BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu

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This is the BEST Italian-style Braised Short Rib Ragu recipe. It makes for the ultimate Italian comfort food meal! Try making your own Authentic Homemade Pappardelle Pasta Recipe to achieve the most authentic Italian experience!

If you love Italian ragu sauce, another excellent recipe is Classic Italian Ragu Recipe (Meat Sauce), Osso Buco Recipe, or Italian Braciole Recipe (Stuffed Beef with Sauce).

beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl
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BEST Italian Beef Short Rib Ragu

This beef short rib ragu is richly flavored from slow-cooked short ribs, finely diced vegetables, herbs, garlic, shallots, and red wine. Let it simmer on the stove while you relax and wait for the most fantastic dinner!

Also, try- How to Cook Steak in a Pan (Perfect Recipe), Tender and Easy Lamb Shoulder Chops, and How to Cook a Small Prime Rib Roast Recipe.

Simple Ingredients

  • Beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Shallot
  • Carrot
  • Garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Red wine
  • Crushed tomato
  • Beef stock
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh rosemary 
  • Pappardelle pasta
  • Parsley
  • Parmigiano cheese
beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl
beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl
Fresh pappardelle pasta with short rib ragu and freshly grated parmigiano

How to Make Braised Short Rib Ragu

The work in making this dish is all up front; the rest is sitting back and letting it simmer.

Cooking this braised short rib ragu is a straightforward process consisting of 3 main steps: browningdeglazing, & simmering.

The process is time (but you aren’t doing any of the work)-intensive since the goal is to tenderize a tough cut of meat & pull big flavors out of relatively simple ingredients.

The process is mostly hands-off! So, set a timer and take a nap, and your ragu will be ready.

Braising and shredding the meat in the tomato sauce.

FIRST, SEAR THE SHORT RIBS.

Browning creates the base flavor upon which the rest of the short rib ragu is built, so it’s incredibly important to take the time to sear the short ribs well.

  • The short ribs need to be completely dryMoisture is the natural enemy of a good, hard sear, so use paper towels to pat them as dry as you possibly can.
  • You need a good, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven which retains its heat well & distributes it evenly. 

NEXT, BROWN THE SOFFRITTO and AROMATICS.

Add the ‘soffritto’ veggies – carrots, celery, & onion – to the same pot used to brown the short ribs on medium high heat. Season with salt and pepper. This is the first step in building layers to the flavor of this dish. This step lets them get a bit brown as you release their flavors.

DEGLAZE and BUILD THE SHORT RIB RAGU SAUCE.

Deglaze the pot by adding in the red wine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits developed on the bottom of the pan by browning the short ribs & soffritto. This adds richness and depth to the sauce.

SLOWLY BRAISE THE BEEF RAGU SAUCE.

Now for the fun part – letting the sauce simmer! Nestle the browned short ribs into the braising liquid, bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover the pot & let it cook until the short ribs are fall-apart tender – your kitchen will smell like absolute Italian comfort food heaven. You can also use a slow cooker for this step.

beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl

How To Finish the Short Rib Ragu

Add the cooked pasta straight into the simmering ragu, tossing to combine well. Adjust as needed, so the ragu coats the pasta evenly.

If it’s too thick, toss in some of the reserved pasta water; if the mixture is too loose, toss in an extra handful of parmigiano cheese.

Cook for a couple of minutes more, allowing the pasta to marry with & absorb some of the sauce.

What is Ragu?

“Ragu” is a broad term used to describe a rich, slowly cooked Italian meat sauce. It’s hearty, intensely flavorful, & unlike a slowly simmered tomato sauce (sugo al pomodoro), ragu is all about the meat. In that sense, it’s almost more stew-like than what may come to mind when you think of Italian sauces.

You can make a beautiful ragu using almost any meaty ingredient that lends well to a slow braise: porkground turkey or chicken, wild boar, duck, lamb,  mushrooms, or eggplant for a vegetarian ragu, or, of course, beef short ribs.

Why braise meat?

This is a very important step you don’t want to skip in this recipe. Braising is simply a cooking method that involves browning meat or vegetables in oil, then cooking it in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan, either on the stovetop or in the oven. The long, slow cook time helps develop flavor and turn even the toughest of meat cuts fork-tender.

Can I use boneless short ribs for this recipe?

You can use boneless ribs for this recipe and cook it using the same directions. I do suggest bone in ribs because they are more flavorful and will cook more evenly.

Can I use a different cut of beef?

Short ribs aren’t actually cut from the rib section of the cow. They are cut from the chuck, or shoulder, of the animal. So, if you don’t have short ribs, you can substitute chuck roast. It won’t be exactly the same but it will still be delicious, flavorful, and tender.

Can I make this recipe using a slow cooker or pressure cooker?

Yes! If you are using a pressure cooker you can do all of the steps in this recipe using the sauté feature then pressure cook according to the temperature guidelines of your machine. If you’re using a slow cooker, make sure you brown the ribs and make the sauce in a pan before you transfer to your slow cooker so you get the same level of flavor from each step.

Top Tips

The biggest mistake I see American home cooks make when serving pasta at home? Simply plopping their beautifully braised ragu atop a pile of pasta. My Italian heart cringes at this! Please don’t do this! 

Al dente pasta should always cook with the sauce on the stovetop for a couple of minutes, allowing the two separate components to come together as one cohesive dish. If your pasta never turns out as good as it does in a restaurant, this simple step goes a long way to add a special touch!

Serving Suggestions

I love a thick and glorious egg pasta such as pappardelle to go with this rich ragu sauce. You can make the pasta from scratch if you like, or purchase fresh pappardelle or another wide pasta to make this meal extra special.

Here is my complete guide to making your own Pappardelle Pasta.

If you don’t want pasta, try serving it over Easy Polenta Recipe Authentic Italian Style

This hearty ragu is just as satisfying over pasta as it is over polenta or even Homemade Focaccia Bread.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

You can freeze this short rib ragu! I doubt there will be any leftovers, but just in case you want to save the leftover ragu here is what you need to do – allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. 

Ragu will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Transfer the cooled short rib ragu sauce to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. To serve, all you have to do is heat it & toss it with your pasta of choice – easy!

beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl

Made with Amore, Elena

From my Cucina to your Table, Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!) 

More delicious recipes for you…

Italian Style Osso Buco (Tuscan Recipe)

Pappardelle in Creamy Mascarpone Mushroom Sauce

Classic Italian Ragu Recipe (Meat Sauce)

Smashed Garlicky Herb Potatoes and Aioli Sauce

Oven Roasted Potatoes (Italian Style)

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto Brown Butter

Have you checked out my NEW CBE PRODUCTS? Take a look at the 2-in-1 cutting and charcuterie board, gorgeous apron, and unique pasta server that you absolutely need. The wood products are all handmade in Salt Lake City, Utah. They make great gifts as well!

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beef short rib sauce with pappardelle pasta in a bowl

Short Rib Ragu Recipe

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5 from 9 reviews

This ragu is richly flavored from slow-cooked short ribs, finely diced vegetables, herbs, garlic, shallots, and red wine. It is the perfect meal to impress your guest and mimic a high end Italian restaurant. This is a great winter weekend recipe. Let the savory and rich sauce stew on the stove while you read a book by the fire. You will love this classic Italian short rib ragu recipe! 

  • Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 lb bone-in beef short rib, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups port or red wine
  • 28 oz crushed tomato, 1 can
  • 3 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 lb pappardelle pasta (or 1 batch homemade pappardelle pasta recipe)
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped, for garnish
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pat the short ribs with paper towels to remove any excess moisture, then season generously with 2 teaspoons kosher salt.
  2. Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat over high heat until shimmering. Add half the short ribs and sear on each side until deep brown, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.
  3. Add the onion, shallot, carrot, garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are softened and browned, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and sauté for a few more minutes, until darkened and thickened.
  4. Pour in the wine (the alcohol will burn off at this point). Use a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Reduce the liquid by half, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes, beef stock, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme to the pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Add the short ribs, making sure the meat is submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for about 31/2- 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Skim excess fat off the top as needed. The short ribs are done when the meat pulls apart easily.
  7. Discard any bones that the meat has fallen off of, as well as all the herb stems. Pull out any remaining bones and discard. Using two forks, shred the meat in the pot (you can also take the meat out onto a cutting board to shred and add it back into the pot. 
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes over low heat.
  9. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. If making homemade pappardelle cook about 5 minutes until al dente. Strain pasta and add to the pot of ragu sauce. Turn gently to incorporate all the pasta with the sauce. 
  10. Garnish with finely chopped parsley and freshly grated parmigiano cheese. Mangia! 
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 3 1/2- 4 hours
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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31 Comments

  1. Easy to follow recipe. Authentic Italian! By far, one of the best I’ve ever tasted! A family favorite. Will definitely make this one again and again!






    1. Hi Bo, the sauce will thicken after you shred the meat. If you are serving with pasta or over polenta a little extra sauce is always nice! If you want it thicker try adding a teaspoon of tomato paste with cornstarch and a tablespoon of water. Mix and then stir into the sauce. Let cook a bit and it will thicken the sauce. Best, Elena

  2. I’ve never thought to do pasta with short ribs but I came across this recipe and my life will never be the same. A perfect meal with easy instructions that make me feel like I can take the wheel on my own culinary adventure through Italy.






    1. So happy you loved it! I am glad it was a life changing recipe for you! Hope you can make it soon!

  3. This was so easy and delicious! It has a depth of flavor that makes it seem like you spent all day making it. And your house will smell soooo good. My entire family loved it, thank you for another wonderful recipe!






    1. It is a recipe that makes people think you spent all day at the stove! It is so simple and packed with flavor. Happy the family loved it!

  4. It is really too hard to know for sure, but THIS might be my favorite recipe I’ve made of yours so far, Elena. So fantastic. Also made gave some to a friend going through cancer a couple months ago and she LOVED it.






    1. It is secretly one of my favorites too! I have lots of favorites ;). So kind of you to bring it to your friend.

    1. You can find a dried pappardelle pasta variety at most stores. I recommend the DeLallo brand. You can also make the homemade recipe on my website! Enjoy.

  5. Made this tonight and it was super delicious! A great winter Sunday night comfort meal. My family gobbled it up. Had it with Trader Joe’s pappardelle since I’ve never made pasta before. I did not have wine on hand but next time I make it I’ll be sure to add the wine to taste the difference.