Slow cooker (crockpot) beef ribs are tender, succulent, and very flavorful. They are slowly cooked, then glazed with a reduction of the delicious cooking juices.
A couple of years ago, I spotted gorgeous beef back ribs at Whole Foods, and bought them without the faintest idea on how to make them. At home, after some research, I developed the following recipe, which resulted in tender, succulent, very flavorful ribs.
It's so good, that I've been making it regularly ever since. One of this recipe's big advantages is that leftovers are great too!
What are beef back ribs?
They come from the rib area of the cow (not surprising, really). They are what's left after the butcher cuts a boneless rib roast. Usually, a strip will have 7 ribs.
Because rib roasts are expensive, butchers tend to cut them very close to the bone, leaving very little meat on top. So most of the meat is between the bones. However, this meat is wonderful - tender (when slow-cooked), flavorful and fatty.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this tasty recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Beef back ribs: I usually get them at the meat counter at Whole Foods.
Light soy sauce: Or a gluten-free alternative. Traditional soy sauce is too salty in my opinion.
Sesame oil: Adds a wonderful nutty flavor to this dish.
Rice vinegar: If you don’t have any on hand, it’s OK to use white wine vinegar instead. I don’t recommend using plain distilled vinegar, though. It’s too sour, in my opinion.
Honey: Just a little to balance out the other flavors. This dish is by no means sweet.
Hot sauce: The one I use is quite potent. Simply use your favorite brand.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use. A teaspoon of kosher salt weighs less than a teaspoon of regular salt.
Garlic powder: Make sure it's fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Cornstarch: Helps thicken the cooking liquids.
How to make beef ribs in the crockpot
It's so easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. First, place the ribs in the crockpot.
2. Whisk together the remaining ingredients (except for the cornstarch) and pour the mixture on top of the ribs. Rub the marinade all over them.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours.
4. Keep the ribs warm while you reduce the cooking liquids on the stovetop into a rich glaze.
5. Brush the tasty glaze over the ribs and serve.
It's a truly easy recipe! It just takes time
Slow cooker beef ribs are wonderful thanks to being cooked for many hours in very low heat. Otherwise, the meat would be tough and unpleasantly chewy.
But despite requiring several hours of cooking, they are very easy to make. The crockpot basically does all the work for you.
I would say that the only somewhat challenging part of this recipe is reducing the cooking liquids until they're just the right consistency to make a wonderfully rich glaze.
But adding cornstarch helps a lot with properly thickening the juices. I try to use organic cornstarch to avoid GMOs, and I don't worry too much about the very small amount of carbs that the cornstarch adds.
What to serve with them?
You can really serve them with any side you like. Personally, I like to serve crockpot beef ribs with any of the following side dishes:
What about leftovers?
Leftovers keep well in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Gently reheat them in the microwave, covered, on 50% power.
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Slow Cooker Beef Ribs
- 3 lb. beef back ribs
- ¼ cup light soy sauce (or use a gluten-free alternative and add salt as needed)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- If you wish, remove the thin membrane from the bone side of the ribs. Here's how.
- Place the ribs in your slow cooker. If you bought a slab like I did, you'll probably need to cut it in half with a sharp chef's knife to fit in your slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients except for the cornstarch. Pour over the ribs, and use your clean hands to rub the sauce into the ribs, on all sides.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours, until the meat is fall-apart tender (and smells amazing!).
- Set the slow cooker to WARM. Transfer the cooked beef ribs to a plate for a minute. Strain the liquids from the slow cooker into a wide saucepan, then return the ribs to the slow cooker and cover, to keep them warm while you reduce the cooking juices into a glaze.
- Heat the strained cooking juices on medium-high. Whisk the cornstarch with a little cold water and add to the saucepan. Keep cooking on medium-high, whisking often, until the sauce has thickened into a rich glaze, 5-10 minutes. Brush over the ribs and serve.