In restaurants and at cookouts, one of the more common questions I get asked about is how many ribs are in a rack. There is no simple answer to this unless one meat is specified. The three most consumed rib meats in the United States come from pork, beef and lamb. Sometimes the answer can be tricky, especially with pork.
How Many Ribs Are in a Rack for Pigs?
It is important to keep in mind that there are several different cuts of ribs available for pork or any animal. The number of ribs available always depends on what section of the pig the ribs are cut from. Each cut will have different fat levels, and the bones and meat will be thicker depending on the location of the ribs. The best way to approach this question is to look at the different styles of ribs available from the pig.
Pork Spare Ribs
A rack of spare ribs is taken from behind the shoulder, and to be precise, they are cut from breastbone and belly. This is the cheapest cut of pork ribs, and there are 11 to 13 ribs in a rack of spare ribs. Also, there are several different specialties of pork spare ribs depending on how they are trimmed and where the trimming style originated from. Here is a list:
- Kansas City style ribs
- Saint Louis style ribs
- Rib tips
Beef Rib Racks
Each side of a steer has 13 ribs, and they range from the breastbone to the backbone. Like pork ribs, you can buy an entire rack of beef ribs. The full rack is around nine ribs, and the ribs in the rack range from the second to the tenth rib.
Some of the rib bones are as long as 18 inches, but it is extremely difficult to find an entire rack of beef ribs sold commercially. This includes both wholesale and retail. Beef ribs are not nearly as cheap as they used to be, but they are still far more affordable than other cuts of meat available on a cow.
They can taste just as good or better if you know the proper cooking methods for each kind of beef rib rack. There are two primary cuts of beef ribs sold because it is extremely rare to find an entire rack for purchase, and they are the only ones worth mentioning. Your best bet is to purchase back ribs or short ribs, which are also known as short plate ribs.
Rack of Lamb
Lamb is one of the most popular meats to buy and cook at home. It is also one of the most popular dishes to order at a restaurant, especially rack of lamb, but how many ribs are in a rack? A full rack of lamb contains eight ribs. There are times you might only see seven because of the way they are cut, but the meat from both ribs will be attached to a single rib bone at the bottom.
The Comprehensive Answers
These answers cover the meat Americans buy and order. You can see pork is a little tricky, but animal anatomies are different. You have to remember there are different places and ways to extract ribs from, so there is no number set in stone, especially for pork and beef. Lamb is the closest you will get to always getting the same number of ribs on a rack.Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the article. I encourage you to leave feedback, suggestions and questions in the comment section below.