Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef Short Ribs

Slow cooker short ribs

Paul Poplis / Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 6 hrs
Total: 6 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1241 Calories
84g Fat
31g Carbs
88g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1241
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 84g 108%
Saturated Fat 35g 176%
Cholesterol 340mg 113%
Sodium 1850mg 80%
Total Carbohydrate 31g 11%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 88g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 83mg 6%
Iron 10mg 56%
Potassium 1084mg 23%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Slow cooking ribs is an easy way of making this tasty cut really moist, tender, and flavorful. Easy to prepare, and even easier to cook, our recipe is a great way to enjoy a barbecue when you don't have a grill or smoker.

A quick sear in a skillet will seal in the flavor and give the ribs a delicious browning. Then a slow cooking process, with a quick draining of the rendered fat at the three-hour mark, is all you need to do to make this a successful dish. And you can experiment with the seasoning if you want: more cayenne pepper or extra chili powder to make them extra spicy, or an extra touch of liquid smoke for an intense off-the-grill note.

Use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce for this recipe; as most bottled sauces are in the Kansas City style, sweet and sticky from the molasses but also tangy and savory from the vinegar and tomatoes, it will be the perfect blend of flavors for your dish. Alternatively, use your own homemade barbecue sauce.

Serve the beef ribs with sides like coleslaw, potato salad, french fries, collard greens, corn on the cob, or baked beans. And plenty of napkins.


  • 3 pounds short ribs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/3 cup beef stock

  • 1/4 cup red wine

  • 1/2 cup water (divided)

  • Optional:

    1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

  • 1 cup barbecue sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. On a work surface, rub the ribs with salt and pepper.

  3. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and place the ribs to sear on all sides, or about 2 to 3 minutes. You want a nice brown color all over the exterior.

  4. Remove the ribs from the pan and place them in the ceramic insert of the slow cooker.

  5. In a medium-size bowl, combine the beef stock, red wine, 1/4 cup of water, and liquid smoke, if using.

  6. Pour the stock mixture on top of the ribs and set the temperature of the pot for medium heat. Cook the ribs for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

  7. Check the ribs after 2 1/2 to 3 hours and discard all the rendered fat by carefully draining all the liquid in the pot. Keep the ribs in the ceramic insert.

  8. In a medium-size bowl, combine the barbecue sauce, 3 tablespoons of the remaining water, the Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, chili powder, and garlic powder. Combine well.

  9. Pour the barbecue sauce mixture over ribs and reduce the slow cooker heat to low. Allow the ribs to cook for another 2 to 3 hours. Stir well before serving.

What's The Easiest Way of Cleaning the Slow Cooker?

Recipes that use sugar, molasses, honey, or fructose leave behind a sticky layer on the ceramic insert of your slow cooker that's close to impossible to clean and requires endless hours of soaking and careful scrubbing. Also, recipes that cook for many hours overnight tend to leave behind a line around the insert marking the liquid level. Here's what you can do:

  • The first tip for easier cleaning of your slow cooker is to use a slow cooker liner. Look for them in the grocery section where you find aluminum foil and plastic bags.
  • If you didn't use an insert, fill the pot with enough warm water to cover all the caramelized bits and particles, add a few drops of dish soap, and place back on the base. Turn the slow cooker on for 1 to 2 hours on medium heat. Carefully remove and scrub with a soft sponge.
  • The third trick is to combine 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 to 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in the insert. Rub the mixture all over and wash with water and soap.