I’m throwing it back to a classic that’s close to my heart: Short Rib Ragu served with pappardelle pasta!
Imagine tender, melt-in-your-mouth short ribs, slowly braised in a rich tomato and red wine sauce until perfection. It’s so incredibly delicious, you’ll keep going back for more.
This recipe is my go-to for those cozy nights when all I crave is a bowl of comfort. Plus, it’s a great make-ahead and freezer friendly recipe!
When it comes to Italian comfort food, there’s nothing better than a bowl of short rib ragu served with pappardelle pasta.
You’re going to love these fall-apart tender short ribs slowly braised in rich tomato and red wine sauce. Doesn’t that sound absolutely amazing?
This short rib ragu is the kind of dish I like to make on weekends. It does require time and effort, the final result is well worth it. The braising process takes about 3 hours, but this is the kind of dish that gets even better the next day. I always make ahead a big batch and enjoy it whenever comfort food cravings hit!
Why we love making this short rib ragu recipe:
- Fall-apart tender: Slow braising results in a fall-apart tender and melt-in-your-mouth ribs.
- So incredibly flavorful: The flavors in this slow braised short ragu are deep, rich, and robust. It’s SO, SO GOOD!
- Pairs well with anything, pappardelle pasta being my favorite. It’s also great with rigatoni pasta, creamy polenta, or even mashed potatoes.
- Make-ahead and freezer friendly: In fact, flavors get better and better the next day!
Below are a few notes on the ingredients you need to make this comforting short rib ragu. As always, the full ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card down below.
- Short tibs: Use bone-in beef short ribs, which are thick pieces of marbled bone-in meat. If you can’t find bone-in, boneless are fine too. Don’t get “flanken style,” as these are thin-cut.
- Onions, carrots, garlic: All finely diced. The vegetable base adds so much flavor and is cooked down until it pretty much “melts” with the sauce.
- Prosciutto: The finely chopped prosciutto adds a subtle saltiness and depth to the ragu, enhancing its overall complexity.
- Tomato paste and canned crushed tomatoes: This combination creates a robust base for the tomato sauce.
- Red wine: Wine adds so much richness and body to Italian tomato-based sauces, and for this recipe, it really stands out. I’d recommend Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Fresh thyme and rosemary: Fresh herbs bring a fragrant herbal note.
- Bay leaves: Throw in a couple of dried bay leaves for that subtle enhanced flavor.
- Whole milk: Adding whole milk imparts a subtle creaminess to the sauce, balancing the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Pappardelle pasta: This wide, flat pasta pairs perfectly with ragu.
- Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated for serving. You can also garnish the final dish with finely chopped Italian parsley.
- Olive oil, Kosher salt, and ground black pepper
Here’s an overview on how to make this amazing short rib ragu recipe to perfection.
Step 1 | Season and sear short ribs
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Trim any excess fat from the ribs, then season generously with salt and pepper. Add a few drizzles of olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or oven-proof pot over medium-high heat, and sear the meat until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
Tip: Let the short ribs sear undisturbed on all sides until a golden brown crust forms – this will lock in all the flavors.
Step 2 | Prepare the sauce
Start by building the flavors. In the same pot, add a few more drizzles of oil and sauté the carrots and onions until softened. Then, add the garlic for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Then, add the diced prosciutto and fresh herbs (thyme and rosemary) for another 2 minutes.
Incorporate the red wine and simmer for a few minutes until half-reduced. Then, stir in the tomato paste, canned crushed tomatoes, and bay leaves until combined.
Step 3 | Braise in the oven
Transfer the seared short ribs into the pot, nesting them under the sauce evenly. Bring to a simmer. Cover tightly with the lid and transfer to the preheated oven for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until fall-apart tender.
Step 4 | Shred the beef and finish sauce
Once ready, transfer the ribs to a plate and shred the meat. Discard the bones and any fatty tissue. Return the shredded meat into the sauce and stir in a generous splash of whole milk. The milk helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
Step 5 | Serve with pappardelle pasta
Cook the pappardelle pasta according to package directions until al dente. Before draining, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water just in case. Stir the cooked pappardelle into the short rib ragu, adding some of the reserved water if it’s too thick. To serve, garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and Italian parsley.
Make Ahead and Freezing
Among my favorite make-ahead dishes is this cozy short rib ragu. Its flavor improves overnight because the flavors develop further. This is one of my go-to things to make when I’m hosting because I can get everything ready the night before.
I’d recommend cooking the pasta right before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.
Make ahead: Refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days, but preferably serve the next day. Reheat over the stovetop.
Freezing: Freeze in containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat.
Serving and Pairing Ideas
When serving short rib ragu, my go-to choice is pappardelle pasta. Their broad shape allows the meat to easily cling to each bite. However, if unavailable, tagliatelle, rigatoni, and ziti are excellent alternatives.
Looking for more comforting Italian pasta dishes? Check these out:
- Rigatoni Bolognese
- Chicken Broccoli Alfredo
- Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Baked Italian Sausage Pasta
- Cheesy Baked Ravioli
- Skillet Lasagna
Pappardelle pasta is my go-to. Other great options: tagliatelle, rigatoni, ziti, gnocchi, creamy polenta, or mashed potatoes.
Yes! I’d recommend searing the short ribs and preparing the sauce over the stovetop first to develop the initial stages of flavors. Then, transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours.
Yes, that’s fine. I prefer bone-in because it imparts deeper flavors, but boneless will work too. If you can’t find either, boneless chuck roast will also work but not ideal.
Opt for a full-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to complement the richness of the dish.
Yes, but it may not have that deep, rich flavor. If you’d like to skip the wine, add a little bit of beef broth or reserved pasta water to taste to make sure the sauce isn’t too thick.
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and updated in January 2024 to include new photos and information, plus a few recipe modifications.
Tips for Success
- Bone-in beef short ribs should be readily available at grocery stores, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute with boneless short ribs.
- Patience is key: Get a good sear on the meat by allowing them to sear undisturbed until a golden brown crust forms. Also, let the ragu braise slowly for a full 2.5 to 3 hours. These 2 key steps ensure best flavor and fall-apart tender results.
- Make sure the carrots and onions are finely diced so that they “melt into the sauce” while braising.
- Use whole milk or half-and-half to finish the sauce. Heavy cream would make it too thick.
Short Rib Ragu
- 3 to 4 pounds 3 to 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs – excess fat trimmed
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ounces prosciutto, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced
- 1 cup red dry wine - Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 3 dried bay leaves
- ⅓ cup whole milk - plus more as needed
- 1 pound pappardelle pasta
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese - for garnish
- Chopped Italian parsley - for garnish
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Season short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides generously.
- In a large Dutch oven pot or oven-proof pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the short ribs on all sides until beautifully browned and a crust forms. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Tip: Let each side sear undisturbed for a better sear.
- Add a few more drizzles of oil to the pot. Cook the diced onions and carrot until softened, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and sauté for another 1 minute until fragrant. Then, stir in the diced prosciutto, thyme, and rosemary for another 1 minute or so.
- Stir in the red wine, scraping any brown bits from the pot using a wooden spoon. Bring to a simmer until half-reduced.
- Next, add the tomato paste, stirring to dissolve. Then stir in the canned crushed tomatoes and bay leaves until evenly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Return the seared short ribs to the pot, nesting them under the sauce. Bring to a simmer and cover with lid tightly. Transfer to the preheated oven for 2.5 to 3 hours, or until fall-apart tender.
- When ready, remove the short ribs from the pot and shred the meat with two forks, discarding the bones and any fatty tissue. Discard the bay leaves too. Return the shredded meat into the sauce. Finish with the whole milk – this will help balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Cook the pappardelle pasta according to package directions. Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1 cup of pasta water just in case. Add the cooked pasta into the short rib ragu sauce, tossing until evenly coated and incorporated. If needed, add a little bit of pasta water as needed to loosen up the sauce.
- Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and garnish with parsley. Enjoy!
- Use bone-in beef short ribs for this recipe. They usually come in thick 4-inch pieces. Do not use the thinly sliced ones, also known as “flanken short ribs.”
- Slow cooker method: Sear the short ribs and prepare the sauce over the stovetop first to develop the initial stages of flavors. Then, transfer everything to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8 hours, or HIGH for 4 hours.
- Make ahead: Make and refrigerate the sauce the night before. Reheat over the stovetop and serve with your favorite pasta.
- Freezing: Freeze the sauce in containers for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat over the stovetop.
- Bone-in short ribs: Boneless beef short ribs or boneless chuck roast will work too.
- Red wine: Omit, and add a splash of beef stock or reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if needed.
- Pappardelle pasta: Tagliatelle, rigatoni, ziti.
- Prosciutto: Pancetta (small-diced).
- Fresh herbs: If using dried, use about one third of the amount listed for fresh.