Braise it in red wine or in a chile sauce for barbacoa. Dry rub and smoke it for tacos.
Ground it for a flavorful fatty burger. All of them are well worth the wait.
Short ribs are the pride and joy of barbeque heroes and pit masters. They are a crowd-pleaser.
They are the lush center of attention at every get-together.
Sadly, in some parts of the world, the butcher will have absolutely no idea about short ribs. However, they have it, just running under another name.
What can you do then? Run for the hill? Or, get something else similarly flavorsome!
And what better way to understand how to substitute short ribs than by getting to know the true nature of this meat. ( * )
- What are Short Ribs Exactly?
- 7 EXPERT Short Ribs Substitutes – For Connoisseurs and Novice Chefs!)
- Bonus: Our Favourite CROCKPOT BRAISED SHORT RIBS Recipe!
Let’s take a ride to meattown!
What are Short Ribs Exactly?
First of all, there are two types of short ribs, bone-in and boneless. Surprise! These are two entirely different cuts of beef, and none of them are from the ribs.
Boneless short ribs are from the chuck, while bone-ins or English-cut are from the belly. ( * )
The chuck cut is much leaner, while the belly cut is quite fatty. That’s why we love it for slow cooking.
But to properly substitute it, we must be aware that short ribs don’t have much connective tissue. This makes them tender, easy to cut, and best cooked to medium-rare.
But not all short ribs are created equal, as some have a thick fat layer while others are very lean.
If you want to grill it, always remove any connective tissue beforehand. At Korean markets, you can always find some meaty short ribs, perfect for a barbecue.
You might think that it’s obvious to substitute bone-in short ribs for boneless ones, or vice versa. But it’s not the case.
Being different cuts, with varying fat, muscle, connective tissue, and moisture content, they are not a good substitute for each other.
This is about boneless short ribs, primarily. However, to substitute bone-in ribs, simply cut the extra fat or connective tissue from these alternatives before cooking.
When doing the opposite, add some extra fat to the cooking process.
The pressure cooker, grilling, smoking, roasting, braising, and boiling are all viable cooking methods. But we prefer short ribs sous vide.
You need long cooking periods to break down any connective tissue.
Make a restaurant-quality meal without actual short ribs, and read on for our ultimate favorite substitutes.
7 EXPERT Short Ribs Substitutes – For Connoisseurs and Novice Chefs!)
What meat can you use in place of short ribs?
What cut of meat is similar to short ribs?
So what do we need for the perfect copycat?
Fat, connective tissue, meatiness, and tenderness. Most restaurant meals serve bone-in ribs for more moisture, so that’s our goal.
They have to be suited to the typical cooking methods, such as slow-cooking or barbecuing.
Let’s check out all the possible alternatives for a good short rib:
1. Chuck Eye Roast
Chuck eye roast is probably your best bet to substitute for short ribs. Sometimes you get that even when you buy boneless ribs.
It’s always good for a stew or country-style ribs. Cut from the 5th rib of a cow, it’s basically a ribeye steak. ( * )
There are only 2 cuts of it for each cow, so it’s pricy and not always available. However, there’s no real difference when you substitute boneless short ribs for chuck eye roast.
Keep in mind that chuck eye steaks are not the same as chuck steaks! They are from the shoulder of the animal.
We love it for slow cooking; it has so much marbling that it gradually melts away while roasting.
Go for slightly lower temps, around 225°F, and preferably indirect heat. This is the best way to get tender, melting meat.
At the same time, the cooking takes longer, with slightly more fat on the meat. The good news is that you can prepare or season it the exact same way as you would do with short ribs.
The next short rib substitute is a champion of its category.
2. Beef Plate Short Ribs
Restaurants love this one trick!
But seriously, chances are, if you’ve been to a high-end restaurant, beef plate short ribs were on the menu, and you loved them very much.
They are damn good but leaner than short ribs. They pack so much flavor you should braise them until tender and serve them as appetizing slices.
Novice chefs tend to overcook them, losing their shape entirely. It is not meant to be pulled meat!
First, let the meat cool before handling or cutting. Secondly, make them sous vide to keep them intact and compact the flavors as much as possible.
Cook them on low, for long hours. Want them for dinner? Start in the morning.
But the best? To cook them the previous day. Completely chill in the fridge, and let the flavors merge.
You wouldn’t want to grill beef plate short ribs or braise thinner cuts. They only hold their shape when cooked slowly at low temperatures.
Otherwise, the meat will be tough. Stay below 205 Fahrenheit.
We suggest you add some flavorful, aromatic liquids, like broth when you cook them. The heat transfer will break down the fats and connective tissue.
The next short ribs substitute has more names than we can list.
3. Beef Back Ribs
Varying from country to region, and from butcher to butcher, beef back ribs have so many names.
More frequently you’ll find them as meat riblets, dinosaur ribs, rib bones, finger ribs, or beef ribs. The dinosaur one is probably the funniest tough.
The quality and texture are outstanding, which has a lot to do with its popularity. There’s a good chance you will find it at the next grocery store.
This is a front spine cut of meat, with some main backbone muscle. Keep the membranes when you cook them, as they help the meat remain intact.
The only downside is that sometimes these cuts are not so pretty. More like, they are straight from a zombie apocalypse movie.
But the flavor compensates you tremendously! They are best cooked, wrapped in foil, on medium heat.
You can cook them any way you want to, so they make an excellent substitute for short ribs in any meal.
We love it accompanied by rice and veggies, and even some heavier pasta meals.
Our next short rib alternative is a conveniently available one.
4. Beef Shank (Cheaper Alternative to Short Ribs)
Beef shank, or leg, is sold in every grocery store or butcher shop. Slow-braise it with a full-bodied red wine and beef stock.
Feel free to throw in strong flavors. Beef shank will love it!
It can even take 10–12 hours to thoroughly cook a larger portion of the beef leg. Don’t rush it!
This is a great meat for experimenting with; it takes on a lot of flavors boldly and is hard to ruin. You can speed up the cooking time by cutting the beef shank into shorter cubes.
The chef’s trick is to sear it before braising or slow cooking. After that, keep the temperatures below 300 °F for however long it takes to cook through.
As a leg muscle, it tends to be dry and chewy when undercooked.
Staying with beef, the next one is a super tender and moist alternative to short ribs.
5. Beef Flanken Ribs
Delicately thin-sliced, flanken ribs are super moist and tender, cut from the bones. In Korean cuisine, they are mainly used for flavorful barbecues.
Flanken ribs are perfect to substitute for boneless short ribs. The fat is almost non-existent on this one.
We think they show their best sides when seared and grilled, or stir-fried. You can’t go wrong with making some ramen or pho.
Spicy foods with heavy seasonings, such as Indian or Thai recipes, are great to use up some beef flanken cuts lying around.
You don’t need any special skills to make it into a fine meal. Just use some marinade, not for too long, and cook on medium to high heat for a short time.
And also, cut them across the grain. This can be your go-to meat for every Korean barbecue recipe.
In restaurants, they frequently use them to make a London broil, which is a steak cooking method. ( * )
However, you might not want to eat beef at all! In that case, check out our next short rib substitute.
6. Lamb Leg Steak
Let’s be frank; lamb can be terrible in the hands of a bad cook. But also, it can be your best meal ever with some skill.
This boneless lamb leg is a fine delicacy in most cuisines. We love it too!
It’s lean, with a delicate taste, best paired with similarly exquisite ingredients. Score it, and use a dry rub or marinade.
However, you shouldn’t liquid braise it. Broiling it with liquids won’t get you a nice crust.
Also, uncovering it lets you caramelize the outer layer. After it’s done cooking, let it rest for 15-20 minutes to let the juices set.
Cubing and currying up the lamb legs is also an option. It’s best to keep any bones they have and cook with them for maximum flavor.
It’s not just a different taste profile, but much healthier than short ribs. The only cooking method you should avoid is barbecue because they tend to remain chewy.
The last short ribs substitute has a posh reputation.
7. Veal Chop
Lean meats, like veal chops, especially pricy ones like this, are not meant for slow cooking. They hardly have fats or connective tissue, so it’s easy to overcook them.
Your main job when cooking a veal chop is to keep it moist at all costs. You need a shorter cooking time, just enough to break down the collagen.
For an unforgettably delicate flavor, don’t go over medium-rare doneness. Ever.
One of the best things you can make from veal is a classic schnitzel. The second best is pan-frying with lots of butter.
Don’t add anything that overpowers the natural taste of the meat. Some light seasonings, a white vine, and browning will do the trick.
Let’s go over some frequently asked questions regarding short ribs before wrapping up.
Are beef ribs and short ribs the same?
Beef back ribs are another name for beef spare ribs. Short ribs are beef ribs that have been sliced from the plate. Both demand the use of specific cooking techniques. Short ribs are best braised, whereas back ribs can be grilled, broiled, or barbecued.
Are Chuck ribs the same as short ribs?
Chuck ribs are smaller than short plate ribs but have more meat than back ribs. Short plate ribs are also popular because of the high fat and connective tissue component of the meat, which cooks down to provide exquisite flavors.
What is another name for short ribs?
Other names for them include BBQ ribs, braised ribs, and fancy cut ribs. A “short plate” is a segment of short ribs separated from the plate by their intercostal muscles.
Bonus: Our Favourite CROCKPOT BRAISED SHORT RIBS Recipe!
Get Recipe: iamhomesteader.com
The Bottom Line
However hopeless it seems, there’s a good chance you’ll find short ribs at Asian markets, especially Korean marketplaces.
Pair any of these substitutes, or even the real deal, with some grated Asian pear for an authentic Korean barbecue dish. Use it as a marinade. ( * )
Its enzymes will tenderize the meat flawlessly.
Anytime you’re looking for some variety, all these short rib substitutes will work perfectly.