How many calories are in boneless spare ribs Chinese?

Chinese food is enjoyed all over the world for its flavorful dishes and variety of ingredients. However, like any cuisine, it’s important to be mindful of your calorie intake when dining out or ordering takeout. One popular Chinese dish is boneless spare ribs, which can be high in calories depending on how it’s prepared. In this article, we’ll break down the calorie content in boneless spare ribs from a typical Chinese restaurant.

What Are Boneless Spare Ribs?

Boneless spare ribs are cut from the belly of the pig near the spare ribs. Unlike regular spare ribs, the bones are removed so you’re just left with the tender meat. Chinese boneless spare ribs are marinated in a sweet and savory sauce, then battered and deep fried or steamed. The meat has a soft texture that easily falls off the bone.

Some common preparations of boneless spare ribs at a Chinese restaurant include:

  • Deep fried – The ribs are battered and fried until crispy and golden brown.
  • Steamed – The ribs are steamed until cooked through and coated in a glossy sauce.
  • Sauteed – The ribs are lightly fried with vegetables like broccoli or onions.
  • In sauce – The ribs are braised in a flavorful sauce like black bean, oyster, or sweet and sour.

The cooking method greatly impacts the calorie content, as deep frying adds more fat and calories compared to steaming. The sauce or seasoning used also contributes to the overall calories.

Calories in Deep Fried Boneless Spare Ribs

Deep fried boneless spare ribs are one of the most popular preparations you’ll find at a Chinese restaurant. The ribs are battered in a light tempura coating, then fried at high heat until crispy. This cooking method adds a significant amount of extra calories from the oil.

A typical serving of deep fried boneless spare ribs contains:

  • Calories: 680
  • Total fat: 45g
  • Saturated fat: 10g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Carbohydrates: 29g
  • Sodium: 470mg

As you can see, a single serving provides nearly 700 calories, almost half of which come from fat. Deep frying causes the ribs to absorb a lot of oil, driving up the total fat and calorie content. The majority of the fat is unsaturated, but a deep fried version still contains high amounts of saturated fat from the oil as well.

The protein is moderately high coming from the pork, while carbs make up a smaller portion. The light breading adds some carbohydrates in addition to fat. Lastly, the sodium is elevated since Chinese restaurants frequently use MSG and soy sauce to boost the flavor.

Calories in Steamed Boneless Spare Ribs

Steaming is a much healthier cooking method that eliminates most added fat from frying. Chinese restaurants typically steam the ribs until just cooked through, then coat them with a savory sauce on top.

Here are the nutrition facts for steamed boneless spare ribs:

  • Calories: 330
  • Total fat: 13g
  • Saturated fat: 4.5g
  • Protein: 26g
  • Carbohydrates: 17g
  • Sodium: 780mg

With steaming, the calorie count is nearly cut in half compared to deep fried. The ribs retain some of their natural fat, but most of the fat comes from the sauce glazed on top. Saturated fat decreases as well without the oil from frying.

The protein remains high at 26g, providing plenty of staying power. Carbs are also lower than deep fried since there’s no starchy batter. However, sodium increases to 780mg depending on the seasoning and sauce applied after steaming.

Calories in Other Preparations

Beyond deep fried and steamed, boneless spare ribs can also be sauteed or braised in sauce at a Chinese restaurant. Here are some estimated calorie counts for other common preparations:

  • Sauteed with vegetables: 400 calories
  • Black bean sauce: 500 calories
  • Oyster sauce: 450 calories
  • Sweet and sour sauce: 550 calories
  • General Tso’s sauce: 600 calories

The calories vary more widely based on the specific ingredients used in each dish. Sauteing with vegetables adds minimal fat from the cooking process. Ribs in black bean or oyster sauce absorb more flavorful oils and seasonings. Sweet and sour and General Tso’s sauce have larger amounts of sugar, upping the carb contents.

As a general guideline, spare ribs in heavy sauces like General Tso’s will have the most calories, while vegetable sautees are lower. Braised ribs in flavorful sauces like oyster or black bean fall somewhere in the middle calorie-wise.

Tips for Lightening Up Your Order

If you’re looking to lighten up your boneless spare rib order, here are some tips to cut down on calories:

  • Request steaming instead of deep frying.
  • Ask for sauce on the side to control how much you use.
  • Flavor with lower sodium soy sauce or chili oil.
  • Skip the rice and enjoy ribs over a salad or vegetables instead.
  • Share or take half home to limit portions.
  • Balance with lower calorie Chinese dishes like steamed or grilled protein and veggies.

You can still enjoy the signature flavors of Chinese ribs without overdoing it on calories. Be mindful of preparation methods, sauces, and portion sizes for the most satisfying meals.

Comparing Boneless Spare Ribs to Other Chinese Dishes

To put the calorie count of boneless spare ribs in perspective, here’s how they compare to a few other popular Chinese restaurant menu items:

Dish Calories
Steamed chicken and broccoli 295
Stir fried shrimp and veggies 360
Vegetable lo mein 400
Sweet and sour chicken 470
Sesame chicken 560
General Tso’s chicken 760
Boneless spare ribs 330-680

Boneless spare ribs prepared by steaming have a comparable calorie count to many mixed dishes like lo mein. Deep fried ribs are higher than sesame chicken or General Tso’s depending on portion size.

Selecting vegetable-based dishes, lean proteins, and fresh preparations will almost always be fewer calories than fried items doused in heavy sauces. But boneless spare ribs can still be worked into a healthy Chinese meal with mindful ordering.

Nutritional Benefits of Boneless Spare Ribs

While they can be high in calories, boneless spare ribs do provide some nutritional upside:

  • Protein – A serving contains 26g protein to support muscle growth and keep you full.
  • Iron – Pork provides heme iron, which is more bioavailable than plant sources.
  • Zinc – Important for immunity and cellular repair.
  • Thiamin – Pork is high in this B vitamin that converts food into energy.
  • Selenium – A mineral with antioxidant properties that protects cells.

Moderating portion sizes is key to get these benefits without going overboard on calories. Leaner preparations like steaming allow you to take advantage of the micronutrients in pork.


Boneless spare ribs from a Chinese restaurant can range from 330 to 680 calories per serving depending on preparation method. Deep fried ribs have the most calories, while steaming cuts the calories in half. Requesting vegetable sautees and light sauces are other ways to reduce calories and fat.

Despite the potential for high calorie counts, boneless spare ribs do offer protein, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and other nutrients. Overall, being mindful of portion sizes and cooking techniques allows you to balance the flavors you crave with nutrition. Selecting a variety of lighter Chinese dishes filled with produce is another great way to construct satisfying and healthier meals.

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