What Are St. Louis Ribs? 6+ Things To Know

St. Louis ribs are pork ribs from St. Louis, known for their rectangular shape, meatiness, and rich flavor. They’re versatile and great for slow cooking or grilling.

what are st louis ribs

You cannot not like ribs. They have it all, from tender textures to sweet sauciness to messy yet greatly satisfying ways of eating. 

If you are ready to learn more about ribs, one of the first items on your list should be St. Louis ribs. These pork ribs are well-known and loved by barbecue enthusiasts and food lovers because of their meaty, tender texture and rich flavor. 

We have dug into the history, taste, and cooking methods of St. Louis ribs and are ready to share our knowledge with the world. In this article, we will explore what St. Louis ribs are, where they come from, how to cook them, and why they are so popular.

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What Are St. Louis Ribs?

In short, St. Louis ribs are a specific cut of pork ribs named after their place of origin: the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri. 

Butchers cut these ribs from the spare ribs of the pig and remove the breastbone, cartilage, and rib tips. The result is a rectangular-shaped rack of ribs, quite similar to a clip art image or Flintstones depiction of ribs. 

In terms of taste, they are both fatty and meaty. They are also an excellent choice for slow cooking–more on that in a moment–but a distinctive choice is to grill them.

What Makes St. Louis Ribs Different from Other Ribs?

st louis bbq ribs What Are St. Louis Ribs? 6+ Things To Know
St Louis style BBQ ribs glazed in sauce

St. Louis ribs are distinct from other pork ribs in several ways, from ergonomics to flavor.

First, due to their cut, St. Louis ribs are straight and uniform.

In comparison, spareribs – which are just St. Louis ribs with the breastbone and cartilage attached – are curved. The same applies to baby back ribs, which come from the loin around the pig’s spine.

When it comes to cooking methods, St. Louis ribs are great to grill–you can drop them right onto the barbecue and cook them up. That said, you can also cook them similarly to baby back and spareribs, namely by braising and smoking.

St. Louis ribs are also meatier and fattier than other types of ribs, making them more flavorful and juicy. The extra fat content also makes them ideal for slow cooking methods, as the fat helps to keep the meat moist and tender.

Where Did St. Louis Ribs Originate?

st louis vs baby back

St. Louis ribs get their name from their place of origin – St. Louis, Missouri, where butchers engaged in trimming away gristle to make square ribs. However, they are not unique to this region and appear in many other barbecue destinations throughout the United States. 

In terms of their location within the pig, rather than in the United States: St. Louis Ribs are cut from the spare ribs of the pig, which come from the lower portion of the rib cage.

How Do You Cook St. Louis Ribs?

slow cook ribs in oven

You can cook St. Louis ribs using many methods, but slow cooking is the most popular. Cooking options include smoking, braising, or slow roasting in the oven. Here are a few tips for cooking St. Louis ribs:

  • Dry rub the ribs with your favorite seasoning blend before cooking. Seasoning will help to infuse the meat with flavor. If you’d like to go for a regionally appropriate flavor profile, put together a spice blend made of garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, paprika, brown sugar, coriander, and more.
  • If you’re smoking the ribs, use wood like hickory or oak for the best flavor. Burning these types of wood, whether in chip or log form, will infuse the ribs with extra smokiness. That said, tossing in a few logs of cherry, pecan, and apple can add a subtle sweetness.
  • Cook the ribs low and slow to tenderize the meat and infuse it with a smoky flavor.
  • Baste the ribs with barbecue sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking to create a caramelized glaze on the outside.
  • Let the ribs rest for a few minutes before cutting into them to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Conclusion: Why Are St. Louis Ribs So Popular?

St. Louis ribs have become a popular choice for barbecue enthusiasts and food lovers because of their rich flavor and tender texture. The meaty, juicy ribs are perfect for slow cooking methods, which allows the meat to absorb the flavors of any seasoning or rub used during cooking.

The rectangular shape of the ribs also makes them easier to handle and serve, which is appealing to home cooks and professional chefs alike.

St. Louis ribs have also gained popularity because of their versatility. They can be cooked using a variety of methods and pair well with a wide range of flavors and seasonings.

Even better, they can be a canvas for a variety of different sauces, from an Alabama white sauce to a Texas-style sauce.

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