Are Short Ribs Beef or Pork? A Guide to Understanding the Difference

Are you confused about are short ribs beef or pork? Both beef and pork may be used to make the famous short rib cut of meat. In this post, we’ll compare and contrast pork and beef short ribs from a number of perspectives, including preparation, size, fat content, taste, and more. You’ll come away from this article knowing the key differences between pork and beef short ribs.

What are Short Ribs?

Short ribs are flavorful cuts of meat that come from the rib section of the animal. They are known for their tenderness and rich taste, making them a favorite among meat lovers. While short ribs can be sourced from both beef and pork, let’s delve into each type to understand their unique characteristics.

Beef Short Ribs

In many different cultures, beef short ribs have a special place in the culinary canon. Beef short ribs are often prepared in one of two ways:

English Cut: The English cut refers to short ribs that are sliced parallel to the bone, resulting in individual bone-in pieces. This cut is perfect for slow cooking methods like braising or roasting. The English cut is known for its meaty texture and rich flavor that pairs well with bold sauces and marinades.

Flanken Cut: The flanken cut involves cross-cutting the short ribs across the bone, resulting in thin, long slices with multiple pieces of bone. This cut is commonly used in Asian cuisine, particularly Korean barbecue. The flanken cut offers a tender and juicy bite, making it ideal for grilling or broiling.

Pork Short Ribs

Pork short ribs are a tasty alternative to beef short ribs, offering a slightly different flavor profile. There are two common cuts of pork short ribs:

Spare Ribs: Pork spare ribs come from the lower portion of the pig’s ribcage. They are larger and meatier compared to beef short ribs. Often prepared by smoking or slow roasting, pork spare ribs have a generous amount of fat that renders during cooking, resulting in moist and tender meat.

St. Louis Ribs: St. Louis ribs are a specific cut of spare ribs that have been trimmed to a more uniform rectangular shape. This trimming process removes excess cartilage and bone, creating a neat and consistent rack. St. Louis ribs are known for their succulence and are frequently cooked using grilling or smoking techniques.

Differences between Beef and Pork Ribs

Now that we know how beef and pork short ribs are prepared, we can compare and contrast the two:

  1. Size: Beef short ribs are often bigger and thicker than pork short ribs. This disparity in size has the potential to modify preparation and serving procedures.
  2. Fat Content: Beef short ribs have a greater fat content than pork short ribs. Beef ribs are more flavorful and tender than pork ribs because of the fat that is marbled throughout the meat.
  3. Flavor: Beef short ribs offer a robust and beefy flavor that pairs well with bold spices and seasonings. On the other hand, pork short ribs have a sweeter and milder taste that can be enhanced with tangy or fruity marinades.

Cooking Techniques for Beef and Pork Ribs

Different cooking methods are required for beef and pork ribs to bring out their individual flavors and textures.

Beef Ribs: Beef short ribs are best prepared by braising or roasting at a low temperature for many hours. The collagen in the flesh breaks down during the low and slow cooking process, creating supple, melt-in-your-mouth ribs. To enhance the taste of the beef ribs, try marinating them beforehand.

Pork Ribs: Smoking or grilling are common methods for preparing pork ribs, namely pork short ribs. The ribs get a smokey flavor and a deep, caramelized crust through a slow smoking process. The taste of pork ribs is greatly enhanced when marinated and grilled over indirect heat.


Short ribs can be sourced from both beef and pork, with each offering distinct characteristics. Pork short ribs have a somewhat leaner, sweeter taste than beef short ribs, but both types of ribs are noted for their meaty texture and powerful flavor.

If you know what to expect from these two rib options, you can choose the perfect cut and cooking method for your tastes. Whether you choose beef or pork, short ribs are a tasty and versatile meat that can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

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