How To Debone Pork Ribs? Experts Explain

Are you tired of struggling to eat your favorite pork ribs without getting your hands dirty?

Or maybe you want to impress your friends and family with perfectly deboned ribs at your next barbecue.

Whatever your reason, learning how to debone pork ribs is a skill worth knowing.

In this article, we’ll explore different methods for removing the bones from baby back and spareribs, as well as share a delicious recipe for boneless pork ribs.

So grab your apron and let’s get started!

How To Debone Pork Ribs?

There are a few different methods for deboning pork ribs, depending on the type of ribs you have.

For baby back ribs, start by removing the membrane from the bone side of the rack. Use a blunt knife to loosen the tough tissue at one end, then grasp it with a dry paper towel and peel it off. Next, gently score the surface of the rack where the bones meet the meat, using a sharp knife tip. Trim the membrane close to the bone to help the meat pull away from the bones. Finally, divide the rack into two halves and smoke at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes, or use the 3-2-1 method. Wrap tightly in foil with 1/2 cup of liquid (such as beer or cola) and cook for an additional one to two hours until the bones protrude at the ends. Add your favorite sauce and grill on high heat to char, or dredge in sauce and place on a toasted roll with slivered onions and pickles.

For spareribs, start by trimming off the flap of meat at the end of the rack. Make a vertical cut parallel to, and about 1/2-inch away from, the last bone. Next, make a horizontal cut to sever the breastbone and cartilage. Locate the longest rib (usually the fourth bone in on the wider end of the rack) and feel along it until you detect a softer spot where it connects to the sternum (breastbone). Insert your knife into that spot and slice perpendicular to the ribs, cutting through all of the soft spots where each rib meets the breastbone. Once the breastbone is removed, you should have a clean, rectangular rack of ribs with nothing but bone and meat.

Why Debone Pork Ribs?

Deboning pork ribs can be a useful skill to have, especially if you’re looking for a more refined and elegant presentation. By removing the bones, you can create a more uniform shape that is easier to handle and serve. Additionally, deboning pork ribs can make them easier to eat, as there’s no need to worry about gnawing on bones or getting meat stuck between them.

Another advantage of deboning pork ribs is that it can help the meat cook more evenly. With the bones removed, the heat can penetrate the meat more thoroughly, resulting in a more tender and juicy end product. This is particularly true for baby back ribs, which are thinner and more delicate than spareribs. By deboning them, you can avoid overcooking or undercooking certain areas of the meat.

Finally, deboning pork ribs can be a fun and creative way to experiment with different flavors and cooking techniques. Once you have a clean rack of boneless ribs, you can stuff them with herbs, spices, or other ingredients to infuse them with extra flavor. You can also try cooking them in different ways, such as smoking or grilling, to see how the lack of bones affects the final result. Overall, deboning pork ribs is a great way to elevate your barbecue game and impress your guests with your culinary skills.

Types Of Pork Ribs

When it comes to pork ribs, there are four main cuts that are commonly used for grilling, smoking, and braising.

Spare ribs are flat and wide, loaded with great intramuscular fat due to their proximity to the belly. They also have a good amount of connective tissue that holds the ribs together and supports the internal organ systems of the hog. This combination of fat and tissue makes spare ribs a great option for low and slow cooking to add tenderness and flavor.

St. Louis spare ribs are cut down from a rack of full spare ribs. Typically, the end 2-3 bones are trimmed off and the top 2-3 inch section of thin bones and cartilage are also removed. This trimming leaves St. Louis spare ribs with a more uniform appearance than spares with all of the great fatty flavors you’d expect from the full rack.

Baby back ribs are possibly the most popular rib type for grilling. With slightly less fat than spare ribs and usually a bit more meat above the bone, these ribs make for great eating and work well in both low and slow smoking or hot and fast grilling applications.

Country-style pork ribs aren’t ribs at all (despite the label from the butcher counter!) These “ribs” are actually 1.5-2 inch thick strips typically cut from the pork shoulder. Sometimes they include bone segments and sometimes they don’t, but they do have similar fat content and tough connective tissue to ribs. These are great to smoke and braise, then serve shredded and loaded with sauciness.

Each type of rib has its own unique characteristics that make it ideal for different cooking methods and flavor profiles. Whether you prefer the fatty richness of spare ribs or the leaner meat of baby back ribs, there’s a type of pork rib out there that’s perfect for your next barbecue or dinner party.

Tools Needed For Deboning Pork Ribs

When deboning pork ribs, it’s important to have the right tools on hand to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. The two specialty blades commonly used by chefs are a boning knife and a filleting knife. The choice of knife depends on the type of food being cut, but for deboning pork ribs, a boning knife is the best option. Look for a sharp boning knife that fits comfortably in your hand, such as the Smoke Kitchen 6.5” Boning Knife made from a combination of carbon and chromium, which will stay razor-sharp to give you even cuts with minimal effort.

In addition to a sharp boning knife, you’ll also need a sturdy cutting surface. While a butcher block is a great choice for trimming ribs, you may prefer to use a BBQ Drip EZ Prep Tub. This durable prep tub comes with a built-in cutting board plus a lid for storing your meat in the fridge once it is prepped. Having a clean and stable surface to work on will help you make precise cuts and avoid slips or injuries.

Finally, consider investing in a pair of kitchen shears or poultry shears to help you trim any excess fat or connective tissue from the ribs. These specialized scissors are designed to handle tough cuts of meat and can make quick work of trimming tasks that might be difficult with just a knife.

By having these essential tools on hand, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle the task of deboning pork ribs and creating delicious meals for yourself and your family.

Method 1: Removing Bones From Baby Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are a popular type of rib for grilling, and removing the bones can make them easier to eat and more versatile in cooking. To start, remove the membrane from the bone side of the rack by loosening the tough tissue at one end with a blunt knife and grasping it with a dry paper towel to peel it off. Then, use a sharp knife tip to gently score the surface of the rack where the bones meet the meat. Trim the membrane close to the bone to help the meat pull away from the bones.

Next, divide the rack into two halves and smoke at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes, or use the 3-2-1 method. The 3-2-1 method involves smoking for 3 hours, wrapping in foil with liquid for 2 hours, and then unwrapping and smoking for another hour until the ribs are tender. For baby back ribs, you may not need to use the full 3-2-1 method.

After smoking, wrap the ribs tightly in foil with 1/2 cup of liquid such as beer or cola and cook for an additional one to two hours until the bones protrude at the ends. This will help keep the meat moist and tender. Finally, add your favorite sauce and grill on high heat to char or dredge in sauce and place on a toasted roll with slivered onions and pickles.

By following these steps, you can easily remove the bones from baby back ribs and create a delicious and versatile dish that is sure to impress your guests or family.

Method 2: Removing Bones From Spareribs

If you prefer to remove the bones from spareribs, it’s a bit more involved but still doable. Start by removing excess fat from the ribs and peeling off the silver skin on the back of the ribs. Next, cut the ribs apart into individual pieces. To remove the bones, make a vertical cut along one side of each rib, as close to the bone as possible without cutting through it. Then, make a horizontal cut at the top and bottom of the bone to loosen it from the meat. Use your fingers to gently pull and wiggle the bone out of the meat. Repeat for each rib until all bones are removed.

Once your ribs are boneless, you can rub them with lemon juice and a dry rub, then bake them in a large baking pan covered with foil for 2 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, pour off any excess liquid, and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce. To finish on the grill, remove from the pan and place on a basket over direct but low heat, basting and turning a few times for about 10 minutes. To finish in the oven, set it to broil and return ribs to the same middle oven rack, uncovered, basting and broiling about 5 minutes per side until charred and tender.

Recipe: Boneless Pork Ribs

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to enjoy pork ribs without the hassle of bones, boneless country style pork ribs are a great option. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started.


– 1 1/2 lb boneless country style pork ribs

– Salt and pepper

– BBQ sauce of your choice


1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.

2. Trim any excess fat from the pork ribs.

3. Heat a cast-iron skillet or other oven-safe pan on medium-high heat with oil.

4. Sear the pork ribs for 2-3 minutes per side, until they reach your desired color.

5. Remove the pan from heat and brush the top of the pork ribs generously with BBQ sauce.

6. Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 145°F-150°F.

7. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes before cutting into it.


– Feel free to add any extra spices or seasonings, such as cayenne pepper or smoked paprika, to the salt and pepper mixture before seasoning the pork ribs.

– If you want juicy and tender pork ribs, be sure not to overcook them. Use a meat thermometer or fork to test for doneness.

– For added flavor, try adding soy sauce or freshly grated ginger during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

Enjoy your deliciously tender boneless country style pork ribs in just 40 minutes!