How Much Does a Rack of Beef Ribs Weigh? A Detailed Look at Rib Sizes and Weights

Beef ribs are a classic BBQ staple. Whether you’re cooking them low and slow on the smoker or grilling them hot and fast over direct heat beef ribs always make for a delicious, finger-licking meal. But if you’ve never cooked ribs before, figuring out how much to buy can be tricky. Ribs are generally sold by the rack but racks can vary greatly in size and weight. So how much does a typical rack of beef ribs weigh? Let’s take a detailed look.

An Overview of Beef Ribs

There are three main types of beef ribs:

  • Short ribs – Short ribs come from the plate primal cut near the belly of the cow They have more meat than back ribs but less bone

  • Back ribs – Back ribs, also known as loin ribs, come from the rib primal cut closer to the back. They’re longer and thinner with more bone than meat.

  • Dinosaur ribs – Dinosaur ribs come from the plate primal. They contain a long, single bone with meat on either side

For BBQ purposes, back ribs are the most common. The racks contain anywhere from 9 to 13 bones depending on how they’re cut. Short ribs and dinosaur ribs are generally cut into smaller individual pieces rather than full racks.

Average Rack Weight by Beef Rib Type

The weight of a rack can vary based on the breed, age, and diet of the cattle. But in general, these are typical weight ranges:

  • Back ribs – 4 to 6 lbs per rack
  • Short ribs – 3 to 5 lbs per rack
  • Dinosaur ribs – 5 to 8 lbs per rack

Back ribs are the lightest since they contain the most bone and least meat. Short ribs contain more meat per bone. And dinosaur ribs can be especially meaty and weigh more per rack.

Within these ranges, here are some more specific average weights:

  • A full rack of back ribs is around 5 pounds.
  • A rack of meaty short ribs weighs 4 pounds.
  • A rack of dinosaur style ribs averages 6 to 7 pounds.

So if you want to cook a full rack, plan for around 5 pounds for back ribs or 7 pounds for dinosaur ribs. Short ribs may be closer to 4 pounds per rack depending on thickness.

Estimating Weight by Rib Count

You can also estimate rack weight based on rib count, though the relation isn’t exact. Here are some guidelines for average weight per rib:

  • Back ribs – 5 to 8 ounces per rib
  • Short ribs – 8 to 12 ounces per rib
  • Dinosaur ribs – 10 to 16 ounces per rib

Back ribs will be on the lighter end at around 0.5 pound per rib, while dinosaur ribs can be over 1 pound apiece. Short ribs are somewhere in between.

So for example, a rack of back ribs with 13 bones would weigh around 6.5 to 10.5 pounds. And a rack of dinosaur ribs with 7 bones could weigh 7 to 11 pounds.

These are just rough estimates, but it gives you a ballpark when you know the rib count. Bones on the same rack can still vary slightly in size and thickness as well.

Buying Tips for Ribs

When buying ribs, you can ask the butcher for racks in your target weight range. For example, ask for back rib racks that are as close to 5 pounds as possible.

If ribs are pre-packaged, check the labels for weight and rib count details. You may see weights listed like “4.5-5.5 lbs” which gives you a weight range.

Pick racks that look meaty with thicker bones. Avoid racks with loose, dangling bones which can indicate thinner meat coverage. Examine the boneless side of the ribs to check meat distribution.

For best value, compare cost per pound rather than by rack. Heavier racks may cost more but be a better deal per pound. Buying too large of racks can lead to waste though, so factor in how many people you’re cooking for.

When in doubt, you can always ask the butcher for advice on sizing. Let them know how many people you’re cooking for and they can suggest rack sizes and counts.

How Many Racks to Buy

Ordering the right amount of ribs for your cookout or dinner party can be tricky. Here are some guidelines on how many racks to buy per person:

  • Back ribs – 1 rack feeds 2-3 people
  • Short ribs – 1 rack feeds 2-4 people
  • Dinosaur ribs – 1 rack feeds 3-4 people

So if you’re cooking for 4 people, 2 racks of back ribs or 1 rack of dinosaur ribs is a safe bet. Bump quantities up or down based on how big of rib enthusiasts your guests are.

Since ribs can be pricy, it’s economical to buy larger quantities and freeze extra racks uncooked. Wrap each rack tightly in plastic wrap and foil. They’ll keep for 4-6 months in the freezer.

Getting the Right Amount of Meat

When cooking ribs, having plenty of meat to go around is key. Here are some tips:

  • Allow at least 1 pound of boneless rib meat per person
  • Estimate around 0.75 pounds of edible meat per pound of ribs
  • Remove the membrane for more edible meat per bite
  • Choose racks with evenly distributed meat, not just meat at the ends
  • Watch for shrunken or curled ends which can indicate less meat
  • Go for shorter, fatter ribs rather than super long racks

With the right rack size and preparation, you’ll have juicy, meaty ribs without any one person getting short-changed on rib meat.

Weighing Ribs at Home

If you want to get an exact weight, use a food scale at home to weigh purchased racks. This lets you portion and plan precisely.

Remove any shrink wrap and place the entire rack on a digital kitchen scale. For best accuracy, use a scale that measures in increments of 0.1 ounce or 1 gram. Make a note of the weight so you know exactly how many pounds you’re working with.

Weighing ribs is quick and easy. And it removes any guesswork so you know just how much meat is on hand.

From petite back ribs to massive dinosaur ribs, rack sizes can vary widely. But in most cases, you can expect back ribs to be around 5 pounds, short ribs 4 pounds, and dinosaur ribs 6-7 pounds per full rack. Estimating 1 pound of meat per person, and buying 1 rack per 2-4 people is a safe starting point. And taking advantage of rib sales, buying in bulk, and freezing extras can allow you to stock up. With the right information and preparation, serving the ideal amount of tender, juicy ribs at your next gathering will be a breeze.

Types of Beef Ribs Explained


How much does a full rack of ribs weigh?

Each baby back rib rack averages 10 to 13 curved ribs that are 3 to 6 inches long and weigh about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, which feeds about 2 people.

How much do beef ribs weigh?

A single rib (which is how it’s usually ordered and served) can be as large as two pounds post-cooked weight.

How big is a rack of beef ribs?

A rack of ribs will have a minimum of 8 ribs, but can also include up to 13 depending on the butcher and how it was prepared. Butchers will call it a “cheater rack” if it contains less than 10 ribs. In general, a rack of ribs is 10-13 ribs in a full pork rack, 9 in a full beef rack, and 7 or 8 in a lamb rack.

How many beef ribs are in 1 lb?

Only a guess, but 2-3 per pound. Since they cut the ribs at their pit and put on your tray, you can select as many as you want. You take them inside and there they get weighed so you could take less if you got too much. My last time there, the beef ribs were huge, maybe 2 ribs per pound.

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