It's Time To Stop Confusing Ribs And Riblets

Ribs or riblets? How about both? Would you know which is which if they're both on your plate slathered in barbecue sauce? Most likely, you wouldn't. This is because there are slight differences between the two, but no matter which you choose, ribs and riblets are an American tradition. According to Adam's Taphouse Grille, pork is by far the most common choice for making ribs and riblets, and some states, especially those in the BBQ belt, which spans several states from the south and north of Kentucky to the west of Texas and Missouri, argue that using beef in BBQ just isn't right. Either way, BBQ ribs are a hot item.

Ribs and riblets are both usually cooked low and slow, per The Online Grill. That's what gives them that fall-off-the-bone tenderness. They're usually seasoned with a dry rub, BBQ sauce or marinated for hours before grilling the ribs or smoking them. The question is, what if you ask the butcher for ribs, and he offers riblets instead? Or maybe you're dining out and see both on the menu? Are the differences significant enough to matter? Here's what you should know. 

Defining the riblet

You're probably pretty clear on what ribs are. A slab of ribs is usually served as a full or half slab and comes from pork, beef, or lamb, with pork being the most common, as per Campo Grande. It's what you'll often find at BBQ contests and BBQ restaurants. A full slab of pork ribs is roughly between 10 and 13 ribs, and around six to seven can be seen on a half slab.

Riblets, on the other hand, are cut from those initial rib slabs. In fact, The Online Grill explains that riblets are often served as an appetizer rather than a meal, like a rack of ribs would be. They're created by cutting the slab of ribs in half, not at the width, but lengthwise. The results are much smaller rib pieces, which are easier to pick up as finger food. So, in the end, ribs and riblets taste the same and come from the same animal. However, ribs are considered meatier and bigger, while riblets are a smaller version of ribs.