Maple Bourbon Braised Short Ribs

The title of these maple bourbon braised short ribs says it all. Meaty short ribs are braised in a brew of bourbon, maple syrup, beef broth, tomato paste, and herbs until amazingly tender.

A green plate containing sweet potato puree, topped with 2 pieces of short rib. A Dutch oven is beside the bowl with more short ribs.

These maple bourbon-braised short ribs are sorta like candy. Yep, they’re that sweet. Not that we’re complaining. Just saying, be prepared for dessert and dinner in one lovely mashup. The author serves these alongside mashed sweet potatoes, which is lovely…although any mash would be lovely served alongside to soak up the short rib awesomeness. Originally published Renee Schettler Rossi

Maple Bourbon Braised Short Ribs

  • Quick Glance
  • (10)
  • 45 M
  • 3 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
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Ingredients

  • For the braised short ribs
  • For the glaze (optional)

Directions

Make the braised short ribs

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

Pat the short ribs dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. In a 5-quart (4.7-l) Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil. Working in batches, add the short ribs and sear until browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium and let the Dutch oven cool ever so slightly. Leave all that glorious mess of oil and drippings from searing the ribs in the Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bourbon and maple syrup and cook until reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the broth, rosemary, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce. Nestle the short ribs in the sauce. The ribs should be almost completely covered with liquid; if necessary, add a little more broth or water (about 1/2 cup) to cover the ribs.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook, stirring every 45 minutes, until the ribs are very tender, 2 to 3 hours. Transfer the ribs to a serving platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil and let them rest for at least 10 minutes.

Make the glaze (optional)

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the maple syrup and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until reduced to a thick glaze, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve

Uncover the ribs. There may be some congealed fat on top of the ribs, which can be scooped off before serving. Divvy the ribs among plates and drizzle the glaze, if using, over the ribs. Serve right away.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This braised short ribs recipe was a roaring success! The sweetness of the maple and bourbon permeated the tender meat and every bite was succulent and delicious. Like most braised dishes, these short ribs were even better the next day. The glaze was a nice touch but wasn’t really necessary as the meat was so rich and delicious on its own. I served it with chipotle mashed sweet potatoes to add some heat to the plate and roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon and balsamic vinegar. This recipe worked perfectly and had well-written, clear instructions. My only quibble is that there was a lot of grease on top of the dish that needed to be spooned off before serving. However, I made it a day ahead of time and was able to easily remove the solidified fat after a night in the fridge.

This is easily my favorite recipe that I’ve had the pleasure to test so far—rich beef flavor and a fragrant, tangy sweet sauce. I used an excellent single-grain Ontario rye whisky, which has been described as having a "feistiness of flavor" that I find appealing. The recipe was simple and yielded fantastic results that left us all wanting more. I used just over 3 pounds bone-in short ribs and it made enough for 3 people when served with skillet potatoes and charred broccolini. I gave the ribs a nice sear—about 3 minutes. I had roasted garlic earlier in the week and used that as well. The sauce was just about enough to cover the meat; I only had to add another 1/4 cup water. The ribs were cooked to a perfect texture after 2 hours. I added a little whisky to the glaze, just for the flavor. Next time, I’ll make more of the glaze just because it was so good.

WOW! This braised short ribs recipe produced the best braised short ribs I’ve made in a long time. We found the ribs tender and juicy with little fuss in the making. After 2 hours in the oven, they were done to perfection, no additional broth or water needed. I did remember to stir once and then forgot the rest of the time, but no harm done as nothing stuck to the pan. The glaze was very quick to make in just 6 or 7 minutes and then we were ready to serve. I had some mashed sweet potatoes ready for serving and we found them the perfect accompaniment for the ribs. My tasters found the ribs to be not overly sweet considering the amount of maple syrup in the recipe and glaze. Since the sweet potatoes were mashed with just salt, pepper, and butter, they didn't compete with the taste of the ribs. The bourbon was a light note in the background taste, so next time I might add a splash to the glaze as well. We served this with sautéed greens and iced tea. A simple recipe with stellar results. I think these would work well with bone-in short ribs. Also, I think the glaze would be really good on pork ribs.

This braised short ribs recipe with maple and bourbon takes two classic all-American flavors—bourbon and maple syrup—and combines them into a deeply flavorful sauce for short ribs. And since short ribs need to be cooked low and slow, there is plenty of time for the these flavors—plus onion, garlic and rosemary—to sink deep into the meat. Of course, the flip side is that the aromas fill the kitchen and make you want to snatch the ribs out of the oven and dig in even with an hour to go. This recipe is a good lesson in patience. It's a pretty straightforward preparation—searing the ribs on all sides, then sautéing the onion and garlic, then reducing the bourbon and maple mixture to really amp up the concentration and flavor factors. The whole thing—all done in one pot (the ever valuable Dutch oven)—goes into the oven. The trickiest part was making the glaze. Cook it too long (as I did) and once it cools it becomes like candy. Tasty candy, to be sure, but not a glaze.

I've made a lot of short rib recipes through the years, but this braised short ribs with bourbon and maple recipe may now be at the top of the list! DO NOT skip the glaze! The slight sweet and smoky taste of the glaze perfectly finished it all off. It took a full 2 1/2 hours for my short ribs to be totally tender. I cooked the ribs the day before serving and then cooled them off and refrigerated them overnight in the same Dutch oven I used for braising. The day of serving, I removed the hardened fat from the top and gently reheated everything for an hour before serving. The liquid in the recipe was sufficient for the braising; I didn’t need to add more. I served the ribs over the sweet potatoes as suggested, but they could also go over mashed Yukon Gold potatoes or homemade noodles. I don't think we can wait for winter to make these again!

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Comments

  1. These are in the oven now for our weekly Sunday dinner with our son. I think this is my 7th time making this dish – so simple, and yet so extraordinarily delicious. I’m sipping the Wild Turkey 101 I used while waiting the last few minutes of oven time before reducing the sauce, which is so fabulous one needn’t fuss with additional glaze. As usual, I use a boneless chuck roast cut into large pieces in lieu of short ribs. Will serve with Yukon gold mashed and oven roasted Brussels sprouts. Semolina bread, which I baked on Friday, for dipping.

    1. LOOOOOOOOOOVE all of what you just shared, Roni. All of it. Thank you so much for taking the time to let us and other readers know how terrifically this recipe works with a less-expensive cut. (I am a tremendous fan of a proper chuck roast.) Be safe and well.

  2. A food retailer sells a quart of a similar braising liquid for about $17. With my six hefty short ribs, I would have needed two of those and decided I didn’t want to put that much more money into the dish. So, I was glad to find this recipe. I only had brandy, no bourbon or whiskey, but it turned out just fine. Browning the short ribs in a pan would have taken a long time, so I opted for browning them in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, I started with the onions, tomato paste, garlic. I cooked the ribs for nearly four hours until the meat slipped off the rib. I prefer it at that texture.
    The liquid had not reduced. While the meat rested, I de-fatted it as much as possible, then reduced the liquid somewhat and thickened it with a Wondra flour slurry to produce a beautiful, delicious gravy. I didn’t make the glaze as the gravy had the basic flavors throughout. Everyone loved it. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. It looks amazing, Robert, and I’m delighted it worked out so well for you. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and photo with us.

  3. Made this with the Instantpot and it worked perfectly! I would reduce the amount of sugar though; a bit too sweet for us.

  4. These maple bourbon short ribs were very good. While the meat was very tender after 2 1/2 hours, I would probably cook the short ribs for at least 3 hours next time, just to break down any extra fat. In the future, I would cook the ribs the day before, refrigerate them in the cooking liquid, de-fat the cooking liquid, and then reheat the ribs. The cooking liquid is also really flavorful—it’s a shame not to use it/have it incorporated with the glaze. I served the ribs with mashed sweet potatoes (baked sweet potatoes mashed with Greek yogurt, salt, and pepper) and sautéed kale. I thought that the ribs needed some sort of acid. More tomato paste, or some sort of garnish? I typically make gremolata to put on short rib ragù.

    1. Many thanks, Sophia. I find that short ribs vary pretty dramatically from one batch to the next in terms of ideal cooking time, and I actually think some of it also has to do with the connective tissue as well as the fat. And yes, these are quite rich, so a little acid in some form wouldn’t be a terrible thing!

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