8 Short Rib Substitute (Cost Effective and Tasty)

Short ribs are tasty, flavorsome, and a popular beef cut, but they can be expensive. But there is a wide variety of cost-effective options that won’t sacrifice taste or flavor. 

Ultimately, it will depend on what is available in your area and what flavor/ texture you enjoy. Read the guide below to find a cheaper alternative to beef short ribs. 

applying spice rub for beef short ribs

Beef Plate Short Ribs

Beef plate short ribs are rich in marbling and flavor like short ribs. When slow-cooked, like braising, smoking, or grilling, they develop a deep beefy flavor with juicy, tender meat that falls off the bone.

Smoking Your Short Ribs

The best way to cook short ribs is to smoke them! The recipe for smoking short ribs is here.

Beef Back Ribs

Baby back ribs are smaller than short ribs but have similar tenderness and meatiness. When they are slow-cooked, they become juicy and flavorful with a hint of sweetness. They also have a rich and tender texture similar to short ribs.

Beef Shank

Beef shank has a tenderness and richness that is similar to short ribs. When smoked, braised, or slow cooked, they have to fall apart texture with deep flavor. Shanks have a lot of connective tissue that breakdowns over the low cooking process that creates a hearty dish similar to short ribs

You can also try sous vide beef shanks. This cooking method also allows the connective tissue-rich meat to break down.

See the substitutes for beef shanks here.

Flanken Ribs

Flanken ribs have rich marbling and a tender beef flavor similar to short ribs. You can grill, braise, smoke, or stew them for a succulent result. They are also perfect for Korean-style barbecue. 


Smoked Brisket

If you get it on special, beef brisket can be an excellent substitute for beef short ribs. Brisket has a robust beef flavor and succulent texture that make it similar to short ribs. You need to cook brisket low and slow, preferentially smoked, so that you get that rich and mouthwatering juicy result.

Lamb Ribs

Lamb ribs are another ideal substitute for short ribs. Packed full of meaty flavor, lamb ribs are gamier but still have tender, juicy meat.You should also braise, slow cook or smoke the lamb ribs to get a similar result.

Beef Chuck Roast

Beef chuck roasts have a high level of marbling that contributes to their succulence, making them a good alternative to short ribs. They are best braised or smoked, which allows the connective tissue and fat to break down and give them that melt-in-the-mouth texture.

Smoked Ham

Need an alternative to red meat? Try smoked ham! When smoked, it has a smoky richness similar to short ribs. Whether you smoke or bake the ham, its savory and slightly sweet flavor is tender and rich.

Either try my festive smoked ham or ham smoked in a Pit Boss.

Lamb Shanks

Lamb shanks also work well as an alternative to short ribs. They have a high level of connective tissue, which, when cooked low and slow, breaks down and offers a melt-in-the-mouth texture with deep flavor. Lamb can be an expensive protein, so if you want to use this as an alternative, it would be worth looking for specials or discounts.

The best way to cook lamb shanks is to smoke them low and slow.

Short ribs are one of our favorite beef cuts. But, if you can’t stomach the price there are plenty of viable alternatives. I have provided some beef alternatives as well as other proteins like lamb and ham.

What is your favorite substitute for beef short ribs?

Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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