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The Next Steak You Grill Should Be Boneless Beef Short Ribs

This rich, beefy cut is our go-to for braising. But it’s also superb for the grill, cooking up ultrajuicy and flavorful, with a satisfying chew like that of flank or skirt steak.
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Published Sept. 1, 2022.

Boneless beef short ribs are best known as a primo cut for braising. They’re loaded with flavorful fat that can give all sorts of stews and ragus incredible beefy flavor. What’s more, they have lots of collagen that breaks down during a long simmer to give silkiness to the braising liquid. 

But these blocky chunks of meat deserve to be more widely known as a terrific cut for grilling. Their plentiful fat and meaty taste are ideal for supporting the smoky, charred aromas that develop over the coals. Not only that, but they offer a satisfying chew comparable to flank or skirt steak. Read on to learn more about this beefy cut and the best way to grill it.

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What Are Boneless Beef Short Ribs Anyway?

These so-called ribs, which typically measure about 2 inches thick and 5 inches long, are not real ribs at all. They are cut from the area above the ribs closest to the chuck, or shoulder, of the animal, where most of the meat is made up of the heavily marbled serratus ventralis muscle. In fact, these “ribs” are basically butchered and trimmed chuck roast. Read more here.

How to Grill Boneless Beef Short Ribs

Some recipes start by marinating the ribs. But Senior Editor Lan Lam rejected that approach out of hand, since a marinade only flavors the surface of boneless beef short ribs and would be barely noticeable in a cut this thick. Instead, her simple recipe starts with thoroughly seasoning the meat. To grill the ribs, she adopted a method we’ve used on the stovetop for other thick cuts: repeatedly flipping the meat over high heat until it comes up to temperature.

  • Prep ribs: Cut 2 pounds boneless ribs into 3- to 4-inch lengths. 
  • Salt ribs: Sprinkle 2½ teaspoons kosher salt onto the ribs, then let them sit for an hour—plenty of time for the sodium ions to penetrate deep into the muscle fibers. 
  • Cook ribs over a hot grill: Flip them every minute. This warms the interior evenly and gently, since each time the meat is flipped, the side not touching the cooking grate cooks via residual heat, producing rosiness from edge to edge. Meanwhile, a rich, dark crust builds up gradually.
  • Flip them on all four sides: Boneless beef short ribs are so thick and chunky, you can’t just cook them on the top and bottom. 
  • Remove from grill and rest: For the most tender results, remove the ribs from the grill when they register 130 degrees, and rest them for 10 minutes before slicing.

Why You Should Grill This Cut to Medium

Typically we like a traditional steak cooked to rare or medium-rare for the juiciest, most tender results. But we actually recommend grilling boneless beef short ribs to medium (130 degrees). Just as it does in a tougher cut such as skirt steak, cooking the meat a little longer causes the muscle fibers to shrink and separate, making the meat more tender (in a well-marbled cut, the rendered fat makes up for any loss of juices).

For the most tender results, we remove the short ribs from the grill when they register 130 degrees.

How to Slice and Serve Boneless Beef Short Ribs

After letting the meat rest 10 minutes, we slice the short ribs thin against the grain. 

What does this mean? Meat is made up of bundles of muscle fibers that run parallel to one another. The fibers form a pattern that is referred to as the “grain”; it looks similar to wood grain.

Slicing against the grain means cutting the fibers into shorter pieces. This makes tougher cuts such as boneless short ribs more pleasant to eat because shorter lengths of muscle fibers are easier to chew. 

It’s easy to cut boneless short ribs against the grain because the muscle fibers tend to run diagonally. That means that as long as you slice the meat lengthwise, you’ll be cutting against the grain.

We like the grilled short ribs served with nothing more than a sprinkle of flake sea salt and a spritz of tart lemon juice to balance their richness, but they’re also terrific with a bold, bright sauce. Lan developed two sauces that get their backbones from fermented products. Kimchi-Scallion Sauce features kimchi combined with a hit of fresh scallions, and Preserved Lemon–Almond Sauce marries citrus and nuts in the form of tangy, floral preserved lemon and crunchy toasted almonds.  

Grilled Boneless Beef Short Ribs

With their rich marbling, intense beefiness, and satisfying chew, boneless beef short ribs can rival a rib eye on the grill—at about half the cost.
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