Ribs are almost always at the center of a delicious feast, and the words ‘baby back’ is enough to make anybody smile. But what if you get pork loin back ribs instead? Is there a difference?
Pork loin ribs or baby back ribs (or loin ribs, or back ribs) are the same cut of meat, and the most popular type of ribs because they are tender and leaner. Pork loin back ribs come from the highest part of the pigs back called the loin area that is connected directly to the pig’s spine. Many think they are called ‘baby back ribs’ because they are cut from piglets, but this is not the case. Typically, pork loin ribs are between 3 and 6 inches and a full slab will have between 11 and 13 bones.
There are several different types of ribs you can cook and while all are mouth-watering, knowing what you have matters.
When it comes to pork loin back ribs vs baby back ribs there is no comparison. That is because they are essentially the same thing. Just different names for the same cut of pork.
Knowing the difference between these ribs and others, however, is important for preparation and cooking.
They always have a starring role barbeque menu. Because of their popularity, it is essential to know how to prepare and cook them.
Be it rubs or marinades and using a grill, oven, or smoker, ribs should be on the menu. And this guide will make sure your ribs are the talk of the neighborhood.
Table of Contents
What Is The Difference Between Pork Loin Back Ribs vs Baby Back Ribs
The same cut of meat can be referred to as pork loin back ribs or baby back ribs. These ribs are the cut of pig that extends from where the spine meets the ribs after the loin has been removed.
They have a shorter size which gives them the name ‘baby back ribs’. Depending on the size of the pig, you can typically get ribs that will be around six inches in length, but they can be as small as three inches.
It is the tender and leaner nature of baby back, or pork loin back ribs, that makes them more popular. When prepared and cut properly, you can expect to have at least half an inch of loin meat at the top of your ribs.
This is the reason baby back ribs are more expensive. You also need to buy more of these to feed your hungry party.
The exceptional tenderness of these ribs is also the reason to take care when cooking as they can dry out quickly. Preparation is essential to the final taste and quality of pork loin back ribs.
What Are Pork Loin Back Ribs
Pork loin back ribs come from the highest part of the pigs back. They are connected directly to the pig’s spine. Many think they are called ‘baby back ribs’ because they are cut from piglets, but this is not the case.
The term ‘baby’ comes from the shorter size of these ribs as compared to others, and the term ‘back’ is because of their location in the pig.
Typically, pork loin ribs are between 3 and 6 inches and a full slab will have between 11 and 13 bones.
The section of the pig where these ribs come from is also called the loin area. The ribs sit nestled below this loin muscle and are very lean.
They have a distinctive bend to their shape where the ribs meet the spine. Many describe them as looking like hockey sticks at the end where the rib meets the spine.
Pork loin back ribs are different to spareribs which come from the belly area of the pig. Pork loin ribs also have a membrane, or silverback, that needs to be removed before cooking.
This is important so that the flavors from rubs or marinades can soak into the meat. It also has an unappetizing leathery look when cooked.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Boneless vs Bone In
Pork loin ribs are essentially bones, but it is possible to get boneless versions too. The pork loin back ribs are tapered at one end.
Depending on how they are removed from the pig, the meat can end up to one side of the bones. Other times, there will be about half an inch of tender pork meat across the top of the bones.
A slab of pork loin back ribs weighs around 2 pounds and half of this weight is bone.
The pork loin back ribs are attached to the loin muscle in the pig. In previous years, the loin meat from a pig was a favorite and sold for more than the ribs.
As people discovered baby back ribs, this changed and the bone-in ribs became the more popular item.
Boneless pork loin ribs are the same thing as loin meat. Depending on the butcher and where it is sold, it can be labeled either way.
Are Pork Loin Back Ribs Healthy
Pork loin back ribs are generally considered lean but to fully qualify as lean, pork must only contain 10 grams of total fat per serving, or less.
A 3-ounce serving of roasted pork loin back ribs contains 248 calories. Of this, fat contributes to 162 of the total calorie count. You get 20 grams of protein, but this comes with 18 grams of fat.
Of the total fat, 6.6 grams is saturated fat and a 3-ounce serving also has 71 milligrams of cholesterol.
Depending on your overall health, you may need to be careful with the cholesterol and saturated fat levels. That being said, pork loin back ribs are leaner than other ribs.
Pork loin back ribs also provide some health benefits that are worth noting. These ribs contain essential B vitamins which help metabolize the food you eat into energy.
Two specific B vitamins that you get from pork loin back ribs are B6 and B12, which provide protection for your arteries and support heart health.
Based on the average 2000-calorie-a-day diet, one serving of baby back ribs will give you 10 percent of the daily value for the B vitamins.
Pork loin back ribs also contain selenium and zinc which are beneficial for immune system function.
A 3-ounce serving delivers 39 percent of the recommended daily value for selenium and 17 percent of the value for zinc.
Meat often gets a bad reputation when it comes to health, but as part of a regular diet and when eaten in moderation, pork loin ribs are not as bad for your health as you may think.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Membrane
As mentioned previously, pork loin back ribs have a membrane. Officially called the peritoneum, this membrane is a piece of tissue that is attached to the underside of the pork loin back ribs.
Ribs also have cartilage and connective tissue around in and around the bones, but this membrane is different. Unlike the other tissues, it does not soften when cooked. It becomes leathery and chewy which is not what you want when it comes to ribs.
To get the most flavorful, tender, and mouth-watering ribs, you need to remove this membrane during preparation. In fact, this is done before you season or add any marinade or rub.
The membrane not only cooks to be tough, but it also prevents seasoning and flavor from getting to the meat.
The membrane is thicker near the backbone which makes it more important when preparing pork loin back ribs instead of spare ribs. The spareribs near the belly will not have as thick a membrane.
How To Cook Pork Loin Back Ribs
One of the great things about pork loin back ribs is that there are several ways to cook them. After you have prepared the slab of ribs, you can cook them in an oven or slow cooker, grill them, or smoke them.
Each cooking method provides different textures to the meat, so the method you choose will be based on preference.
What is important to remember is that with any method, you do not want to undercook the ribs. The meat will be tough and taste dry if it is undercooked.
When overcooked, ribs are moist, but also mushy. The meat should not be falling off the bone, but rather, easy to remove from the bone as you bite into the ribs.
Preparing Pork Loin Back Ribs
Before you prepare the ribs with your favorite rub or marinade, you need to remove the membrane. To do this, turn the ribs over so they are curved towards you.
The thin, white tissue you see is the membrane. You are going to pull the membrane away, starting at the edge of the ribs. Slide a table knife underneath it to help get you started.
The membrane will be easy to separate, so you don’t have to worry about pulling anything else off. Once you have the first corner peeled away, take hold of it with a good grip and peel the membrane away.
You should be able to pull the membrane away in one piece. You can throw the membrane away.
Next, you need to trim the slab of ribs. There may be blood vessels or scraps of meat hanging on the edges. Trim this away so the slab looks cleaner and more presentable.
Scrape away any deposits of fat you see that may be hiding between bones. Turn the slab over so you can locate any large areas of fat on the meat side and remove them.
Leave smaller areas of fat as these will render away during cooking. The ribs are now ready for seasoning.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Temperature
According to USDA, the pork loin ribs will be cooked when the internal temp is 145°F. Despite being cooked, the ribs may still be tough, so getting them to 190 to 203°F will help the collagen and fat in the ribs to melt so the meat will be juicier and more tender.
It can be challenging to use a digital thermometer for ribs because the meat is thin and varies from end to end. Meat next to the bone will also be warmer than meat at the edges.
It should take between 4 to 5 hours to cook a slab of pork loin back ribs. At higher temperatures, you can get the ribs done quicker, but there will be shrinkage and the meat will be tougher.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Grill
There is nothing like grilling baby back ribs, but there is some experience required. Anybody can become a master at grilling pork loin ribs once you get comfortable with your grill.
After your ribs are tenderized and flavored, it is time to get them on the grill. Light one side of your grill and allow it to reach a medium-high heat or temperature between 350° and 400°.
The other side of the grill needs to stay unlit. Place the ribs on the unlit side of the grill, staking them on top of one another.
Grill just like this with the lid closed for 40 minutes. Rotate the slabs so the one on the bottom moves to the top and grill for another 40 minutes. Rotate again, and grill for 40 minutes.
By not placing the meat directly over the heat, you get a slower cook, which prevents the meat from getting overdone or burnt.
Grilling provides a unique taste to pork loin back ribs but runs the risk of being underdone and tough. Depending on the amount of ribs you have, be sure to cook for the appropriate amount of time.
The MASTER COOK 3 Burner BBQ Propane Gas Grill from Amazon is perfect for getting your pork loin back ribs done in this way and has an extra shelf in case you want to throw some veggies on the grill too.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Smoker
Smoking your pork loin back ribs delivers a flavor like no other. If smokey flavors are your preference, then this really is the best way to get your ribs cooked.
That being said, learning to smoke foods properly takes time to master so it is important to follow the instructions that come with your smoker, if you are just beginning. Set up the smoker according to the manufacturer’s guide.
Preheat it at a low temperature of 225°F. The ribs will go in the smoker with the bone side down and smoke for 4 or 5 hours, depending on the size of the slabs.
Brush your ribs with extra sauce, if you are using it or mop sauce (a mixture of barbecue sauce and water). Do this after one hour and again every additional hour to keep the meat moist.
The ribs will be done when they have an internal temperature of 145°F. The top reason people avoid smoking is because smokers can be more expensive than grills or slow cookers.
This wood pellet grill and smoker from Amazon is a great combination item to let you grill or smoke your ribs and is easy to use as well as affordable.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Slow Cooker
To cook your ribs in a slow cooker, you first need to cut the slab into sections to make sure they fit in the cooker and the lid can close properly.
Ideally, you want a slow cooker that is 5 quarts or larger. Season the ribs however you want and pre-bake them. Bake them for 15 minutes on each side to help render some of the fat.
Layer them around the bottom of the slow cooker and cuckoo n low for 6 to 7 hours.
Cooking them longer than 7 hours will cause the meat to completely fall from the bones. Using a slow cooker takes longer, but that is the nature of the equipment.
You will definitely get juicy and tender meat when using this cooking method, but there is a danger of overcooking the meat and making it mushy.
For a great slow cooker, perfect for pork loin back ribs, try the Crock Pot Smart Pot Slow Cooker from Amazon.
It will accommodate your ribs perfectly and automatically adjusts to a warm setting to keep your food warm before serving.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Oven
While most people cook ribs on a grill or smoker, you can also cook them indoors in the oven. Oven baking is often a healthier way to cook foods, but when it comes to ribs, it is just as effective as the other methods.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place your prepared and seasoned ribs on an oven tray, lined with aluminum foil. The ribs need to be placed with the bone side down.
The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your ribs, but a finished slab will have an internal temperature of 145°F.
There is a risk of drying ribs out when cooking in the oven, so when they are halfway through cooking, cover the ribs with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Baste with sauce roughly 30 minutes before the ribs will be done cooking, cover, and continue baking.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Recipe
After you have prepared your pork loin back ribs, by removing the membrane and trimming the slab, it is time to season your ribs.
There are many rubs and marinades you can use for baby back ribs. You can follow recipes already out there or create your own.
For beginners, it helps to have some recipes on hand, so some of the best recipes for flavoring your ribs are right here.
How Do You Tenderize Pork Loin Back Ribs
The most important step in tenderizing your pork loin back ribs is to remove the membrane. Once that is done the flavors can soak into the meat.
Removing the membrane also prevents the ribs from getting tough and chewy because this is how the membrane cooks.
The rubs and marinades you will use will tenderize the meat, but to get the most tender meat you want to do some pre-soaking.
Soak the ribs for about two hours in apple cider vinegar before you season the meat. Be sure to pat the slab down before adding a rub or marinade.
The vinegar adds acidity to the meat which helps keep it tender while cooking.
How To Marinate Pork Loin Back Ribs
There are so many different ways to make a marinade for ribs. Many people like to create their own. For a basic pork loin back rib marinade, the recipe below is a favorite.
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup rum
- ½ cup chile sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 dash ground black pepper
In a bowl mix the ingredients until everything is well combined. Cover the ribs with the marinade on both sides. You can use up all the marinade. Leave for one hour at room temperature or for the best flavor results, refrigerate overnight.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Rub
Adding rubs to pork loin ribs is one of the most popular ways of seasoning. There is no one way to make a rub for ribs, and often you can take recipes and adapt them to create your own.
It all depends on the flavors you like. To help get you started, the recipe below is a great way to get started with finding the perfect rub for your pork loin back ribs. You may not even want to make any adjustments at all.
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons paprika
- 1 ½ tablespoons salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
To make the rub, mix together the brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Make sure everything is well blended together, so all flavors are even. Rub into your pork loin back ribs. For the best results, allow the ribs to sit in the rub overnight.
Best Recipe For Pork Loin Back Ribs
Because a smoky flavor is often synonymous with grilling and barbecues, nothing is more mouth-watering than smoked baby back ribs.
When you want to deliver the best smoky taste to your ribs and that distinct aroma, use this recipe and the 3-2-1 rib smoking method.
Preheat your smoker to 225°F using wood chips of your choice. The best for pork loin back ribs are typically hickory, oak, mesquite, apple, and cherry.
Prepare the ribs by removing any flaps and the membrane. Pat them dry to remove any excess moisture. Add the rub or marinade of your choice and let the meat come to room temperature.
Place the ribs in the smoker for 3 hours. Lay out sheets of foil to wrap the ribs. Place them, meat side down on the foil.
Cover with cider and butter to help prevent the meat from drying out in the smoker. Return the wrapped ribs to the smoker for an additional 2 hours.
Once removed from the smoker, you can add barbecue sauce if you want.
Easy Pork Loin Back Ribs Recipe
For a quick, easy and delicious recipe for pork loin back ribs, these are the oven baked ribs for you. A little sweet and a little spicy, this recipe is simple for beginners and will be a favorite for years to come.
For the sauce you will need:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely diced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 cup ketchup,
- 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Salt and ground pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper, then place into a large roasting pan with the meat side facing up.
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 3 to 4 hours. Make the barbecue sauce while the ribs are baking.
Start by heating the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté them until they are translucent. Add the cumin and cook for 30 more seconds. Add ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, and chili sauce, combine well, and cook for 2 minutes.
You can add salt for taste if you want. When the ribs are 30 minutes from being cooked, remove them and brush the sauce all over both sides. Return to the oven for the remaining 30 minutes to cook.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Chinese Recipe
Another simple recipe to try is this Chinese five-spice recipe. It is simple and delivers a different set of flavors to traditional barbecue ribs. There is also no need to marinate overnight. So when you want ribs as a last minute decision, this is the recipe for you.
- 3 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- ½ cup hoisin sauce
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon honey
- 1 4″ piece fresh ginger
- 5 garlic cloves
Place your oven racks in the middle and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Line a baking sheet with foil, then make your rub.
Mix the brown sugar, salt, and Chinese five-spice into a bowl. Season the ribs with this rub, making sure you coat both sides and edges. Gently press the rub into the meat.
Pour 1 ½ cups of water into the lined baking sheet, place the ribs on the sheet, and cover with foil. Bake on the middle rack for about 115 minutes.
To make your sauce, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, honey and 1 teaspoon of Chinese five-spice. Grate the ginger and garlic and add to the pan, heating the mixture to a simmer.
Cook the sauce, whisking often until it starts getting thick. When the ribs are cooked and tender, brush half of the sauce over them, coating both sides.
With the meat side up, replace back in the oven, close to the broiler for about 5 minutes. Remove, brush the remaining sauce over the ribs, cut, and serve.
Pork Loin Back Ribs Keto Recipe
Keto diets are very common today, as many seek to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles. Pork loin back ribs can be a part of your keto diet and this recipe is easy and tastes great.
Dieting never tasted so good. For the rub mix the following ingredients well and lightly press into the ribs in preparation for cooking.
- 1/4 cup Low carb brown sugar (coconut sugar or brown sugar for regular folks)
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
For a keto barbecue sauce, follow the recipe below.
- 6 oz tomato paste (in a 6 oz can)
- 2 cans water (use the tomato paste can) (12 oz/ 340 g)
- 1/2 can apple cider vinegar (use the can to measure) (3 oz/ 85 g)
- 1/2 can red wine vinegar (use the can to measure) (3 oz/ 85 g)
- 1/3 cup Low carb brown sugar
- 1/2 cup diced onion (2 oz/ 57 g)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 large clove)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon Hickory Liquid Smoke
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoon butter (to be added after cooking)
Add the first 10 ingredients into a medium saucepan and simmer for 45. Measure out the remaining ingredients on the list into the sauce, then blend everything together until smooth. Adjust the seasoning s according to your taste preference.
Preheat your oven to 275 F. Lay your prepared ribs onto a lined baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in the oven for about 2 ½ hours.
Brush the ribs with the keto barbecue sauce and then broil for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you want the top to be.
Helpful Tips To Cook Pork Loin Back Ribs
The world of pork loin back, or baby back ribs is a delicious one. And now you know all the ways to prepare and cook your ribs.
The most important thing with making ribs, no matter which rub, marinade or cooking method you use, is to get that mouth-watering tenderness that people associate with good ribs.
To help with this, there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.
- Always remove the membrane
- Pre-soak the ribs to help keep the meat tender when cooking
- Prevent drying out by wrapping the ribs in foil. This is especially helpful with smoking and cooking in the oven.
- Keep an eye on the cooking time, because overcooked ribs are mushy and undercooked ribs are tough.
As you can see there is no difference in pork loin back ribs vs baby back ribs. Same cut of meat with different names.
It is good to know both names so you can get exactly what you are looking for from the store or butcher. As smaller and often more tender ribs, pork loin back ribs are a popular choice.
Knowing how to prepare and cook them will make you the star of the neighborhood. Even though smoking ribs take some practice, you can still prepare the best, most tender ribs with any of the other methods in this guide.
Pick your flavors, pick your method, and get those pork loin back ribs on the table for people to enjoy.