It’s possible that I owe my entire marriage to my ability to make short ribs. One of the first recipes I truly mastered was braised short ribs with homemade pasta, and now whenever I make them and watch my now-wife take a bite, I say to myself, “Gotcha!”
This is a simpler version of the full-on braised short ribs, but no less delicious. Instead of homemade pasta, cheesy grits are a rich serve-along.
Easy Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker
It’s my little secret that short ribs are actually one of the easiest dinners I make. I won’t tell if you don’t.
They are essentially impossible to overcook unless you completely forgot about them for...longer than you'd ever actually forget about them. They make their own sauce as they cook and go with SO many things.
Whether braised or slow cooked, tossed in a ragu with noodles or served over grits, these beauties are a favorite in my house and they will be in yours as well.
What Are Short Ribs?
If you’ve never bought short ribs before, they are literally from the ribs of the cow, but cut into short segments for easier cooking.
For braised and slow cooked recipes like this, always buy bone-in short ribs, which you should be able to find at any butcher or even most grocery stores these days.
The Main Ingredients for These Short Ribs
This version of short ribs combines some of my favorite flavors: bourbon, brown sugar, and orange zest. Trust me when I say not to skip the orange zest!
While you could serve these over any starch, on a chilly fall or winter night, I like them on a bed of perfectly creamy cheesy grits. It’s pure comfort food and a guaranteed winner of a dinner.
How to Make Short Ribs in the Slow Cooker
While you could just toss all the ingredients in a slow cooker and end up with a pretty solid version, it’s worth the extra work to lightly flour the ribs and brown them in a skillet before adding them to the slow cooker.
This browning enhances their flavor and the light flour coating helps thicken the sauce in the slow cooker as well.
After you brown the ribs and transfer them to a slow cooker, be sure to add the chopped veggies to the skillet along with a good splash of water to scrape up bits stuck to the pan. Those bits are flavor gold and should go in the slow cooker as well!
Now it’s just a waiting game while the short ribs braise in the slow cooker.
How Long Do the Short Ribs Cook?
The short ribs will take about eight hours on low heat in a slow cooker or five to six hours on high.
They can go longer without too much concern if you need to stretch the cook time a bit, although I wouldn’t go longer than 10 hours because they might start to fall apart and become more shredded than you are looking for.
How to Make the Cheesy Grits
Sometimes I make grits with cream and dairy for the liquid, but for a savory dish like this I like to use stock. This lightens them up a bit, but still gives them lots of flavor. Plus, we are adding cheese anyway!
Grits, which are basically ground corn, but not quite as fine as corn meal. They are not hard to make, but they do require some attention. Bob’s Red Mill makes my favorite bag of grits that’s available nationwide.
After you add the cornmeal to a pot of simmering stock, stir regularly to make sure the grits aren’t sticking. If they get too thick, you might need to add more liquid (water works fine).
Taste them occasionally and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Right before you serve them, add the butter and cheese.
How to Serve the Short Ribs
Serving the short ribs, veggies, and sauce over a bed of the cheesy grits is a restaurant quality meal.
Accolades and kind words will be showered upon you from anyone you serve this to.
More Favorite Slow Cooker Dishes!
- Slow Cooker Guinness Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Taco Soup
- Slow Cooker Mexican Pulled Pork
- Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
Slow Cooker Bourbon Short Ribs with Cheesy Grits
For a gluten free version of this dish, toss the short ribs in a light dusting of gluten-free flour or cornstarch before browning.
- For the short ribs:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 to 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- Orange zest, for garnish
- For the cheesy grits:
- 1 cup coarse ground corn grits
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
Quickly brown the short ribs:
Toss flour with salt and pepper and coat ribs well in the mixture.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and brown well on all sides, working in batches so as to not crowd the pan.
When the short ribs are browned well, transfer them to a slow cooker.
Scrape up the pan drippings:
Add the shallot, carrots, and celery to the skillet along with 1/2 cup of water. Use the liquid to scrape up any bits stuck to the pan.
Transfer the vegetables (they don’t need to be fully cooked) to the slow cooker along with any liquid from the skillet.
Slow cook the short ribs and veggies:
Add beef broth, bourbon, brown sugar, Worcestershire, garlic, and bay leaf to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 5 to 6 hours).
Cook the grits:
When there’s about thirty minutes left on the short ribs, heat the stock in a medium pot over medium heat until it’s simmering.
Whisk in corn grits in a steady stream. Turn the heat down to low, and cover the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes until grits are thick and tender. Stir regularly to prevent sticking.
The only way to truly know when grits are done is to taste them. If they are crunchy, keep going and if you need to add more liquid, then do so.
When the grits are soft, add salt, pepper, butter, and cheese and stir to combine. Keep warm until ready to serve. If the grits get too thick (they hold their shape if stirred and don’t flow back into a single layer), add water by the 1/4 cup to loosen the grits.
Divide the grits onto between plates and top each plate with a short rib. Add the veggies and a few spoonfuls of juice from the slow cooker as well and garnish with fresh orange zest.