Hearty and satisfying, Slow Cooker Short Ribs are an easy, elegant and deeply flavorful entrée that’s perfect for both everyday and entertaining. “Slow and low” is the perfect method for cooking beef short ribs to ensure they come out tender, and a slow cooker makes the process a snap. Just 15 minutes prep, then 4 to 6 hours in the cooker, results in fall-off-the-bone tender ribs accented with a luxurious sweet and savory sauce.
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You Will Love These Crockpot Short Ribs
When I’m looking for a hearty and satisfying main dish that’s easy to prepare ahead, I often turn to beef short ribs. While elegant, they’re more casual in presentation than other hearty meat entrées like tenderloin or leg of lamb, and more special than pot roast. And, this Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs recipe is a particular favorite, for these reasons:
- The ribs themselves are super tender, deeply flavorful and pair perfectly with the slightly sweet and savory sauce of onion, garlic, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard.
- They’re super easy to prepare, calling for 15 minutes prep with minimal chopping (and who likes to chop?). Plus, I can put it together in the morning, then let it cook away all day.
What are Short Ribs?
Short ribs come from the chuck portion of a cow. The meat in that section of the cow is too small to be used for steaks, so they’re cut into 5 ribs. Plus, the meat is from muscle that’s used a lot, so it’s less tender (hence why it requires slow cooking) but is still very flavorful.
Crock Pot Short Ribs Ingredients
Here’s all you’ll need to make these amazing ribs:
- Yellow onion
- Light brown sugar
- Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt
- Beef short ribs (preferably bone-in)
- Fresh ground pepper
- Vegetable, canola or other non-flavored oil
How To Make Sauce for Crock Pot Short Ribs
The sweet and savory sauce in this recipe only takes around 5 minutes to prepare. Here are the steps:
- Chop the onion and garlic. Peel and chop the onion into 1/2-inch pieces. Chop the garlic into small pieces – can also press it.
- Whisk together all the ingredients. Put onion, garlic, brown sugar, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard in a bowl and whisk together until well blended
- Put in slow cooker. Spoon or pour onion mixture over top of ribs in slow cooker, covering ribs completely.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
As mentioned elsewhere in this post, these ribs are super easy to prepare. Here are the steps:
- Make rib sauce.
See directions above. Set aside.
- Sear ribs.
If needed, cut the ribs into individual pieces (one bone per piece). Season ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ribs, meat side down, and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining sides, for around 1 minute per side. Place in slow cooker, in one layer to the extent possible.
Spoon or pour prepared onion mixture over top of the ribs, covering ribs completely. Place cover on cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
Depending on the fattiness of your beef, you may need to spoon off some grease before serving. When serving, spoon sauce over ribs; pass any remaining sauce on the side.
FAQs for Short Ribs in Crock Pot
In general, it’s always good to quickly sear meat before baking or braising. The caramelization adds another dimension to the flavor. With crockpot cooking, it’s not required and if you’re short on time, you can cook the ribs in the sauce without searing first. (Mom never seared the ribs when making this recipe.) However, if you’re cooking ground meat, then always cook it first and drain off the grease before adding to the slow cooker.
Slow cooking is more forgiving than traditional braising in an oven, so it’s difficult to overcook short ribs using this method. The longer the ribs cook, the more tender they become. At some point, they can become a bit mushy, but I’ve pushed the cooking time to 8 hours (on low) and they were still perfect!
Yes, you can make this dish with boneless short ribs – I’ve made it both ways. The bones do add another dimension to the flavor.
My favorite side to serve with these Slow Cooker Short Ribs is our Creamy Parmesan Polenta (in my first cookbook “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®”). They’re also delicious with Mashed Potatoes with Parsley and Chives, cooked egg noodles, other heftier pastas like pappardelle, or roasted or boiled potatoes.
It will take around 4 to 6 hours to cook beef ribs in a crock pot. You can push the cook time up to 8 hours and they will just be even more tender.
No, it’s not necessary for ribs to be completely submerged in a sauce. A sauce definitely should be included, however, for flavor and for the cooker to work properly.
Short ribs are a type of beef rib. There are also back ribs, which tend to have less meat and less fat but are more tender.
Your ribs will be tough either because you didn’t cook them long enough, or you cooked them too long at a high setting. If the latter, they will also be dried out.
For tender beef short ribs, cook them “slow and low.” A slow cooker (Crock Pot) is ideal for this method. An alternative is to braise the ribs – sear them over high heat, then cook with liquid and seasonings over low heat for 2 to 3 hours or until fork tender.
How to Store Crock Pot Short Ribs
These beef short ribs are actually delicious the next day! Cool, put in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Scrape off any solid grease that may have formed on the top. Bring to room temperature; place in a large sauce pan or dutch oven and heat over medium heat until heated through, around 15 to 20 minutes.Print
(See gluten-free adaptation in Notes section below.)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 pounds beef short ribs (bone-in)
- Fresh ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable, canola or other non-flavored oil
- Make rib sauce: Whisk together the onion, garlic, catsup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt and 1/2 cup water. Set aside.
- Sear ribs: If needed, cut the ribs into individual pieces (one bone per piece). Season ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ribs, meat side down, and cook until browned, about 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining sides for around 1 minute per side. Place in slow cooker, in one layer to the extent possible.
- Cook: Spoon or pour prepared onion mixture over top of the ribs, covering ribs completely. Place cover on cooker and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours.
- Serve: Depending on the fattiness of your beef, you may need to spoon off some grease before serving. When serving, spoon sauce over ribs; pass any remaining sauce on the side.
Gluten free: Use gluten-free Worcestershire sauce.
Make ahead: Cool, put in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature; place in a large sauce pan or dutch oven. Heat over medium heat until heated through, around 15 to 20 minutes.
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: Comfort food
Keywords: sweet and savory sauce, make ahead, meats