How To Debone Beef Short Ribs: A Complete Step-By-Step Guide

Beef short ribs are a delicious cut of meat but dealing with the bone can be a hassle when cooking and eating. If you love the flavor of short ribs but want the ease of a boneless cut learning how to debone short ribs is a handy skill. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about deboning beef short ribs.

Before jumping into the deboning process, let’s quickly cover the basics of beef short ribs. These meaty ribs come from the rib primal cut and are taken from the plate or chuck section of the cow. They consist of a short length of rib bone surrounded by juicy, flavorful meat.

Compared to other rib cuts like a rack of ribs, short ribs contain more intramuscular marbling and connective tissue This gives them a richer flavor when cooked low and slow. The bone also adds its own savory, beefy flavor to any dish made with short ribs

Short ribs are available both bone-in and boneless. Bone-in short ribs will have a piece of rib bone running through the center. Boneless short ribs come from the chuck and have had the bones removed but still benefit from slow moist cooking to break down the connective tissues.

Why Debone Beef Short Ribs?

Removing the bone from short ribs offers several advantages:

  • Easier to portion and serve: The bone makes short ribs trickier to cut and portion into individual servings. Deboning gives you neat, bone-free portions perfect for plating.

  • More versatility: Boneless short ribs are easier to slice, shred, chop, or dice for dishes like tacos, sandwiches, pasta sauces, etc. The bone limits what you can do with the meat.

  • Better for braising and stewing: Boneless short ribs will cook more evenly when braised or used in stews or soups. The bone can partially shield the meat, leading to uneven cooking.

  • Improved texture: For some people, the texture and mouthfeel of bone-in short ribs is unappealing. Deboning leaves just the tender, succulent meat.

However, the bone does lend extra flavor and moisture when cooked, so it’s not necessarily better to debone in all cases. But deboning does offer more flexibility.

Tools You’ll Need for Deboning

Deboning beef short ribs doesn’t require any fancy kitchen tools. Here are the basics you’ll need:

  • Sharp boning or fillet knife: A razor-sharp, thin knife is vital for separating the meat from the bones cleanly.

  • Cutting board: Choose a large, sturdy board that won’t slide around. Wood or plastic are both fine choices.

  • Meat mallet (optional): A meat mallet can help loosen and flatten the ribs to make deboning easier.

  • Kitchen shears (optional): Shears are helpful if you need to trim away any excess fat or silver skin.

  • Paper towels: Keep some towels handy for wiping down your knife and hands.

  • Bucket or tray: Have somewhere to collect the bones as you remove them.

And that’s it! With just these standard tools on hand, you’re ready to debone.

Step-By-Step Guide to Deboning Short Ribs

Deboning beef short ribs takes some care and patience, but you’ll pick it up quickly with practice. Follow these steps:

1. Prepare the Short Ribs

  • If the ribs have a large outer membrane, use a knife to slice it off.

  • Trim away any excess outer fat.

  • Rinse the ribs and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

2. Separate the Meat from the Bones

  • Place a rib bone-side up on the cutting board.

  • Starting at one end, slide the knife tip under the meat right next to the rib bone.

  • Keeping the blade flush to the bone, carefully cut the meat away in strips.

  • Repeat this motion down the entire length of the bone, separating the meat entirely from the bone.

  • Use the knife tip to sever any remaining connective tissue to completely free the meat.

3. Check for Any Remaining Bones

  • Run your fingers over the meat side to feel for any remaining small bone fragments.

  • Use tweezers or the knife tip to remove any small bones.

  • Double check that all bones have been fully removed.

4. Portion or Slice the Meat as Desired

  • For bone-in style short ribs, leave the meat in single large portions.

  • For boneless styles, slice, shred, chop, or dice the meat as you prefer.

5. Discard the Bones or Use for Stock

And that’s it! You now have delicious, boneless short rib meat ready to be turned into any recipe. Enjoy your newly deboned ribs!

Tips for Deboning Short Ribs Like a Pro

Deboning short ribs takes some finesse. Use these pro tips for the cleanest, most efficient results:

  • Work slowly: Rushing the process can lead to messy cuts and wasted meat. Take your time.

  • Keep the knife flush to the bone: This prevents you from accidentally cutting away too much meat.

  • Use a sharp knife: A dull knife requires more sawing motion which destroys the meat texture. Keep blades razor-sharp.

  • Cut against the grain: Identify the direction of the muscle fibers and make long slices against the grain. This gives you a cleaner separation.

  • Let meat warm to room temp: Cold meat is firmer and harder to debone. Let it sit out until no longer chilled.

  • Watch your fingers: Take extra precaution that your fingertips stay safely clear of the knife’s path.

  • Save the bones: Bones can be used to make delicious beef broth or stock. Get extra value from your ribs!

Frequently Asked Questions About Deboning Short Ribs

If you’re new to deboning short ribs, chances are you still have some questions about the process. Here we answer some of the most common FAQs:

Should you debone short ribs before or after cooking?

It’s best to debone the ribs before cooking them. The raw meat is easier to separate from the bones when it’s not yet tenderized by cooking. Deboning pre-cooked ribs can lead to shredding and wasted meat.

Can you debone short ribs that are still partially frozen?

It’s possible but challenging. The firmer, partially frozen meat does not easily detach from the bones and you risk shredding the meat. It’s best to fully defrost ribs before attempting to debone them.

What’s the white membrane on short ribs and should you remove it?

The white membrane is called silver skin. It’s very tough if not removed. Use a knife to peel away the silver skin before cooking for the most tender texture.

Can you cook short ribs with the bone in, then debone after?

Yes, you can braise or simmer the ribs bone-in for maximum flavor, then easily slide out the softened bones after cooking. This gives you the best of both worlds.

How much meat do you lose when deboning short ribs?

If done properly, deboning short ribs results in minimal meat loss – just a thin strip along the bone itself. With care, you can debone ribs while losing less than 5% of the total meat.

Get Creative with Deboned Short Rib Dishes

Once you’ve mastered how to debone beef short ribs, get ready to have fun with the boneless meat in all kinds of dishes. Here are just a few delicious ideas:

  • Short rib ravioli – Dice the meat and stuff into homemade pasta for a decadent filling.

  • Tacos – Chop or shred the meat and top tacos for a bold, beefy flavor.

  • Sliders – Ground rib meat makes for the ultimate mini burgers.

  • Enchiladas – Roll up seasoned meat and cheese inside tortillas and smother with sauce.

  • Pot pies – Comfort food at its best with nuggets of tender short rib meat.

  • Stuffed peppers – Mix rib meat with rice, veggies, cheese and stuff into roasted bell peppers.

  • Pasta sauce – Simmer diced or ground meat in a rich tomato or cream sauce. Toss with hot pasta.

  • Shepherd’s pie – A hearty pie with ground meat, veggies, and fluffy mashed potatoes on top.

The possibilities are endless once you unlock the potential of boneless beef short ribs!


While it does take some effort, deboning beef short ribs expands your cooking options with this flavorful cut of meat. With the right tools and technique, you can cleanly remove the bones and unlock new culinary potential from short ribs. Just follow the simple steps outlined here for beautiful boneless results.

Be sure to save those bones too – they can provide the foundation for immensely beefy stocks and broths. From soups to sliders and everything in between, boneless short rib dishes are sure to impress.

So grab your favorite short ribs, muster your inner butcher’s skill, and get ready to enjoy this prized cut in whole new ways with our complete guide to deboning. Happy cooking!

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