What can I use instead of beef cheeks? The best substitutes for beef cheeks are beef cuts suitable for braising, like brisket, chuck, oxtail, short rib, shank, arm roast, bottom round, and tongue. Pork cheeks and lamb shanks are good alternatives.
Beef or ox cheeks are from the hard-working facial areas of the animal, so the muscles are tough, sinewy, and joined by connective tissue. This unusual cut is available at butcheries and is worth slow-cooking into a delicious, rich stew or casserole. Beef cheeks are also tasty when braised and smoked. We recommend these ten substitutes for beef cheeks.
The Best Beef Cheeks Substitutes
Brisket is the ideal substitute for beef cheeks.
This cut comes from the animal’s lower chest, is fatty and muscular, and cooks down into tender, luscious meat, retaining a slight grain.
Brisket is the traditional cut for corned beef and is ideal for pot roasts.
Like beef cheeks, brisket is boneless and suited to long cooking, especially in the oven or crockpot. Use brisket instead of beef cheeks for Texas BBQ, shred it for tacos, or stir it through pasta.
Use the same amount of brisket as you would beef cheeks.
Chuck roast or blade roast makes a perfect replacement for beef cheeks.
Chuck is a cut from between an animal’s neck and shoulder blade, so it is pretty fatty and can contain bone and connective tissue. Traditionally, chuck was used to make hamburgers and ground meat.
However, slow-cooking chuck turns it into a fork-tender, flavorful treat, so it has become the standard meat for pot roast.
This cut makes an excellent substitute for beef cheeks because it’s economical, always available, and suited to the same cooking methods.
Use similar quantities of boneless chuck roast instead of beef cheeks for curries, beer, and wine-based casseroles. Chuck is also suitable for shredding, making tacos, or sliders.
Another excellent substitute for beef cheeks is oxtail.
Like beef cheeks, oxtail has been popularized by the nose-to-tail eating movement, where all parts of the animal are used.
Being from the tail, oxtail contains several bones and cartilage, as well as some fat, all of which cook down into a sweet, buttery meatiness.
Oxtail can replace beef cheek as it has a similarly silky texture and beefy flavor when slow-cooked.
Use oxtail instead of beef cheek when making soups, stews, or casseroles. Braise oxtail in a crockpot or oven with red wine until it falls off the bone.
You will need to purchase more oxtail than beef cheeks since it contains several large and small bones, while beef cheeks are boneless.
Short rib also makes an excellent alternative to beef cheeks.
This popular cut, a piece of rib bone surrounded by meat, is from the cow’s lower ribcage behind the brisket. Because it contains a lot of bone and connective tissue, it needs an extended cooking period to tenderize.
Use short rib instead of beef cheeks in a braise or stew and is a great alternative to beef cheeks for smoking and barbequing.
Like oxtail, short rib contains sections of bone, so you need more short rib than beef cheeks as it isn’t as meaty.
Another tasty beef cut that you can use instead of beef cheeks is shank.
A beef shank is a cut from the shin of the animal, meaning it contains bone and connective tissue.
Because the leg bears weight continually, the muscles are developed and can be stringy if not cooked low and slow.
Beef shank makes a delectable Osso Bucco, stroganoff, or Beef Provençal, so it is ideal for creating a casserole in the crockpot. It has a deeply savory flavor. Use boneless shank in the same quantities as beef cheeks.
Arm roast, from the shoulder of the animal, makes a pocket-friendly alternative to beef cheeks.
Cut from between the neck and chuck, arm roast is also called arm chuck and clod. The arm roast contains bone and meat and can be lean and fibrous if overcooked or cooked too quickly.
However, with gentle cooking, arm roast becomes succulent and flavorsome, making it a tasty substitute for beef cheeks. Arm roast makes a lovely pot roast, braise, or slow-cooked stew.
Note that arm roast contains bone, so you will need more of it than beef cheeks.
Bottom round, outside round, or silverside makes a suitable alternative to beef cheeks.
The bottom round cut is taken from above the shank, part of the cow’s hindquarters. It is a muscular section like the shank, so it needs gentle, extended cooking to soften.
However, this is a relatively lean cut, so you must take care not to overcook it.
The bottom round is ideal for a hearty stew, soup, and chili. It can replace beef cheeks in equal proportions but does not get as silky due to its leanness.
An unusual substitute for beef cheeks is beef tongue.
Beef tongue, whether fresh, smoked, or pickled, is a flavorsome option and is once more popular as animals are eaten nose to tail. It has a sweet, delicate flavor.
Tongue needs extended cooking to become tender, so you can use similar methods to beef cheeks.
Keep in mind that tongue is usually served as a standalone dish with a spicy or tangy sauce, not as part of a stew with veggies.
Replace beef cheeks with beef tongue 1:1.
If you can’t get beef cheeks, use pork cheeks as a substitute.
Pork cheeks have many similar characteristics to beef cheeks, being muscular and tending to stringiness if poorly prepared.
However, this cut becomes utterly delectable when braised for a couple of hours.
Use long-braised pork cheeks instead of beef cheeks to make a ragù with polenta or mash. Shred the meat into a pasta or ramen bowl, or used it in tacos.
Pork cheeks are smaller than beef cheeks, so buy the same weight of meat, not the number of cheeks.
Instead of beef cheeks, you can use lamb shanks.
Despite their bones and connective tissue, lamb shanks have become sought-after in restaurants. Gently braised, this meat becomes sweet and falls off the bone, which accounts for its popularity.
Replace beef cheeks with lamb shank if you want a luxurious curry, shredded meat, or a hearty stew with veggies.
Lamb shanks contain large bones, so you need to plan for one shank per person.