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How to guide: Pork ribs


Pork rib is an economical cut of meat that, if prepared correctly, can be utterly delicious. The key to nailing pork ribs is in the marinade and cooking process, but here we offer all the information you need. We’ll have you revelling over ribs in no time!


A diagram of a pig showing where the main cuts are located

How to buy pork ribs

The first thing to note is that there are 2 main types of pork rib – spare ribs and baby back. Spare ribs are cut from the belly section, whereas baby backs (not cut from baby pigs) are cut from the loin.

Learn more about pork rib cuts with our dedicated guide.

spare ribs

Individual raw pork spare ribs

Raw pork spare ribs

Raw pork spare ribs


Fat equals flavour when it comes to ribs, so look for a decent amount of marbling through the meat that should exhibit a pinkish-red colour. Stay away from meat that is pale or has dark blemishes on the fat.  Don’t be put off by the large rack of bones that accompanies the meat. This accounts for about half the weight and, once cooked properly, will fall away from the meat easily.



How to store pork ribs

When it comes to how to store your pork ribs, it’s very simple.  Store raw pork at 5°c or below in the fridge (check your fridge is cold enough by using a fridge thermometer) and up to 4-6 months in the freezer at -18°C.  When you’re ready to use them, defrost and thaw for 24 hours towards the bottom of the fridge before preparing.


How to prepare your pork ribs

As mentioned briefly earlier, the key to showstopping ribs lies in the preparation and cooking process. Adding a dry rub or marinade at least a day before cooking will make sure that the meat has absorbed as much flavour from the marinade as possible.

The world is your oyster when it comes to marinades and dry rubs, so any combination of herbs and spices that you like will surely turn out to be a hit. If you need some inspiration, discover the seasonings that complement pork here.

Also, be sure to let the ribs reach room temperature before cooking, ideally about  30 minutes before cooking will ensure even cooking results.


How to cook your pork ribs

To make sure you get your ribs exactly right, you’re going to want to invest in a meat probe thermometer. This is an important step in figuring out how to cook a pork rack and meat in general. You can pick these up for under £10 and will last a lifetime of perfectly cooked ribs so it’s well worth it! Cooking low and slow produces the best results so be sure to:

  • Line an oven tray with foil, place the ribs on the tray, roast uncovered, low and slow for 3-4 hours
  • Oven cook at approximately at 14O°C, 120°C Fan, Gas Mark 1
  • Halfway through, brush with a prepared BBQ sauce, remove the foil and continue to cook. It is a long time but will make the meat super tender!
  • For the best results, put the ribs over a wire rack as opposed to on a baking sheet. Lifting the meat up allows the heat to circulate evenly

If you have a slow cooker have a look at our slow cooked pork guide.


A plate of delicious looking cooked sticky ribs alongside some cooked corn on the cob

Discover more

Slow cooking ribs is great, but very time-consuming. If you want to experience the delicious flavour of pork ribs but are short on time, have a go at our BBQ Pork Kebabs and Ribs or our Sticky Chinese Ribs with Hoisin Sauce.

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