These Bourbon Braised Short Ribs with Honey and Fig Mac and Cheese recipe is your newest indulgent dinner. Tender short ribs and perfectly cooked pasta are tossed in a rich cheese sauce featuring honey and fig cheese and chevre!
Short Ribs made in Dutch Oven
This Honey Bourbon Short Ribs recipe will satisfy your craving for comfort food. Every time. Slowly braised beef short ribs in bourbon paired with a rich honey and fig mac and cheese is a grown-up version of a classic food that is begging to devoured! It’s short rib mac and cheese for grown-ups.
- Olive Oil – this is used to sear the short ribs before cooking.
- Short Ribs – look for bone-in short ribs that are well-marbled for the best texture.
- Onion – sautéing onion with the short ribs helps create a flavor base for the whole dish.
- Honey Bourbon, Honey, Beef Stock – these three ingredients come together to create our braising liquid.
- Salt and Pepper – you’ll season the meat with salt and pepper before braising.
- Pasta – you can use any smaller pasta shape you like.
- Butter and Flour – forms a roux that helps thicken the cheese sauce.
- Heavy Cream and Milk – creates a rich and creamy base for the cheese sauce.
- Honey and Fig Cheese – yes, it’s fancy but it’s worth it!
- Chevre – the goat cheese adds a delicious tang that cuts the sweetness of the honey.
- Worcestershire Sauce – rounds out the sweet creaminess with its salty flavor.
How to make this recipe
Heat oil in a Dutch oven. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides and place them into the braiser. Add the onions. Brown the ribs on all sides.
Deglaze the pan with bourbon. Stir in the honey and beef stock. Place the lid on the Dutch oven, transfer the whole pot to the oven, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 20 minutes.
While the ribs are cooking, prepare the pasta according to package directions, then drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute before whisking in the cream and milk. Stir in the cheese until melted through, then add the Worcestershire sauce.
Once the ribs have cooked through, shred the meat from short ribs and discard the bones.
Add the pasta and cheese sauce to the braiser. Toss to coat, season as needed, then serve!
What does braising short ribs mean?
Braising is a two-part cooking process that is a whole lot less complicated than it sounds. It involves an initial sear that’s followed by a long, low, and slow cook time.
The benefit to braising is meat with an all-around better flavor and texture. The initial sear gives the meat a crispy exterior while the longer, slower cook time tenderizes the meat and allows the flavor to really work its way in.
Scientifically speaking, it allows the fibers to break down and softened under moist heat. Which is what makes the signature fork-tender bite.
Do you have to brown short ribs before braising?
Not necessarily, but since braising involves the searing step, you will no longer technically have “braised” meat.
Searing the meat locks in flavor and creates a crust on the exterior of the meat. I definitely recommend taking the extra step. It’s so worth it!
What pasta to use for the honey fig mac and cheese
Any smaller pasta shape will work! Try shells, penne, fusilli, rotini, etc. I don’t recommend using larger/longer pasta shapes because those are much harder to mix with the cheese sauce.
What is the best cheese for mac and cheese?
Anything melty! When I make this recipe, I like to take the fancier route and indulge in a combination of honey and fig cheese and chevre, which is goat cheese. It’s a deliciously creamy, sweet, tangy, melty duo that’s hard to beat.
However, if you’d prefer to use something a little more mainstream, try sharp cheddar, gruyere, Monterey Jack, Swiss, gouda, or a combination. You can create a makeshift honey and fig cheese by adding chopped figs or a tablespoon of fig preserves.
- Cook the pasta al dente. Pasta with a little more structure holds up better in the creamy cheese sauce.
- Use low heat. Low heat allows the cheese time to melt without burning.
- Add veggies. If you want to incorporate some extra nutrition into your meal, cook up some onion, peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms to mix into the mac and cheese.
- Serve immediately. Homemade mac and cheese is best served fresh!
This bourbon braised short ribs with honey and fig mac and cheese recipe is a two-in-one dinner that doesn’t really need a whole lot else to be a complete meal. However, you can round it out with a simple green salad or a pile of steamed or roasted veggies if desired!
How to store
Leftovers will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, microwave, or warm on the stove with a splash of milk to thin. I don’t recommend freezing homemade mac and cheese because the texture of the sauce will be affected.
More beef inspiration
Bourbon Braised Short Ribs with Honey and Fig Mac and Cheese
- dutch oven
For the Honey Bourbon Braised Short Ribs
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 – 3 lbs bone in short ribs
- 1 onion sliced thin
- ⅓ cup honey bourbon
- 1 tbs honey
- ⅓ cup beef stock
- salt and pepper
For the Honey Fig Mac and Cheese
- 1 lbs dried pasta
- 3 tbs butter
- 3 tbs flour
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup milk
- 6 oz honey and fig cheese go on, buy that fancy stuff – or substitute with chopped figs or a tbs of fig perserves
- 6 oz chevre
- 1 tbs worchestershire sauce
Braise the Short Ribs
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat olive oil in a braiser or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
- Season the short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. and place in the braiser.
- Add the onions. Brown he short ribs on all sides.
- Deglaze the pan with the bourbon.
- Stir in the honey and beef stock.
- Put the lid on the braiser and carefully place in the oven.
- Cook for 45 minutes, remove the lid and cook 20 minutes longer – or until short ribs shred easily with a fork.
- Remove the meat from the Dutch oven and cover loosely with foil to rest while you make the macaroni and cheese.
- When meat has rested, shred the short ribs with two forks; discard the bones.
Make the honey fig mac and cheese
- Prepare pasta according to manufactures direction. Drain and set aside.
- In medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
- Whisk in the cream and milk.
- Stir in the cheese a little at a time until melted through.
- Add the Worcestershire sauce. and allow the sauce to thicken over low heat for a few minutes.
- Add the cooked pasta and cheese sauce to the Dutch oven with the shredded meat.
- Toss to coat.
- Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Ladel into bowls or dishes and serve hot. Plate with a little extra shredded beef on top.