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Short Ribs vs. Spare Ribs: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 8, 2024
Short ribs are beef ribs cut from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib areas, thicker and meatier, while spare ribs are pork ribs cut from the belly, longer and flatter.

Key Differences

Short ribs are beef ribs cut from the lower portion of the animal, specifically the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib area. They are known for their meatiness and thickness. On the other hand, spare ribs are pork ribs, typically cut from the belly side of the pig's rib cage, near the sternum.
The cooking methods for short ribs often involve slow-cooking, braising, or stewing to tenderize the meat, which is rich in connective tissue. Spare ribs, while also benefiting from slow cooking, are popularly barbecued or grilled, known for their rich flavor and tenderness when cooked properly.
Short ribs are characterized by a shorter length of the rib bone, covered by a thick layer of meat which is both on top of and between the bones. Conversely, spare ribs have a longer bone with a thinner layer of meat and fat, covering the top and between the bones.
In terms of flavor, short ribs are known for their deep, beefy flavor, enhanced by their marbling and connective tissues. Spare ribs, being pork, offer a lighter flavor, often complemented by marinades, rubs, and smoking processes in cooking.
Nutritionally, short ribs tend to be higher in fat content due to their marbling, contributing to their rich flavor. Spare ribs, while also containing fat, are slightly leaner but still provide a rich flavor profile that pairs well with various seasonings and sauces.

Comparison Chart

Animal Source


Cut Location

Brisket, chuck, plate, or rib area
Belly side, near the sternum

Meat Characteristics

Thicker, meatier
Longer, flatter

Cooking Methods

Slow-cooking, braising, stewing
Barbecuing, grilling

Flavor Profile

Deep, beefy
Lighter, often seasoned

Short Ribs and Spare Ribs Definitions

Short Ribs

Beef ribs cut from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib area.
I slow-cooked the short ribs for hours until they were fall-off-the-bone tender.

Spare Ribs

Rib cuts ideal for barbecuing with sauces and rubs.
I experimented with a new rub on the spare ribs, and they were delicious.

Short Ribs

Meaty, thick beef ribs ideal for braising.
For dinner, we're having braised short ribs with a red wine reduction.

Spare Ribs

Pork ribs cut from the belly side of the rib cage.
Spare ribs are perfect for smoking and develop a great bark.

Short Ribs

Short-length beef ribs with a significant amount of meat.
We barbecued short ribs last weekend, and they were a hit.

Spare Ribs

Pork ribs that are tender when cooked properly.
Slow-cooking these spare ribs ensures they're perfectly tender.

Short Ribs

Beef rib sections known for rich marbling and flavor.
Short ribs are my favorite for stew because of their flavor and texture.

Spare Ribs

Long, flat pork ribs from the lower rib cage.
We grilled spare ribs with a honey glaze at the picnic.

Short Ribs

Beef ribs often used in slow-cooked dishes.
I love how the short ribs absorb all the flavors in the slow cooker.

Spare Ribs

Pork ribs known for their flavor and grilling suitability.
Marinating spare ribs overnight makes them extra flavorful.

Spare Ribs

Plural of|en|spare-rib}} ({{alternative form of spareribs).


What animal do spare ribs come from?

Spare ribs are cut from pork.

What meat are short ribs from?

Short ribs are cut from beef.

Do spare ribs have a lot of meat?

Spare ribs have a thinner layer of meat compared to short ribs.

Where on the animal are short ribs located?

Short ribs come from the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib area of a cow.

Are short ribs fatty?

Yes, short ribs are known for their rich marbling and fat content.

What’s the best way to cook spare ribs?

Spare ribs are best when barbecued or grilled.

Can you barbecue short ribs?

Yes, short ribs can be barbecued, but they're often cooked using other methods.

What is the flavor profile of short ribs?

Short ribs have a deep, beefy flavor.

How do spare ribs taste?

Spare ribs have a lighter pork flavor, often enhanced with seasonings.

How are short ribs typically cooked?

Short ribs are often slow-cooked, braised, or stewed.

What makes spare ribs unique?

Spare ribs are unique for their longer bones and suitability for various cooking styles.

Are spare ribs popular globally?

Yes, spare ribs are popular in many cuisines around the world.

Can spare ribs be baked?

Yes, spare ribs can be baked, though grilling or smoking is more common.

Are short ribs more expensive than spare ribs?

Generally, short ribs can be more expensive due to their beef content.

Can short ribs be marinated?

Yes, marinating short ribs can add extra flavor to the meat.

Where are spare ribs cut from?

Spare ribs are cut from the belly side of a pig's rib cage.

Is it easy to find short ribs in stores?

Yes, short ribs are commonly available in most butcher shops and grocery stores.

Should spare ribs be cooked quickly or slowly?

Slow cooking is generally preferred for spare ribs to ensure tenderness.

Are spare ribs good for smoking?

Yes, spare ribs are excellent for smoking.

What dishes are short ribs used in?

Short ribs are used in stews, braises, and slow-cooked dishes.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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