Beef cheek is a highly sought after cut of the cow. Cut from the jaw of the cow, around where the cow chews, it has a very unique and delicious flavor. Beef cheeks are often slowly cooked because the meat is a bit more tender. It can be slightly difficult to come by beef cheek, as not every butcher may have them. When they are found, they can be pricey.
If finding beef cheek is proving itself to be a little difficult, or maybe it’s a bit too pricey in your area at the moment, there are substitutes you can use to replace beef cheek in whatever dish you want to cook! Beef short ribs, chuck, brisket, beef oxtail, and lamb shanks are all great replacements for beef cheek.
Beef Cheek Substitutes
1. Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs are a delicious and popular cut of meat. They are thinly cut from the cow’s rib section, which usually come in sections of 3-4 ribs. They make good substitutes for beef cheek because they provide a similar hearty beef flavor, and can be thoroughly slow cooked as beef cheeks are. However, you don’t have to slow cook beef ribs, they can be marinated and cooked quickly if need be.
Beef chuck is the cow’s upper shoulder/neck area. It is usually where steaks and roasts come from. It is one of the more affordable cuts of meat, so if money is where you drew the line for beef cheek, chuck is a great alternative. Chuck is best cooked in a slow cooker, or cooked for pot roasts, like beef cheek is.
Brisket is just below the chuck, it comes from the lower chest of the cow. Brisket is the best bone free option, like beef cheek. Brisket is also much more common than beef cheek and is sold at most stores, however because of the brisket’s rising popularity in the past decade, the price of brisket is topping beef cheek in many areas.
4. Beef Oxtail
Oxtail comes from the tail of the cow. Oxtail becomes tender and beautifully juicy when slow cooked as you would with beef cheek, making it a great substitute. Oxtail is packed full of lots of nutrients that you wouldn’t normally get from other cuts of the cow, including marrow. Marrow is extremely good for you and delicious, though some people can’t stand it! It is definitely an acquired taste, but adds so much flavor to whatever dish you are cooking.
5. Lamb Shanks
If you are looking for a non-beef replacement for beef cheek, lamb shanks are a wonderful replacement. In general, they have a beefy flavor and they are moist and tender just like a beef cheek. Honestly, if you didn’t tell anyone in the room that the dish was made with lamb shanks instead of beef cheek, they probably wouldn’t notice the difference.
Beef cheek has a wonderfully tender flavor that is unique, however it can be achieved with a handful of other meats. Don’t worry if the beef cheek is far too expensive or it’s just impossible to find because you can get many different things.