How many people can eat a whole slab of ribs?

Eating a whole slab of ribs is no easy feat. Ribs are known for being big, meaty, and messy – tearing into a full slab is a challenge that not everyone is up for. So how many people does it really take to polish off a full plate of slabs? Let’s take a closer look.

What is Considered a “Slab” of Ribs?

First, it’s important to understand what counts as a “slab” when it comes to ribs. There is no universal standard slab size, but most full slabs contain between 12-15 ribs. Slabs can vary in weight, but a typical full slab weighs 2-3 pounds.

Some key facts about full slabs of ribs:

  • Contain 12-15 ribs
  • Weigh around 2-3 pounds
  • Meaty with a good amount of fat and bone
  • Messy to eat, require plenty of napkins

While individual ribs may come in orders of 6-10 ribs, a “full slab” represents a complete rack of ribs just as it was prepared before being cut. The size of the slab can vary slightly depending on if it comes from a smaller or larger hog.

Factors That Determine How Much Rib Someone Can Eat

How much rib a person can eat in one sitting depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Appetite – Someone who comes to the table very hungry will likely be able to eat more than someone with a small appetite.
  • Stomach capacity – People with larger stomachs are able to eat bigger portions before feeling full.
  • Speed of eating – Quicker eaters tend to be able to consume more than slow nibblers.
  • Preference for ribs – Those who really love ribs will be motivated to eat more than rib indifferent diners.
  • Rib meatiness – Meatier ribs with more flesh will fill diners up faster than boney spare ribs.
  • Side dishes – Fill up on too many sides and there will be less room for ribs.

Personal rib eating ability can also come down to sheer determination and willpower. Competitive eaters train to expand their stomach capacity to take on bigger challenges.

How Much Rib Can the Average Person Eat?

The average non-competitive eater likely tops out eating around 1-1.5 pounds of ribs in one sitting. Here’s a breakdown of how much rib the average diner can consume:

  • ~3-4 bones – Appetizer sized rib plate
  • ~1/2 slab (6-8 bones) – Typical diner’s entree
  • ~10-12 bones – Hearty eater’s meal
  • ~1-1.5 slabs (12-18 bones) – Capacity of average diner

Most average people call it quits after polishing off 1 slab, feeling completely satisfied and often pretty messy. Professional competitive eaters can put away much more.

Examples of Average Ribs Eaten

Here are some examples of how much rib the everyday non-competitive eater usually consumes:

  • Kids – 2-3 bones
  • Petite women – 6-8 bones
  • Teen boys – 8-10 bones
  • Hungry dads – 10-14 bones
  • Sides loving mom – 4-6 bones

While some select hardcore rib lovers may be able to put away even 2 slabs, most people eating casually and non-competitively top out around 1 to 1 1/2 slabs.

How Much Can Competitive Eaters Consume?

Competitive eaters take rib eating to the extreme. When rib eating is turned into a competitive sport, some amazing numbers can be achieved. Here’s a look at some top rib eating feats:

  • Record for pork ribs – 23.5 lbs in 12 min (Glutton Bowl)
  • Record for beef ribs – 6.6 lbs in 12 min (Ribfest)
  • National chicken rib record – 5.75 lbs in 12 min (Ribfest)

In rib eating contests, the totals achieved in a 12 minute time period are simply staggering. Top competitive eaters can put away over 20 pounds of pork ribs in one sitting through intense training and sheer competitive drive.

Competitive Eater Ribs Consumed Contest
Joey Chestnut 23.5 lbs Glutton Bowl
Miki Sudo 5.75 lbs Ribfest
Darron Breeden 6.6 lbs Ribfest

When it comes to sheer volume, competitive rib eaters take things to the next level consuming stacks of slabs at one time, over 20x the amount an average person could handle.

Strategies for Competitive Rib Eating

How do competitive eaters manage to consume such insane numbers of ribs? They use various tactics and strategies:

  • Training stomach capacity – Eating more and more ribs over time to expand stomach volume.
  • Eating faster – Perfecting ways to eat more quickly with less chewing.
  • Moistening meat – Dunking ribs in water to help break down and swallow bigger pieces.
  • Strategic ordering – Eating rib types in certain orders to optimize intake.
  • Limiting fillers – Avoiding too much sauce, sides, bread that takes up tummy space.

It takes rigorous training, technique, and determination to eat like a competitive rib champ. These competitors become finely tuned rib eating machines through practice.

What’s the Most Ribs Eaten in One Sitting?

So what’s the overall recorded high for total ribs consumed by a single person in one sitting? Here are some of the most legendary competitive rib eating feats:

  • Pork ribs – Joey Chestnut ate 23.5 lbs of pork ribs in 12 minutes at a qualifying event for the Glutton Bowl.
  • Beef ribs – At a Ribfest competition, Miki Sudo ate a whopping 6.6 lbs of beef ribs, over 4x the ribs an average person could manage.
  • Chicken ribs – Darron Breeden holds the chicken rib record, downing 5.75 lbs of ribs in 12 minutes at a Ribfest event.

Joey Chestnut’s astounding 23.5 lb pork rib record has made rib eating history as one of the most unbelievable competitive eating accomplishments of all time. He managed to consume over 30 huge beef rib bones in just 12 minutes.

Factors Holding Back Ribs Eaten

For average non-competitive diners, there are several factors that can prevent being able to eat a whole slab of ribs:

  • Getting too full – The filling factor of ribs can only be pushed so far for most stomachs.
  • Leaning out – Lower fat diets don’t mesh well with high calorie ribs.
  • Being messy – Many people get turned off by having to constantly wipe sticky fingers and faces.
  • Losing steam – It takes commitment to keep picking away at bones when getting full.
  • Boredom – Some people get tired of eating the same thing for so long during a long slab.

Rib eating sessions take time with all the picking of bones and cleaning up. Staying excited about demolishing a huge meaty slab requires true dedication for the average eater.

Who Can Eat the Most Ribs Competitively?

When looking across the top rib eating records, a few key competitive eaters stand out repeatedly for their rib crushing abilities:

  • Joey Chestnut – The ribs legend with over 20 lb pork rib record.
  • Miki Sudo – A true force at slabs across pork, beef and chicken.
  • Darron Breeden – Chicken rib destroyer with multiple Ribfest wins.
  • Bob Shoudt – Pioneering rib eater with numerous records.

Other top competitors like Sonya Thomas, Juliet Lee and Crazy Legs Conti also have racked up plenty of rib eating accolades over the years. But Joey Chestnut stands supreme with his unprecedented pork rib consumption.

Should You Try to Eat a Whole Slab?

For casual rib lovers, trying to take on a full slab solo can be an intense dining endeavor. Before endeavoring to eat a whole slab yourself, consider these pros and cons:


  • Satisfaction of conquering a true meat mountain.
  • No need to share precious ribs with anyone else.
  • Serious rib street credibility if you succeed.
  • Chance to test your rib eating skills.


  • Potential for getting painfully stuffed and gorged.
  • Risk of greasy fingers, face, clothes from constant rib grabbing.
  • Possibility of not finishing and wasting food.
  • Feeling like a sluggish ribs zombie after an attempt.

As tempting as it may be to try and eat a whole slab yourself, for most people the cons end up outweighing the pros when they find themselves miserably full halfway through. Know your limits!

Tips for Eating More Ribs

If you want to increase your rib eating abilities, these tips may help you eat more slab when dining:

  • Come hungry – Don’t fill up on sides or appetizers first.
  • Use sauce sparingly – Sauces can fill you up fast.
  • Focus on meatier ribs – Choose ribs with more meat and less bone.
  • Slow down – Avoid rushing and overfilling yourself too quickly.
  • Watch carbs – Cut back on breads and baked beans with ribs.

With the right strategy, you may be able to gradually eaten more rib over time and become an elite slab slayer in your own right.

How Long Does It Take to Eat a Slab?

Since properly savoring ribs is not a quick meal, how long does it generally take to make your way through a full rack? Here are some estimates:

  • Competitive eaters – 12 min
  • Fast eaters – 30-45 min
  • Typical diners – 45-60 min
  • Slow nibblers – 60-90 min

Even quick eaters need a good half hour or more to complete a full slab. Slow rib enthusiasts can be gnawing for well over an hour working through all the bones. Ribs are a meal to linger over and enjoy, not rush.

Should Ribs Be Eaten Slowly or More Quickly?

There are good arguments on both sides when it comes to rib eating speed:

Arguments for Eating Ribs Slowly

  • More time to savor all the juicy meat.
  • Don’t overfill yourself by rushing it.
  • Minimize messy fingers by carefully nibbling.
  • Savory ribs deserve patience and appreciation.

Arguments for Eating Ribs Quickly

  • Ribs taste best hot off the grill.
  • Hard to resist devouring them right away.
  • Quick eaters can potentially eat more.
  • Fun to get caught up in rib eating fever.

Finding the right speed comes down partly to personal taste. Slow connoisseurs prefer patience while quick eaters want to attack the ribs in all their hot, juicy glory. The ideal is likely enjoying some ribs fast when hot, then slowing down to avoid waste.


Taking down a full slab of ribs is a uniquely satisfying yet challenging dining quest. While the average person maxes out eating around 1-1.5 slabs at a sitting, competitive eaters can put away over 20 pounds through rigorous training. Preparation, technique and sheer determination separates amateur rib lovers from the gloriously sauce-covered professionals. With the right strategy and commitment, more ribs eating may be within your grasp. Just be wary of pushing the limits too far and ending up painfully stuffed. When it comes to ribs, think quality over quantity and relish each juicy, meaty bite.

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