March 28, 2013

72-Hour Braised Short Ribs

Collagen determines, to a large extent, whether cooked meat ends up tender or tough. It is also the determining factor in how long you should cook a given cut of meat. Collagen fibers are the biological equivalent of steel cabling, forming a mesh that holds bundles of meat fibers together. Proper cooking unravels the cable-like structure of collagen fibers and dissolves them into juices, transforming the tough collagen into tender gelatin.

In order to unravel collagen fibers, you must heat them. Heat causes the fibers to shrink, and the contracting mesh squeezes juices out of the meat. The hotter the cooking temperature, the more collagen mesh contracts, and the more juices are lost. If you cook the meat at lower temperatures, fewer of the collagen fibers shorten at any given point in the cooking process, so the mesh constricts the meat less. This is why meats retain more of their juices when cooked sous vide. But at lower temperatures, more time is needed to shrink, unravel, and dissolve enough of the collagen fibers to make the meat pleasantly tender.

Adapted from Modernist Cuisine

Recipe Tags

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ribs, vacuum seal

Though zip-top bags can often be used when cooking meat sous vide, long periods of cooking, such as what is called for here, require vacuum sealing.

Step 3 Slice from Bone

Cook the meat on the bone, and then slice it into 2-inch pieces just before serving.

ribs, final

We love serving these ribs with our red wine glaze on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.

Tips & Substitutions

  • We love cooking tough cuts of meat sous vide, like short ribs, brisket, and pork belly. For our Best Bets for Cooking Tough Cuts of Meat table, see page 228 of Modernist Cuisine at Home or page 3·109 of Modernist Cuisine.
  • We prefer bone-in ribs, but you can use boneless ribs as well.
  • While you can use a zip-top bag when cooking many sous vide recipes, longer cooking times, such as what is called for here, require using a vacuum sealer. Vacuum sealing is safer, more reliable, and will prevent oxidation and off-flavors.
  • In fact, when cooking sous vide for such extended periods, we often double vacuum seal the meat.
  • Cooking  the ribs at 62 °C / 144 °F for 72 hours will result in a tender, flaky meat with a pink hue, but you may prefer a different color or texture. By varying the cooking time and temperature, you can produce dramatically different textures. For example, to achieve the color and texture of medium-rare steak, cook the ribs sous vide at 58 °C / 136 °F for 72 hours. For something in between, cook the ribs at 60 °C / 140 °F, as we did in this recipe. For a very flaky temperature similar to a traditional braise, cook them at 88 °C / 190 °F for just 7 hours.
  • You can also make these ribs in a pressure cooker. Try cooking bone-in short ribs at 15 psi for 50 minutes.
  • If you are making the ribs in advance, immediately plunge the vacuum-sealed pouch into an ice bath when the ribs are done cooking, and then refrigerate them. Just before serving, slice the meat from the bones and then reheat the slices of meat in a sous vide bath, about 30 minutes.
  • To serve, cut the rib meat off the bone, and slice it into 2-inch cubes.
  • We like to serve these ribs with our Red Wine Glaze and Potato Puree from Modernist Cuisine at Home. We've also served them with a Wasabi Foam and Manischewitz Beef Jus, and we've smoked and cooked them sous vide and served them with our East Texas Barbecue Sauce (see page 5·79 of Modernist Cuisine).


  1. PeterJ March 28, 2013 Reply

    What effect if any will salting the meat before cooking have?

    • Cindy August 8, 2015 Reply

      it will make meat more charming.

  2. guy March 28, 2013 Reply

    @PeterJ: It will make the ribs more salty.

  3. vijay April 12, 2013 Reply

    After getting a sous vide supreme in December, 72 hour short ribs was the first recipe I tried and the results were terrible. The texture of the meat was superlative, but the taste and smell were unbearable.

    Thoughts on why? I think it could have been a number of things: quality of meat, excess fat and gristle on meat; pouch was not properly sealed. But I’m not sure

    I have since had a lot of success with smaller cook times, but have yet to try a long braise again.

    • Judy April 12, 2013 Reply

      Hi Vijay,

      As you say, a lot of variables could have contributed to your outcome. We recommend double-sealing the ribs since the cook time is so long. You may want to try again with better quality meat and try double-sealing it.

      • vijay April 12, 2013 Reply


    • Peter March 30, 2015 Reply

      It is important to make the meat as sterile as possible when sous vide cooking long hours.
      To kill all bacteria before sous vide, place the rib under til grill for 5-10 min max heat.

  4. Chandra May 23, 2013 Reply

    two questions:

    1. For long-period SV cooking, does the type of vacuum sealing matter – specifically, chamber vac vs. Foodsaver-style?

    2. Any further help on helping meat keep a particular shape by pre-wrapping it in plastic wrap before sealing? I don’t seem to understand how that works, on a basic level. Would that layer of shape-keeping plastic wrap, combined with a single vacuum bag, serve as a jury-rigged “double seal?”

  5. Harriet June 14, 2015 Reply

    I was disappointed to find that if the food I was trying to vacuum seal had a lot of moisture in it it would not vacuum seal. Works well to reseal things like chip and cereal bags. Vacuum sealing not so great.

  6. Karyn Allen September 14, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for the great tips.

  7. Monty October 14, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for this great post . Very informative . I agree with you about Vacuum sealing is safer, more reliable, and will prevent oxidation and off-flavors.A vacuum food sealer extends the life of your food by about 5 times by vacuuming out the oxygen, and sealing the food in safely. Oxygen is what causes spoiling of the food, so by blocking it out you protect your food from spoiling.I have it I know it’s importance .

  8. Eloise Jennings October 21, 2015 Reply

    You show me what is new and beautiful in home design.

  9. Martha Canez November 20, 2015 Reply

    Its a great recipe. I will give a try today.thanks for sharing!!!

  10. Mary stevenson December 22, 2015 Reply

    Beef short ribs sous vide for 72 hrs at 144*. Fantastic! Dried ribs w paper towels, brushed olive oil on and put under broiler

  11. SavoieNeal December 25, 2015 Reply

    look delicious, thanks for great tips

  12. Vanish David January 19, 2016 Reply

    My parents got us a Food Saver for Christmas last year and this is perhaps one of the best gifts we’ve received. I have been saving and freezing food items regularly now and it has helped with our food bill, budget, and stopping waste. Since it’s just the two of us sometimes it’s hard to keep food fresh. The Food Saver helps with all this.

  13. Ray Kevin March 15, 2016 Reply

    Cooking the ribs at 62oC / 144oF for 72 hours seems too long to wait, but if it’ll offer a good taste and better storage, why don’t we try. The post is really interesting, I love this recipe of braised ribs too.

  14. Melanie December 7, 2016 Reply

    Love this recipe. It’s one of the easiest and most delicious modernist recipes I’ve tried. Only had bad results once when the bag punctured (the smell was putrid!), and have never grilled or otherwise cooked beforehand. Now I always double bag.

  15. DonG January 14, 2017 Reply

    Air is your enemy–a good vacuum and seal is your friend! I season the short-ribs with a little sea salt, cracked black pepper and mist with a little EVO (or use a paper-towel to put just a little olive oil on each rib). Smaller plastic bags with fewer ribs is better than bigger bag with more ribs (I prefer to use 4 bags each with 1 short rib-rather than 1-to-2 larger bags with multiple ribs). I use FoodSaver 8″ bags (from a roll). I double seal the bottom, put 1 short rib in each bag and place in freezer for 10-20 mins to par-freeze the ribs (to remove any moisture) -then take out the ribs and vacuum-seal each bag being very careful to remove as much air as possible – and then double seal the top of the bag. If you don’t have confidence you have a really good seal on a bag- you should “double bag”. Any leak/puncture will ruin the meat – too much air when you double bag – and the bags will float a bit. Turn every 8-12 hours. 48-72 hours (depending on the temperature you use) and these short-ribs turn-out amazing.

  16. Greta April 4, 2017 Reply

    Takes a long time to make but it is worth it! Thank you!

  17. Ash May 25, 2017 Reply

    If the seal isn’t good. You are simply stewing the meat for 72 hours. All the flavour has gone into the water. Happened to me cooking lamb for a long period. Seal went and out came something smelling of dog poo

  18. Brian McFarland January 11, 2018 Reply

    I live in Thailand, and having been grought up on grain-fed western beef in the States, I can categorically say I’ve never had a decent bit of local beef in Thailand. Gave this recipe a try…put a vacuum-sealed bag into a vacuum-sealed bag, and it worked perfectly! 72 hours, tender but not mushy, perfectly cooked, flavorful…finished it off marinating for an hour in my own BBQ sauce, then searing in a hot pan. Took a chance by serving it to friends last night – we prepped 1-1/2 kgs of meat, and with four of us, none was left! Huge success! Thanks so much for this recipe.

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