Beef Shank Substitute? What Can You Use?

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Daydreaming about a Sunday beef shank roast and then realizing you don’t have any beef shank at home can be very disappointing. Instead, you find a bag of frozen oxtail in your freezer, which has you wondering…

Are there beef shank substitutes, and what can you use?

Beef shank has several tasty substitutes, such as spare ribs, beef arm roast, chuck roast, silverside beef, pork shoulder, and oxtail. Other popular substitutes include a skirt, veal shank, and lamb shank.

If you struggle to tenderize beef shank but you really want a substitute that’s just as tasty, then this guide will provide you with all the mouthwatering substitutes you’ll need.

What Is a Beef Shank?

Beef shank is a cut of meat that’s extremely popular among people on high-protein diets. This particular cut of meat is very low in fat and can be used in various recipes. 

Beef shank is also used to make jerky as it’s quite a dry meat.

Apart from the fact that this cut of meat is easy to come by, it’s also one of the most affordable and cheapest cuts of meat in local butchers or grocery stores. 

Beef shank can be cooked using the following methods:

  • You can braise the meat by browning it in oil first and then allowing it to cook slowly in a covered pot or pan with a small amount of liquid.
  • You can cook the shank in a slow cooker and add beef broth to keep it moist. This can take up to 6 hours.
  • You can cook the shank in an air fryer at 400℉ for about 12 minutes.
  • You can also grill or roast a beef shank in the oven, but you’ll need to keep basting the meat as it can dry out even further.

What Cut of Meat Is a Beef Shank?

A beef shank is cut from a cow or bull’s leg area (beneath the brisket). It includes the meat just above the knee to the hip or shoulder. This particular area has plenty of connective tissue due to muscle use and is high in collagen, making the meat sinewy and quite tough.

One of the best ways to serve beef shank is by making beef bourguignon, a famous French stew.

Top Tip: The best way to soften beef shank is by slow (or low) cooking it in a sauce for 3 to 6 hours. Red wine or tomato juice also helps tenderize the meat so it falls off the bone and provides a good flavor.

5 Best Beef Shank Substitutes

Here’s a look at 5 of the best beef shank substitutes you can use:

1. Beef Arm Roast

A beef arm roast is an excellent substitute for the beef shank. The cut of meat is from the shoulder of the cow or bull. 

Beef arm roast is also known as the round bone pot roast. The meat can also be cut into smaller chunks, known as arm steak or Swiss steak, which is perfect for making stews.

This meat will need to be cooked for an extended period of time, just like a beef shank. The main difference is this cut of meat has far more fat, making it slightly more juicy and flavorful.

2. Chuck Roast

Another substitute for beef shank is a chuck roast. This cut of meat is quite similar to the beef arm roast. 

The main difference is the chuck roast is cut from the neck area. Just like a beef shank, this meat is pretty tough and has plenty of sinews and muscles.

Chuck roast is best prepared by braising the meat and using a slow cooker or cooking on low heat for an extended period. Another option is to pot roast the chuck roast.

3. Silverside Beef

Silverside beef is the meat cut from a cow’s hindquarters (between the rump and the leg). This is a perfect substitute for beef shank as the meat is also tough due to the muscles found in the hindquarters.

The meat also doesn’t have much fat, which makes it a good option for diet-conscious people. Unlike beef shank that has a large bone, silverside beef is boneless. 

This meat is great for roasting, soups, dicing, and steaks.

4. Pork Shoulder

Surprisingly, pork shoulder makes one of the best substitutes for beef shank. The meat is cut from the lower part of a pig’s front leg and has a similar texture to a beef shank. 

Pork shoulder has a much higher fat content and a more robust flavor.

Once the meat has been braised, it will turn a dark brown, and you can replace beef shank in recipes such as beef bourguignon and pot roasts.

5. Oxtail

Oxtail is an excellent cut of meat to substitute beef shank with. In the past, the meat came from the tail of an ox, but today, it’s taken from both the cow and the bull. 

The meat has a tailbone with rich marrow in the center.

The meat is rich and has much more fat than a beef shank. The meat is also quite tough as there are a lot of tendons in the tail. 

It’s important to know that oxtail is slightly more expensive than the beef shank, but it has a fantastic flavor and absorbs spices and sauces well.

Oxtail, just like beef shank, brings out its best flavors when it’s slow-cooked or cooked in a pressure cooker. Another way to soften and enhance the flavors of the meat is to braise the meat in a casserole dish and leave it in the oven (on low heat) overnight.

Are Beef Shanks the Same as Short Ribs?

Although short ribs make a great substitute for beef shanks, they aren’t the same. Beef shank is the cut of meat from a cow’s leg, and short ribs are from the cow’s rib, brisket, chuck, or plate area.

Short ribs also don’t need to be cooked for as long as a beef shank does, as they’re a much more tender cut of meat.

My Last Foodie Thoughts 

Beef shank served on a buttery helping of mashed potatoes is the ultimate comfort meal. But let’s be honest, sometimes the meat is too tough, and you must chew for almost a full minute before you can swallow. 

Luckily, plenty of tasty substitutes are available that taste just as good (and some even better) than a beef shank. 

So if your recipe calls for the beef shank and you don’t have any in the fridge, or if you’re tired of chewing until your jaw hurts, try one of these substitutes instead.

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