Slow Cooker Braised Beef Short Ribs

4.85 from 13 votes
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Slow Cooker braised beef short ribs combine classic, simple ingredients to create the most tender, melt in your mouth meat. Served with creamy Parmesan polenta.

Slow Cooker Braised Beef Short Ribs

Sometimes the most simple ingredients bring out the best flavors in a recipe. These slow cooker braised beef short ribs are so tender they just melt in your mouth. Rustic, rich flavors made in the Crock-pot. I really can’t believe that this little machine bangs out restaurant-quality food.

Classic Italian ingredients make a wonderfully flavorful sauce for the short ribs. I used garlic, onions, tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and olive oil. That’s it! Each boneless short rib gets nestled into the sauce in the slow cooker, and it’s ready to braise.

beef short ribs and seasoning ingredients on a table

I wish you could smell how great the aromas are from this dish. Jason and I were seriously salivating all day. I couldn’t wait to lift the lid and see if the beef was as tender as I hoped. I guarantee that it was!

My Crock-Pot can hold up to 6 quarts. This recipe filled up about half of the container. There are typically two settings, low or high. I chose the high setting, which took just about 5 hours to cook. In that time, I was able to load up the Crock-Pot, set the built-in timer, workout, clean the house, have lunch and pour a glass of wine at about 4 pm.

Beef short ribs braising in a slow cooker

It was awesome! Who knew a slow cooker would be a mom’s best friend. If you have more errands or activities going on in your busy day, cook on low for about 8 hours. The slow cooking method really did a great job braising each piece of short rib.

The meat is so tender that you have to carefully lift each one out of the vessel holding it together so it won’t fall apart. The sauce that’s created in the process melds all of the savory flavors from the beef with the sweet ripe tomatoes and pungent garlic. It’s helpful to use a fat separator to capture the juices from the sauce.

The simmered whole peeled tomatoes get broken into large chunks, then combined back with as much juice as you like. Fresh chopped basil and parsley adds a hint of garden freshness to the dish.

Short ribs on a plate with tomato sauce and garnish

No knife required! Each piece of braised short rib effortlessly flakes off and is so delicious. Right before serving, I made a creamy polenta packed with Parmesan cheese. It took about 10 minutes to make and was an ideal combination to serve with this braised beef short ribs recipe.

We lucked out and had leftovers for the next day. With all that extra marinating, the dish was even tastier. I shredded the beef into the leftover tomato sauce and served it on top of fresh fettuccine noodles and cheese, oh wow. I think I’ve got myself in a bit of a mess because now the hubby is requesting this meal once a week!

Three beef short ribs on a plate with polenta

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Why are short ribs good for braising?

Short ribs are higher in fat and collagen, making it a perfect candidate for braising. Short rib meat can sometimes be a tougher cut depending on the thickness and if the bone is included. If you are working with thicker cuts of meat, braising over a low temperature for a long time in a covered vessel has benefits. The moisture and time can help slowly dissolve the collagen into gelatin creating a rich sauce, break down some of the tough connective tissues, and tenderize the meat. (Source: The Science of Good Cooking)

Slow Cooker Braised Beef Short Ribs

Slow Cooker Italian braised beef short ribs recipe! Combines classic, simple ingredients to create the most tender, melt in your mouth meal. Serve with creamy Parmesan polenta, and your guests will love this dish!
4.85 from 13 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time5 hours
Total Time5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian



  • 3 cups yellow onion, medium diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, drained, (1 can)
  • 2 ½ pounds beef short ribs, trimmed, cut into 1 to 2-inches wide and 1-inch thick
  • kosher salt, as needed
  • black pepper, as needed
  • ½ cup basil, chopped fresh
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped fresh


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper



  • Combine onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes in bowl and microwave, occasionally stirring, until onions are softened (about 5 minutes) then transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Stir in tomatoes. Season ribs with salt and pepper and nestle into the slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook until ribs are tender, 8 to 9 hours on Low, or 5 to 6 hours on High.
  • Transfer the ribs to a serving dish and tent with aluminum foil.
  • Strain sauce into a fat separator, reserving tomatoes and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer reserved tomatoes to the now-empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with the back of a wooden spoon. Stir in defatted sauce and some of the garlic and onion mixture, season with salt and pepper to taste.


  • Make cheesy polenta just before serving the meal. Instant polenta will firm up if it sits too long after cooking. Bring 2 cups water, 2 cups milk and salt to boil in a large saucepan.
  • Slowly whisk in 1 cup of instant polenta. Cook, constantly stirring, until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add some cheesy polenta to each plate, add a few pieces of short ribs, pour the sauce on top and sprinkle with basil and parsley.


  • If you don't have a fat separator, allow the juice to sit in a bowl for at least 10 minutes, and then use a spoon to skim the fat off the top and discard.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 569kcal (28%)Carbohydrates 44g (15%)Protein 29g (58%)Fat 32g (49%)Saturated Fat 14g (70%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 14gCholesterol 60mg (20%)Sodium 1357mg (57%)Potassium 402mg (11%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 6g (7%)Vitamin A 3950IU (79%)Vitamin C 47.9mg (58%)Calcium 840mg (84%)Iron 3.1mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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6 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Nancy Lee says


    I love your recipes! They are delicous and like that you stick to easy to find ingredients for a working mom! Can this dish be cooked in an instant pot and for how long?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks Nancy! For the instant pot method, using boneless short ribs, I would sear the meat on the saute function to brown the surface. Then cook on high pressure for 40 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes. Make sure there is at least 1 cup of moisture in the instant pot. Let me know how it goes!

  2. Dana A. says

    When I’ve made this recipe, I take the time to sauté the onions, garlic, spices, and tomato paste instead of microwaving the ingredients. I also take the extra step of browning the beef short ribs before adding to the slow cooker. It adds even more flavor!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You’re amazing, Dana! I love that you added the saute steps and browning of the beef. I can only imagine how flavorful the short ribs taste!

  3. Tammy Ross says

    I am so excited to find your site. I’ve never been a great cook like my mom and brother. Now at 55 I have time and interest to cook. I like that you keep it simple for people like me. I made the braised short ribs and it cost a bit for the ribs and took more time than usual for a slow cooker meal. But I was excited. The ribs came out very tender, fell off the bones. My family said it was good but I was a bit disappointed in the flavor. I never have been good at meals tasting flavorful. I thought with all the ingredients and slow cooking on low that it would have a better taste. I’m going to keep trying. I’m going to try the buttermilk fried chicken next. I’ve never been able to get the insides cooked thoroughly. Thank you for sharing your expertise.