Baby Back Vs. St. Louis Ribs: What to Choose?

Everyone in the neighborhood knows: something amazing is happening on your smoker when meaty pork ribs are cooking over a fire giving out their irresistible smell! You love that, right?  

But do you know what type of ribs provide the best nutritional value, have better texture and flavor? If you aren’t sure, this post is for you!

Here, we are comparing St Louis Vs. baby back – they both are very popular and share many similarities. But still, what’s the difference between baby back and St Louis ribs? Let’s find out!

Baby Back Vs. St. Louis Ribs: Brief Overview              

All pork rib cuts originate from the pig’s rib cage. St. Louis and baby back ribs are very close in relation to each other, hence they share some similarities. For instance, both cuts are straightforward to work with and result in delicious BBQ. You can be sure that either St. Louis or baby back will get your mouth watering and taste buds jumping. Their main differences lie in terms of nutritional value, texture, and flavors.

So, let’s take a closer look at baby back Vs. St Louis ribs!

What Are The Baby Back Style Ribs?

To know what baby back ribs are, first we need to understand why they are even called “baby”! Well, It’s because they are smaller than other ribs. They come off from the upper part of the rib cage from the meeting point of ribs and spine. Among baby back Vs. st Louis ribs, these take a longer time to cook.

What Are St Louis Style Ribs?

St. Louis ribs come off from the belly side of the pig’s rib cage. After removing the belly, the butcher can easily access the ribs from the pig’s underside. The surrounding tissue needs to be cut to remove them safely as it has tough cartilage and a lot of connective tissue. 

And now that you know what St Louis style ribs are, let’s look at the in-depth comparison!

Baby Back Ribs Vs. St. Louis Ribs: In-depth Comparison

Criteria St. Louis ribs Baby Back ribs
Size Longer ribs Shorter ribs
Weight of rack 2.5-3.5 (pounds) 1.5-2 (pounds)
Meat content Very meaty Average meat content
Source Near the belly, below the rib cage Junction of ribs and spine
Fat content High fat Low fat
Servings up to 4 per rack up to 3 per rack

Meat & Fat Content And Other Nutritional Info

In the comparison of baby back Vs. st Louis ribs, 3 Oz of baby back ribs provides 248 calories and 20 grams of protein with vitamin b, selenium, and zinc! 

Here is the list of nutrients you get in ¼ pound of baby back rib:

Type of nutrient Amount % Daily value on 2000 cal/day
Iron 4%
Cholesterol 75 mg 25%
Calcium 4%
Total fat 18 g 28%
Protein 21 g
Calories 250
Sodium 95 mg 4%

 The same portion of st Louis style ribs contains vitamin A, C iron, and calcium. 

And here’s all the nutrients you get in ¼ pound of st Louis ribs:

Type of nutrient Amount % daily value on 2000 cal/day
Iron 4%
Cholesterol 70 mg 23%
Calcium 0
Total fat 16 g 24%
Protein 17 g
Calories 230 12
Sodium 90 mg 4%

Flavor & Texture

In the war between baby back ribs Vs. St Louis ribs, the baby back is less meaty and more tender. It’s because it comes off from the loin section of the pig. Almost all the baby back ribs cuts have a half-inch portion of loin meat for extra tenderness and flavor.

St Louis ribs are tougher, meatier, and provide a lot more fat and marbling. As this type has an adequately prepared rack, it offers a big room for spectacular flavor.

Now, let’s take a closer look at how many ribs per person are required in both types!

Portion Sizes

Another thing to compare in baby back vs. st Louis ribs is the portion size.

Baby back are smaller, hence an adult might need 6 to 7 baby back ribs to satiate the hunger!

As St. Louis ribs are longer and have more meat, you can make a hearty portion from 6 bones. At max, you can go for one or two. 

Which Is Better For Grilling?

When it’s about grilling, which is better, baby back or St Louis ribs?

Well, St. Louis ribs are flat, which makes them easier to cook! You can firmly put them on a grill leveled from all the edges. Besides, you can brush effortlessly over their smooth texture.

You need to work more with the baby back ribs as they have curved surface. Hence, it would be best if you lay them on the side for convenience. The good news – baby back doesn’t burn fast since it has more meat and less fat.

How To Prepare St Louis Style Ribs?

It’s best to cook St. Louis ribs at low temperatures as these are tougher. Also, it would help if you cooked them for a longer time so the meat can tenderize well. The best style for cooking these ribs is 3-2-1 if you want the best fall-off-the-bone results. Here’s what you should do:

  •     Smoke the meat for three hours on the grate.
  •     Wrap it tightly in the foil with a bit of the cooking sauce for an additional two hours.
  •     Unwrap the meat, turn up the heat, mop on some sauce and let it sit on the rack for another hour to create that magic bark.

How To Prepare Baby Back Ribs?

You can prepare baby back ribs in many ways, and the most common flavor is barbeque. You can try different recipes that can add a touch of smoke or heat or even sweetness. While the 3-2-1 cooking style works for any type of ribs, pitmasters love 2-1-1 variation as the ribs are small and cook quickly.  All you need is to reduce the first two segments by an hour each. This way, you’ll reduce the chances of overcooked ribs. Experienced grillers swear even by the 2-1-0.5 method for a quick finish and saucier meat.

With both St. Louis and baby back, you can go for any wood for smoking ribs.


In the end, if cooked nicely both ribs are super delicious in the war between baby back Vs. st Louis ribs! They’ll even stay meltingly tender and full of robust flavor after you reheat ribs.

Hopefully, you’ll find your favorite type and bring joy to your table as often as possible!

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