them over low heat for a long time. Dutch ovens and slow cookers are your friends when it comes to cooking these.

  • Pork Ribs tend to be easier to cook, because they’re smaller and, unlike beef ribs, you can cook both kinds in pretty much the same way.

Pork ribs are also a very versatile kind of meat, so you’ll be able to roast them in a roaster oven, barbecue them, smoke them and more. This too will take you around 1-2 hours, just be careful not to exceed this time or else the pork will dry and lose flavor.


Fat Content


 beef ribs vs pork ribs - fat content
  • You’d think that pork ribs would have more fat but that’s not the case. Simply put, beef ribs tend to be fattier than pork ribs, which can be pretty dry in comparison.
  • This isn’t to say that pork ribs aren’t fatty, just that they have less fat than beef ribs on average, which is one of the reasons behind the milder taste.

The Biggest Difference

 beef ribs vs pork ribs

As it turns out, the biggest difference between beef ribs and pork ribs isn’t the flavor, the size, the price or any easy to measure, objective value.

The biggest difference between these two kinds of rib is purely based on personal preference and, in some cases, geography.

  • If you’re from Texas, where everything is bigger, then chances are your idea of a perfect BBQ revolves around beef ribs.
  • If you’re from the Midwest, then you’re probably much more familiar with pork ribs for BBQ and simply believe that’s the way to go.
  • Leaving the States for a minute, you’ll find that beef ribs are a far more popular option in Korea while pork ribs are king in China.
  • And other countries, such as Mexico, believe that BBQ isn’t about beef or pork but rather sheep.

So which one is better really is a personal opinion.

​If you are looking for a Korean BBQ Recipe, see the below video:

The Solution

Does this ‘problem’ even needs a solution?

We don’t think so, but we do have a suggestion for those who can’t seem to decide between one or the other, as well as a suggestion for those who have their minds set on a particular type of rib: Try both!

Be it eating out at a BBQ restaurant and trying the type you’re less familiar with, or cooking them during your next backyard BBQ. Experiencing both is really the only way you’ll get to truly decide what kind of rib is your favorite and, thus, which one is ‘the best’ as far as you’re concerned.

Which kind of rib do you like better? Why? Do you have any delicious recipes you’d like to share with us? Do you have any questions only we can answer?

Read this post to find more about the best way to reheat ribs.​

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Emma Claire
 

I’m Emma, and I’m absolutely in love with food blogs. I’m a foodie at heart but being the mother of 3 kids, it’s not always easy to keep up with fancy dinners… so I rely on the support of other blogging moms like me to help along the way.

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