Slow Cooker Barbecue Beef Short Ribs

Slow cooker short ribs

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  • Total: 6 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 6 hrs
  • Yield: 3 pounds (4 servings)

Simply delectable, these slow cooker barbecue beef short ribs are moist, tender, and flavorful. It's a great way to enjoy a barbecue when you don't have a grill or smoker. You can also easily take along a slow cooker for a get together without tying up an oven.

You will give the short ribs a quick sear to seal in the flavor and give them a delicious browning before placing them into your slow cooker. You will need to set a reminder for the ​three-hour mark so you can drain away the rendered fat and add the barbecue seasoning before finishing the cooking for another two to three hours. The draining is essential so you get nicely glazed ribs.

You can use your favorite barbecue sauce for this recipe. Most bottled sauces are in the Kansas City style, which goes well with ribs, or you can use your own homemade barbecue sauce. If you want more spice, you could add some cayenne pepper to the seasoning mixture. Look for a smoky barbecue sauce if you want to add smoke flavor. Or, you can add a few drops of liquid smoke.


Steps to Make It

  1. Apply the salt and black pepper to the ribs.

  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Place the ribs into the skillet and sear all sides, about 2 to 3 minutes total.

  3. Remove the ribs from the pan and add them to the slow cooker.

  4. Combine the beef stock, red wine, 1/4 cup of water, and then pour it over the ribs. Optionally, add 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke.

  5. Place the lid on the slow cooker, setting the temperature for medium heat, and allow the ribs to cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. At this point, the ribs will render a lot of fat.

  6. Drain the ribs (discarding all of the liquid) and place the ribs back into the slow cooker.

  7. Combine the barbecue sauce, 3 tablespoons of water, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, chili powder, and garlic powder until mixed through. Pour the mixture over ribs and reduce heat to low. Allow the ribs to cook for another 2 to 3 hours.


  • Serve the beef ribs with your favorite sides. Ribs go great with coleslaw, potato salad, french fries, collard greens, corn on the cob, or baked beans.
  • For easier cleaning of your slow cooker, use a slow cooker liner. Otherwise, the caramelized sauce can take some scrubbing to remove. Look for them in the grocery section where you find aluminum foil and plastic bags.