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Newbie asks: What are St. Louis ribs?

acegg77acegg77 Posts: 115
What is the difference between St. Louis ribs and regular pork ribs. Having never cooked either, but would like to try, I'm confused. 

I saw some St. Louis ribs at Costco the other day. They were already prepared with a sauce on them.

What is the story here?


  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 22,202
    from wiki:

    Baby back ribs

    Hickory smoked baby back ribs
    • Baby back ribs (or loin ribs, back ribs) are taken from the top of the rib cage between the spine and the spare ribs, below the loin muscle. The designation "baby" indicates the cuts are from market-weight hogs (240–270 lbs.), rather than adult hogs (500–650 lbs.). They have meat between the bones and on top of the bones, and are shorter, curved, and sometimes meatier than spare ribs. The rack is shorter at one end, due to the natural tapering of a pig's rib cage. The shortest bones are typically only about 3 in (7.6 cm) and the longest is usually about 6 in (15 cm), depending on the size of the hog. A pig side has 15 to 16 ribs (depending on the breed), but usually two or three are left on the shoulder when it is separated from the loin. So, a rack of back ribs contains a minimum of eight ribs (some may be trimmed if damaged), but can include up to 13 ribs, depending on how it has been prepared by the butcher. A typical commercial rack has 10–13 bones. If fewer than 10 bones are present, butchers call them "cheater racks".

    Spare ribs

    Pork spare ribs, uncooked
    Main article: Spare ribs
    • Spare ribs, also called "spareribs" or "side ribs", are taken from the belly side of the rib cage, below the section of back ribs and above the sternum (breast bone). Spare ribs are flatter and contain more bone than meat, but more fat can make the ribs more tender than back ribs. The origin of the name "spare ribs" is not certain, but could be related to the spare amount of meat after the belly is removed.
    • St. Louis style ribs (or St. Louis cut spare ribs) have had the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips (see below) removed. The shape is almost rectangular.
    • Kansas City style ribs are trimmed even more closely than the St. Louis style ribs, and have the hard bone removed.

    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr., smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,621
    The difference here between spares and baby backs is about $2 lb. Try both and see which one you like. I've always been a bb guy till recently... Like the spares cut into St Louis style. The uniformity of size makes for a more even cook.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • I would suggest that you buy plain ribs (i.e., not pre-sauced). Like @henapple suggests, try both back and spare and see which one you prefer. I do both and love them both.
    Well, "spa-Peggy" is kind of like spaghetti. I'm not sure what Peggy does different, if anything. But it's the one dish she's kind of made her own.
    Aurora, Ontario, Canada
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 15,621
    TOTN is right... Never pre seasoned
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,424
    Hi, acegg77. In the long run, you will probably want to learn how to do the trimming yourself. Cryovac'd packs of 2 whole spares (around 12 lbs total) can often be had for around $2/lb where I live. BBs are rarely less than $4/lb. The local market adds at least $1/lb as the cost of trimming and re-packing. It took me some time to get the hang of trimming, and a decent knife, but at this point, it takes me maybe 5 min/rack.

    The leftover flap meat I usually save for pork stews, chili, etc. The tips, for a later rib meal. When I have 4 sternum sections on hand, they go to making pork stock.

    BBs typically cook faster than trimmed spares. There's not quite as much connective tissue, and the meat, being closer to the loin, is fairly tender and pork chop like. The spares can be every bit as tender given time, and IMO have a better pork flavor.

    The Egg makes cooking great ribs quite easy. I spent years using various grills and water smokers. and never made anything better than passable. Once I learned to maintain a steady low temp. on the Egg, my ribs improved 200%
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 20,691
    someone brought over those costco preseasoned ribs a few weeks back for me to cook, i knew it wasnt going to be good, and it wasnt.  i definatly like sl cut over bb's though, just tastier to me
  • jonnymackjonnymack Posts: 602
    Presauced???  AAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!  Don't do it, you're better than that.  
    Firing up the BGE in Covington, GA

  • Chris_WangChris_Wang Posts: 1,253
    @jonnymack nice profile pic

    Ball Ground, GA

    ATL Sports Homer


  • Chris_WangChris_Wang Posts: 1,253
    We do spare ribs trimmed STL.

    Ball Ground, GA

    ATL Sports Homer


  • SkiddymarkerSkiddymarker Posts: 7,964
    someone brought over those costco preseasoned ribs a few weeks back for me to cook, i knew it wasnt going to be good, and it wasnt.  i definatly like sl cut over bb's though, just tastier to me
    +1 here as well. SLS are much more uniform, the one's from Bellingham Costco do not have the membrane off (last 6 racks anyway). Back ribs cost more, sometimes have more than an inch of meat some only 1/2". You can trim, but why pay more to trim? Because the cook is uniform, the result and taste is much better for the SLS, IMO.
    Delta B.C. - Move over coffee, this is job for alcohol!
  • stlcharcoalstlcharcoal Posts: 2,172

    St. Louis Ribs = the best ribs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Not talking about the cut, I'm talking about the cooking style & saucing!  You guys in KC, TX, and Memphis don't know what you're missing.  LOL.

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 20,691
    might just pick up a rack from the new butcher here for the weekend

    about 13 dollars a rack up here, wonder how much that works out to per pound of meat not counting bones


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