What Are Riblets?

Ribs are one of the most commonly ordered dishes in restaurants because of the tender, mouthwatering, falling off the bone meat.

Are you suddenly really hungry now, or is that just us? Moving on… 

Riblets are often discarded unnecessarily when ribs are being prepared, perhaps because of their smaller size that is less appealing.

We’re here to tell you that size doesn’t matter! 

Well, in most regards, anyway. 

delicous pork riblets

If you’re a rib lover, you will love riblets. They offer a different eating experience than normal ribs but they still make a great appetizer.

Once you try a riblet, you’ll wonder why anyone would want to throw these bad boys out. 

Below we’ll be squeezing everything you need to know about riblets into a quick little article. 


Try and make it to the end before you run out to find yourself some riblets of your own!

What are Riblets? 

Riblets are different from normal pork or beef ribs that you’d find on the main menu in a restaurant.

The name aptly describes them as smaller alternatives to ribs. Riblets are made by either cutting a rack of ribs lengthwise to make two long racks of small ribs, or they could be made of parts of ribs that were originally going to be thrown away. 

Rather than filling up on large, full-sized ribs, you could snack on smaller riblets that are half the size. Riblets make a great party and finger food.

The smaller size of riblets also allows you to get a better barbeque sauce coverage to make them taste even better. 

Butchers like to trim off riblets from the racks that they sell to make them nicer to look at. Have you ever heard of something so ridiculous?

Meat is meat, after all! Anyway, riblets are trimmed from the round bone ends of the rack. The good thing about this is that as they’re usually thrown away, riblets can be bought for a relatively cheap price. 

What do riblets taste like?

Riblets are essentially the same as a full-sized rack of ribs so they’ll taste the same as you might expect. However, riblets are smaller and therefore contain less meat.

This means that when you cook them they tend to get crispier than a normal rib rack. So, you can enjoy the perfect mixture between a crunchy exterior and a tender inside. 

Other than the slight change in texture, there is no main difference between ribs and riblets when it comes to taste.

The sauce or spice rub that you use to coat your ribs will affect their taste. You can use a premade recipe for your riblets or you can make your own concoction by mixing a number of spices and sauces together that you have in your pantry.

How do you use riblets? 

You can cook your riblets however you would normally cook ribs. Below we’ve included a recipe for oven baked riblets, but there are plenty of other recipes online that you can follow.

Our recipe takes two hours overall, so they’re not the quickest food to cook. However, we can assure you that they’re worth the wait!

Ingredients:

  • 3-pound pork riblets
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 8-ounce tomato sauce

Method:

  1. Make the glaze by mixing the vinegar, ketchup, dry mustard, chili powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato sauce together. 
  2. Place the riblets into a preheated oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes to get them nice and brown. 
  3. Pour your glaze over the riblets and return them to the oven after you’ve turned it down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  4. Cook the riblets for an hour and a half or until the glaze has turned to the perfect consistency. Turn the riblets and baste the glaze over them every 20 minutes or so until they’re ready to eat. 

This is just a simple riblet recipe, and there are plenty more online recipes if this one doesn’t sound to your taste.

Ribs and riblets always taste best when you slow cook them, so don’t try and speed up the cooking time. You’ll only be disappointed with the tough meat. 

Where can you buy riblets?

Riblets can be bought at most grocery stores, but they aren’t always well-stocked. If you cannot find them in your local supermarket, you might want to take a trip to the butchers.

They might sell their own riblets there or you can buy a full rack of ribs and ask the butchers to cut it lengthwise for you to create riblets. 

How do you store riblets? 

Riblets will remain fresh in the coldest part of your refrigerator for up to three days. It’s always best to cook them on the day of purchase, but you can wait up to 72 hours.

If you need them fresh for longer than three days you can freeze them in tightly sealed plastic. In the freezer, riblets will last for up to three months. 

If you want to store riblets that have been cooked, you should wait for them to cool completely before packaging them in an airtight container. Leave them in the refrigerator and eat them within two days. 

Summary

Riblets are a great party food or appetizer when you’re not in the mood for a full rack of ribs. Other than the size difference, riblets are very similar to ribs in taste and cooking recipes.

Make sure that you slow cook your riblets to get the nicest texture possible. Choose your favorite rub or glaze and get them in the oven!

Riblets are often discarded by butchers to make the full racks of ribs look neater. For this reason, they are usually sold at a reasonably low price compared to other ribs.

However, we think that they’re just as good as a normal rack of ribs. Riblets are a great choice of messy finger food bound to leave you with a full and happy stomach - enjoy!  

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