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Substitute for short Ribs

Craving a nice plate of short ribs? Fortunately, you can pick a perfect substitute for short ribs that you can use in a pinch when your butcher or local supermarket doesn’t have any available.

Braised, grilled, or cooked the way you like it, short ribs are heaven on a plate for those that love meat. They come from the beef chuck and have the ribs at the end near the breastbone. They might not be as tender as a steak, but they sure bring all the flavor.

Let’s see what you can do if you have grand plans for making short ribs for dinner but missing the main ingredient.

white plate with raw stacked short beef ribs

What to Know About Different Ribs

Beef spare ribs, also known as beef back ribs, can be used to replace beef short ribs. But these will need to be cooked differently. Back ribs can be broiled, braised, or barbecued while short ribs taste the best when they are braised. You can barbecue short ribs, but they need to be braised prior to that, making it a two-step cooking approach.

You may have heard of country ribs too and wonder if they are the same thing. If you see boneless beef short ribs at the supermarket, they aren’t real short ribs. They are cut from the toss eye roll and make for a cheaper option when looking for rib steak.

Spare ribs, beef short ribs, and flanken ribs are very similar though only vary by their cuts. These will look most similar to one another and may be able to help you replace your short ribs when preparing a meal. 

Now, let’s dig into 8 great beef short rib substitutes so you’ll at least be able to find one of them and make it work for dinner tonight!

Best Substitutes for Short Ribs

Don’t fret if you can’t find short ribs near you. Instead, grab one of the delicious substitutes for short ribs. 

1. Beef Plate Short Ribs

Let’s start with the best short rib substitute which is beef plate short ribs. These juicy ribs are the ideal stand-in when short ribs are in short supply. But what do you do with them? Excellent question!

You will want to broil all of them and put them in a cast-iron pot with an array of aromatics. Chopped onions, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, butter, and water will infuse into your meat and render it succulent and tender. 

At 350F for 3 hours, you will cook them in a broiler and when they’re done, you’ll have a hard time telling the difference between this cut of beef and those coveted short ribs. 

2. Beef Chuck Roast

Beef chuck roast has a similar marbling to short ribs. That’s good news, for when you cook beef chuck roast, you’ll see the fat will melt away into the meat. 

Your best short ribs recipe will work beautifully with the beef chuck roast. It’s plentiful in size, and grand in flavor too. The secret to your success with this substitution is in choosing the cut of beef chuck roast with the best marbling. 

Season it well with a rub and smoke it for several hours over indirect heat and see how divine this meat becomes. Cooking it at a lower temperature than you’d choose for short ribs, about 225F, will bode best for your dinner results. 

3. Beef Flanken Ribs

Another best substitute can be found right by it with the flanken ribs. To its advantage, it has a higher fat content. Plus, it’s the place the skirt steak comes from too.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Korean cuisine, the kalbi style cooking comes from the flanken ribs part. These have little fat and leaner meat. They come out with a delightful taste, and since the meat is soft and tender, they are easier to cook.

Essentially, you won’t need to cook as long as short ribs and they’ll come out with a juicy and wonderful taste that will impress everyone at your dinner table. 

4. Beef Back Ribs

You may want to use beef back ribs to substitute for short ribs. Sometimes, they go by a few different names like beef riblets, rib bones, or beef ribs. Call them what you like though for they all come from the back of the cow, on that dorsal area that resides behind the shoulders. 

This is also where prime rib roast and ribeye steak are cut from. In fact, after that prime rib roast is cut, that small amount of meat that is attached to the rib bones is what we’re talking about here with the beef back ribs cut. 

Replace your short ribs with beef back ribs and the only thing you’ll really notice is that these ribs are a bit bigger in size than that of short ribs. Additionally, beef back ribs aren’t nearly as greasy when they finish cooking, making it one of the most elegant ways to replace this rustic cut of beef. 

5. Beef Shank

Have you ever cooked with beef shank before? Well, if that’s what you can find for your substitute, you may just be glad it all worked out this way. Beef shanks are purely delicious beef cuts of meat.

They are the leg part of the cow. Just like short ribs get all that constant muscle use, this part of the meat will be tough and dry. But don’t let that stop you, for your time in cooking it will be rewarded with indulgent flavors that melt in your mouth like warm butter.

Your best approach for cooking beef shank to replace short ribs is to braise it. It is wonderful when you use a slow-cooking method or put it into stews. You will usually see them ready for you at the meat department or from your butcher sliced so they are easier to cook.

Another bonus of choosing this option beef over short ribs is that beef shank tends to be less expensive, making it a budget-friendly cut you’ll want to use more often now.

6. Lamb Legs and Shanks

What do you do when you want to make short ribs but the beef is bare in the meat department? If you’re firm about wanting a bone-in style of meat, try lamb legs and shank. 

Sure, it’s a different animal, but the succulent nature of this cut of lamb is going to steal your heart as quickly as it pleasures your palate. The leg of lamb is a popular choice for springtime meals, like Easter dinner. But it can be a phenomenal centerpiece for any special meal. 

Lamb’s legs are delicious when you broil them or boil them. Since it can serve plenty of people, it’s great for groups, though if there aren’t many of you dining together, you can always save those leftovers for another amazing meal.

You can rub it with minced garlic and rosemary, then roast it in your oven until it has an internal temperature of 135F. Cooked in this way, it will take around an hour and 30 minutes on up to an hour and 45 minutes, depending on the weight of the leg of lamb. 

Or go for the lamb shank, another tasty cut of meat that will replace your short ribs. The shank of the lamb comes from the bottom section of the leg. At a butcher shop, you can have them “French trimmed” so they look more beautiful when serving.

With lamb shanks though, you will need to ask the butcher for enough to have one shank per person as these are a bit different than beef shank. 

With both leg of lamb and lamb shanks, make sure you let the meat rest before cutting. Then you can enjoy the bliss of this substitute for short ribs. 

7. Pork

Some people find lamb meat to have a strong, gamey taste. Others are opposed to eating something they deem so cute and helpless. And of course, there are those that love lamb, but can’t find it near them, or find the price a little too much to handle.

For all those scenarios, you can substitute short ribs with pork. Pork is usually plentiful to find anywhere. Plus, there are many different cuts of the pig that can aptly fill in for those short ribs. 

You could use the pork shoulder, which does well when braised, just like short ribs. Pork flank is another excellent choice, though you will want to broil it. Pork ribs are the best replacement, though they are similar in appearance.

When choosing pork ribs, you can marinate them first and barbecue them. You can also smoke them, which creates a wonderful flavor. There are also short pork ribs that are even more similar. They also feature one side that is nice and lean and the other side a bit fattier and greasier. Rubs are wonderful on pork short ribs, and if you put them in a smoker, you’ll love every last bite of the stuff!

However, unlike short ribs, short pork ribs are tougher despite the great flavors. If you’re going to use it, it is not exactly like short ribs, so that the flavor will be different. It will be delicious, but you will know it’s not the same. 

8. Veal

The last possible option that you have to substitute for short ribs is veal. When cut from the shoulder and round, this is an excellent option for replacing short ribs for your dinner. Veal is also a nutritious choice, despite the controversy around where it comes from.

Nevertheless, if you can obtain veal chunks cut off the shoulder, this is a wonderful substitute for short ribs, particularly in a stew-style meal. Veal leg cutlets can also make you forget all about the lack of short ribs at the meat counter. They brown up beautifully when you sauté them and would be a dream with a lovely sauce. 

Are you trying to substitute veal for short ribs? You can put a ratio of 4 to 1 with veal to beef to fill in and give your dish the most flavor. Veal has a lovely and delicate flavor, so it’s not the best replacement for your short ribs, but it will be so delicious that no one will care. 

A Final Word About Short Ribs Substitutes

If you’ve ever had short ribs, you know just how succulent they are. That’s probably why you’re so disappointed you can’t find any to make for your special dinner. However, there are many ways to find beef short ribs substitute for your meals. 

Some of the options will look like those short ribs but lack the same flavor or texture. Others will not look anything like short ribs yet be more of a match in taste. Sometimes, you might not have much choice when supply is dwindling, or price is a factor in your buying decision.

Whatever the case, you can choose one of these eight substitutions for short ribs and have a wonderful meal. Always remember the golden rule, though, that tougher cuts of meat do best when braised or slow-roasted, while lean meat doesn’t need to be cooked too long to have that tender texture and juicy, savory taste you are hoping to create when you prepare an epic meal in your kitchen. 

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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