Short ribs are the go-to for slow-cooked meals and rich sauces. They come from the ribs of a cow and are composed of tough meat that needs to be cooked slowly at low heat.
After many hours of braising or stewing, the tough meat becomes soft and flavorful. Many dishes include short ribs, including Korean Kalbi, Osso Bucco, and Spaghetti Bolognese.
If you are looking to prepare one of these dishes and can’t get your hands on short ribs, there are many tasty substitutes for short ribs that you can use.
Don’t worry about your dish not tasting the same or not coming out right; in the right amounts, you can use these alternatives with a minimal difference to the taste.
If you’re making a beef stew, a substitute for short ribs would be a chuck roast. Flank steak would be a better substitute if you wanted to make a stir fry.
When braising, Beef Plate Short Ribs, Lamb Legs, and Chuck shoulders are great replacement options for short ribs.
Beef shoulder, Chuck Roast, or Flanken ribs are ideal for slow cooking. If you are looking for a vegan option, Tempeh, Seitan, or Firm Tofu will get the job done.
If you’re trying to stay within a budget, flank steak and chuck shoulder are the lowest-cost options. However, it’s worth mentioning that both of those options lack the marbling that short ribs have.
If you can afford to spend a little extra, beef plate short ribs and chuck roasts are the most marbled options. They also have good flavor and can be used interchangeably.
Based on how quickly you need to make your meal, a different cut of meat may work for you. For example, if you’re making a soup, you can use beef brisket or chuck shoulder.
They both need to be cooked for several hours, so they are perfect. On the other hand, flank steak is the way to go if you need to serve dinner in half an hour.
Short Rib Substitutes
1. Beef Plate Short Ribs
Beef plate short ribs are the best substitute for beef short ribs if you want something with a higher percentage of meat and less fat since they’re cut from the rib section where most of the marbling occurs.
However, this is also reflected in its price per pound. For the price, you get more meat and less fat content than a chuck roast or flanken ribs.
Beef plate short ribs are also better for braising since they have a higher fat content that melts into the dish during cooking, giving it an even richer taste.
When substituting beef plate ribs for short ribs, you can use less as short ribs have more bones. About 75% of the required amount of short ribs will get the job done.
2. Lamb Legs
Lamb legs may not be easy to find in your average grocery store, but they are easily accessible in specialty stores. They cost about the same as short ribs and have a similar flavor.
Lamb legs, like short ribs, are flavorful cuts of meat with high-fat content. They’re usually too fatty to eat by themselves, though, so they’d make a great substitute in dishes that require long stewing or braising cooking methods.
You can substitute lamb legs one for one in place of short ribs.
3. Chuck Shoulder
Chuck’s shoulder is the cheapest alternative to beef short ribs when it comes to price per pound.
Chuck’s shoulder makes an excellent substitute when you want high-fat content in something.
Chuck’s shoulder also has a lot of connective tissue, making it perfect for stews or dishes that require long braising. Chuck shoulder can be substituted in an equal amount when replacing short ribs.
A brisket is a cut from the breast or lower chest of a cow. It’s a tough piece of meat with a lot of marbling, so it needs to be cooked slowly.
When cooked in liquid, this cut becomes very tender and flavorful. It can be used interchangeably with short ribs in most recipes, making it an excellent substitute for short ribs.
Brisket can be used in equal amounts when substituting it for short ribs.
5. Beef Shoulder
Beef shoulder is an excellent substitute for short ribs when you need something with a lot of fat.
The beef shoulder consists almost entirely of muscle since it’s not covered in fat and collagen-like other cuts, but it’s still very flavorful.
Like flanken ribs, it’s best for dishes with long cooking times to soften the meat and fat. It’s also one of the cheaper types of beef you can buy. The beef shoulder can be used in equal amounts when substituting for short ribs.
6. Chuck Roast
Chuck roast can be substituted one for one in recipes calling for short ribs.
A chuck roast is usually cheaper than beef plate short ribs, but it lacks some of the tenderness due to its tougher connective tissue; however, it does have more fat content, which helps make up for this deficiency.
This substitute would be perfect if you want something with less chewiness or don’t like fatty foods because it has plenty of both and would be perfect in things like stews.
7. Flanken Ribs
Flanken ribs have very little connective tissue and chewy muscle fibers, making them an excellent substitute for short ribs. In fact, this cut is almost all muscle with only a little connective tissue and fat.
This means that it’s cheaper than any type of beef short ribs but also lacks the extra richness from the fat content. Perfect if you want something lighter in flavor and price!
When substituting, you can use the same flanken ribs as short ribs.
8. Back Rib
The back rib is a cut from the upper section of the cow’s ribs. It’s located underneath the short rib cuts, and it can be used as a substitute for those cuts.
This cut takes longer to cook than flank steak or beef brisket, but it has similar flavors and textures as short ribs. You can also substitute back ribs for the same amount of needed short ribs.
9. Flank Steak
Flank steak is a well-known steak cut from the belly area of cattle. It is less tough than skirt steak, and It’s usually pretty lean, but because it’s not very thick and not as tender as other cuts of steak.
It’s best for something like stir-fry, where it can absorb flavor. This makes it perfect for adding a bit of meatiness to dishes that don’t require much cooking time or those with long-simmering times.
You can replace flank steak one for one in recipes calling for short ribs.
Tempeh is a soy-based meat substitute that can be used as an alternative for short ribs. It has a rich, nutty flavor with a dense chewiness to it. Plus, it’s super versatile!
You can use tempeh in stir-fry or any other recipe that usually calls for beef short ribs! You can use tempeh one for one in place of short ribs.
If you want something even chewier than tempeh, then seitan is the way to go! This vegan protein is made of wheat gluten and takes on the chewy texture of meat when cooked.
If you’re looking for something to replace beef short ribs without having much flavor at all, then seitan makes the perfect substitution!
It absorbs flavors well because its primary function is to be a meat substitute, so it only needs to be seasoned with things like soy sauce or spices.
Seitan can be used one for one when subbing for short ribs.
12. Firm Tofu
If you’re looking for something that’s the transition between tempeh and seitan, then firm tofu is your best bet!
This vegan protein is completely flavorless but will absorb the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with.
Be careful, though, since this substitute soaks up liquids like a sponge, so it can be mushy if too much liquid gets added to its recipe. If you use firm tofu, it can be used equally when replacing short ribs.
Why Short Rib Is So Unique?
Short ribs are so unique because of their texture. They have a vibrant, meaty flavor to them that makes it hard not to fall in love with the dish you’re cooking.
Although they require less time for marinating than other cuts of meats, it’s still best to cook this cut low and slow so you can fully melt the fat content, and the meat will become really tender.
Short ribs are cut from parts of beef that have a lot of bones with little to no muscle, making them rich in fat content.
To be specific, they’re usually cut from either rib or plate primal, but most marketable short ribs come from the plate primal instead.
The best type of beef short ribs is the ones that come from the plate primal since they’re closer to the bones, which means more flavor and fat content!
The short rib is really rich in flavor due to its high-fat content. You can tell if a cut of meat or a vegan protein has a lot of fat in it simply by looking at the marbling.
Whenever you slice a piece of meat or heat tofu, you’ll notice white strands between the red flesh. Those are the fat content, which gives beef short ribs their flavor and juicy texture!
How Do I Choose My Substitute For Short Ribs?
The best way to choose a substitute for short ribs is to base it on how you plan to cook them or what dish you are preparing, the cost, and the time you have to prepare.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind Of Beef Short Ribs Substitute Should I Get If I Want Something With Less Chewiness?
Flanken ribs are a great substitution in this case! They have very little connective tissue and chewy muscle fibers.
It’s perfect if you want something with less chewiness or don’t like fatty foods.
What kind Of Beef Short Ribs Substitute Should I Get If I Want Something That’s More Light In Flavor?
Flank steak is perfect for this job! It has the same amount of fat as the chuck roast, but it lacks some of the richness due to its low-fat content. It’s also pretty lean, so that it wouldn’t be too rich either way!
Plus, this cut is almost all muscle with only a little bit of fat and connective tissue, which means that it’s cheaper than most types of beef short ribs but still delivers the same amount of richness.
What Kind Of Vegan Substitute For Short Ribs Should I Get If I Want Something With The Same Chewiness Or Texture?
You can use tempeh (soy-based meat substitute) for this job! It has a rich, nutty flavor with a dense chewiness to it. Plus, it’s versatile enough to be used in stir-fry or any other recipe that usually calls for beef short ribs!
It’s the perfect substitution if you want something to replace beef short ribs without having much flavor at all.
What Kind Of Vegan Substitute For Short Ribs Should I Get If I Want Something With Less Fat Content?
Firm tofu is great in this case! This vegan protein is completely flavorless but will absorb the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with. You can use it to replace beef short ribs in stir-fry or any other recipe that usually calls for a lot of tenderness and fat content.
Make sure you drain out most of its water before cooking, though, since too much liquid will make it mushy!
If you’ve been craving beef short ribs for quite some time now, substitutes are available that will come close to the flavor and texture! You just need to know what type of meat or vegan protein you’re looking for.
Also, remember that substitutes are available for any recipe since there are literally infinite possibilities for ingredients in the kitchen.
So if you don’t want to use beef short ribs or can’t find any substitutes, then it’s okay! Just look for another type of meat or vegan protein that’ll deliver the same flavor and texture that you’re looking for.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.