The two most popular ways to cook beef short ribs are braising and grilling. My favorite way, though, is to cook short ribs in a slow cooker. Slow cooking has a couple of very important advantages over the other two cooking methods – it’s simple and requires very little hands-on time. I would say it’s practically effortless. Getting similar results from grilled or even braised short ribs is not nearly as easy. And the best part is that these slow cooker beef short ribs are succulent and exceptionally tender – the meat literally falls off the bone – and they taste really, really well because of the amazing, gravy-like sauce they cook in!
Some recipes suggest placing all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and let it do the job. Now, this is effortless! It sounds very tempting but a few minutes spent on browning the meat to get that delightful flavor and deep brown color seems well worth the time. One way to brown short ribs is to season them with salt and pepper and dredge in flour before browning. Another one is to season and brown first, then add the flour to thicken the sauce. I use the latter because it seems that this way you brown the meat and not the flour that covers the beef. The flour will be browned later when making a roux.
I like browning beef in my vintage copper pan which is anything but non-stick and gives me a lot of brown bits stuck to the bottom. It’s what I want! They help making a really flavorful sauce or gravy after de-glazing the pan with beef broth or red wine. To get the best out of browning, I like using rendered bacon fat. If you don’t have it on hand, plain butter will suffice.
- 3 lbs beef short ribs (cut into 2-3-inch pieces crosswise, fat trimmed off)
- 4 bacon strips
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion (large, diced or sliced)
- 4 garlic cloves (pressed)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey (or brown sugar)
- 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- In a large skillet, fry the bacon strips until most of the fat has rendered out. Remove the bacon and reserve for other uses, or snack on it.
- Season the ribs with salt and pepper and brown over medium-high heat on all sides, about 4 minutes per side, until deep golden brown. If they brown too fast, reduce heat to medium-high.
- Transfer short ribs to a slow cooker. For three pounds of beef short ribs a 4-quart slow cooker would be sufficient but you can go as high as 6 quarts.
- In the same skillet, saute the onion over medium-high heat, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 20 seconds.
- Once the garlic is fragrant, add the butter to the skillet and let it melt. Add the flour and stir well. Keep cooking, continuously stirring, until the flour is brown and has a nutty flavor.
- Add the beef broth and stir well. Add the vinegar, honey and dark soy sauce. Using a wooden spoon, keep stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to scrape off all the tasty brown bits.
- Taste the sauce and adjust as needed. It should taste just right. If you want more sweetness, add more honey.
- Once the sauce starts to bubble, transfer it to the slow cooker. The sauce should cover the ribs at least 3/4 way.
- Cook on low for 6-7 hours, or 3-4 hours on high. You can cook longer but more fat will be rendered out and the meat won't taste as succulent.
- Stir well, but be careful to not break the meat pieces. Serve hot over mashed potatoes, pasta, etc.
I am impressed with the sensible way you approach this recipe. The browning of the meat is so important, and I appreciated the adding of the flour after the browning. I also like to add additional herbs and spices afterwards for the same reason. And I also came to realise as you say, that proper browning is best achieved in a stainless steel pot, or a skillet, not in a non-stick pot. Such a no-brainer, really.
Will check out all your recipes.
Thank you for the kind words, Ester. Enjoy!
Only thing I changed was I added carrots This was amazing the flavors were 5 star restaurant worthy can’t wait to taste this again and again
I make this with Short ribs or pot Roast. Easily my favorite meal. My family love it!!
Happy to hear it, Julie. Enjoy!
Have you used boneless short ribs?
No, but boneless will work fine in this recipe.
Making this now. I had to add more honey some cumin and some mesquite seasoning to make it mine. Coming out delicious. Thank you
I made these for Sunday family dinner. they came out great! I did not put the Honey in the cooker and I finished them in the oven with a Honey and BBQ sauce glaze for about 10 min.
Recipe looks delicious and I am giving it a try today. I placed the short ribs meat side up. Is this preferred method?
I try to keep mine immersed as much as I can so it doesn’t matter that way. If not, move them around/gently stir a couple of times along that way to ensure even cooking.
Ribs I assume it’s bone in short ribs when I went to the butcher and got 3 pounds it only came out to four short ribs. Is this correct?
Hi Linda, my apologies for the late response. What you described sounds correct, those can be quite massive. For this recipe, you can ask the butcher to saw them across in a 2-3 places, smaller pieces will be easier to manage and eat. How did they turn out?
Excited to try! I noticed in the recipe it doesn’t say how to prepare the onion, but I think I’m going to go with sliced when I do it 🙂
Kelly, diced or sliced will work, it’s up to your personal preference.
Im making this today. Im going to use some red wine . Im 64 how is it I have nerer ever had short ribs or made them? I’m from nort side chicago, I have had and so enjoyed all kinds of food from all over the world. I cheched out ALL KINDS of recipes. I chose this one. I’ll let you know how it turned out.
Good luck, Patricia. Would love to hear how they turn out for you. This is one of my favorite recipes.
I love the Aroma an I made sauce just right not too bad on the sauce. Family loved it. I used chicken broth cause I thought I had beef broth, with the honey it kinda made it sweeter. Thank you
Unbelievable delish!!!! My hubby was literally licking the plate! Its hes new fav!
So delicious! I made this for the first time a few weeks ago. I woke up the next morning thinking about how good it was. Making it again for tonight. Can’t wait!
Quick question, Is that cilantro or parsley sprinkled on top?
Yes, sprinkle on top.
Hi there I have made this millions of times( it’s a huge hit in my house!!!) And was just wondering what is the serving size that goes with the nutrition listed underneath thank you😊
Hi Crystal, glad to hear that you liked my recipe and thank you for your feedback and the rating. The serving size is about half a rib, which is quite big as you know.
I made this and doubled the recipe. The sauce taste like too much vinegar. Will this dissipate as it cooks?
Colleen, I’ve experimented with the amount of red wine vinegar until I got the right taste, so it will be fine. That’s right, initially, the sauce tastes like there is a bit too much acidity but once it’s done cooking it will taste just right, with a subtle tang.
I agree. The vinegar was overwhelming to me as well. However I added cumin and mesquite seasoning along with a drop of liquid smoke.
Any options for using onion but removing it at the end due to a picky eater?
If you want to completely and easily remove the onion after cooking, I would brown it separately and tie in a cheesecloth bag called a sachet d’épices in French cooking. Only instead of spices you will have onion in it. Alternatively, cut the onion in quarters, then fish the pieces out after cooking. The sachet sounds like a more sound approach. Finally, you can just use onion powder.
When i added the 2 cups of broth, It turned more into a really thick gravy instead of sause. How can I avoid that.
Keep in mind that the meat and the onion will release quite a bit of water so the gravy will thin out. But if you want a thin sauce to begin with, just add 3 cups of both or reduce flour to 3 Tbsp.
I’d like to try this recipe as it looks amazing. But I’m on gluten restricted diet. So can something be substituted for the flour?
– David G
Thank you David. You can substitute flour for cornstarch. Use 5 tablespoon of cornstarch. Dilute it in a little bit of cold water and add it at the end of preparing the sauce (just before adding the sauce to the slow cooker).
Delicious and easy rib recipe, as others have stated. They practically flew out of the slow cooker – family gobbled them up. I’ve tried many crock pot short rib recipes over the years and this one has a great depth of flavor without using tomato paste or celery. I ended up chopping up the cooked bacon slices into large-ish pieces and adding them to the dish. I don’t think it was a bad call. I also used half beef broth, half dry red wine. Thanks for the recipe! It’s a keeper.
Glad to hear you that you liked my beef short rib recipe. And you are very welcome!
Absolutely delish!!! And easy to make!
Hi, Thank you for the beautiful delicous recipe, It is nice to find gems like this one on food websites. I love baking bread and hot chutneys for my father in in the freezing winter months and ice cream in the summer months.
You are very welcome. I love baking bread too. I recently started a new blog – Taste of Artisan – where I blog about all homemade artisan foods.
Melt-in-your-mouth tender and delicious beef short ribs. A+++ Very easy to make too.
I attempted this recipe yesterday, I doubled the amount as we had guests, and served the ribs with mashed potatoes. They were an instant hit. The only problem was that I ran out of them way to quickly, ha-ha. Keep your awesome recipes coming, I love them.
LOL… I always feel terrible when I run out of something that people come to really like…