Last Updated on October 10, 2023 by Melissa Reome
This post is a collaboration with Beef It’s What’s for Dinner. On behalf of the Beef Checkoff, I received compensation, but all opinions are my own.
Turn basic nachos into mind blowing with wonderfully tender beer-braised beef short rib. The beef short ribs can be braised ahead of time on the stove, in the oven or on the grill. When it’s time to eat, just reheat the meat and build your nachos in just minutes. These loaded beer-braised beef short rib nachos are meaty bliss and the ultimate comfort food.
They are excellent for a tailgate, a Super Bowl party or just a hanging out at home. This is a forgiving recipe which is flexible and so easy to make. It just requires a few minutes of prep and a few hours of low maintenance cooking in the oven to finish.
Beef short ribs are delicious both smoked, braised, or smoked then braised. I will give you instructions on different methods to cook them depending on your preference.
Beef Short Ribs VS Spare Rib: Beef Anatomy
Sometimes beef terminology can be confusing. It all comes down to where on the animal the meat is located. Short ribs are cut from the chuck and the late primal sections (specifically the short plate). Short ribs before being cut into smaller sections are nice and meaty averaging 1-2 inches of meat on top of each bone.
Beef short ribs are excellent braised or smoked for long periods of time to make them tender. They also contain more internal marbling or fat than beef back ribs. If you’re interested in smoking those massive short rib plates or “Dino Ribs”, check out my method here.
Beef spare ribs or beef back ribs are from the cow’s rib subprimal section. These ribs are long and have meat between the bones, not on top of it. Spare ribs have more flexibility in that they can be cooked quicker typically than short ribs. The beef on beef spare ribs is minimal in comparison to the size of the bone unlike with short ribs.
Braised Short Rib In Dutch Oven
For this recipe for beer-braised short ribs, I start the cooking process in a Dutch oven on the stove. The short ribs are browned in some oil first then removed from the Dutch oven. Carrots, celery, onion and garlic are sautéed, and tomato paste added to add extra flavor. Beef stock and a nice dark beer round create the braising liquid for the beef. The beef ribs are then added back into the Dutch oven, the lid placed on top then put in the oven.
Which Beer To Use For Braising Short Ribs
Whether you are drinking beer or wine with beef or cooking with it, the pairing is much the same. You want a bold flavored beer to stand up to the robust flavor of the beef. The beer you pick should ideally be a stout, a dark ale or porter. I used an oatmeal stout beer for this recipe but use your favorite.
What Does Braising Mean?
Braising is simply taking a cut of meat and cooking it slowly in some liquid until it is nice and fork tender. Typically, the meat is browned with vegetable oil or another oil on medium-high heat or high heat depending on your stove. Once browned, a braising liquid is added into pot or Dutch oven. The meat is then cooked on low for a long period of time until it is tender and ready to eat. The browned bits that form on the bottom to the cooking vessel will loosen up once the braising liquid is added and they will add great flavor the the dish.
The braising liquid which can be stock, wine, or a variety of other things, typically does not cover the meat. As long as the liquid goes about halfway up the meat and the cooking vessel is covered, it will work beautifully.
How Long To Cook Beef Short Ribs In The Oven
Once the beef short ribs are in the oven, it’s smooth sailing from there. But, what temperature should you cook them at and for how long? The goal is to have the meat become tender to the point you can easily pull it apart into smaller tender pieces.
Unlike a roast which you may cook only to 145°F, the beef short ribs need to go to a much higher temperature in order for the meat to become tender. Typically, this occurs somewhere between 200-205°F. You can’t put a specific number on it because of variations in the same cut of meat. If you put an instant read thermometer in the meat though it should slide smoothly in like it is going through butter. This is what people mean when they say “probe tender”. However, if you can pull the meat apart with little resistance, you know it is ready.
Can I Smoke The Short Ribs Then Braise Them?
Absolutely! Smoking the beef short ribs prior to braising them adds great flavor. Keep in mind however, you will need more than three hours to complete this whole process.
Smoked Short Ribs
To smoke the short ribs, place a thin coating of vegetable oil on the meat then season them with kosher salt and pepper. Smoke the beef over your wood of choice (such as oak, hickory or cherry) at 250-275°F for 3 hours.
For the purpose of this recipe, I would take the smoked beef short ribs indoors and add them to the braising liquid in this recipe until finished. That will take at least a couple more hours. The alternative is to place the covered beef short ribs in the braising liquid and back on the grill or smoker until they are tender and finished.
How do I decide what to do? If it’s the dead of winter here in NY, I most definitely bring them inside as they aren’t going to take on anymore smoke once covered. If it’s warm in the house and I don’t want to heat it up anymore, I finish the process on the grill.
Can I Use Beef Chuck Roast Instead of Beef Short Ribs?
Absolutely! The process will be exactly the same if using chuck roast instead of beef short ribs. If you can get a good deal on chuck roast or its more readily available it is a great alternative.
Can I Cook The Beef Short Ribs Ahead Of Time?
You may cook the beef short ribs up to 4 days ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. If cooking ahead of time, cool the braising liquid and the beef then cover and refrigerate. Wait until the day you want to prepare the nachos to reheat the meat and finish.
When you want to reheat the meat, just warm the meat through in the braising liquid until hot. Remove the meat from the braising liquid and shred it as if you made it the same day. Spoon some of the braising liquid over the meat to keep it moist then put it on the nachos when assembling.
Let’s Build Some Loaded Beer-Braised Beef Short Rib Nachos!
Nachos are truly a blank canvas. Loaded beer-braised beef short rib nachos are great with queso or cheese sauce, pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos and seasoned black beans, sour cream, red onion or whatever else you love. The important thing is to use this recipe as a guideline for making the cooked beef. Then, use that beef to create the nachos of your dreams. I like to preheat warm a cast iron skillet and build my loaded nachos inside of. Be cautious however because the cast iron will remain as your are grabbing the food out of it. If using a cheese sauce you could also simply build the nachos in a large bowl.
If you don’t feel like making your own queso or cheese sauce, there are great ones available in the grocery stores now. If you prefer shredded cheese, you can place the tortilla chips on a large sheet pan, cover the chips in monterey jack or pepper jack cheese and place the pan in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts. Then simply remove the sheet pan from the oven then add the beef and toppings afterward and enjoy!
For more great beef recipes and inspiration, visit www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com.
Loaded Beer-Braised Beef Short Rib Nachos
- 4 lb boneless or bone-in Short Ribs
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 large white or yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves optional
- 4 cups beef stock
- 12 oz dark beer (stout, dark ale, porter)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 16 oz tortilla chips
Toppings For Nachos (Choose Your Favorite)
- 1 cup queso
- 4 tbsp pickled jalapenos
- 1/2 cup pico de gallo or salsa
- 1/2 cup guacamole
- 1/2 bunch cilantro (rinsed and chopped)
- 1 cup black beans (cooked)
- Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper, set aside.
- Heat a Dutch oven over medium high heat and add oil.
- Brown the short ribs on all sides in the oil then remove from the pot and set aside. Closely watch the meat to not burn it.
- Sauté carrots, celery and onion for 3 minutes. Stir well to get all of the brown bits off of the bottom of the Dutch oven. Add garlic and cook for 30 additional seconds until fragrant. Add tomato paste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add beef stock, beer and bay leaves to the Dutch oven. Stir well, bring to a boil, then cover.
- Place Dutch oven in a 325°F oven or grill for approximately 3 hours or until ribs are fork tender enough to pull apart easily. This should be approximately 200-205°F when the beef is measured internally with an instant read thermometer.
- Remove the beef short ribs from liquid and set aside in a bowl covered to keep warm.
- Strain solids out of braising liquid and skim fat off the top of the liquid.
- Over medium heat, reduce the liquid on stove until slightly thickened and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pull the beef short rib meat apart and throw away any extra fat on the meat. Spoon some of the braising liquid over the meat to keep it moist. Top the nachos with the beef when you are ready to serve.
- Add any additional toppings you desire to the nachos such as queso, pickled jalapeños pico de gallo, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, or beans.