4 Best Substitutes for Short Ribs

Short Ribs

Short ribs are always the star of gatherings, reunions, and any special eating events at home or in restaurants. It’s a perfect meat for the barbecue, especially when slow roasted. You can’t help but savor its flavor to the bone. It’s also one of the most in-demand beef cuts in the grocery store due to its versatility and flavor.

However, if your favorite butcher is out of short ribs stock, you might consider other options. Did you know that there are other cuts of beef that you can substitute over short ribs for a much cheaper price and healthier benefits?

Yes, that’s right! You can substitute short ribs with Beef Plate Short Ribs. Other meat cuts you can choose from your butcher are Beef Back Ribs, Beef Flanken Ribs, and Lamb Legs and Shanks.

Substitute for Short Ribs

Let’s see how we can substitute these flavor meats over Short Ribs.

1. Beef Plate Short Ribs

Beef Plate Short Ribs

The beef plate short ribs are the meat part of the cow’s lower body which is under the ribs. It’s in between the brisket and flank part. It’s called a short plate by butchers because of the reason that this meat does not have any traces of brisket.

It also contains more fat compared to short ribs which adds more flavor and juiciness to the meat. Plate short ribs and short ribs are not technically the same.

Plate short ribs are actually the source, where you can access the short ribs. Other than that, it’s also a source for most ground beef and skirt steaks.


Due to their fat content, plate short ribs are excellent when cooked braised or as a pot roast. The meat’s fat will definitely add flavor to its juices once it’s cooked. Adding vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower into the pot roast will absorb the juices making it a very flavorful side dish.

When making bolognese spaghetti, it’s ground beef is a perfect meat addition that compliments the tomato sauce. If you’re a fan of Korean BBQs, you can actually use thin slices of skirt steaks as the bbq meat that can definitely wow your guests.

How to Substitute

When substituting short ribs with plate short ribs, make sure that you don’t add a lot of meat. Short ribs are mostly bones so 500 grams of short ribs can be replaced with 350 grams of plate short ribs.

When cooking the plate short ribs, do not add too much oil or grease since it already has a good amount of fat content. If you’re trying to minimize your fat intake, pan-fries the meat first without adding oil and have its fat ooze out. Then, just discard the fat when cooking.

2. Beef Back Ribs

Beef Back Ribs

Beef back ribs are called by numerous names and it could vary per butcher. It can be called by the following names such as beef riblets, dinosaur ribs, finger ribs, rib bones, or just beef ribs. It’s also one of the most in-demand beef cuts in the market because of its popularity in taste, aroma, texture, and quality.

This cut is located under the animal’s front area of its backbone. These cuts produce quality meat that is not unfamiliar to us with the likes of prime rib roast and of course, the ribeye steak.


This meat doesn’t need any fancy flavors or complicated marinating process. The meat itself is already flavorful no wonder it has the reputation of being the best cut for beef. A simple rub recipe then grills it afterward can already make some awesome difference.

It is also great when cooked smoke, broiled or under the pressure cooker for pulled beef. It can be paired with limitless sides such as buttered vegetables, rice or risotto, cheesy macaroni, and french fries. It’s a perfect meal for any occasion.

How to Substitute

The substitution for these meats is also quite simple. Just follow the ratio of 1:1. That’s it. But, consider that the back ribs cut are larger compared to short ribs.

You may request your butcher to have it cut smaller than usual or just have it like that and enjoy its natural form. Also, the meat is not as fatty compared to plate short ribs, you need not adjust your oil for any dish you need to do with this meat.

3. Beef Flanken Ribs

Beef Flanken Ribs

Flanken ribs are the meat that can be found just around the short ribs. It’s thinly sliced for at least ½ inch thick that goes through the cattle’s bones and with traces of the rib bones when cut. This cut is commonly used in Korea for barbecues and kalbi-style cooking.

If you don’t feel like including the bones from the short ribs, go for the flanken ribs instead. It contains minimal fat and lean meat, a perfect combination for savory and meatiness.


Beef flanken ribs are very easy to cook since the meat is tender and soft. You don’t need to cook it for a long time just to achieve the perfect texture and taste. As I’ve mentioned earlier, it’s mostly used for Korean barbecues. But it’s not only that, this meat can be used in so many dishes.

It’s perfect when cooked braise, baked with vegetables, and my personal favorite, flank tomato stew and flank beef soup. No wonder this cut is commonly used due to its flexibility and impressive flavor.

How to Substitute

When substituting short ribs over flanken ribs, it’s still the same ratio of 1:1. It has almost the same characteristics minus the big bones, so it’s not as hard to replace from one another.

The only difference it makes is that short ribs need a good amount of cooking time to achieve a tender texture while flanken ribs can be cooked fast and easy. If you’re running out of time before dinner, flanken ribs can be your best bet.

4. Lamb Legs and Shanks

Lamb shank

If you’re trying to cut off your beef and red meat consumption or just trying to find a healthier alternative, lamb cuts are your best option. Go for the legs and shanks, you won’t be disappointed.

The shanks are cut from the lamb’s lower portion of the leg. That’s the reason why most butchers suggest that you purchase both cuts together. Lambs unlike cattle have a more chewy and meaty texture but have a strong flavor that you’ll surely love.

It’s also healthier because it’s more packed with protein, potassium, vitamin B-12, iron, magnesium, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids.


Lamb legs and shanks are best cooked when braised and slow roasted. It goes well with any kind of marinade or sauces. Just be carefully overcooking the meat since it might not be too presentable when it falls too much out from the bone.

Make sure that you check if it’s fork-tender before serving it. The only thing you need to consider with lambs is its unique smell compared to other animals.

If not cooked or seasoned right, it will retain most of its funky smell. You can aid this by adding more herbs and spices to take away the funkiness.

How to Substitute

Lambs can be more expensive than short ribs, but it’s worth every penny. You can only substitute lambs with short ribs for braised and slow-roasted dishes. I don’t recommend it for quick barbecues since the meat can turn out to be too chewy.

Due to its funky smell, you will need to use more herbs, seasonings, and spices. If you do it right, the results are unimaginable. You might never look back with your typical beef short ribs.

Key Takeaway

It’s always important to know every meat’s cuts, so the next time you visit your butcher you will know what you want.

Also, you can easily substitute meats from one another in case the cut you like is unavailable. Don’t be afraid to try other cuts and be more open to experimenting with your favorite dishes.

  1. If you simply boil quick in cheap vinegar and then rinse quick any type of meat, the “funny” smell go away. It’s the problem of no fresh, grass feed supermarket meat. Spice only will cover the plastic, the preservatives, and the no clean of the the manipulation. Don’t perfume it, washed.

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