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Short ribs are a classic "must make" sous vide dish that can really showcase just how unique sous vide food can be. The classic sous vide preparation is to cook them at 131&def;F (55°C) for 36 to 72 hours. For a more traditional result you can use any of the braise-like temperatures for a few days.
Short ribs are a classic "must make" sous vide dish. Due to the high fat content they can be cooked anywhere from 131°F to 185°F (55°C to 85°C) for 12 hours to 3 days and the final dish will greatly depend on the time and temperature you use. The end result will range from a traditional braise-like texture to a chewy steak, or anything in between.
Be sure you aren't confusing beef back ribs with the short ribs. They are a much more tender cut that needs different cooking times.
There are few different types of short ribs, as well as a few styles. The most common types are plate short ribs and chuck short ribs. They come from the plate and chuck primals, respectively.
Plate short ribs are usually fattier, while chuck is meatier and often tougher. Both types can be cooked in a pretty similar manner, and the differences in the individual cow will make almost as much difference as the cut.
There are two main ways you can prepare short ribs are steak-like and braise-like.
For a melty, steak-like texture, cook the ribs at around 131°F (55°C) for 48 to 72 hours, they are worth the wait. If you prefer a more medium doneness, you can up the temperature to 140°F (60°C) for the same time range.
The 72 hour short ribs are one of the most well known sous vide cooks and they are always done at a regular steal-like temperature.
For the braise-like sous vide short ribs temperature I usually turn to 150°F (65°C) for between 1 and 3 days.
A more traditional, just starting to fall-apart texture will occur when cooked between 156°F and 176°F (68.9°C and 80.0°C) for a few days. The longer the short ribs cook, the more tender they become so an 18 hour cook will be firmer than a 36 hour cook at the same temperature.
For a truely fall-apart texture, you can sous vide the short ribs at 176°F for 12 to 24 Hours (80.0°C).
Flanken style, or Korean short ribs are basically plate short ribs that have been thin cut across the bone. Because they are so thin, they are often traditionally just grilled over high heat.
To replicate this traditional style, simple cook them until heated through, usually 30 to 60 minutes. I prefer 131°F (55°C) for medium-rare, but you can use your preferred temperature.
However, where sous vide really shines for flanken style ribs is when you tenderize it over a long time. My favorite preparation is to sous vide it at 131°F (55°C) for 1 to 2 days, then chill it and reheat it over high heat.
This makes it similar to the traditional Korean-style ribs, except it is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Sous vide short ribs are often used as an example of how amazing sous vide cooking can be, and with good reason. This is because short ribs are composed of very tough meat and in order to tenderize them enough to eat you have to raise them to a high enough temperature to break down their collagen.
With most techniques, such as braising, by the time all the collagen is broken down the temperature of the short ribs is too high and they are dried out and over cooked. Short rib dishes still taste incredible though, due to the amazing flavor of the meat, which normally turns into a nice sauce.
However, using sous vide to cook the short ribs means you can cook them at a low enough temperature that the meat will not only tenderize, but not squeeze out nearly as much moisture. You can even cook them where the temperature of the short ribs will stay a perfect medium rare. Resulting in a tender, moist, and perfectly cooked short rib.
There are many variations on sous vide short ribs. You can use different flavorings and seasoning and finish them differently when they come out of the water bath. Most of these recipes follow a certain formula that is the foundation of sous vide short ribs.
Even though short ribs have amazing flavor on their own, there are countless ways to season and flavor them. Normally you will rub the seasonings on the short ribs or place them into the pouch before vacuum sealing it. Here are some favorites but feel free to experiment as you like:
Place the short ribs and seasonings into the vacuum pouch and seal it using your vacuum sealer. If you don't have a vacuum sealer here are some more options for sealing sous vide food. If the bones on the short ribs are sharp, make sure you don't vacuum seal them too tightly or they could puncture the bag.
Pick the short rib temperature that you will use, and set the water temperature for the temperature you want for the sous vide short ribs, I use 131°F (55°C) for medium rare.
Place the short rib pouch into the heated water bath and cook it for between 36 and 48 hours.
For more information on the cooking times you can read my detailed article which addresses why is there a range in sous vide cooking times.
You can serve the sous vide short ribs as is, but many people either sear them off in a pan over high heat or quickly deep fry them in oil heated to 365F. This adds some nice texture to them and give them the classic seared look.
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Do you have experience cooking short ribs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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