First, it’s important to understand short ribs so you can determine the best cooking methods for short ribs’ flavor & texture.
What Are Short Ribs?
Short ribs are cut from the beef chuck of cattle.
They consist of the rib ends closest to the breastbone. These cuts of beef are more narrow and shorter than typical ribs, which means they are not good for steaks.
Although the meat of these bones is not as tender, they do pack more flavor.
When it comes to flavor, beef short ribs rank between ribeye cuts and chuck.
Short ribs have a very beefy flavor that is enhanced by rich marbling, making them a fantastic comfort food. In this case quality matters – as does where you buy them.
Short ribs can be cut one of two ways.
The BBQ Style divides the short ribs into strips. Every strip has three bones with the meat nestled between the ribs.
Then there is the English-style cut which divides the short ribs into small pieces, each containing only one bone.
There are also boneless short ribs as well.
If you cannot find short ribs, you can substitute them for a chuck roast.
You will have to dedicate more time to trim the chuck roast than you would for short ribs, but it can work in a pinch.
Now that we understand what short ribs are, let’s look at some tasty ways to cook them.
1. Braising Short Ribs
Braising is by far the most popular way to cook beef short ribs.
A braised short rib has the desired color, flavor, and tenderness most cooks are looking for.
This method cannot be rushed and takes between 2-4 hours of cook time when done correctly.
Here are a few braising tips that can help you find success.
- For short ribs, the best pots are going to a heavy pot (such as cast iron) with a lid, preferably a Dutch oven.
- When stacking the short ribs, you only want to do a single layer at a time.
- You can also position the ribs on their sides to optimize space.
- Before browning your meat, ensure it’s totally dry by patting it down with paper towels.
- Otherwise, it will stick to your pan and will not brown evenly.
- Turn the stove’s burner on medium heat and brown for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- If you brown your ribs too quickly using high heat, it could scorch your meat and the pan.
- But, if you brown too slowly, your ribs could dry out.
Finally, you want to cover your pot using a sheet of parchment paper just before you put the lid on.
The parchment will reduce the amount of headspace inside the pot, which will help the sauce or braising liquid become more concentrated.
Also, extending the paper over the sides will help create a tighter lid seal.
2. Smoking Short Ribs
The key to smoking beef short ribs is going slow and low.
Start by coating your beef ribs with olive oil, then generously season them with coarse black pepper, kosher salt, and granulated garlic (also known as SPG beef rub).
If you want, you can do all this the day before or right before putting them in the smoker.
If you decide to season a day before, you will create a drier brine that will yield more flavor.
Set your smoker to about 225 to 250 degrees.
We recommend using oak or a fruit wood. This way, you will compliment the flavor of your beef without overpowering it.
Once you’ve set your ribs on the rack, leave them to cook for about five hours, depending on the thickness of your meat.
As the ribs are cooking, you can spray them with an apple juice spritz or apple cider vinegar.
The acid flavor helps enhance the beef. You can spray after the first hour of cooking every 30 minutes.
Now, to finish up, you’ll take out your ribs once you get the color you are looking for and transfer them to your braising pan.
This usually happens no sooner than about three hours or so.
Inside your pan, you should have your broth and wine. Set the meat side down in the liquid. And cover up with foil.
When their internal temperature reaches over 200 degrees, you’ll know they are ready.
The sweet spot is 200-205.
When this happens, all the collagen and fat have melted away, making the texture of the meat butter tender without being spongy.
3. Baking Short Ribs
How is baking short ribs different from braising short ribs?
Usually, braised short ribs are seared first in a skillet, then baked.
On the other hand, baking allows you to pop the short ribs directly into the oven without first searing them on the stovetop.
Baking is a great way to cook short ribs. Lay the ribs in a baking dish with the bone side down.
Be sure you snuggle them up so that they’re together. Then, cover the baking pan with aluminum foil tightly.
Bake the short ribs for 3.5-4 hours at 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
This recipe is your starting point for your short ribs.
You can add a glaze or sauce to them to dress them up.
Consider using spices such as paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder for additional flavor.
4. Grilling Short Ribs
While most recipes call for braising short ribs, you can also grill them exactly as you do steak.
The secret to perfect grilled short ribs is a good marinade or rub.
Once you have prepped your short ribs and allowed them to marinate, you’re ready to grill them.
Heat your grill to medium-hot and place the short ribs on the grill.
Don’t move them until that side is charred, then flip them over so they’re crusty all around.
For medium-rare short ribs, let the internal temperature reach 130 degrees Fahrenheit. It should take between 8 and 10 minutes.
5. Slow Cooking Short Ribs
Because meats cooked in the slow cooker turn out tender, slow cooking is an excellent way to cook beef short ribs.
When they’re done, serve them as an entrée or shred them for tacos or a sandwich.
Before placing the meat in the slow cooker, broil it for 4 minutes on high on each side.
This allows the short ribs to get nicely browned before you slow cook them.
FAQs about Beef Short Ribs
Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the best cooking method for short ribs.
Does cooking short ribs longer makes them more tender?
Yes, cooking longer at a lower temperature will give you more tender short ribs. When possible, cooking low and slow is the preferred method for achieving beef short ribs that are as tender as possible since they are naturally tougher cuts. When cooked slowly, the heat will have time to break down the connective tissues properly.
How do restaurants cook short ribs?
Many restaurants offer braised short ribs, which means the ribs are first seasoned, usually with pepper and salt, then browned on a range or stovetop in a pan.
During this time, other seasonings such as wine, garlic, beef broth, and tomato paste are added to give the beef its flavor.
Then the pan is covered, placed in the oven, and cooked at low heat for 2-4 hours. One step you definitely need to remember is browning the short ribs before putting them in the oven. Otherwise, they will not brown but look pink and boiled when cooked in the oven.
Should you boil short ribs first?
Boiling is a widely used shortcut for helping tenderize short beef ribs.
Ideally, if you boil your short ribs, you’ll want to boil them for 30 to 45 minutes prior to putting them on the grill.
This way, you can create more tender ribs after grilling, as opposed to throwing them straight on the grill.
However, be very careful when boiling short ribs. You don’t want to boil your ribs too long. The meat should not be falling off the bone because that means they’re overcooked.