What Are Cross Cut Short Ribs: The Master Guide

Ribs, ribs, ribs, where would we meat lovers be without them?

Seriously though, if you don’t love ribs then you won’t be receiving an invite to my place this weekend for a cook-up of one of our favorites: beef short ribs.

BUT not just any short ribs. We’ve got our hands on the legendary, but the lesser-known cousin of beef ribs. Of course, we’re talking about cross-cut short ribs. 

If you’ve stumbled upon this slept-on cut of beef ribs, then I envy you as you’re about to try ribs in a whole new way.

Here’s what cross-cut short ribs are, how they’re different from classic beef short ribs, and hands-down the best way you can prepare them yourself at home.

If you’re a friend of meat, then surely you’ve heard of beef short ribs. This delectable cut of beef typically comes from the chuck primal, but technically you can get short ribs from the brisket, plate, or rib primal too.

The commonality between all types of short ribs is that they are delicious morsels of beef, encasing one or more rib bones of the cow, which adds additional flavor and moisture to the meat during the cook.

Cross-cut short ribs are simply short ribs that have been cut horizontally into about half-inch thick strips of beef which usually hold between three to five cross-cut rib bones.

Cross-cut short ribs can also be called Flanken cut beef short ribs or even Korean kalbi-style short ribs, a famous cut of beef used in Korean barbecue.

Classic Beef Short Ribs Vs. Cross-Cut Short Ribs

The classic American barbecue beef short rib is a rendition of the English cut beef short rib, where butchers purposefully cut the ribs to leave a nice hunk of beef sitting atop each rib bone. 

These classic beef short ribs can be served as either individual short ribs or on a rack of two-four bones, like you often see in the world of barbecue.

Cross-cut short ribs are butchered in quite the opposite fashion. Instead of leaving the whole rack of meat intact, cross-cut short ribs are sliced into half-inch thick strips of meat horizontally, cutting through the bone!

Traditionally you would slow cook or smoke classic short ribs, making use of the high fat and connective tissue content of the thick beef rib, creating an ultimate, melt-in-your-mouth experience.

On the other hand, cross-cut short ribs are more famously grilled hot and fast, making use of the shorter muscle fibers in the thinner cut of beef and taking advantage of the added moisture and flavor of the cross cuts of rib bone.

What Are Cross-Cut Short Ribs Good For?

Although you can slow cook, roast, braise, or even smoke cross-cut short ribs, their best prepared over a high-direct heat –  like a charcoal grill or a hot griddle pan.

Because of how thin they are they really only take a few minutes to cook properly, almost as if you were preparing a steak.

In Korean and Japanese cuisine, cross-cut short ribs are popularly used in famous dishes like kalbi (Korean grilled cross-cut short ribs) and yakiniku (Japanese grilled meat) – marinated in a potent soy-based sauce and grilled over high heat like in classic Korean barbecue to serve.

How Do You Cook Cross-Cut Short Ribs?

Here’s how I cook cross-cut short ribs to perfection, every time.

For 4-5 pounds of cross-cut short ribs, start with a strong, flavorful marinade, helping add flavor AND tenderizing the meat before cooking:

  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¼ cup of mirin or rice wine.
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 6 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2-3 finely sliced or crushed chili (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)

Make use of the large surface area of the cross-cut short ribs, laying them out flat on a tray or in a container, completely submerged in the marinade for 4-12+ hours.

When you’re ready to cook them, preheat a cast iron pan, griddle pan, charcoal grill, or electric grill to medium-high heat.

Being careful not to overcrowd your cooking space, start cooking your cross-cut short ribs over direct heat for 2-3 minutes per side.

They’re ready when they’ve reached an internal temperature of 145°F.  But, it’s easier to tell they are done when they’ve achieved a beautifully dark sear on both sides.

Garnish with finely chopped green onion, and serve immediately. 

Can You Smoke Cross-Cut Short Ribs?

If you’re brave enough, you can really smoke any type of meat, or anything really!

But truly, you CAN smoke cross-cut short ribs, but traditionally they are best cooked grilled hot and fast.

If you’re smoking cross-cut short ribs, they are much more likely to dry out during the session due to the high surface area and thin nature of the meat. 

Now You Know

Cross-cut short ribs are simply short ribs that have been cut horizontally instead of vertically, creating some beautifully thin strips of beef with a number of cross-cut rib bones running through them.

They’re best cooked hot and fast over smoldering charcoal or a hot griddle pan like they do in traditional Korean barbecue or Japanese yakiniku.

Although beef short rib is a naturally tough cut of meat, cross-cut short ribs are cut thinly to shorten the muscle fibers. This, plus the tenderization from the marinade and hot and fast grilling can turn them ridiculously flavorful and tender.

Some even like to suck on the bones to extract all those crazy delicious flavors!

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