Transform these beef short ribs into a tender, cooked, and full-of-flavor weeknight dinner with just 10 minutes of prep time.
It's easy to prepare and becomes a hands-off recipe once everything goes into the slow cooker—sweet and spicy homemade dry rub recipe included!
When you invest in some good-quality beef short ribs, you want to cook them until they almost fall off the bone.
I often opt to make them in the slow cooker because it's one of the most hands-off ways of creating incredibly tender beef short ribs.
They are so flavorful with melt-in-your-mouth meat and a sweet and spicy light sauce—serve them with oven-baked potatoes on the side or a creamy cauliflower mash for a Paleo-friendly and low-carb dish.
And here are some good side dishes that serve well with a beef stew that also can accompany these slow cooker short beef ribs.
- It's a super simple recipe and even perfect for weeknight dinners.
- All parts of the meat are generously coated with a quick homemade dry rub—you probably have most of the spices already in your pantry.
- The recipe relies on simple ingredients like sweet yellow onions, garlic, and Rosemary to add a burst of flavor, complimenting beef short ribs.
- There is no need to add any liquid or broth.
- The ribs are slowly cooked in their juices and fat, allowing them to soak up all the flavors of the other ingredients until they melt in your mouth.
Let's gather the ingredients
- Beef Short Ribs: I like to buy the bone-in, but you can use short ribs with the bone in or without, or a combination of the two. If my local butcher has it on sale, I might even combine beef short ribs with beef back ribs. Count about 9 to 10 pieces to fit snuggly into the slow cooker.
- Yellow onions: Most of it will cook away, but this vegetable will add a delicious natural sweet flavor to the sauce and the ribs.
- Garlic: you need 4 large cloves, smashed.
How to smash garlic cloves: Place the garlic cloves on a flat surface or cutting board. With the palm of one hand, press the flat side of a large kitchen blade firmly on top of a garlic clove—always with the sharp side away from you. You'll hear a crunchy noise when the garlic clove has flattened. Simply remove the peel.
- Rosemary sprigs: I highly recommend fresh or dried cracked needles. These sprigs add an almost lemony, mint-like taste that nicely balances the fattiness of the meat.
- Homemade dry rub: Sea salt, ground mustard seed, ground white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, and a tad of sugar or sugar substitute (see note in recipe) is used to season the ribs and will give them a slightly sweet and spicy flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil: I'm just adding a bit at the bottom of the slow cooker for a fruity and herb-like aroma. If you love ribs with a slightly buttery taste (and don't mind dairy), then replace the olive oil with butter.
How to prepare and season the short ribs
These are short ribs bone-in.
Pat dry them with a paper towel and lay them on a flat surface.
See these ridges of fat? It's what will make them incredibly succulent with some patience.
Next, mix all the spices—ground mustard seed, white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, salt, and a tad of sugar substitute—in a mixing bowl.
One by one, dip the ribs into the spice bowl. Use some pressure to coat all sides generously with the spices. Don't skip the bone ends or any ridges.
Press the meat firmly against the rub to saturate every inch and maximize its flavors.
When done, you should have some of the seasoning left, which we will use at the end.
How to layer everything in the crockpot
- Drizzle the olive oil into the slow cooker. I usually like to use a pastry brush to coat the surface equally.
- Take the slices of one onion, and spread them evenly on top of the olive oil—season with a few pinches of salt.
- Now, arrange the seasoned short ribs on top of the onion.
- See the spaces in between the short ribs? We're filling them up with the rest of the sliced onions.
- Snug the onions in between the ribs.
- Many of them will cook away, but they will give an incredible natural sweet flavor that the ribs will soak up like a sponge.
- Grab the flattened garlic and Rosemary sprigs or needles and add them on top of the ribs.
- You can add some fresh Thyme if you have some—highly recommended.
- Take the remaining spice mix and sprinkle it on top.
- If you like the ribs to be extra spicy, feel free to add a tad more of the cayenne powder (maybe an extra teaspoon or two).
- Look at those beautifully spiced ribs.
- Now, secure the lid on the crock pot, and let everything slowly cook on a high setting for at least 6 hours to get the best and almost fall-off-the-bone short ribs.
Look at that goodness. These bone-in beef ribs will melt in your mouth.
Although incredibly tender, you can still hold the bone with your fingers while eating the meat.
For some, the meat might be hanging on for dear life.
Whether you use your hands or fork and knife, I leave it up to you to decide what is the proper way of eating these short beef ribs.
How long to cook beef short ribs in a slow cooker
- I suggest cooking them for 5 to 6 hours in the crockpot on a high setting. The beef ribs will be soft and juicy but still cling to the bone.
- If the timing does not work for you, slow cook them on low for 8 hours max—you won't overcook them, and they will remain moist and tender.
Storage & reheating
- Once cooled, store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. These beef short ribs are even delicious the next day!
- Reheating is easy too. Scrape off any solid grease first, then place in a saucepan, a dutch oven, or anything with a lid. Heat for about 15 minutes or so over medium heat until heated through.
I suggest spooning some sauce on top of the ribs and any cooked onions before serving.
- Serve with cauliflower mashed potatoes, roasted baby bok choy, or asparagus to keep it lighter and low on carbs.
- Or go all out and pair it with these oven-roasted potatoes (comforting), my healthy Avocado and Mango Salad (refreshing), or this apple kale salad with creamy avocado pesto (nutritious).
- Or serve with any leftovers from this oven-roasted beets dish. Beets pair so well with beef.
Especially for busy weekdays when you don't want to do a lot of prep work, this is one of the easiest and hands-off short beef recipes that doesn't compromise on flavor.
It's a low-maintenance recipe that also can easily fit into a gluten-free, low-carb, Paleo-friendly diet.
You make your side dish as light or as filling as you want.
You don't need to sear or brown the ribs before slow cooking. Instead, you want them to cook slowly in their natural fatty juices. I know I'm going against the grain here. But these short beef ribs will have an incredible flavor and super tender texture.
You can, but it's not necessary. The spicy dry rub does not need to sit on the ribs for a long time before cooking. Instead, the spices will sink into the meat and build up the flavors during slow cooking.
- How to make an amazing instant pot beef stew
- Juice gourmet burgers (3 fun flavors with salad recipes).
- Tender Italian meatballs in tomato sauce.
- Sweet potatoes and spicy chorizo stew (with instant pot version).
- A hearty slow cooker bone broth.
- Delicious curry bison meatballs.
- Slow cooker sweet shallots, chicken, and potatoes.
- Fall-off-the-bone poached whole chicken (a great meal prep recipe).
- Whole roasted chicken with Brie.
- Marinated chicken wings (the best).
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Slow Cooker Beef Short RibsMariska Ramondino
- 4-5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs about 2.29 kilograms/about 9 to 10 ribs (see note)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt plus a few pinches
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons coconut sugar or Monkfruit sweetener (optional)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 yellow onions 350 grams, peeled and sliced crosswise (see pics), divided
- 4 large cloves of garlic peeled
- 3 fresh whole Rosemary sprigs or 1 ½ teaspoon cracked needles or 1 teaspoon powdered rosemary
- Take out the ribs and thoroughly pat dry with a paper towel.
- In a small bowl, mix all the spices—salt, ground mustard seed, ground white pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, and the sugar substitute.
- Dip the ribs one by one into the mixed spice bowl until all sides of the ribs are generously covered with the spice mix (you should still have a bit of spice mix left).
- Place ribs on a cutting board and rest.
- Divide the olive oil evenly over the bottom of a minimum 6-quart Crock Pot-type-slow-cooker.
- Divide the slices of one yellow onion on top of the olive oil.
- Season with a few pinches of salt.
- Place the seasoned short ribs in the slow cooker on top of the sliced onions. I like to arrange them on their side.
- Tuck the remaining sliced onions in between the seasoned ribs. Fill up the spaces evenly in between the ribs.
- Sprinkle any remaining spice mix evenly on top of the short ribs and the onions.
- With the side of a knife flatten the peeled garlic.
- Add on top of the meat in the slow cooker.
- Top off with fresh Rosemary.
- Set cooker on high, cover, and cook for 6 hours.
- When the ribs are tender, serve with some cooked onions on top and spoon some of the liquid in the slow cooker over the ribs.
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Nutrition (% Daily value)
Disclaimer: This nutritional data is calculated using third party tools and is only intended as a reference.
This post was originally published in August 2017 and has since been updated with new pictures and new information.