Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Dec 15, 2012 11:12 AM

Difference between ribs 1-3 or 4-7 on a standing rib roast?

I am buying my first standing rib roast. I see it is available at ribs 1-3 or 4-7. Can someone tell me which to buy and what the difference is? And, may I ask, how many will each rib or size roast serve? As usual, much appreciate responses. Thanks.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. A commercial rib section contains 7 bones. That cut is too big to display (and expensive) in typical retail trays.

    We can't cut an even number from 7 so 1-3 are from the chuck end of the rib, and 4-7 are the loin end.

    3 ribs will weigh @ 6 lbs and serve 6-8 people.

    There are no real differences between one end or the other rather than the loin looks "neater". It has a larger singular muscle and looks a lot like a bone in strip steak, which is the next cut.

    1. With due respect, you are confused, or have been given incorrect information regarding the ribs section. There are generally considered two options, the *First Cut*, or the *Small End/Loin End*.... or the *Second Cut*...or also known as the *Large End/Chuck End/Blade End*

      The position of the ribs on the carcass is actually from (starting from the shoulder back) Ribs 6-12.

      Rib roasts are usually sold as either small end (cut from near the loin section) or large end (cut from near the chuck section). Small end rib roasts are more tender, contain less fat an are usually priced higher than large end cuts. The large end contains an outer muscle called the rib cap or rib cover and another layer of fat.

      A full rib roast comprises of seven ribs starting from the shoulder (chuck) down the back to the loin. As stated, the rib roast closest to the loin is more tender than the rib roast nearest the chuck. This end is referred to as the small end rib roast or loin rib roast or sirloin tip roast. The chuck end of the rib roast is bigger and tougher and is sometimes referred to as a half standing rib roast or large end rib roast.

      A full, seven-rib prime rib is a massive hunk of meat, which can be between 20 to 30 pounds. That's too big to fit into most ovens in one piece, which is why I, like most people, buy my prime rib in three or four rib sections. These sections have different names depending on where they are cut from:

      • Ribs 6 through 9, which comes from closer to the cow's shoulder (aka the chuck) are referred variously as the "chuck end," "blade end," or "second cut." It's got more separate musculature, and more large hunks of fat. Personally, I prefer this end, because I like to eat the fat in a well-roasted piece of beef. If you prefer leaner, more tender beef, then go for...

      • Ribs 10 through 12, taken from further back and known as the "loin end," "small end," or "first cut." It's got a larger central eye of meat, and less fat.

      Finally, some believe the meat to bone ratio is better on the Chuck End, as the bones are smaller. ...Depending on what part of the country you live in, your butcher will refer to those cuts as various different things, but all of them should know which ribs are which, so ask for "ribs 6 through 9/10" or "9/10 through 12," and you should be fine.

      One rib should feed two people in general....Boneless Roasts will be easier to carve and you can stretch the yield easier, as there is no waste and it's easier to carve.

      6 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Actually in the terms used in the question I am correct.

          No one making their first rib roast is going to understand, nor truly care @ which of the 13 thoracic vertebrae are being refered to. They don't care where the blade bone ends in relation to the 5th rib. They don't care that the 9th feather bone is the narrowest.

          Most customers of mine don't the type of back round that benefits from the lovely conversations you and I might have about beef.

          In my neck of the woods the first/second cut pricing destinction is extinct. Buchery is a largely regional trade and the terminology is nowhere near universal.

          Wholesalers and retailers a like have largely abandoned the cut definitions like 109, 111, and 112 when discussing the rib. I know of 1 person who still uses the term "Spencer".

          I don't find trade terms valuable when answering basic nuts and bolts questions @ meat. John Doe home cook is already intimidated by the price and the process. The less terminology I throw out the more comfortable their cooking will be.

          Frankly I am stoked to read "small end" and "second cut".

          I will stand by my claim that there is "no great difference" in the first or second cut of the rib. Minor details? Certainly. Never enough that I care as long as I don't get a piece that is overcooked.

          1. re: Brandon Nelson

            I didn't think the implication was that you were "wrong". If you read both your entries I think in essence you are both saying the same thing. Forunder's post is just more technical

            I would be impressed if anyone at my meat counters knew half of what either of you posted.

            1. re: Brandon Nelson


              thimes is correct....i was responding to the OP, not your comments.

              But for the record, given the choice of the Chuck End or The Loin End.....I prefer the former, rather than the latter when it comes to Prime Rib it does make a small difference at best.,,,as I prefer to eat the much as possible..

              : 0 ) ....Peace.

              1. re: fourunder

                Tone and tenor get lost behind a keyboard.

                I am simply pleased to see anyone with a solid grasp of meat.

                I have always preferred a steak off the rib section. It gives me a better balance between a brown crust and a pink middle.

                Peace back atcha fourunder!

                1. re: Brandon Nelson


                  What are your thoughts on Skirt Steak? Which is better, outside or Inside....for grilling, do you recommend running through blades, pounding or needling....or not even necessary.


          2. I appreciate the informative replies. They were all very helpful. Happy holidays.

            1. Actually, if you check with any experienced meat cutter; or you could check my websites; You will find that a whole standing rib roast comprises ribs 6<12 inclusive. Count on your fingers--seven ribs. A cut through ribs 1<3, 4<7,bone in or boneless could and would not be considered standing rib. Al (Alex, Alexander) D. Girvan