How Many Ribs In A Rack?

How Many Ribs In A Rack

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If you’re cooking a rack of ribs for a BBQ, you might not know how many you should purchase to ensure that there’s enough food for everyone.

If you’re wondering how many ribs there are in a rack, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I will explore how many ribs there are in a rack, as well as some key information on cooking ribs and what to serve with ribs.

So, next time you’re hosting a BBQ, you’ve got plenty of inspiration and know how many racks to buy to satisfy your guests.

Let’s get into it.

How Many Ribs In A Rack?

How Many Ribs In A Rack?

Racks of ribs are often sold at butcher shops and supermarkets. They come in various sizes, and the number of ribs in a rack varies depending on the animal that the rack comes from and what kind of rack you’re buying.

So, let’s take a closer look at different animals and how many ribs there are per rack.

  • Pork – A rack of pork ribs typically contains 10 to 13 ribs.
  • Beef – A rack of beef fibs contains 9 to 12 ribs. However, this is dependent on how the rack has been chopped by the butcher.
  • Lamb – A rack of lamb contains 6 to 8 ribs. If you want to serve a whole rack, you’ll need to cut off some meat.

How Many Ribs Should You Buy For Your BBQ?

You may be wondering how many ribs you should buy for your BBQ. The answer depends on the number of guests that you’re cooking for, and the type of rack you go for.

Typically speaking, a good rule of thumb to follow is to ensure that you offer 3 to 4 ribs per portion, especially if you’re serving a variety of different dishes at your BBQ.

When it comes to serving baby back ribs, make sure you buy 5 to 6 ribs per portion, as they are smaller than spare ribs.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of how many racks you will need to purchase to cater for your group of guests.

What Are Spare Ribs?

Spare ribs come from the belly of the pig, just below where bacon is cut.

They tend to be meatier than baby back ribs and have an extra vertebra in every rib.

So, how long do you cook spare ribs?

When smoking spare ribs at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, the ribs will need around 3 hours of cooking without being wrapped up in foil.

When the ribs reach the 3-hour mark, you will then want to wrap them in foil and cook them for another 2 hours. In total, then, you will be cooking your ribs for around 5 hours.

However, it’s important to note that the internal temperature of your spare ribs is a much more accurate way of determining when your ribs are done.

Bearing this in mind, you will want to take these timings with a pinch of salt and make sure that you are regularly checking the internal temperature of your ribs.

What Are Baby Back Ribs?

Baby back ribs are found in the loin area of a pig and tend to have less meat on them when compared to spare ribs.

A rack of baby back ribs contains 10 to 13 ribs, which is typically enough to feed 1 to 2 people, depending on the appetite of the people you’re serving.

So, how long do baby rack ribs take to cook? The average baby back ribs will take around three hours and 15 minutes to cook.

You will yield better results if you ensure that the internal temperature of your smoker is at an even 225 degrees Fahrenheit for the duration of the cook, and ensure that the door is kept shut the entire time.

Again, the internal temperature is a better way of accurately determining when your ribs are ready.

So, make sure that you only use these timings as a general rule, and be prepared to adjust the cooking time in conjunction with the internal temperature.

This will help to prevent you under or overcooking your baby back ribs!

How Many Ribs Are There In A Half Rack?

How Many Ribs Are There In A Half Rack

A half rack contains six to eight ribs. It’s also known as a quarter rack. This means that it contains four ribs per side.

A half rack of ribs typically contains 6 to 8 ribs, and each one is around an inch in width.

Half racks are usually served as an appetizer or as a side alongside other items, such as burgers, sandwiches, as well as salads for a lighter lunch.

A half rack of ribs is generally considered an easier and more conservative option when you’re not sure if you can finish a whole rack.

How Many Ribs Are There In A Cheater Rack?

A cheater rack typically contains four or five ribs. So, what is a cheater rack?

If a rack contains fewer than 10 bones, butchers call them “cheater racks”. This is often the result of a full rack being damaged in some way.

While this name can carry negative connotations, meat is sold by the pound. So although they’re shorter racks, you still get the same value for money.

Cheater racks are great for people wanting to dip their toes into the rib world, but who aren’t quite ready to commit to eating a whole rack.

How Do You Tell When Your Ribs Are Safe To Eat?

The easiest way to tell whether your ribs are safe to eat is to measure the internal temperature with a reliable meat thermometer.

Different meats often need to be cooked to different internal temperatures for safety. So, for this example, let’s talk about how you can tell if pork ribs are done.

The USDA recommends that you cook pork ribs until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit at a minimum. This is important to help reduce the risk of food poisoning when you eat the ribs.

Can You Overcook Ribs?

The short answer to this question is yes! There is a common misconception that it’s not possible to overcook ribs.

However, any BBQ enthusiasts know that there is absolutely no truth in this, and it is very possible to overcook them if you’re not careful.

To prevent overcooking your ribs, you need to be able to spot when they are cooked to perfection. So, how can you tell when your ribs are ready to be served?

You cannot underestimate how important it is to get the cooking time right for your ribs. Ribs being safe to eat and ready to eat are two entirely separate things.

This comes down to the fact that, while pork ribs are safe to eat when they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees, the pork rib meat won’t yet be tender. Instead, the meat will be tough and rubbery, and won’t be an enjoyable eating experience.

Ribs are a tough meat that need the necessary time to be able to render and tenderize in your grill or smoker, and this should never be overlooked.

Giving them the necessary time to cook is the difference between rib meat that is tough and chewy despite being safe to eat, or rib meat that is tender and melts in the mouth as you eat it.

So, when are pork ribs ready to be served? Generally speaking, your pork ribs won’t be ready to be served until they reach an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once your ribs have reached this temperature, the fat in the ribs will have rendered and broken down to create beautifully tender and flavorful ribs.

If the meat can be easily pulled from the bones when the meat has reached an internal temperature of 195 degrees Fahrenheit, then your ribs are ready to be pulled off the grill or smoker.

That being said, if the meat still seems firm to the bone, or you aren’t able to see any bones peaking out, then allow your ribs to cook for a little while longer. Allow them to reach the internal temperature of 203 degrees Fahrenheit and then serve them up!

It’s important to note that you will need to use a temperature probe in the right way when measuring the internal temperature of your probe.

This is crucial, because, if the temperature probe is too close to the bone of the ribs, it will give a false reading. This means that you could end up removing your ribs from the grill far too early!

Can Ribs Be Cooked In An Oven?

Yes, ribs can absolutely be cooked in an oven. While it’s ideal to cook ribs in a smoker or a grill for that iconic smoky flavor that we all know and love, this doesn’t mean that the oven doesn’t work.

Bearing this in mind, if you don’t have an outdoor grill or smoker, not all hope is lost. You can still cook delicious ribs from the comfort of your home just as easily.

When using an oven to cook your ribs, the same principle applies to determine when your ribs are done. So, you will want to make sure that you get your hands on a good quality meat thermometer to be able to tell when the meat is ready to be served.

What Should You Serve With Ribs At A BBQ?

What Should You Serve With Ribs At A BBQ

What you serve with your ribs at a BBQ is up to you! However, if you’re struggling for inspiration for side dishes, the good news is that there are a variety of foods that go perfectly with ribs.

Side dishes that go well with ribs include but are not limited to:


There’s nothing quite like a pile of creamy, hearty coleslaw to go perfectly next to rich and sticky ribs.

To make it even more special, you can try making your own homemade coleslaw!


Ribs are a fairly hearty and rich dish, so why not freshen things up with a yummy side salad?

You can add whatever fresh veggies you want, including lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and a delicious homemade salad dressing to make it more appealing to the masses!

Potato Salad

Potato salad is another great side dish to offer at your BBQ. Creamy and delicious, it’s a BBQ classic that is bound to please plenty of your guests.

The great thing about potato salad is that, like coleslaw, it can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.

Corn On The Cob

It doesn’t get much more traditional than corn on the cob at a BBQ. Sweet, crunchy, and delicious, you can’t go wrong with corn!

Why not try adding melted butter over your corn on the cob for a super indulgent side dish.

Macaroni Cheese

Cheesy and delicious, and a crowd pleaser with the kids, macaroni cheese is another ideal side dish for ribs.

A great thing about macaroni cheese is that it is super hearty, meaning your guests are sure to feel full even if you limit the ribs that they have on their plate.

After all, a sign of a successful BBQ are guests with full and satisfied tummies!

Sweet Potato Fries

If you want sweet on top of sweet, then sweet potato fries are sure to go brilliantly with your sticky, sweet BBQ ribs.

They’re not only a great alternative to regular fries, but they also take no time at all to cook either in the oven, air-fryer, or fryer. Make your own or buy them pre-packed from the store.

What’s not to love?

In Summary

The number of ribs in a rack depends on the type of rack and the animal that the rack of ribs comes from.

I hope this article has given you a better idea of how many ribs you will need to cook for the guests at your BBQ, as well as provided you with inspiration on what to serve with your ribs!

Good luck cooking your rack of ribs to perfection!