Short ribs are a really great option in the kitchen. They can be incredibly flavorful and are quite versatile to work with. They’re also pretty hard to mess up if you know the best processes for cooking them!
While we love working with short ribs, not everyone feels the same way. Some people simply don’t prefer this type of meat. Other times, you might not be able to find any short ribs in stock at your local stores.
What is the best substitute for short ribs? Probably the best substitution you will find is a chuck roast. However, there are plenty of great alternatives out there that you can use as well. You don’t have to settle for just one, as there are multiple options when you need a good substitute.
In this guide, we will share with you our top substitutes for short ribs. We’ve sorted through the options to try to find alternatives that truly make the best substitution.
We looked for options that would be similar in flavor, texture, or cooking style and tried to bring you a variety of options to choose what works best for you. Stick with us to learn about the best substitutes for short ribs and more!
A Brief Description Of Short Ribs
If you’re not as familiar with what short ribs are, let’s take a moment to go over the details. Understanding short ribs will help you choose a suitable substitute!
Short ribs are cut from an animal’s rib area. However, they are short ribs because they are not a full rib like perhaps baby back ribs are.
Instead, short ribs are a portion of meat from the long ribs — it’s typically a portion of meat from each long rib that makes a set of short ribs.
Short ribs can be cut from different areas on a side of beef. They may come from either the chuck, the shoulder, or the plate of the beef.
Short ribs tend to have a lot of fat and connective tissues attached to them, so they also might require longer cooking times to help break those down. The result of those layers is hearty flavor and tender meat, so it’s well worth it!
You can buy short ribs with either bone-in or boneless options, but sometimes one or the other may be harder to find.
How To Choose A Substitute For Short Ribs
When you’re looking for a substitute, there is more than one way to find something suitable. Before you pick out your substitute, take a look at these tips and details to help you make a fully informed decision.
The first thing that you want to consider is the taste. How similar do you want your short rib substitute to taste? If you want the flavor to be pretty similar, you will want to choose something that will produce about the same flavor.
This means you probably want another form of beef and you might want to choose something from a similar area of the cow. While the flavor will depend a lot on how you prepare it, it can also be affected by where the meat comes from.
Some alternatives that you find might come from alternative sources, so just be aware that these will not have the same beefy flavor to them that beef short ribs typically have.
Next, compare your textures. Short ribs are a pretty particular meat and while you can find alternatives to try out, you will find that mimicking the texture can be more challenging.
On that note, if you cook your alternatives properly, you most likely will be able to get pretty close.
If the texture is what you’re looking for then you will want to pay close attention to this detail. Some of these alternatives will be more tender or have less fat on them so the flavor and the texture really can be affected by these differences.
The cooking style might also make a difference to you when you choose your alternative.
For example, do you plan to smoke or braise your short ribs? You’ll want a form of meat that you can cook in nearly the same ways to produce a similar result.
Maybe you’re planning to roast the short ribs for several hours. In this case, choose a substitute that you can roast for several hours and get similar end results from the cooking process.
With a substitute, you will find that they may not be exactly the same, but you can at least get fairly close — that’s what we’re after when we look for a good substitute, right?
The Best Substitutes For Short Ribs
Now that you’ve got some basic information in your head, let’s take a look at some of our favorite substitutions. We’ve searched high and low to find you the very best substitute options to give you something similar to beef short ribs!
What you will find here is a variety of options, so hopefully you can find a substitute that works for you no matter what your personal preferences might be.
Below, you will find our top picks for the best substitutes for short ribs around.
1. Beef Chuck Roast
The first substitute we have to share with you is beef chuck roast. This is probably one of the most popular substitute options out there because it’s pretty similar in flavor and you can cook it in many of the same ways as well!
Chuck roasts are cut from the shoulder of beef — sometimes short ribs can also be cut from the shoulders, so it’s really a very similar cut of meat.
The biggest difference is that chuck roast pretty much never has bone in it and short ribs sometimes do have bones.
Chuck roast actually tends to be more affordable by the pound so you may decide to use it just to have a great alternative on a budget.
The nice thing about chuck roast is you can cook it low and slow just like you would short ribs. It also sometimes can have quite a bit of fat on it so it’s tender, juicy, and totally flavorful!
You can also cook chuck roast in a lot of other ways, too. You can roast it, braise it, smoke it, or use other similar cooking methods. We’re pretty sure you won’t be disappointed if you decide to give this option a try.
If you really want the beef flavor, but you want something affordable, tender, and really easy to prepare, go ahead and go with chuck roast! It’s a choice that does no wrong in comparison to short ribs and other options.
2. Beef Plate Ribs
Beef plate ribs are incredibly similar to short ribs. They come from right underneath the ribs and look very similar to short ribs when you compare the two!
Short ribs are known for having quite a bit of fat on them, but you will find that beef plate ribs actually have even more fat on them than short ribs usually do.
The added fat content makes beef plate ribs even more juicy and maybe even more tender than short ribs. Of course, that fat might also require a little more cooking time to work through and cook your beef plate ribs to perfection.
Here’s the nice thing though — since this is a high-fat meat, you won’t need to worry so much about sauces, marinades, and any other methods and prep activities that you might use to try to keep meat from getting dry!
The fat will keep it naturally moist, juicy, and tender. Of course, any meat can be made dry and tasteless if you don’t know how to cook it.
Beef plate ribs have a fat cap on them. Many people remove this before cooking simply because it doesn’t render well. You can remove it or leave it in place. If you choose to leave it, you will most likely still remove it prior to serving.
In comparison to short ribs, beef plate ribs can be cooked in all of the same ways as short ribs and the results are very similar. In fact, if you don’t know the differences, you probably won’t even realize they aren’t the same thing!
The primary difference between the two in comparison is that beef plate ribs do have a higher fat content. Other than that, they are nearly the same!
3. Beef Back Ribs
Next up is another version of ribs. If beef-flavored ribs are what you are after, you will want to choose beef back ribs for your substitute.
Beef back ribs are the same thing as spare ribs, so if you see either of those terms, it fits the bill.
Beef spare ribs are taken directly from the animal’s back and most of the time they have the rib bone inside of the meat. When you compare beef back ribs to short ribs, you will notice two primary differences.
First of all, beef back ribs have a little bit less meat on them than short ribs do. The meat is still flavorful and tender when you cook them right, but there simply isn’t as much there.
The other difference that you might notice between the two is that beef back ribs also tend to have more fat on them, just like beef plate ribs do.
When it comes to beef back ribs, the fat is really mixed throughout the entire set of ribs rather than as a cap on the meat, so it’s not something you will remove.
Beef back ribs can be cooked in all of the same ways as short ribs. The cooking times and the overall processes will really be very similar in the end. Both are juicy, tender, and packed with flavor.
4. Flanken Ribs
Flanken ribs are another popular substitute. Did you ever realize there were so many different types of ribs to be found?
Flanken ribs come from almost the exact same spot on the animal as short ribs do. The meat of flanken ribs comes from right around the short ribs, regardless of which area the short ribs are taken from.
This is a unique style of meat. Flanken ribs are a little bit different when it comes to texture and the way that the meat is cut.
It is sliced pretty thin because it goes through the cattle’s bones. The thickness will be somewhere around half an inch.
This meat also typically contains traces of the rib bones when it is cut; however, your cut will most likely have no bones or very minimal bones.
If you want a boneless alternative that has similar flavor and cooking style, you can try flanken ribs. This type of meat is very popular for Korean BBQ and other similar types of foods.
One of the noticeable differences will be the cut of the meat, but also the fact that flanken ribs have very little fat on them. They are a lean meat, so they tend to be a healthier alternative to short ribs.
At the same time, flanken ribs are still tender, meaty, and flavorful. They can be cooked quickly because the meat is naturally tender and soft. It’s pretty flexible, but you most likely won’t cook it low and slow like you do some rib techniques.
5. Lamb Shank
Maybe you’re looking for an alternative to short ribs that isn’t red meat. Why not try lamb shank? You could also use leg of lamb and get a similar result as the shank.
Lamb is a great alternative when you’re trying to avoid red meat or simply cut back on red meat. It’s a healthier alternative as well if that is important in your decision.
Lamb shanks and legs are probably the closest when it comes to flavor and tenderness and even cooking style. However, this is lamb instead of beef, so your overall flavor is going to be different.
Lamb shanks come from the lower portion of a lamb’s leg while (of course) leg of lamb also comes from the leg. This cut of meat will be both chewy and meaty and will have some of the connective tissue, muscle, and fat off the leg.
The flavor is strong and savory while your texture will be pretty similar to short ribs with a bit of chewiness.
You can cook lamb shank and leg in all of the same ways that you might cook short ribs, and cooking slowly is always a great option!
The downside to substituting with lamb is that it will be more expensive. It can also sometimes be harder to get your hands on, depending on what your local places have available.
You may need to season it differently as well. Remember: your flavors are not going to perfectly match here, but your cooking and texture will be similar.
6. Beef Shank
If the lamb shank makes a good alternative, then so does a beef shank! The beef shank is cut from a portion of the leg, near the middle.
Sometimes it comes with the bone, but sometimes you can find it boneless.
Beef shank will be a substitute that is going to take some care to make it just right. You will want to cook it low and slow and you will want to follow all of the cooking tips and guidelines that you can find to help make it turn out good.
If you use beef shank, just be cautious with your cooking plans. These need to cook slowly or else you may find them to be dry and chewy.
The good news is that a lot of the most popular short rib cooking methods also recommend slow cooking, so it shouldn’t cause that significant of a change to your overall cooking plans!
When cooked right, beef shank has really great flavor that is deep and rich. This is what can make it a great substitute option!
Finally, our last recommendation for a substitute for short ribs is brisket! We recommend beef brisket, but you could use pork if you prefer.
Beef brisket is another meat that you will cook slowly and can take some time and prep to cook. However, you can get a lot of meat with these so it stretches much farther than short ribs.
If you’re able to get the second cut, it is a little bit thicker and it has more fat on it. While either cut will work for a substitute, the second cut will produce a more similar result because of that extra fat.
Beef brisket is pretty versatile so there is a lot you can do with it. Your texture is going to be slightly different, but the flavor and the cooking options will be similar. You can also use them both in similar dishes.