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How many ribs in a rack?

I've been finding no consistancy in BBQ joints so that term seems meaningless.

A lot of combo plates will say half a rack of ribs which can translate from 3 - 6 ribs of various sizes.

What is it supposed to mean?

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  1. I believe a rack has 13 ribs (like all mammals). They usually rate them by weight per rack : 2 down, 3 down, etc (meaning: 2 lbs or less, 3 lbs or less). It's pretty standard.

    8 Replies
    1. re: coll

      this is wrong. Just had a full rack today. It was 7. It took up the whole plate and they were beef ribs.

      1. re: rweich

        I'm fairly certain the rworange was referring to pork ribs. There are usually about a dozen ribs in a rack of pork ribs.

        1. re: rweich


          That must have been one screwed up cow!

          A cow has the same 13 ribs per side just like anything else.

          If someone sold you a "full rack" and you got 7 ribs...you need to go back and get your money back cause you got had! LoL

          1. re: JayL

            Well it was on special at the restaurant. Normally 18.95 and on sale today for 9.95. The plate was huge. Dang was it good. Do a search though and you'll see most cow ribs are 7-8.

            1. re: rweich

              They are cut that way yes. Most steer ribs are ribs 2 through 10.

              1. re: John E.

                So ribs 1 and 11-13 are removed because of their size? Maybe too small or not meaty enough?

                1. re: rweich

                  They remove and market the smaller ribs for other purposes, for example precooked "riblet" appetizers.

                  But yes all cattle and pigs have 13 ribs. This is a biological fact. Beef ribs are so big that if they gave you the whole rack of spare ribs, the plate wouldn't be big enough, so they cut them up.
                  I had a customer who used to buy cases of whole racks and he called them "Dinosaur bones" which was an appropriate description.
                  I found this if you want further info

            2. re: JayL

              A Restaurant can sell one any kind of "rack" they choose. Three, Four, Five, Six, etc. bones per "rack" ~ These are called "Cheater Racks" where I come from...because a full rack of ribs consist of 13 ribs....just like God made them. Anything else is cheatin!! Also where I come from you rarely hear the word "rack" unless and maybe you're in some kind of (chain?) restaurant. ~~ Hear it's called a 'slab' of ribs. July 4th I will cook several 'slabs' of ribs. ~~ Regional name difference I'd guess.


        2. When you trim that little pos bone off the end a rack will have 12 bones.

          2 Replies
            1. re: rweich

              What do Point Of Sale systems have to do with this? ;-)