Short Rib Ragu

Tender short ribs in a tomato red wine sauce with Parmesan mashed potatoes – this hearty Short Rib Ragu is worth the time! Serve it over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, rice, or pasta for the best comfort food dinner ever.

Short rib ragu on mashed potatoes

At our house, weeknight cooking is like Rachel Ray, while weekend cooking is more like Julia Child. And today, it’s all about the weekend with this short rib ragu. It takes time, but the results are worth it. Tender shredded short ribs and a savory, rich sauce combine to make the ultimate comfort food dish.

Amazing Short Rib Ragu

So, if you’re looking for a fun and amazingly delicious weekend cooking project, this homemade ragu is for you. But just remember, it can’t be rushed.

The time investment to make this dish is well worth it – one bite of the tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef will make you so happy and so comforted you will try and figure out how to make this a rotating dinner in your weekend line-up. 

Ingredients

  • Boneless short ribs seasoned with salt and pepper – You can also use bone-in short ribs and pluck the bones out after they are done cooking.
  • Vegetable oil – or another neutral high-smoke point oil.
  • Diced carrots
  • Diced celery
  • Diced onion
  • Minced garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • All-purpose flour
  • Canned plum tomatoes with juice – For the best flavor, use San Marzano tomatoes.
  • Red wine – A dry red wine like cabernet, merlot, pinot noir, or malbec are all good choices.
  • Water
  • Fresh parsley
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Recipe Highlights

All of the instructions are listed in the recipe card at the end of the post, but here’s a quick overview of the steps:

  • Brown: The first step is to sear the short ribs in a large pot. This will create a crust so the ribs are extra delicious. Browning them first also leaves browned bits on the bottom of the pan. They help to flavor the sauce.
  • Saute: After you brown the short ribs, saute the vegetables until they’re softened.
  • Thicken: To create a rich, thick sauce, add tomato paste to the pot with the softened vegetables along with some flour.
  • Deglaze: Next, pour the wine into the pot and scrape up all those delicious browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the liquids: Add the canned tomatoes and water to the pot and stir. Nestle the browned short ribs in the pot so they are covered by the water. Add the parsley and bring the pot to a strong simmer.
  • Braise in the oven: Cover the pot, take it off the stove top, and transfer it to a 350°F oven. Leave it for a few hours or until the short ribs are falling-apart tender.
  • Strain: You will need to strain the liquid for a silky smooth sauce. Remove the ribs from the pot and set them on a cutting board. Use a fine mesh strainer and press as much liquid through the strainer. Discard the solids.
  • Simmer: Shred the short ribs and add the shredded meat back to the pot. Bring the pot to a simmer on the stove and let it simmer and reduce for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened. Use a spoon to skim the fat off the surface every so often.

Once the sauce is thick, it’s ready to serve! Or, you can cool it to room temperature and keep it in the refrigerator to warm up later.

How to Serve It

I love short rib ragu with mashed potatoes, but it also pairs great with rice, gnocchi, buttered noodles, or pasta.

If you opt for mashed potatoes, I’ve included a recipe in the recipe card, or try my slow cooker mashed potatoes.

A forkful of short rib ragu with parmesan mashed potatoes

Recipe FAQ

Can you make this in a slow cooker?

I haven’t tested this recipe in a slow cooker. If you try it, the amount of liquid would need to be reduced, as well as the cooking time.

Why do you toss the cooked veggies?

I discard the veggies before reducing the sauce for a couple of reasons. First, the veggies are cooked for so long that they basically turn to mush, and all of the flavor is extracted. Second, I love a silky, smooth sauce, and the best way to achieve that is to discard the solids.

Other readers have used the veggies in the sauce – instead of straining it, you can use a stick blender to puree the sauce with the vegetables in it. It just depends on the texture you prefer.

Can you use beef broth instead of water?

I haven’t, but other readers have used it with success! You could also use vegetable broth or chicken broth if you have those on hand.

Can you make short rib ragu ahead?

Yes, you can make it ahead. Once you’ve completed all the steps, let it cool to room temperature and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for three to four days. You can also store it in the freezer for several months.

I think it tastes even better the next day, so I usually make it a day in advance so the flavors can develop even more. When you warm it up, you may need to add a few splashes of water or wine to thin the sauce because it will thicken up when it’s chilled.

I hope you give this recipe a try soon!

Happy cooking,

April

More Hearty Comfort Food Recipes

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Short Rib Ragu

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 23 reviews

This short rib ragu is hearty and comforting. The short ribs are simmered in the oven until they are fall-apart-tender.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

For the Ragu

  • 3 pounds boneless short ribs, pat dry with paper towels and seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano plum tomatoes, including juice
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional for garnish)

Instructions

How to Make the Ragu

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large dutch oven or stock pot. Add the short ribs and brown them on all sides until the outside is nicely caramelized. I had to do this in 3 batches so the pan wouldn’t be too crowded. Once browned, remove the ribs from the pot and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the diced carrots, celery, and onion. Cook them for about ten minutes until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste until all of the veggies are coated. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Continue to cook the mixture for another few minutes.
  5. Pour in the wine and increase the heat until the pot begins to simmer. Deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with the spatula to pull up all of the browned bits.
  6. Next, add the tomatoes and all of the juice from the can. Pour in 2 cups of water and stir. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the tomatoes.
  7. Add the short ribs back to the pot. Be sure they are completely covered by the liquid. If needed, add more water to ensure they are covered. Toss in the parsley (no need to chop it) and stir.
  8. Bring the pot to a strong simmer (increase the heat if needed) and then cover it, remove it from the heat, and transfer it to the preheated oven. Let it simmer in the oven for 2 to 3 hours or until the beef is fork-tender and shreds easily. For me, it usually takes about 2 1/2 hours – start checking yours at the 2-hour mark.
  9. Once the beef is fork-tender, remove the pot from the oven. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set them aside. Using a fine mesh strainer, carefully strain the liquid into a large sauce pot. Press on the solids to extract all of the liquid before discarding them.
  10. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. You want the sauce to thicken and reduce, which will take at least 30 minutes or so. While the sauce is reducing, periodically skim the surface to remove the fat.
  11. While the sauce reduces, shred the short ribs. Once the sauce is thickened, add the shredded meat and stir. 

How to Make the Mashed Potatoes

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil them until they are fork-tender (time may vary based on the size of your potato pieces.)
  2. Drain the potatoes and return them to the cooking pot. Add in the butter and, using a potato masher, mash the potatoes with the butter. Add the sour cream and Parmesan cheese and stir well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve the ragu on top of the parmesan mashed potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Notes

Make it Ahead! You can make the ragu up to one day in advance. Just follow the recipe steps and once you’ve reduced the sauce and added the ribs back in, let it cool and then keep it in the refrigerator. Heat it up in a saucepan on the stove before you serve it. You can thin the sauce with a splash of red wine, water, or beef stock if needed. I don’t recommend making the potatoes ahead – do those the day of!

Side Dish Tips: You can make the Parmesan mashed potatoes while the sauce reduces or make crock pot mashed potatoes to save space on the stove. I also love this ragu tossed with pasta or served over buttered egg noodles.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 1210
  • Sugar: 7.8g
  • Sodium: 490.5mg
  • Fat: 122.9g
  • Saturated Fat: 47.1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 45.1g
  • Trans Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 32.2g
  • Fiber: 6.5g
  • Protein: 41.2g
  • Cholesterol: 205.9mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

Post updated from the archives. First published in March 2015.

117 Comments

  1. This is my kinda food and it is coming up to slow cooking season for me when I love dishes that require a little bit of care an attention, I may have to double quantities of it though as I think this would make a wonderful sandwich/bread roll filling, not to mention flipping upside down adding a few vegetables and baking in the oven with the mashed potato on top. So much great food from a days worth of work, my kinda cooking!

  2. I just made a two day roasted pepper/tomato marinara sauce. Wow It’s good, but not a quicky. Your dinner here looks worth the work alright. Slow savory sauces and meats are in a class by themselves. This just looks divine!

  3. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it! One quick question though… can I use another cut of meat? I just bought a half of a cow and I have plenty of roasts and sirloin steaks but no short ribs. Thank you for you time!

    1. Hi Tiffany! I haven’t tried this recipe with a different cut of meat, but any cut of beef you would use for a pot roast should work fine (i.e. round or chuck). You will want to adjust the cooking time, as well, depending on how tough a cut your are using – short ribs have a lot of fat, so a leaner cut may need more time. Hope that helps!

  4. My 11 year old and I made this for supper tonight – absolutely amazing and she was so proud to make such a fancy meal. Worth every minute!






  5. Looks amazing! Do you know how long I would throw it in a slow cooker for? I tend to come home too late from work to be able to make it in the oven but would love to prepare this for my family

    1. Hi Ashley! I haven’t made this in the slow-cooker, but I’ve made other short rib recipes using my slow cooker and it’s worked fine. I recommend following the steps through step 5, except instead of transferring the pot to the oven, go ahead and place everything in the slow cooker. Depending on the size of yours, you may not need as much water – just make sure everything is covered with liquid. If you really want to shorten the process, you could skip cooking the veggies and just add them straight to the slow cooker, however I would still brown the beef in a pan. Then just use some wine to deglaze the pan and then add that liquid and the beef to the slow cooker with the veggies and liquid. Cook it all on low for 6-8 hours – hope this helps!

  6. I made this on Saturday, this past weekend and wow. It was absolutely delicious. I love to cook like you, quick and easy during the weekend and explore real flavors on the weekend. This recipe was just that. Real flavors. I also made the mashed potatoes, which were absolutely perfect. Thank you for sharing this. It’s a keeper!

    1. Thanks so much, Julie! This is a great weekend project – one of my all time favorites, so happy to hear you enjoyed it!

  7. This was a so delicious and a big hit. I’m looking at doubling the recipe and cooking in a slow cooker. Has anyone tried? If so how did you convert the recipe for a slow cooker?

    1. Hi Maureen, I’m so glad you liked it! I haven’t tried this in the slow cooker and it would require adjustments to make it work. In the original recipe the sauce first reduces the oven since it’s cooked uncovered and then it’s further thickened on the stove. This wouldn’t happen in the slow cooker, so reducing the amount of liquid used would be important and you may want to still reduce the sauce on the stove. Let me know if you try it and how it turns out.

      1. Wait? I just read your reply above. Uncovered in the oven? The recipe says to cover? I just made it, smells delicious, haven’t tried it yet but wondering about the sobered/uncovered in the oven?

        1. Hi Kelly – sorry for the confusion! It should be cooked covered in the oven as directed in the recipe.

  8. Hello,

    Thank you for the recipe!

    Does this really need 2 stalks of celery or is it 2 ribs of celery?

    Thank you!

  9. Has anyone tried cooking this in advance and reheating? I am looking to do this for Christmas dinner and any advance work is welcome.

    1. Hi Jeff! You can make this in advance and keep it in the fridge – I’ve made batches that I keep in the fridge and a it’s still as good as the day it was made. To re-heat it I recommend warming it in a pot on the stove. Hope that helps!

  10. I just made this recipe as a Sunday night treat for my husband and I. It was amazing! Felt like an expensive restaurant meal. Took all day, but it wasn’t actually too hard to make. I plan to make this the next time my mother in law comes over!






    1. Hi Leah – a good rule of thumb is to use a red wine that you like to drink. I like to use a pinot noir, but a merlot or cabernet would work well, too.

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