5-Ingredient Short Rib Ragu Recipe

Although this dish is simply divine, know that this short rib ragu recipe isn't a quick undertaking that you can whip up in 20 minutes on a weeknight. It takes time to cook beef ribs to perfection before combining them with the other ingredients to create a tantalizing sauce. But what this recipe developed by Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate Meals requires in time, it makes up for in simplicity. 

With just five main ingredients, you don't have to spend hours prepping a million veggies or spices you've never touched before in your life. In fact, you may have almost everything you need in your kitchen right now. The recipe will end up taking roughly three hours to make from start to finish, but most of that is time spent cooking the ribs. So, on a night when you have a little extra time to spare, try your hand at making this ragu. As Rapone suggests, you can serve it with pasta, risotto, or even a baked sweet potato. Your family or guests will not be disappointed!

Gather your ingredients for this short rib ragu recipe

Aside from oil, salt, and pepper, which you likely keep stocked in your pantry, this beef rib ragu recipe requires only five main ingredients: four pounds of beef short ribs, a yellow onion, Dijon mustard, a can of San Marzano tomatoes, and 3 cups of low sodium beef broth. If you start searching your kitchen to see if you have everything on hand, Rapone warns against making substitutions if you come up short. "Since there are so few ingredients, keeping to these specifics is pretty important. For mustard, a whole-grain mustard could be used instead, but I wouldn't do a spicy brown mustard or regular yellow mustard," she says, adding that the tomatoes, in particular, are important. "The tomatoes are the one ingredient I would stress to buy the good ones! They are a major flavor here, so it's worth a couple extra bucks."

Season the short ribs

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 350 F first thing, as you want it to be at the right temperature when you're ready to start cooking. Then, place your beef ribs on a cutting board or plate, and use the salt and pepper to season all sides. Rapone calls for a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper to disperse equally between the four pounds of beef ribs. Just do your best to season the ribs equally.

Brown the short ribs

Using a Dutch oven (or a Dutch oven substitute if you don't have one), heat up the oil until it's almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the hot oil, and brown the ribs on all sides. This should take roughly three to four minutes per side, so about 10 to 15 minutes total to get the ribs nicely seared. When the ribs are done browning, remove them from the Dutch oven, and place them on a plate.

Cook and season the onions

Use the time while the short ribs are browning to peel and chop your onion. Then, after removing the short ribs from the dutch oven, change the heat on the stove to medium and add the chopped onion to the pot. Cover the onion, allowing it to cook undisturbed for roughly three minutes before removing the lid to stir. Continue cooking the onion like this, stirring every two to three minutes for roughly seven to nine minutes total. The goal is for the onion to be soft and just starting to brown. When the onion is sufficiently cooked, stir in the Dijon mustard.

Cook the short ribs with the onions, tomatoes, and broth

Once the onions are ready and seasoned, it's time to start cooking the rest of the ingredients for your sauce. Add the short ribs back to the Dutch oven, then pour in the can of tomatoes and the beef broth. Stir the pot to mix the ingredients together, then cover, and bring everything to a boil. 

It's important not to brush past this step — bringing all the ingredients to a boil is particularly important. "This ensures the ingredients are at the right temp, rather than the oven having to do all the work to bring them to temp," says Rapone. And, as she points out, relying on the oven to do the "heavy lifting" of bringing the ingredients to temp would significantly increase the cooking time for the ragu.

Braise the ribs in the oven

Once the ingredients are brought to a boil, transfer the pot to your oven, and braise the contents for two and a half hours. If, for some reason, you're notoriously bad at paying attention to cooking times, here's the good news: Rapone says it's pretty much impossible to overcook the ribs. "Sometimes I'll even throw it in for two hours, then just turn the oven off and let it hang out for another hour," she says. Ultimately, what you want is for the meat to literally fall off the bones. "If you can't grab a bone with a pair of tongs and have it slide out of the meat, it needs to keep cooking," Rapone says.

Remove the ribs, and set aside

Once the meat has cooked to the point of falling off the bones, take the pot out of the oven, and remove the lid. Use tongs to take the ribs out of the pot, and set them aside on a plate. If any of the meat has fallen off the bones and is loose in the Dutch oven, be sure to remove it and set it aside as well. Then, spoon off and discard any excess fat that rose to the surface of the tomato sauce. 

At this point, give everything 10 minutes to rest and cool. This will make the next steps easier. "It's just so darn hot. You could blend the sauce right away, but there's no real reason to since the meat would be too hot to shred," Rapone notes.

Use an immersion blender to blend the remaining ingredients into a sauce

Once the sauce and meat have had a chance to cool slightly, carefully blend the cooking liquid until smooth. The key word here is "carefully." Rapone recommends an immersion blender rather than a regular blender, because blending hot liquids can be dangerous. That being said, if you don't own an immersion blender, it's incredibly important to allow the steam to vent from your blender as you blend. "Place [the sauce] in a blender or food processor, and remove the little center part of the lid. Place a towel over that, and leave a little vent for steam to escape," says Rapone. "Pulse two to three times, then remove the towel, and let the steam vent. Repeat the process until [the sauce] is smooth. The trick is you don't want to let the pressure build up inside the blender, or it will explode super hot sauce all over." Again, it's imperative to work super carefully here.

Shred the meat, and add it to the sauce

Once the sauce is smooth, remove all the beef from the ribs, and shred. "I like putting on gloves and going through it with my hands," says Rapone. "It's still pretty hot to touch with bare hands, and the gloves help with that. I don't think you can really get the connective tissue and other less desirable parts out with a fork. Hands are truly the best tool!" 

Add the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and stir well to combine. Just like that, your ragu is officially done! 

Serve the ragu hot and fresh

When your ragu is finished, it's common to serve it over cooked pasta (try a penne or tagliatelle), but that's not your only option. Rapone suggests trying it on top of risotto or a baked sweet potato, but you could also try it with polenta. And if you have a little extra time, consider making a ragu casserole of sorts. Simply place the sauce in a baking dish, and layer it with thinly sliced potatoes brushed with oil and salt. Bake the entire dish covered in foil until the potatoes are soft, then remove the foil, and cook until the potatoes turn a golden brown.

5-Ingredient Short Rib Ragu Recipe
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On a night when you have extra time to spare, consider making this five-ingredient short rib ragu. It pairs well with risotto, pasta, or a baked sweet potato.
Prep Time
Cook Time
short rib ragu
Total time: 3 hours
  • 4 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 cups low sodium beef broth
Optional Ingredients
  • cooked pasta, risotto, or baked sweet potato, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Season the short ribs on all sides with the salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven until almost smoking. Add the short ribs, and brown for 3 to 4 minutes on each side (10 to 15 minutes total). Remove from the pan to a plate.
  4. While the short ribs are browning, peel and chop the onion.
  5. After the short ribs have been removed from the pan, turn the heat to medium, and add the onion. Cover with a lid for 3 minutes, then remove the lid, and stir. Continue to cook the onion, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and just starting to brown. (This should take 7 to 9 minutes.)
  6. Add the Dijon mustard, and stir thoroughly in the onions. Add the short ribs back to the pan. Then, add the can of tomatoes and beef broth. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.
  7. Move to the oven, and braise for 2 ½ hours.
  8. After 2 ½ hours, remove from the oven, and remove the lid. Remove the ribs, and set aside. If the meat falls off the bone, scoop that out, too. Spoon off excess fat that has risen to the surface of the cooking liquid.
  9. Let everything rest for 10 minutes. Carefully blend the cooking liquid until smooth. (It's recommended to use an immersion blender, as blending hot liquids in a regular blender can be really dangerous.)
  10. Remove the meat from the bones, and shred. Add the shredded meat back to the cooking liquid, and stir to finish the ragu.
  11. Enjoy served over pasta, risotto, or even a baked sweet potato.
Calories per Serving 951
Total Fat 86.1 g
Saturated Fat 36.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 172.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 7.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Total Sugars 3.9 g
Sodium 1,028.9 mg
Protein 35.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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