Pork Loin Back Ribs Vs Baby Back Ribs: Is there A Difference?

There are a lot of different things that you can barbecue on a grill, from hamburgers to corn on the cob and sausages. But, there is nothing that is quite as good as ribs.

With decadent flavor, juicy goodness, and all round deliciousness, it is easy to see why they are so popular. However, what you might not have known is that there are actually quite a few different kinds of ribs to choose from. 

Once you realize that there are quite a few different types of ribs, cooking them on the barbecue suddenly becomes a lot more difficult. There are quickly lots of different options to choose from, and it can make your visit to the butchers a lot trickier. 

In this guide we’ll be taking a look at two of the main types of ribs: pork loin back ribs and baby back ribs, to find out if there is a difference between the two. So to find out more, keep on reading. 

What Are Pork Loin Back Ribs?

First, let’s take a look at what pork loin back ribs are. These are a specific cut of rib that are taken from a pig. This type of rib is taken from the area where the ribs meet the spine, hence why they are known as ‘back ribs’. 

Due to the way that they are cut, these ribs are quite a lot smaller than some other cuts, so they are very easy to eat. Their small size also means that they are perfect for snacking on when you are having a barbecue.

They are not as filling as ribs that you might order at a restaurant, but they are incredibly moreish and delicious. But are they different from baby back ribs?

What Are Baby Back Ribs?

Baby back ribs are also a type of rib that is taken from pork. While they are known by a different name, and often sold as a ‘different’ cut in some butchers, baby back ribs are actually taken from the same area as pork loin back ribs.

They will sometimes appear smaller, and that is why some people think that they are a different cut of rib. But this is usually coincidental, and down to the size of the pig that the ribs were taken from. 

In terms of flavor, baby back ribs are almost identical to pork loin back ribs. They are also incredibly similar in texture, and that is because they are essentially the same thing. But, is there anything different between these two types of ribs? Let’s take a look and find out. 

What Is The Difference?

Well, as we have said, there actually isn’t a difference between pork loin back ribs and baby back ribs. The only real difference between these two types of ribs is the name given to them, but in terms of the area of pork they come from, it is the same for both cuts.

So, why do so many people think that these two kinds of ribs are different from one another? 

The main reason why people think that these are two different kinds of ribs is because they have 2 different names. A lot of people think that baby back ribs are taken from baby pigs, a.k.a. Piglets, because of their name and small appearance.

But, obviously this isn’t the case. Baby back ribs and pork loin back ribs are just naturally smaller than some of the other ribs that you might see. 

But, this isn’t the only reason why some people think that baby back ribs are different from pork loin back ribs. Something else that majorly influences this idea is the fact that a lot of the time, your baby back ribs might look smaller than pork loin back ribs.

This is entirely circumstantial and, as we have said, it depends on the pig that they are taken from. However, if you were to experience this a handful of times, it is understandable that you might think they are a different thing to pork loin back ribs. 

It is worth noting that just because these two types of ribs are the same as one another, this isn’t always the case with other ribs.

While these two types of ribs are the same as each other, they are not the same as spare ribs, for example. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to tell the difference between these ribs and other types of ribs. 

How To Tell The Difference

Now that we know that pork loin back ribs and baby back ribs are the same as one another, let’s take a look at how you can tell these ribs apart from other ribs. 

You might expect it to be difficult to tell different types of ribs apart from one another. After all, ribs are all taken from the same area of an animal, so you might expect them to look very similar. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. In fact, the easiest way to tell different types of ribs apart from one another is by simply looking at them. 

Pork loin back ribs tend to have a small curved appearance. The first thing you will notice is that they are significantly smaller than the spare ribs that you have enjoyed in the past.

The next thing that you might notice is that they are rounded. Spare ribs have a straight appearance, and that is why they are able to offer so much meat. But, pork loin back ribs contain significantly less meat, due to their small round size. 

This might lead you to expect pork loin back ribs to be a worse cut of meat than spare ribs, but a lot of people actually prefer them. This is because pork loin back ribs are a much leaner cut of meat, and they are less fatty.

For people who don’t like fatty cuts of meat, pork loin ribs will be preferable because the quality of meat is much nicer. Even if you get less meat on the bone. 

But, one thing that continually leads people back to spare ribs is the price of pork loin back ribs. As they are a nicer cut of meat, pork loin back ribs are also more expensive than spare ribs. This is why a lot of people tend to opt for spare ribs when they are catering for big groups, and pork loin back ribs when they are treating themselves. 

Tips For Cooking Pork Loin Ribs

So, no matter whether you purchase baby back ribs or pork loin back ribs, they are ultimately the same thing. Due to this, the way in which they are cooked is the same.

So, let’s take a look at some tips to bear in mind when you are cooking these ribs. After all, these ribs aren’t the cheapest cuts of meat to buy, so you want to make sure that you get it right when you are cooking them. 

If you are cooking pork loin back ribs for the first time, here are some tips that will make the process a lot easier for you:

  • Ensure that you have completely removed the membrane from the pork loin back ribs before you cook them. If you do not do this, you won’t achieve the juicy texture that makes people love ribs so much. 
  • To make your ribs as tender as possible, soak them before you cook them. The ribs will then soak up the marinade making them even juicier, and even softer when you bite into them. 
  • If you are cooking your ribs in an oven, or smoking them, you should wrap them in tin foil before cooking. This will keep the ribs juicy, and greatly reduce the risk of them drying out in the cooking process. 
  • Ensure that the meat is completely cooked before you serve it. If the meat is undercooked it will be mushy, and if it is overcooked it will be chewy. It is important that you cook it just right if you want that juicy texture. 

Final Thoughts

In short, no, there isn’t a difference between pork loin back ribs and baby back ribs. They are the same cut of meat, taken from where the ribs meet the spine. The only difference between the two is the name that is used. But ultimately, these two types of ribs are the same, and this is why you will not find any differences between the two.

Mick Rogers