Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

4.64 from 19 votes
4 hours 50 minutes
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Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa are tender, succulent, spicy and delicious!  Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice and my Southwestern Salad are the perfect accompaniments!

Photo of Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice in green serving bowl garnished with cilantro and lime.

The inspiration behind this recipe:

It’s mid-April so I thought I was done with my slow cooker and slow braising for the year.  However, the weather here made me think otherwise.  Last Sunday was ridiculously cold and windy!  Winter was having its last hurrah so I took the opportunity to make one of my all-time favorite things in life…  Beef short ribs!

What are beef short ribs?

Each cow has five “short” ribs in the chuck section near the ribs.  The cow uses that section frequently when moving so the meat from that area will be tougher but is more flavorful.  There are two main ways short ribs are cut:  English and flanken-style.  For this recipe, we’re using English-cut.

Beef short ribs may look hunky and clunky, however, with a little low-and-slow cooking, they are transformed into something buttery and meltingly tender.

How to cook beef short ribs:

The best way to cook any type of short rib is a slow-braise.  Why not a pressure cooker so they’re done in 30 minutes?

Use an electric pressure cooker for these Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa if you’d like.  However, I think meat done in a pressure cooker tastes “forced.”  The flavor is developed over time and the connective tissue in cuts like beef short ribs needs time to break down.

How to make Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa:

  • Start by preheating your slow cooker.  Turn it to the temperature you’ll be cooking the ribs at.
  • Get all the liquid ingredients, herbs and spices into the slow cooker:
    • Beef broth
    • Tomato puree
    • Chipotle chiles with some of the adobo sauce
    • Vinegar
    • Spices
    • Onion
    • Garlic
  • Generously season the short ribs with salt and black pepper and brown on all sides.
Photo of short ribs being browned in a skillet.
  • When you’re ready to place the lid on the slow cooker, then reset the timer to four or eight hours if using one that’s digital.
  • Let it all cook away in your slow cooker while you do other things!  Just look at these beauties from the slow-cooker!
Photo of beef short ribs in a slow cooker.
Photo of Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice in clay serving bowl on blue background with blue napkin.

Mwwaaaahhh!  Serve them whole with the Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice or….

Close-up photo of Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice in earthenware bowl garnished with cilantro.

…remove it from the bones and shred the meat.

Photo of shredded Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice in green serving bowl garnished with cilantro and lime with blue napkin in the background.

Tips for making cauliflower rice:

I don’t do cauliflower rice on the stovetop anymore because it’s difficult to cook evenly and then it overcooks quickly.  Roasting it in the oven is a perfect way!  Place the cauliflower in the oven when the beef short ribs are finished.

Photo of cauliflower rice being drizzled with oil on sheet pan before roasting.
Close-up photo of Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice on sheet pan after roasting.

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa are perfect for tacos, too!

Want more amazing beef short rib recipes?  Try my:

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Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice - Close-up in green serving bowl garnished with cilantro and lime

Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa with Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice

4.64 from 19 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Slow Cooker Beef Short Ribs Barbacoa are tender, succulent, spicy and delicious!  Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice is the perfect accompaniment!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 50 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 684 kcal


Short Ribs

  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 can (10-ounce) tomato puree
  • 4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce - from a can, chopped plus as much adobo sauce as you can get from the can (a 7-ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil - or olive oil
  • 6 beef short ribs - 4-5 pounds, long cut
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 12 cloves garlic - sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Chopped fresh cilantro and sprigs for garnish

Cauliflower Rice

  • 2 (1-pound) bags cauliflower pearls
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large lime - juiced (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Short Ribs

  • Combine first 9 ingredients in a slow cooker. Set slow cooker on High (4 hours) or Low (8 hours), depending upon your preferred cooking time to preheat.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Season short ribs generously with salt and black pepper. Brown well on all sides. Place in slow cooker.
  • Place onion in the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook the onion for 3 to 4 minutes to soften and get the browned bits off the pan. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds or just until fragrant. Transfer to slow cooker. Cover and cook 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low.
  • Remove 1 cup of the liquid and let cool slightly. Add the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add it back to the slow cooker and let slow cooker continue cooking on High for several minutes to thicken. (Sauce will thicken more upon standing.)

Cauliflower Rice

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cauliflower on a large baking sheet. Stir in garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes or to desired doneness. Stir in cilantro.


MAKE AHEAD:  Short ribs can be made 1-2 days ahead of time.  Cool and refrigerate.  Reheat in the slow cooker or in a Dutch oven in the oven at 350 degrees.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Cool thoroughly then portion out as desired.  Place in airtight containers and freeze for 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator then reheat in the oven or toaster oven at 350 degrees.  If you plan to freeze the cauliflower rice, undercook it by 4-5 minutes.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 684kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 608mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 142IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.64 from 19 votes (15 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I used boneless beef ribs. Made about half a recipe but kept the additions to the sauce spicy (more chipoltes in adobo, mainly). Very tasty and my husband wants to see this on the menu again!

  2. 5 stars
    This crockpot meat was wonderful! We enjoyed it with cilantro lime rice, black beans and salad. I will definitely be making this again 🤩

  3. 5 stars
    With all your short rib recipes, I wonder why you don’t recommend using a fat separator, or taking almost all of the juice out and letting it sit for 15 minutes to separate. When I made short ribs (different recipe), the juice was very fatty.

    Short ribs, by their nature, are fatter meat! Then keep 4 tbsp of fat (dep on amount of juices in pot of course) to mix in with the juices and flour or cornstarch. Save the fat for frying potatoes or any beef recipe requiring fat to be sautéed or throw it out!

    Whenever I make any short ribs again, I will remove a lot of the fat! Healthier too!

    1. Hi, Antonia, Thanks so much for your question. Not everyone has a lot of extra kitchen gadgets so I try not to use too many of them in my recipes. I’m sure everyone will appreciate your tip. Perhaps you should start your own food blog? Thanks again!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! Any suggestions for sides, in addition to the cauliflower rice. By the way, the leftovers are great in breakfast bowls with roasted sweet potatoes, leftover vegetables, eggs and cheese.

    1. Hi, Karen and thanks so very much! Glad you enjoyed and love your breakfast idea! If carbs are not an issue, you could do some chipotle mashed potatoes, green chile polenta or grits, quinoa and regular rice. Thanks again!

  5. This looks amazing! I’m trying to stay low-carb and would like to leave out the cornstarch. Is there a specific reason why you use it? Will it greatly affect the end result if I opt out of it?

    1. Hi, Margaret, Thanks so much for your question. Leaving out the cornstarch may not affect the quality too much. It will be a little watery, but will still taste great. You might also try coconut flour or almond flour, too. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  6. Made this tonight and followed the recipe. It was a hit! Only change was I had 4 pounds of boneless short ribs. Worked great with the original quantities listed. Fed 4 of us, and enough left over to shred for enchiladas!!! Thanks!

    1. Hi, David, Thanks so much and so glad you enjoyed! 6 long cut short ribs should be about 4 pounds so you’re right about the amount. I love having leftovers, too! Especially ones that can be “repurposed.” Sounds like a delicious idea! Thanks again and please stay in touch!

  7. I have been scouring the interwebs for a slow cooker spicy short rib recipe. I’m making these and putting the meat in enchiladas! Can’t wait!!