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10 Good Beef Shank Substitutes for Cooking You Must Know

Beef shank, or leg of beef, is one of the most flavorful and inexpensive cuts on a cow. It makes an excellent roast when cooked correctly,  but it can be hard to find at some grocery stores.

Luckily, many meat markets sell beef shank in bulk (much more affordable), which you can cut into smaller pieces to have on hand for future use.

You can also substitute beef shank with any of these cuts below when it’s not available.

What Is Beef Shank?

The beef shank is a long skinny piece of beef from a lower half of a leg. It’s deficient in fat and extremely high in protein. Beef shanks are not often seen in shops due to their lack of sales. However, they are very cheap.

It is often used in braising, stewing, or boiling because they are tough and benefit from long cooking times.

beef cuts

Beef Shank Other Names

  • Beef Fore Shank
  • Cross Cut Shank
  • Beef Osso Bucco

Is beef shank the same as oxtail?

They are not the same thing. Oxtail has a higher fat content than a beef shank.

What’s more, they are two completely different cuts of beef. Beef shank comes close to the bone marrow and muscle tissue, whereas oxtail is cut from near the rear of cattle.

What Is a Good Substitute for Beef Shank?

Are you craving beef shank, but there is none at home? Don’t worry. Here are ten beef shank substitutes.

1. Beef Tendon

chinese style beef tendon
Chinese Style Beef Tendon

The first option we have for you is the beef tendon. This cut of meat is a suitable alternative to a beef shank. If you enjoy tough meats with lots of fiber, you will enjoy this particular part of beef.

Beef shanks do not have much fat content as they are cut from the cow’s shin. Similarly, the tendons have low-fat content. They are lean and have a firm texture, much like gelatin. And they are perfect for slow cooking. If you have tasted pork belly, you will get a hint of how the tendons are.

You can use this meat to substitute dishes that usually use beef shanks. An excellent way to cook tendons is to rinse them in cold water and marinate it in soy sauce. Next, you want to let it simmer and slow cook for at least 3-4 hours. You can add plenty of seasonings to enhance the taste.

Beef tendons are a mainstay in many popular Asian recipes. They use tendons for soups and stews, slow cooking them with various vegetables. In many street food stalls in China, Japan, etc., tendons are served with homemade noodles for a delicious treat.

2. Short Ribs

instant pot short ribs
Instant Pot Short Ribs

Short ribs are another portion of meat as tasty as a beef shank. They might be called ribs but are not actually from the rib portion. Short ribs are extracted from the chuck portion, i.e., the neck, upper arm, and shoulder.

Short ribs are chewy and stiff cuts of meat. But in terms of flavor, they pack a punch. This is why they are popular for barbecue nights. Most people enjoy them smoked and grilled. But you can braise them or separate the meat from the bone.

Other than roasting them, you can use short ribs for stews and soups. Slow cooking them will release the richness from the tender bones. And the meat also falls off effortlessly from the bone.

3. Beef Arm

arm roast
Arm Roast

Another good alternative for beef shank is the arm. This cut comes from the cow’s shoulder. And since the shoulder area is mobile during most of their lifetime, the meat is tough. What’s more, both the shank and arm share the same part of the animal.

The chewy and tough texture makes this cut suitable for slow-cooked recipes. It also tastes great when braised or roasted.

And let’s not forget that these portions have the right amount of fat in them. Once cooked perfectly, the fats get absorbed and release their flavor. Hence, they are a good substitute for beef shanks.

4. Chuck Roast

The chuck roast portion of meat is another part of the cow’s shoulder. They are more or less similar to beef arms. But they differ slightly in texture as they are cut between the shoulder and neck. Hence, you can expect a less rigid surface than a beef shank.

Chuck roasts are perfect for those who prefer a less chewy meat texture. They are a combination of both tender and stiff muscled meat. But unlike shanks, they are less stressful on your teeth.

Because of their mixed texture, chucks are an excellent option for ground or minced meat. They also taste great, slow-cooked or braised.

5. Silverside or Corned Beef

silverside or corned beef

Another great option to replace beef shank is silverside or corned beef. Both silverside and shank share the same portion, i.e., the leg. The difference lies in the way the two lumps of meat are cut.

Silverside is taken from the outside portion above the leg. They get the name from their “silvery” appearance on the side of the meat. And like all leg cuts, the meat is quite sturdy. Plus, they have little to no fat in them.

Slow cooking is the best way to cook tough meats like silverside. Braise them with your favorite stocks or wine. And add your favorite veggies and plenty of seasoning for a delicious dish.

6. Veal Shank

braised veal shank
Braised Veal Shank

The veal shank is another sturdy cut of meat to replace your standard beef shanks. They come from male calves and are extracted from both the front and back legs. They typically come in cross-cuts exposing a part of the shin.

Much like beef shanks, the veal constitutes a muscular section. And if the animal is matured, you can expect tougher meat portions. When you buy one, ask the butcher for hind shanks. They are the most significant portion and have an ample amount of meat.

Veal shanks are a key ingredient in many dishes. The most popular among them is the infamous Italian dish, Osso Bucco.

7. Oxtail

oxtail stew
Oxtail Stew

The oxtail is another favorite substitute for the beef shank. And much like the name suggests, it comes from the animal’s tail.

But you’re probably wondering how a tail portion can replace a shin portion of meat. Well, you have to taste it first, and you’ll know what we’re talking about.

It is a lean type of meat and has a unique and rich flavor. And if you want to try it, you should know that it is costly. The flesh doesn’t look appetizing raw. But once cooked, you’ll be blown away by the aroma and flavors.

8. Skirt Steak

grilled skirt steak
Grilled Skirt Steak

Skirt steak, like beef shank, is a solid portion of meat. Although most people don’t prefer this portion, you can get unique flavors if cooked correctly.

Skirt steaks are taken from below the ribs and have plenty of connective tissues. To get the best out of this, cut it along the grain, and cook it to medium or rare.

Another plus point of skirt steak is that we can prepare them in more ways than shanks. You can grill it slow or fast, roast it on the coals, braise it, etc. However, you need to take extra care while preparing this kind of meat.

9. Round Steak

marinated top round steak
Marinated Top Round Steak

Round steak is another good beef shank substitute. Since they’re extracted from the rear of the cow’s hindquarters, they are firm and slender. They are tight because this portion of the leg gets plenty of exercises.

We can further divide round steaks into four different cuts. They are Top round, the eye of round, bottom round, and the sirloin tip. These cuts are available in the market as steaks or roasts.

People don’t favor round steaks as much as others because they lack flavor. But with a few tricks, you can prepare a delicious meal. They are also suitable for preparing beef jerky, deli meat, steaks, etc.

10. Beef Neck

This portion of meat, taken from the neck, is another versatile replacement for the beef shank. Unlike other cuts, you can cook the neck meat however you want. If you love chewing your meat longer, cook it quickly. For tender meat lovers, you can slow cook it.

What’s more, the beef neck is ideal for soups and broths. Slice them, mix them with fresh vegetables and seasonings, and slow cook them for an appetizing meal. Or you can slather them with your favorite barbecue rubs and grill them to taste.

Recipes with Beef Shank

Beef Shank Soup


Braised Beef Shank


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Final Words

If you’ve been looking around for a beef shank substitute but haven’t found one yet, don’t worry! We have tons of other cuts that can do the trick.

Add a tasty beef shank substitute to your meal plan. Or, go out and get some beef shanks whenever you can find them. Either way, they are both excellent options.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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