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Beef vs. Pork Ribs - what's the diff?

I like them both. They both have merits...
but beyond Beef is from Texas / Pork is more popular in the Carolinas, I just buy whats on sale...
So help me out. Can you really say that pork ribs are more tender, or that beef ribs have more meat on the bone?
Do they require different treatment?
What else?

Thank you for your insights.

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  1. A very intriguing question. I've eaten in a lot of barbeque restaurants in Texas, and can't remember ever having come across a "beef rib". They are mostly pork spare ribs, and every now and then, you find baby back ribs. I've eaten beef short ribs, braised and cooked in an iron dutch oven for a long period of time, but, never really liked them that much. Once or twice ate beef ribs, by mistake. The mistake was that the person who cooked them didn't realise that pork ribs are what are offered in barbeque restaurants. They didn't leave much of an impression on me. I look forward to replies to your interesting question!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: dhedges53

      You are more likely to find beef ribs in West and South Texas. Pork ribs are still more popular in east Texas. It seems like Pork ribs are also more popular in Central Texas, but you can still find beef ribs at some great barbecue spots. I really like the ones from Gonzales Meat Market in Gonzales Texas.

      1. re: dhedges53

        I honestly prefer pork ribs, beef ribs are drier and I could think they have less fat, so I would recommend cooking for less time than pork. You can recognize them because each bone is longer than pork's and when eating it feels like little strands of meat you are ripping.

      2. Depends on cooking style.
        American BBQ - Pork ribs
        Roasting - Prime rib
        Korean BBQ - Beef ribs, either LA or flanken cut, or traditional butterfly cut.
        Soups - either/or

        1. Beef ribs (not short ribs) are typically chewier and fattier than pork spare ribs. You can barbeque them the same way but use different spices that would be more appropriate on beef rather than pork. The actual ribs themselves are also much bigger and meatier, as you can imagine a cow is much bigger than a pick. Also, in stores and restaurants, I dont know if I've ever seen an intact set of beef ribs, they are usually sold cut into individual ribs.

          1. Pork ribs are more flavorful I think.

            1. The difference to me? I've never liked beef ribs. Ever. Just the thought of them makes me gag a little.

              1. Smoke them both all year long and LOVE them both. Different animals (Pig vs Steer) and very different flavors.

                The beef ribs I get are from what many people call a standing 7 bone rib roast. They have a very strong fatty / rich / beefy flavor. I just use a heavy dry rub consisting of salt, pep & garlic powder and smoke them with just lump charcoal on a Big Green Egg. They pop with juice when I bite into them and they taste very much like the fatty cap section of a rib roast but even more intense.

                The pork ribs I usually use are the full size spare ribs (belly of the rib cage). While a little chewier, I find them to have a higher fat content and more flavor than back ribs. I cook them in the same fashion as the beef ribs but I use more spices in the rub. Like most pork products they have a milder, sweeter flavor that their beef counterpart which is why my wife and kids like them better.

                Which contain more meat is largely up to the butcher & how much you want to pay. Because of the high value of choice beef rib meat ($8.00 lb range) vs ($3.00 lb range) for pork rib meat, beef ribs are often cut closer to the bone when trimming out a boneless rib roast.

                Which is more tender I think is more a case of the quality of the animal. Ribs from a leaned out mid western pig (typical supermarket products) are likely to be dryer and tougher than say a well marbled Leidy's Pennsylvania Dutch pig. Same with Beef. Ribs from a high choice steer will likely be better than those from a select grade.

                1. I haven't had any barbecued ribs other than pork for at least 45 years, but the first ribs I ever had made on a split-drum grill setup was in Alaska, and the guy was cooking moose ribs. A whole bunch of us were making a drunk/stoned weekend of it at his house, and every hour or so here'd come John in his fancy bathrobe, pan of sauce and rib-mop in his hands, picking his way over the recumbent bodies to go baste the ribs.

                  I *THINK* they were pretty good …

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Sounds like what I'd get up to back in the late sixties up there. I think I have a photo from one of those Polaroid cameras that made instant photos of me standing beside a fire pit munching on a whole moose rib. All that hair! And that huge mustachio! LOL

                  2. Beef ribs are so delicious. They get so tender and flavorful. They are fatty and bovine.

                    I had beef ribs last night at a churrascaria. These didn't have any sauce on them and they were only seasoned with salt and pepper. The meat was cut from the bone in small pieces and I ended up eating three portions like that. The meat was soft and fatty and shredded. It reminded me of burnt ends, which I also love.

                    I haven't had this in years, but I remember I really enjoyed the beef ribs at Tony Roma's chain restaurant. Amazing stuff. Mostly I have had them Texan smoked style at local places, though. I love beef ribs.

                    I also love goat ribs for what it is worth.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: luckyfatima

                      Oh yep and I love Korean style beef ribs, too. Have had loads of those.

                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        Roma's beef ribs are fantastic and the only meat I order well done, otherwise it is raw at the bone. My usual order is 2 full slabs basted in their red hot sauce. Unfortunately, this was in LA; now that I've moved to Vegas, I can't find beef ribs anywhere; even at Roma's. They only have short ribs. hey're good but I can't order them by the slab.

                      2. I think Will Owens Alaska rib event beats out pork and beef.Good friends,good times,and wonderment. Life's rich pageant.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: shikken

                          I was imagining it being in Winter too.
                          We never had beef ribs at BBQ places growing up in KC.
                          I seem to see them out here in the West, but they make better stew meat than Cue meat.

                        2. If you are dining in a particular area, where the BBQ is very important, then order what is the popular version.

                          If you are at home, and there are no "food critics" hanging about, order what you want.

                          Beyond that, it is totally up to your palate.



                          1. Different sauces, different sizes.

                            I picked up beef ribs, they were good but HUGE. So while I like them, I eat like 1-2 and I'm full. While for pork ribs, I can almost eat 1/2 rack.

                            For me how I prepare it are also very different. For pork ribs I like to soak them in Coca cola or Dr. Pepper, slow roast in the oven over onions, then broil the last 10 minutes in BBQ sauce. For beef, I like them sliced thin across the bone and make Kalbi with them (soy, ginger, garlic, onion, and honey) but that's Hawaiian style.

                            My dad use to make the dino-size beef ribs on the grill, and while good. Hard to eat.

                            1. I love the big size of the beef ribs, nothing beats roasting a prime rib and cutting the rib bones off for a separate feast later.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Rick

                                Yup, those are the good ones. Some butchers will sell them by the rack when they bone out a rib roast for someone.

                                1. re: Tom34

                                  Our local supermarket sometimes has them for $3.99/lb, we buy a rack and throw them in the freezer if we see them!

                                  1. re: Rick

                                    Your lucky....my supermarket has the chuck ribs but rarely the ones from a rib roast....I have to go to a butcher buddy in Philadelphia to get them but boy are they good.

                                    1. re: Tom34

                                      Tom, I'll have to take a picture next time and post it, I THINK I'm getting the ribs off of the prime rib as the butcher says they usually sell the beef ribs around the holidays. I'm pretty sure they're just labeled as beef ribs so they could be chuck ribs. They sure taste like the meat off of a prime rib though and look like the bones that I've got from bone in prime rib. At $3.99/lb they're pretty pricey being that boneless prime rib is $8/lb at Costco.

                                      1. re: Rick

                                        RICK, My buddy is an old school hanging beef wholesale butcher. When I get Beef ribs from him there are 7 bones, short side about about 6 inches long .....long side about 8 inches....they are top choice / low prime and trimmed pretty close to the bone....about $1.99 lb.

                                        Generally, chuck ribs do have more meat as chuck is cheaper. They also have a stronger flavor if chuck flavor is your thing. Last batch of chuck ribs I got were about $2.75 lb at Restaurant Depot. As FOURUNDER said they are meatier and the taste is stronger.

                                        Bottom line is when cooked properly with ice cold suds they are all G.D.F. good.

                              2. I enjoy both Beef and Pork Ribs...regardless of which cut, they all have their own special attributes. While I enjoy gnawing on the bones from Prime Rib Roasts or Cowboy Bone-In Steaks, I prefer my Barbeque to be made with the Chuck Sort Ribs, which are more meaty and flavorful. For Pork....I'm not as picky and will eat both, but when using an Asian Style recipe, they must be Spare Ribs and not Back Ribs. For Barbecue or Sunday Gravy, both are equally as good.

                                Here are some Back Ribs I prepared the other evening....Dry Rub Seasoning and baked @ 225 for 2.5 hours.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: fourunder

                                  I have had the chuck but given the choice I like the big rib roast ribs better. I just grilled dry aged strip steak med rare & lobster tonight but all this rib talk has me thinking about smoking some ribs in the middle of the week. I would do a rack of both beef & pork along with a six pack of ice cold beer. If I could get the wife to go out with the girls for a few hours it would be even better.

                                  A very close friend is a Professional Baker and does his pork spare ribs in his commercial oven at 225 then finishes on the grill with a honey glaze. Very, very good!