How Many Ribs in a Rack: Ribs Serving Guide

how many ribs in a rack

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If it was up to me, I would allow one rack of ribs per person, and any leftovers can be reheated later.

If you are serving ribs for a crowd, it’s far more likely you’ll need to be a bit more reasonable and allow for a few ribs per person.

We will cover how many ribs there are in a rack, and how many racks come in a half-rack or cheater rack.  

How many ribs are there in a rack?

As a general rule, there are 10 to 13 ribs in a full pork rack, 9 in a full beef rib rack, and 7 or 8 loin rib chops in a lamb rack. However, these numbers largely depend on what kind of rack you’re buying.  

The number of ribs you get in a rack depends on the animal, the most common rib racks being:

  • Pork ribs –  A rack of pork ribs is often composed of 10 to 13 ribs per full rack. 
  • Beef ribs –  A full rack of beef ribs often contains between 9 to 12 ribs, depending on how the butcher chops them.
  • Lamb rack –  Lamb racks are most commonly made up of 7 or 8 ribs.

What are babyback ribs?

Babybacks come from the loin area of pork and are less meaty than spare ribs. Expect a rack of baby back ribs to contain 10 to 13 ribs, enough to feed 1-2 people.

uncooked baby back pork ribs on a parchment paper

What are spare ribs?

Spare ribs, also known as ‘flanken’ in some countries, come from the belly of a pig, below where bacon comes from. They contain more meat than baby back ribs and have an extra vertebra in every rib (13 instead of 12). 

raw pork spare ribs on a plastic board

A full rack can be made up of anywhere between seven and 11 ribs depending on how thick each bone is cut. The most common option will include between seven and nine ribs.

How many ribs are there in a half-rack?

A half rack of ribs is usually served as an appetizer or alongside other items on the menu, such as sandwiches, burgers, and salads. 

Half racks contain six to eight individual ribs with each bone about one inch thick. 

cooked half rack of baby back pork ribs on a wooden board
Source: Flickr / Joel Kramer

When deciding how much meat you want on the plate, this is often an easier option than buying full racks as they provide plenty of meat per portion without being too big.

How many ribs are there in a cheater rack?

A cheater rack is usually made up of four or five ribs. This is often the result of a full rack being damaged in some way.

Despite the name, meat is sold by the pound, so, despite being shorter, they are still the same value, and they still have similar characteristics to a full rib rack and provide you with that smoky flavor we all love so much.

Wrapping it all up

Ribs are an excellent choice for when you’re looking to feed a family or group of friends. With our guide, you’ll know exactly how many ribs you’re getting, how much meat is on each rib, and how to cook them!

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