How Many Ribs Are in a Rack? (An Ultimate Guide)

How Many Ribs Are in a Rack?

You bought ribs racks for the first time and were confused about how many ribs should be in a rack. Does the one you have selected have the right amount or you are being cheated? To ensure everyone gets ribs, you must make sure there are enough for everyone. One rib short can mean an unsatisfied guest.  

So how many ribs are in a rack? It is not that simple to answer this question unless you know what type of meat you are dealing with. Due to the fact that they are from different animals, pork, lamb, and beef have different numbers of ribs in a rack. And even the way the meat is cut will change the size like in St. Louis Cut. 

Don’t worry it is simple and we have explained this question aside from also explaining what the is difference between St. Louis Cut and spare ribs. let’s get started.

The ribs of every animal are different, so let us begin with the pig since it is the most popular meat animal and what type it has.

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack of Pork?

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack of Pork?
Image Credit Dead Broke BBQ (Youtube)

Pork is a type of red meat that is obtained from the pig, which is a domesticated animal. It is a popular food in many parts of the world, especially in Asia. It is a rich source of protein and other nutrients and can be cooked in a variety of ways.

Generally, there can be 10 to 13 ribs in the pork ribs. There is a total of 15 to 16 ribs in a pig but few ribs are left with the shoulder when the rack is cut by the butcher. 

Spare ribs are taken from the cut near the belly and back to the shoulder. A spare rack can feed about 2 to 3 if you serve 4 ribs per person. In another way, they can weigh 3 to 4 pounds and 1.5 per person can be served. Spare ribs can be prepared at a low temperature. It is also more affordable to purchase this part of the animal and you can gather a decent amount of meat.

Even though you have decided on the pork there are still different types based on how and from where they are cut. For example, there are spare, St Louis, and baby back to choose from which also vary in the number of ribs.

St. Louis Ribs

St. Louis ribs are a type of pork ribs that are trimmed and smoked. They are a popular barbecue dish in the United States and are often served with a sweet or tangy barbecue sauce

The ribs are named after the city of St. Louis, Missouri, where they were first popularized. St. Louis ribs are typically prepared by first removing the tips of the ribs, and then trimming off the excess fat. They can also have 10 to 13 ribs but ribs lengths are fewer the tips are removed. In simple words, St. Louis ribs are basically spare without the fat and lower rib tips

The ribs are then rubbed with a spice blend, smoked, and finally cooked with a barbecue sauce. While they are most commonly associated with barbecue, St. Louis ribs can also be baked, grilled, or even braised. 

Braising is a method of cooking in which the ribs are cooked in a liquid, such as beer or chicken stock, for a long period of time. This results in a tender, flavorful rib that can be enjoyed on its own or served with a sauce. 

Whether you are looking for a new way to prepare pork ribs or simply want to try a different style of barbecue, St. Louis ribs are a great option. Their unique flavor and tender texture make them a favorite among rib lovers. 

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back ribs come from the upper spine region of the pig which is what is called the back ribs. They are also called baby ribs since it is smaller than spare ribs. They also have the same number of ribs as spare. 

This cut is popular for its lean, tender meat that is full of flavor. Baby ribs can be prepared relatively quicker than spare. Although there are many methods to prepare the baby’s back ribs.  But the most common one is to slowly heat or roast so that all the natural flavor is locked inside and it remains tender and juicy.

Check out these 7 Best Smokers for Ribs!

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack Of Beef?

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack Of Beef?
Image Credit Pitmaster X (Youtube)

Beef is the third most consumed type all around the world right after chicken and pork. 

You can find about 9 to 12 ribs in a full rack. The rack of beef is huge which is why the full rack is not easy to find on the lock market. Basically, due to the reason, they are huge because a rib can be 10 inches long. 

Beef is not cheaper when it comes to meat but these ribs cost less in comparison. Beef also has These ribs are mostly sold in a pack of three rib portions. 

A single rib can weigh about 1 to 1.5 pounds and can have the potential of 2 to 3 servings. So a full rack can feed about 10 people if you manage to find one.

Beef also has baby back ribs which are also called dinosaur ribs. The length of these ribs can reach up to 7 inches. The shorter ribs of the beef are also known as BBQ-style or flanken-style short ribs, and it’s quite popular for braised dishes.

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack Of Lamb?

How Many Ribs Are In A Rack Of Lamb?
Image Credit HowToBBQRight (Youtube)

Lamb and mutton are quite the liked meat in many countries. Lamb’s ribs are a delicious and nutritious part of the lamb.

 They are a good source of protein and are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. 

Lamb’s ribs are usually sold as whole racks, which contain about 8 ribs. But sometimes while buying or at a restaurant you might see less. Which depends upon what the ribs are cut. You can serve two lamb ribs per person on average. So you can feed approximately four people with a full lamb rack. Lamb ribs might look much chunky but they can go down a little after cooking.

Lamb racks are often cooked whole or cut into individual chops. When cooked whole, the rack is typically roasted in the oven. Individual chops can be pan-fried, grilled, or roasted. Lamb has more fat than pork so if prepared correctly it will be tender and juicy.

Read Also: How long to smoke ribs at 250?

What Is The Cheat Rack?

Sometimes a pork rack has less than 10 ribs. It can happen either due to some damage that may occur to ribs during the butchering process. Some customer thinks they are being cheated. But that is not the since the meat is sold based on the weight in kg or pounds and not on the number of ribs. You are getting your money value and they will be as tender as the full rack.

How Many Ribs Are In A Half Rack?

Perhaps you have seen the term half rack at restaurants or BBQs and wondered how many ribs there are in a half rack. There are usually about 6 to 8 ribs in a half rack just like the full rack their ribs can vary. 

In this case, you don’t have to worry about how many portions need on the plate. Or need to prepare the whole rack, so they are a good option if you are looking to enjoy dinner. In simple words, the half rack is a full rack divided in half as it is clear from the name.

How Many Ribs Are Here In A Slab?

Slabs and the racks are technically the two names of the same thing. Slabs or racks of the pig usually contain 10 to 13 ribs. A beef rack can contain about 9 to 12 ribs which also depend on the butcher. Lastly, the lamb rack will only have 7 to 8  ribs. Mostly the butcher sells them as slabs and when you see them in the BBQ many might be referring as half or full racks.

How Many Ribs Does a Cow Have?

A cow has 13 pairs of ribs, tallying up to 26 ribs in total. A little trivia to spice up your BBQ conversations: this is the same number of ribs found in the human body! But here’s where it gets interesting for the BBQ aficionados: Out of these 13 pairs, the first 8 pairs connect directly to the sternum and are known as “true ribs”. The subsequent 3 pairs link through costal cartilages, making them “false ribs”, while the last 2 pairs are “floating ribs” as they don’t connect at the front.

Why does this matter for your BBQ? The different ribs have distinct textures and flavors when cooked. The “true ribs” are meatier, making them a favorite for many. The “false ribs” and “floating ribs” are often leaner, absorbing flavors and marinades in a unique way. Understanding this can help you pick the right ribs for your desired barbecue dish and flavor profile.

For those who take pride in mastering the craft of barbecuing, appreciating the anatomy of the meat is crucial. It’s not just about flavors; it’s about respecting the animal and maximizing the culinary potential of every cut.

So, the next time you’re at a BBQ or planning one, impress your friends and family with this tidbit. Knowing the anatomy can elevate your BBQ game, ensuring every rib grilled is a testament to your skill and passion.

Tips To Adjust The Serving 

Once you know what meat you want from lamb, beef, and pork, you’ll probably go to the market to buy it. So how much do you need to buy? 

We have explained the serving size for each meat but not everyone has the same appetite. Well, we can not tell how much each person will eat but here are a few factors you can consider to avoid any leftovers:

  • When you are preparing the estimated serving size never round down the figure instead make sure to round up.
  • If there are going to be a lot of children then they might eat less since they will be distracted or excited to play most of the time.
  • If the ribs are prepared for the party in the afternoon then chances are people will eat less but in the case of dinner, people tend to eat more.
  • You can also consider the side dished so you can adjust the portion of the serving accordingly.


There go now you know how many ribs are in a rack. So next time when you go shopping you know how many to look for. You can find 10 to 13 ribs in pork, 9 to 12 in beef, and 8 in lamb.

However, the number of ribs can be low depending on the bread and how the meat is cut. Ribs aside from being delicious are also more affordable then. Also, the way the meat is cut is also important when selecting the ribs.

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