View Full Version : Baby Backs vs Spares

11-16-2010, 10:37 AM
Why does everyone that does not take BBQ seriously prefer baby backs over spares? Is this really the case? What makes baby backs better than spares? What do you prefer?

11-16-2010, 10:40 AM
I'm just a backyard BBQ guy, but my reason for mostly using baby backs is that they are far more available around here. All of the grocery stores carry babybacks year round, but Sam's and Costco are the only places that always have spares.

11-16-2010, 10:44 AM
Baby Backs are more lean. It's easy for someone who's not all that into BBQ to find some tasty back ribs. Spares have a lot of fat, and those who don't take BBQ seriously tend to get or eat spares that includes the parts that are chock full of little bony bits and cartilage. Can make for a rather unappetizing experience for those who aren't getting to experience what a spare can be.

I personally prefer trimmed spares that are cooked right. However, I am also a fan of baby back ribs, but to be honest...usually when I get the craving for BB's I'm more than happy with a pork chop!:thumb:

11-16-2010, 10:54 AM
Both are good...Baby Backs are nice as an Appetizer, or a snack; for a meal...
Spareribs are the way to go.

Smokey Al Gold
11-16-2010, 10:55 AM
What can I say I love both! There is no part of a pig that sucks. Sometimes I crave BB's sometimes I crave spares.

Mister Bob
11-16-2010, 10:58 AM
I cook both and love both. For comps I use spares because I think they present better and seem to score better. For home, I mix it up. Spares are bigger and have more meat (and fat) on them, but are juicy, tender and delicious when done right. Baby backs (or more correctly loin backs) are great too.

I think many people like the loin backs because you can grill them and still get a decent product where spares can get too tough on the grill. Not everyone has mastered the art of 'low and slow'.

11-16-2010, 11:00 AM
depends on what is on sale. I've had rave reviews from cooking both. Some people say they like spares better, seem to be the consensus with experienced Q'ers. BB are prettier. Spares are a little more work to get trimmed correctly. But the BOTTOM LINE: Spares = $1.37/lb. Baby Backs = $3.59/lb. Basically same result.

11-16-2010, 11:13 AM
Still have never smoked any baby backs...

Buster Dog BBQ
11-16-2010, 11:42 AM
I prefer spares. I would guess people who do baby backs don't prefer the work cutting down st Louis style

11-16-2010, 12:52 PM
I do both, but honestly, I don't really care for the chine bones in the spares.
What is nice about the spares, is all the trimmings that you have to put in the freezer when you trim them St. Louis style. Just made tacos with rib trimmings last night, YUM.

11-16-2010, 12:52 PM
I've been brought up on baby backs. Spares aren't that popular in the Chicagoland area. That's why I prefer BB's. Although I'm learning to like the St. Louis spares more and more. I realized that I just have to cook them a little longer.:mod: The last time I made them, I thought they were excellent - until I hit a pocket of fat on the top side of the slab. Shoulda trimmed that off. :doh: Maybe next time it will be a dead heat. I'm learning...

11-16-2010, 12:59 PM
Hard to beat a properly smoked spare IMO...bacon on a stick. I think bb's are more popular because that's primarily what's offered in restaurants. Personally, I go for the spares, especially in comps. They are more flavorful and stand up better to low and slow because of the fat and present better for turn in. If I'm cooking for a crowd I'll go for bb's.

11-16-2010, 01:43 PM
Baby backs are more meaty in a casual purchase manner, they cook faster and get tender more quickly. Most people do not want to, or will not, commit enough time to properly cook a sparerib. You really need to cook spares long enough to render the collagen and fat properly, a baby back is a lot less time intensive.

Hence, most people do not really know what a sparerib can really taste like, those of us who have experienced a slow smoked spare that was properly prepared know what they can be. Most people I know who have had my spares remark on how different the ribs I make are from the spareribs they have had before.

11-16-2010, 01:57 PM
Spareribs all the way here. It's what I learned to do ribs with & still have never done BBs.

It's been interesting turning my customers on to what a spare rib can be. Most come in expecting BBs & want to order a full rack for just one person. Once they see what a full rack is, they usually drop the order to a half. Even then - most take away left overs.

11-16-2010, 02:03 PM
I was one of those who started out preferring BB, but have now come around to side of the spares. For me, when I was first learning to bbq ribs, the BB's were a heck of a lot easier to deal with. They are already trimmed, smaller, cook more quickly, and have a wider margin of error than spares. That is probably the same reason that restaurants use them. Now that I am more experienced, the extra work and added difficulty have become fun. I think it comes down to personal preference and the level of effort you want to put into it.

JD McGee
11-16-2010, 02:23 PM
Why does everyone that does not take BBQ seriously prefer baby backs over spares? Is this really the case? What makes baby backs better than spares? What do you prefer?

I take BBQ very seriously and I prefer BB`s because they are juicier...simple as that...:thumb:

11-16-2010, 03:05 PM
Personally I like them both because IMO they're different. Granted the difference is subtle, but enough that I can enjoy both for what they are. Price usually drives my decision, which leads me to spares most of the time although I was able to purchase a rack of BB's for $1.99 / lb. recently which is a steal around here. Cheers!!!

11-16-2010, 05:00 PM
started/learned on bb's 'cause the restaurant i was working at used those. now my preference is st. louis cut spares. i still enjoy bb's but spares are more meaty & juicy to me.

11-16-2010, 06:24 PM
I make spares cuz its cheaper and I get to trim em any way I want. I can cook the whole rack or trim St louis style and have trimmings to sample before the ribs are done.

11-16-2010, 07:35 PM
Spares for me...low n slow, nice glaze...hold the sides. Maybe some sweet iced tea.:thumb:

11-16-2010, 09:09 PM
I'll vote for the spares. Not much of a fan of BB's - plus everytime I cook spares, I prep and smoke as if it's a comp. -> practice, practice, practice (which I desparately need after this last season).

11-16-2010, 09:26 PM
I hear you bro.

11-16-2010, 09:37 PM
I agree with what was said earlier. If I am cooking for a family gathering I use BB its just easier when it comes to a crowd, for me and mine I like spare ribs [ trimmed of course]

11-16-2010, 09:55 PM
Both. Kind of like white meant/dark meat chicken. Except that white meat chicken sucks.:-D

11-16-2010, 10:09 PM
I used to think spares where bottom of the barrel since they were cheap, not now:hungry:

11-16-2010, 10:58 PM
I've never had baby backs. So I really don't know what I'm missing out on. I've never smoked them because they're always 4 bucks a pound. I'm too thrifty to spend that much money.

11-16-2010, 11:44 PM
I cooked up my first set of baby backs over the weekend and I didn't like them. I'll stick with my spares...

11-17-2010, 12:47 AM
Spares for me as well -- worth the extra time to make them perfect! :whoo:

11-17-2010, 01:14 AM
I take my q seriously, but I still prefer BB ribs. To me, I think they have a better taste, plus they are leaner. I like spares dont get me wrong, but given the choice ill take the loin backs. The only downside is it takes a whole rack to fill me up. :hungry:

big brother smoke
11-17-2010, 01:17 AM
Sometimes, I want BBs sometimes and sometimes,I want spares. Sort of like oranges and tangerines :twisted:

11-17-2010, 07:27 AM
Baby backs take a smaller pot!

Lake Dogs
11-17-2010, 08:16 AM
Why does everyone that does not take BBQ seriously prefer baby backs over spares? Is this really the case? What makes baby backs better than spares? What do you prefer?

Like others here I take BBQ fairly seriously (eating, cooking, and competing).

I personally prefer eating BB's over spares because they have less fat in
them (even when spares have the fat rendered well) and if done perfectly
(comparing one to another) they're just as moist if not more so and I
prefer the flavor (it's slightly different). I despise eating non-St Louis
spares. As bigabyte said: spares that include the parts that are chock full
of little bony bits and cartilage can make for a rather unappetizing

I dont mind cooking spares, and if the folks I'm cooking for prefer them,
then it's spares that go on the smoker (never grilled). For me, I'll
usually throw on a rack or two of BB's because if the cook ain't happy,
then mama ain't happy, and if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.

11-17-2010, 09:10 AM
For me, I don't like BB as much, just not enough meat, but I do like Loin Backs (those over 3lbs, with more meat).

Around here, LB are hard to find and always twice the price of spares.

All things being equal, if I could find LB and Spares at the same price, I'd cook both. They are different enough in texture to give me options and variety.

It's like steak. All steak is good. Some like ribeye vs filet.

Just different.

I don't think it has anything to do with how "true" you are to BBQ. It think it's marketing hype from the Danish Council that first created them to now (who won't get the chili's song out of there mind after I say...)

I want my baby back baby back baby backs...



JD McGee
11-17-2010, 09:21 AM
Aren't loinbacks and bb's the same thing? :confused: The bb's I get weigh 3-3.5 lbs each...:wink:

11-17-2010, 09:41 AM
I've smoked st louis style spares maybe 5 times.
I've smoked baby backs maybe 75 times.
The winner should be obvious.
The only reason I'm even testing spares is for comps.
But I think my team has decided on BB's for comps - win or lose we simply think they taste and present better.
Not every judge will agree, but I don't have to live with the judges:)

11-17-2010, 10:01 AM
I'm a convert from BB's to spares. Once i learned to trim up the spares to a STL cut, I haven't gone back. My conversion is partly due to the decrease in quality of BB's that I've noticed over the past couple of years. The ones I see around here are really thick and just as fatty as spares. Didn't use to be the case.


11-17-2010, 10:26 AM
Hmmmm...I think I'm gonna hafta try some baby backs now...

11-17-2010, 11:00 AM
They are both so delicious.......

Baby backs are very easy to prep. 2-3x faster than spares (assuming you're going for clean . Plus there is no waste, and no unappealing parts filled with small bones and cartilage. On the other hand, BBs are leaner than spares, so they can't take flavors quite as well and they're never quite as juicy. I've also notice that spares hold heat better than BBs. They stay hot longer once the ribs have been sliced and plated.

For a local point of reference, here in New England, competition teams submit spares about 6:1 over baby backs.

When you're shopping for baby backs, be careful. BBs from Denmark are these tiny little things that are expensive and poorly suited for BBQ. BBs (aka Loin Backs) from American hogs are bigger, meatier, less money and yield far better finished product.

11-17-2010, 01:03 PM
To answer the original question, the reason most non bbq folks like Baby Back Ribs is because of Chili's and Applebee's and using the mainstream media to advertise their product. It sticks in everyones mind. That is my theory and I am sticking to it!

For the record I prefer Spares as I will not pay 3 times more the price for an inferior cut of meat...

11-17-2010, 03:47 PM
Many years ago I worked at Bennigans ( similar to Chili's & Applebees)
We served Baby Back ribs there, and we cooked them in a pressurized
smoker. They were fantastic right when they came out of the smoker.
I think we did 8 or 10 racks of Baby Backs at a time. If we had done spare
ribs; it would have been a nightmare to prep them and cook them and
store them in the cooler.:shocked:

That isn't a problem for a BBQ restaurant; but the Baby Backs were just one
item on a full menu. That's why I think those chain type restaurants use
them...Baby Backs are much easier to cook, store, and serve.

When it comes to big flavor...Spare Ribs are my first choice.:first:

01-11-2011, 01:10 PM
I cooked baby backs for the first time this week end and I gotta say I was pleasantly surprised. I smoked them for 4 hours unfoiled and they turned out great!

01-11-2011, 01:51 PM
Aren't loinbacks and bb's the same thing? :confused: The bb's I get weigh 3-3.5 lbs each...:wink:

Sorry didn't see this.

They are and they aren't. Loin backs are big BB's and need to be over a certain weight. Loin back term is specifc, means the rib has more loin meat on it (the loin being right above the back rib).

BB is a Marketing term from the Danish GOv't years ago to sell us those little 1.25/1.5 lb baby backs.

Baby has nothing to do with the real term.

Why are they liked?

As someone said, it's marketing. With the Chili's BB song, everyone singing it, people know it and want it.

Ask most non-bbq'ers and they can't even tell if they're eating one or the other.

01-11-2011, 02:45 PM
Aren't loinbacks and bb's the same thing? :confused: The bb's I get weigh 3-3.5 lbs each...:wink:

As already stated...yes & no.

Baby backs, true BBs, are extremely small jems of bone and meat scraps. Most folks now, myself included 75% of the time, call loin backs by the name baby back.

95% of the baby backs you see are loin backs.

Many folks will understand what I'm saying, and the rest are internet babies who will have no idea what I'm talking about...the same folks who believe foiling is required for good bbq because they read it on the internet. :crazy:

05-16-2011, 07:33 PM
Baby backs take a smaller pot!

Pot? Is this now the Boiled BBQ forum?
Spares for me, I think they have a much better flavor, and you can get that "Henry the 8th" thing going with your hands all greasy. BB's remind me of those Danish ribs they used to sell in a box. When you opened the box, they were all bones.

05-16-2011, 07:46 PM
I've always been a trimmed spares guy...but lately some good meaty loin backs have been hitting the spot big time. Not sure what that's all about. I guess it's just a change of pace or something.

05-16-2011, 07:56 PM
When I go to our local BBQ restaurant, I order BB's. If they were the same price, I'd robably buy and cook BB's. As it is, I buy spares all the time because I can get twice as much meat for less money. I always cook up the tips and trimmings with the ribs. Plus, spares lay flatter and fit in the rib rack better.

Can't say I prefer one over the other. I'm just cheap.:becky:

05-16-2011, 08:58 PM
at home we are spares.. trimmins in greens, beans, smoke some leave some raw, vac seal and freeze. etc Sometimes use as a mid smoke snack... plus price per lb makes more sense to me...

05-16-2011, 09:23 PM
I do both and love both, just BB are always on sale here it seems like

05-16-2011, 09:45 PM
I still haven't tried spares yet,they definately seem to have more meat but I also thought they had more fat.

05-16-2011, 10:52 PM
Spares are fattier and have more "bits" in them. Most of the members of my family don't like these aspects, so getting BBs is a much more enjoyable experience. Lately, we've been having trouble finding BBs. My wife found a package at Costco last Friday for the first time in weeks and bought it immediately. We're all very thankful. They were delicious.

05-17-2011, 12:09 AM
I usually do spares trimmed to St Louis but this weekend BBs were on sale so I did a rack. I was surprised at the meat on them. I think overall they were meatier then the spares I get but I missed the trimmings you get from the spares. I like spares better overall.

05-17-2011, 12:17 AM
Oh, just in case I haven't replied in this particular "BB's vs Spares" thread yet, I prefer Spares.

05-17-2011, 12:17 AM
OK, I changed my mind...Back ribs can be mighty nice too. So I'm going to go with BB's.

05-17-2011, 12:17 AM
Nope, spares.

Frank Grimes
05-17-2011, 12:44 AM
I had not done any bbs in a couple years until last weekend and forgot how good they can be. I prefer spares, but now will be doing more bbs this year.

05-17-2011, 01:44 AM
i like spares... for the most part what i have seen, BB's are more expensive, for less meat, and i like spares all the way anyways... :D

05-17-2011, 01:47 AM
Why does everyone that does not take BBQ seriously prefer baby backs over spares? Is this really the case? What makes baby backs better than spares? What do you prefer?

I take my Q very seriously, and I just prefer baby backs over spares. They taste better to me. Nothing wrong with spares, however.

05-17-2011, 09:47 AM
Now I'm leaning towards BB's again.

05-17-2011, 09:53 AM
I've done both, but the best ones I ever did were baby backs. My wife preferred spares because they had more meat, but lately the baby backs here have been comparable as far as meatiness.

I'm going to stick with baby backs for now.