Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce Made in the Slow Cooker

Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce Made in the Slow Cooker
You will love my Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce – tender, juicy, falling apart, braised beef in a flavourful, as spicy as you like sauce.

My Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce taste great, whether it’s freezing cold outside or baking hot – ’cause they are flexible like that. They are also brilliant for making ahead as well as for cooking once eating twice…or three times. Trust me, this is a seriously versatile recipe.

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Slow Cooker Convenience All Year Round

Just between you and me, I love my slow cooker all year round, not just in the cooler months. It’s so nice to be able to get on with my day and spend time outside when the weather is nicer. And while I love to have the slow cooker cooking away on a cold day, it’s also an absolute Godsend on the few really hot days we get here in the UK. It keeps the kitchen nice and cool even when it’s really, really hot outside. Did I mention most homes in England don’t have air conditioning? Apparently you don’t ‘need’ air conditioning if it only gets hot for a couple months of the year…

Do you love your slow cooker too? Check out these delicious Slow Cooker Recipes

Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce Made in the Slow Cooker

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So, you can leave these Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce in the slow cooker for 8 to 9 hours. However, I prefer to cook them for about 7 hours as it means the meat usually stays on (or nearly on) the bones, perfect for an impressive presentation.

Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce – Easy to Make Ahead

I like to make the recipe a day or two ahead of time as this recipe really does benefit from time to sit and let the flavours mellow and intensify.

This also means you can let the sauce cool before you thicken it with cornstarch. The advantage to that? Well short ribs are not low fat – and the sauce does end up with quite a high fat content. However if you let it cool and then refrigerate it, all the fat rises to the top and gets hard. You can then just lift the fat off and discard it, then thicken the much lower fat liquid that is left.

You definitely need to make this recipe the day – or even a couple of days – before you want to eat it. I love make-ahead meals! 

There is something so wonderful about knowing dinner is ready for the next day – or even next couple of days. It transforms my working day, and makes me feel more relaxed all round.

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Easy & very versatile, Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce are a great make ahead meal the whole family will love

When the slow cooker finishes cooking, all you need to do is take the short ribs and onions out of the slow cooker, let them cool, and then put them in a sealed container in the fridge. I decant the sauce in a separate container, cool it to nearly room temperature and put it in the fridge. The fat rises and hardens on top overnight. Next day, I take the fat off the top of the sauce liquid. I thicken up the sauce with cornstarch (corn flour) on the stove top, then put the short ribs in to warm up. Yummy, and better for you too.

You can also reserve some of the short ribs and the liquid for another day as they will keep for three to four days. Thicken the remaining sauce and heat the remaining short ribs for yet another meal. Or freeze some of the meat and sauce together and then thaw it another day.

How to Serve Sweet and Spicy Short Ribs

Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce Made in the Slow Cooker

Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce are perfect served as a traditional meat and potatoes meal with vegetables, as part of a spicy rice bowl, or shredded and stuffed into pitas with crisp, fresh veggies.

One of the things I love to do second or third time around is shred the meat and heat it in some of the gravy. Then I serve it in crusty rolls with sautéed onions and lots of fixing. It’s like pulled pork…but it’s beef short ribs, and it’s seriously yummy.

However you serve them, my Sweet and Spicy Short Ribs are sure to become a family favourite.

Printable recipe

5.0 from 5 reviews
Slow Cooker Short Ribs in a Sweet and Spicy Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Short Ribs in Sweet and Sour Sauce Serves: Serves 6
Serves: Serves 6 - 8
  • 1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 large or 2 small red onions, peeled and sliced
  • 6 to 8 short ribs, depending on size and the size of your slow cooker
  • 1 generous cup whole berry cranberry sauce (1-250 gram jar)
  • ½ cup Heinz Sweet Chili Sauce (1-220 ml bottle)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or 2 teaspoons dried ginger)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon chopped fresh red chilis (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (corn flour) mixed with a tiny bit of water
  1. Brush slow cooker with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Lay the onion in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  3. Put the cranberry sauce, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, ginger, chilis (if using), basil, parsley, celery salt and pepper in a medium bowl and stir together well, breaking up the cranberry sauce.
  4. Stir in the bourbon, if using.
  5. Heat some of the oil in a frying pan and brown the short ribs in batches, adding more oil if necessary. You want the short ribs to pick up some colour, so allow about 45 seconds for each side.
  6. As each batch of short ribs is browned, arrange them on top of the onion in the slow cooker.
  7. Pour the sauce mixture over the beef, covering well.
  8. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook for 6 to 8 hours, depending on your slow cooker.
  9. To serve immediately, remove the short ribs from the slow cooker and keep warm. (I prefer to make these a day or two ahead as the flavours have time to blend and you can remove some of the fat from the recipe.)
  10. Whisk the corn starch and water mixture into the sauce and cook on high until thickened. This will take about 10 minutes.
  11. Serve the sauce over the short ribs.
  12. To make ahead (recommended), remove the short ribs from the slow cooker.
  13. Carefully remove the sauce from the slow cooker, putting it into a large pitcher or bowl using a ladle.
  14. Cool both the short ribs and sauce for about half an hour to 45 minutes, then cover and place in the fridge overnight.
  15. When ready to serve, remove the short ribs and sauce from the fridge.
  16. Place the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
  17. Allow the sauce to thicken, stirring constantly.
  18. Place the short ribs in a large saucepan and pour the warm sauce over top.
  19. Heat gently over low heat until warm through.
  20. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice or couscous and a green vegetable.

More Comfort Food and Slow Cooker Recipes

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Beef Stroganoff

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Spinach Florentine Casserole

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Article by April Harris

April has written 1281 great articles for us.

April is a writer, recipe developer, frequent traveller and blogger sharing travel, food, and style. Based in the south of England, April is a British Canadian who is passionate about family, hearth and home, healthy living (with treats!) and the transformative power of travel.

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  1. i’ve never tried using a slow cooker before!

  2. This looks like a dish perfect for cold weather months. Warm and hearty. Will add it to my recipe box.

  3. This looks delicious! I too love my slow cooker all year long! It is great even in the summer, when I don’t want to heat up the whole house with the oven or stove. Thanks for sharing! Luci’s Morsels | fashion. food. frivolity.

  4. A classic comfort food dish – of course, anything made in the slow cooker gives you that lovingly tended – home cooked feel. Don’t you think?

  5. I love short ribs, they’re my favorite when it’s cold outside!

  6. I love my slow cooker, too! And this sounds yummy — as usual! You’re a great cook! I’m going to give this a whirl.

  7. April, what a brilliant way to cook beef ribs in the slow cooker! I just know my family will adore this recipe…thank you for sharing with us.

  8. April, this is a fabulous Short Rib recipe, I just love the combination of flavor for this recipe. Hope you are having a great day and thanks so much for sharing your post with us at Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  9. Delicious! I need to give your recipe a try:). Thanks for sharing at Funtastic Friday.

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