Amazingly delicious and fall off the bone tender, these slow cooker beef short ribs are quick to prep and a huge crowd pleaser. Lathered in a sweet and smoky spice rub, this beef short ribs recipe is literally no effort to make and will quickly become a family favorite!
Beef Short Ribs
This is my daughter’s all time favorite recipe. She begs me all the time to make these beef short ribs and I do because they are so easy to make. Growing up, my dad would often make baby back ribs. And let me tell you, I grew up on some amazing southern BBQ. Tennessee BBQ is really hard to beat flavor wise.
When I decided to make this beef short rib slow cooker recipe, I had never cooked ribs before. I figured a slow cooker ribs recipe might be right up my alley since it was my first time making ribs. Mr. Mason isn’t a fan of pork, so I decided to user beef short ribs. Baby back ribs are my favorite, but let me tell you this recipe turned beyond excellent! Who knew that these ribs would turn out so great…and made in a slow cooker, too!
This has to be one of the easiest, most low maintenance recipes I’ve made. Juicy, tender, and full of flavor!
What are Beef Short Ribs?
Beef short ribs come from the chuck portion of the cow. There are 5 short bones back in the chuck portion of the cow. The cow uses this muscle often, which means they aren’t as tender but they are crazy flavorful. But when you cook short ribs slowly in a slow cooker, they become extremely tender. So you’re getting the best of both worlds with beef short ribs cooked in a slow cooker…flavor and tender. Are beef short ribs tough? Typically yes, but not when you cook them in the slow cooker.
Why are Beef Short Ribs Expensive?
I’ve noticed that beef short ribs were more expensive than other cuts of beef. I thought maybe these ribs were more pricey because the marbling is extremely evident and the cut of meat is very flavorful. The bones are massively huge so I thought the added weight of the bones was the cause for the high price. But when I asked ny butcher why they are so expensive, he said that about 2 years ago the “flanken style” became extremely popular and the majority of the packaging houses raised their prices because the demand became so high.
Flanken vs English Style Cuts
So why are beef short ribs so expensive? Because it’s a fad. They are super popular right now because when you cut them flanken style, which basically means cutting the ribs thinly and crosswise, leaving about 1/2-inch thickness of meat, that goes across the bones so that each slice contains a few pieces of bone. If you’ve never had flanken style short ribs you’re absolutely missing out. When people marinate a flanken cut overnight, they are beyond crazy flavorful and delicious. This cut is also super popular in Korean style recipes.
So before you jump into making this beef short ribs recipe know that I typically pay anywhere from $8.99 to $13.99 for a package of 4-5 beef short ribs. For this recipe, I buy at least 2 packages, if not 3. And this is not a flanken style recipe. It’s a an English Style Cut which basically means the short rib is cut between the ribs to separate them, leaving a thick piece of meat sitting on top of one piece of bone.
Here’s what you’ll need to make these amazing ribs in the slow cooker:
- 2-3 lbs short beef ribs
- Smoked paprika
- Light brown sugar
- Cayenne pepper
- BBQ sauce
Beef Short Rib Rub
- In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
- The first and most important key step to this recipe is rubbing the beef short ribs down with the rub. Make sure you are generous with the rub so that it saturates into the meat.
How to Cook Beef Short Ribs
- Once the ribs are covered in the spice rub, place each short rib into the slow cooker so they are standing against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot. The ribs should be close together, but not touching.
- Then, pour 1 cup of BBQ sauce onto the ribs in the slow cooker.
- Cover and slow cook for 7 hours on low.
- Once the ribs are done, remove them from the slow cooker and place the cooked ribs in a large casserole dish.
- The meat should be falling off the bone.
- Grab a pair of tongs and start shredding apart the beef.
- Expert Tip: because we didn’t remove the membrane from the meat and bone before slow cooking the ribs, it is going to be present after you remove the ribs from the slow cooker. You’ll see the large piece of cooked membrane (fat) in the shredded beef so be sure to pick it out and discard during the shredding process. It’s way easier to remove the membrane after it has been slow cooked.
- After the beef has been shredded, add in 3/4 cups of BBQ sauce and mix well.
- Top with additional BBQ sauce and serve immediately.
Should I Use Bone In Short Ribs or Boneless Short Ribs?
For this recipe, use bone in short ribs. The membrane is attached between the bone an the meat and when slow cooked, the flavor from the fat enhances the quality of the recipe.
Beef Short Ribs with BBQ Sauce
I’m a big believer of making your own sauces and I love making my own Homemade BBQ sauce. It’s fabulous with this recipe. But the truth is I don’t always have the time to make my homemade BBQ sauce. When I’m running short on time, I use Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce with this recipe.
What Goes with Beef Short Ribs
- Deviled Eggs – a crowd favorite pairing perfectly with so many dishes.
- Crispy Air Fryer French Fries – crispy and delicious, these french fries are EASY to make in the air fryer! You can have better than restaurant french fries in your home in less than 30 minutes.
- Potato Salad – smooth and velvety, this dill based potato salad has simple ingredients, can be made ahead, and is full of flavor.
- Romaine Salad – Easy and delicious, this amazingly flavorful salad is made with a creamy Havarti cheese and crisp bacon and tossed in a rich vinaigrette dressing. It’s got the perfect blend of sweet, savory, and crunchy goodness. You’ll love every bite of it!
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Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs
- In a small bowl, mix together smoked paprika, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
- Rub this spice rub mixture all over both sides of the beef short ribs.
- Arrange ribs in the slow cooker by standing them up against the wall of the stoneware pot, thicker side down and meaty side against the pot.
- Pour 1 cup of BBQ sauce over the ribs. Cover and cook for 6-8 hrs on low (7 hours worked perfect for me).
- After the ribs are done, you are ready to shred the meat. The meat will be falling off the bone. Remove the fat (membrane) from the ribs and lightly spread half a cup to a cup of BBQ sauce over the ribs and serve.
- Spice Rub Technique - Rub this spice rub mixture all over both sides of the beef short ribs. Rub the mixture into the meat as best you can. It makes a huge difference to press the rub firmly into the meat.
Update Notes: This post was originally published in July 2012, but was re-published with updated step-by-step instructions, pictures, and tips in September 2019.