How to Cook Beef Cheeks for Melt-In-Your-Mouth Tenderness

Beef cheeks are an underutilized and inexpensive cut of meat that deliver incredible flavor and tenderness when cooked properly. Often referred to as “the king of slow cooking beef cuts”, beef cheeks require long, slow cooking to break down the tough connective tissues and transform them into succulent, fork-tender pieces of meat.

While beef cheeks may not be the most popular or familiar cut at your local butcher or grocery store, they are worth seeking out for their superlative flavor and texture when prepared through slow, moist-heat cooking methods. Here is a complete guide to selecting, preparing and cooking beef cheeks so you can enjoy thiseconomical cut that eats like a luxury.

A Guide to Buying Beef Cheeks

Where to Buy Beef Cheeks

  • Mainstream grocery stores like Woolworths, Coles or IGA. Check the dedicated meat department.

  • Your local butcher shop. Ask the butcher if they can source beef cheeks for you.

  • Specialty online meat purveyors.

What to Look For When Selecting Beef Cheeks

  • Choose beef cheeks that are brightly colored and rich red in tone with some nice marbling flecks throughout.

  • Avoid any with dry, dull or brown looking areas which indicates oxidation.

  • Plan on 225-350g per cheek when buying. Larger cheeks over 350g may require longer cooking.

How Much to Buy?

  • Figure 225-350g of beef cheeks per person, which equates to:

    • 2 small cheeks per serve

    • 1 large cheek per serve

  • For a dinner party, get 2-3 cheeks per person to allow for leftovers.

Preparing Beef Cheeks Before Cooking

Inspect and Trim:

  • Rinse beef cheeks under cool water and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.

  • Visually inspect cheeks, trimming off any large pieces of shiny silver skin or excess fat with a sharp knife.

  • The cheeks should look neat and tidy, with minimal trimming needed.

Season the Cheeks:

  • Generously season the cheeks all over with salt and pepper. Use about 1 tsp salt total for 4 cheeks.

  • You can also use other dried spices like garlic powder, onion powder or paprika.

  • Season at least 40 minutes prior to cooking, or ideally 24 hours in advance for the best flavor penetration.

Searing is Optional, But Recommended:

  • Searing develops caramelized browning on the exterior which equals flavor.

  • Quickly brown the cheeks in a hot pan with a little oil until nicely crusted.

  • Remove cheeks as they are browned and set aside, then make your braising liquid.

How to Cook Beef Cheeks – 3 Methods

Beef cheeks shine when braised low and slow in a flavorful liquid until meltingly tender. Here are 3 easy methods for cooking beef cheeks at home.

Stovetop Braising

Time: 2 1⁄2 – 3 hours


  • Make an aromatic base with onions, carrots, celery, garlic and herbs. Sauté in oil for 3-5 minutes.

  • Pour in 1⁄2 cup red wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.

  • Add 2 cups beef stock along with dried herbs like thyme, bay leaves.

  • Return cheeks to the pot along with any accumulated juices. Liquid should come halfway up cheeks. Add more if needed.

  • Bring to a gentle simmer then cover pot. Cook at a low bubble for 2 1⁄2 – 3 hours, turning halfway through.

  • Cheeks are done when fork tender.

  • Strain out solids. Blend braising liquid into a sauce consistency.

Slow Cooker

Time: 8-10 hours on LOW


  • No need to sear the cheeks first when using a slow cooker.

  • Place cheeks in slow cooker and add aromatics and braising liquid ingredients.

  • Cook 8-10 hours on LOW until super tender.

  • Remove cheeks when done. Blend braising liquid into a sauce.

Oven Braising

Time: 3 1⁄2 – 4 hours

Temp: 160C / 325F


  • Sear cheeks first for flavor development.

  • Place in a Dutch oven or ovenproof lidded pot along with braising liquid.

  • Braise uncovered for the first hour.

  • Cover and cook at 160C/325F for 3 – 4 hours until extremely tender.

  • Puree braising liquid into a smooth sauce after removing cheeks.

Pressure Cooker

Time: 1 hour HIGH pressure


  • Skip searing first when using a pressure cooker.

  • Follow recipe but cook for 1 hour on HIGH pressure.

  • Use natural release method before opening lid.

  • Blend braising liquid into sauce after removing cheeks.

Tips for the Perfect Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks

  • Don’t skimp on salt – beef cheeks need ample seasoning. Use 1 1⁄2 – 2 tsp salt.

  • Use a full-bodied red wine like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon for the deepest flavor.

  • Add umami flavor boosters – tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, mushrooms.

  • Cook low and slow – never rush the process or cheeks will be tough.

  • Let pressure release naturally – quick releasing can toughen the meat.

  • Puree the braising liquid – this transforms it into a luscious sauce for serving.

  • Check doneness with 2 forks – when cheeks shred easily, they are ready.

Serving Ideas for Braised Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks pair wonderfully with:

  • Creamy soft polenta or mashed potatoes

  • Buttery egg noodles or pasta

  • Rice pilaf or risotto

  • Roasted root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, sweet potato

  • Steamed greens like spinach, kale or broccoli

  • Fresh herbs like parsley, chives, dill, basil

Storing and Freezing Leftover Beef Cheeks


  • Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days.

  • The sauce may thicken once chilled. Loosen with beef broth when reheating.


  • Allow to cool completely before freezing.

  • Portion beef cheeks with sauce into airtight containers or freezer bags.

  • Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in fridge before reheating gently on the stovetop.

Crave-Worthy Beef Cheek Recipes to Try

  • Red Wine Braised Beef Cheeks – the classic!

  • Beef Cheek Birria – iconic Mexican street food dish.

  • Beef Barbacoa – succulent shredded beef cheeks.

  • Beef Cheek Ragu – rich, meaty pasta sauce.

  • Beef Cheek and Mushroom Pie – comforting, hearty and delicious.

  • Vietnamese Beef Stew – with warm spices and aromatics.

With proper selection and cooking, beef cheeks offer an amazing textural experience with deep, succulent beef flavor. While the preparation requires time, the actual hands-on cooking process is straightforward. With minimal work you can transform this inexpensive cut into a restaurant-quality dish to impress dinner guests. Beef cheeks are ideal for making ahead then gently reheating to serve on busy weeknights. Or use them to create soul-warming stews, ragus and pies this winter.

How to cook Beef Cheeks Low and Slow

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