Slow cooked to tender perfection in an easy BBQ sauce, then piled into tortillas with all your favourite taco fillings, these braised beef short rib tacos are perfect for taco night.
- Moist, flavoursome beef.
- A rich, slighty sweet lime BBQ sauce.
- The slow cooker / crock pot does most of the work.
- Serve with the toppings you love.
- Slow cooker, oven and pressure cooker instructions.
Short ribs are very rich in flavour and, while a tougher meat, they become beautifully tender when slow cooked or braised like these are. Because of their rich flavour, these tacos don’t need loads of fillings. I like some avocado for it’s creaminess and my pink pickled onions – their sharp, slightly sweet flavour cuts through the richness of the beef. Some radish and lettuce add crisp freshness.
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Ingredients for short rib tacos
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Beef short ribs: Beef short ribs are a meaty cut from brisket area of the cows ribs. They have a layer of meat and fat sitting atop the bone and are very flavoursome but need slow cooking to tenderise them. Use short ribs on the bone – not the type where the bones have been removed – as the bones add so much flavour and pull straight out easily once cooked.
- BBQ sauce: Part of the BBQ sauce recipe begins with your favourite BBQ sauce. While you could, and most BBQ sauces are, start with tomato sauce / ketchup, BBQ sauce is just as available and will just add even more flavour.
- Beef stock: If you don’t have any on hand, you can replace the beef stock (beef broth) with water.
- Lime juice: Giving this BBQ beef a bit of Mexican barbacoa flair, there is a good hit of lime juice in this sauce.
- Onion and garlic: You can use just about any onion you have on hand and please make sure to use fresh garlic.
- Spices: The flavour in a good BBQ sauce comes from lots of spices. In mine, I use paprika, dried oregano, Cajun seasoning, salt and some sugar for sweetness.
- Tortillas: Use your favourite tortillas. Corn tortillas or flour tortillas are both wonderful here.
- Toppings / Fillings: These short rib tacos don’t need a lot of toppings but choose 3-5 of your favourites like:
- For creaminess: avocado slices or guacamole, sour cream or shredded cheese or try my chipotle lime mayo.
- For sourness / to cut through the richness: pink pickled onions, fresh red onion, pickled jalapenos, wedges of lime.
- For crunch and freshness: lettuce, radish or capsicum (bell pepper), fresh coriander (cilantro) and / or fresh jalapenos.
How to make them (step by step)
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Brown the short ribs: While optional, I recommend browning the short ribs first as it adds flavour to the final result. Brown them in batches in a skillet or frying pan over medium high heat.
- Make the sauce: Mix together the BBQ sauce ingredients.
- Cook the ribs: Combine the ribs and sauce in the slow cooker and cook on low for 7-8 hours until the meat is falling off the bone or on high for 3 ½ – 4 hours.
- Finish the sauce: On removing the lid from the slow cooker, you will see a deep, dark pool with a shiny oil slick on top. Sounds delicious right? Um, yeah, NOT! First, remove the ribs from the slow cooker and set them on a large chopping board. Now, use a ladle to just skim that excess oil off the top of the sauce and discard it – we are left with a gloriously dark, glistening sauce. Reduce the sauce in a saucepan a little to thicken it.
- Shred the meat: Use two forks to pull the meat off the bones and tear it into shreds.
- Combine the sauce and meat: Now combine the meat with the sauce – enough to make them glistening and coated but not so much that it makes your tacos soggy. Remember, this sauce has been gently simmering away for hours, flavoured by the ribs and all those spices you threw in way back at the start of the day and it’s loaded with flavour.
Other cooking methods
Oven braising method
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven and heat on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and cook a little until browned on the outside. Add the sauce ingredients (except the cornflour) and mix well. Place the lid on the dutch oven and place it on the middle rack in an oven preheated to 160C (140C fan forced) / 325F for around 3 ½ – 4 hours (until falling off the bone).
Sauté the ribs in a little oil in the cooker pot until browned all over. They don’t need to be cooked through. Transfer them to a plate. Add all the sauce ingredients (except the cornflour) and mix well, scraping any bits off the bottom, before adding the ribs back to the pot. Seal the lid in place and set to high pressure for 40 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
What to do with leftovers
Leftover pulled beef short rib does not need to go to waste. The meat in the sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months. You can use this meat again in tacos, quesadillas or nachos. Try it turned into grilled cheese sandwiches too – so so good.
More recipes you’ll love
- Easy BBQ Pulled Pork Recipe
- Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
- Mojo Verde (Spanish Green Sauce)
- Korean Beef Tacos
- Korean Spicy Chicken Tacos
- Slow Cooker BBQ Brisket
Did you try this beef short rib taco recipe?
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Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos
- 1.8 kg beef short ribs (4lb)
- ¼ cup BBQ sauce
- ¼ cup beef stock (or water)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (note 1)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (note 1)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (note 1)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (note 1)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (note 1)
- 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cornflour
- 18 small tortillas
- Pink pickled onions
- Wedges of lime, shredded cheddar, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, lettuce, radish.
- Mix together all the sauce ingredients (except the cornflour). Pour it over the short ribs, then put the ribs into a slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.
- 1 hour before serving prepare your sides so they're ready to go.
- When the ribs are ready, remove them from the slow cooker and use two forks to pull the meat into rough chunks.
- Skim the fat off the top of the sauce in the slow cooker, and discard. Heat the remaining sauce in a saucepan and simmer. If it needs thickening, mix the cornflour with 1 teaspoon of water and add to the sauce while stirring.
- As soon as the sauce thickens, add the beef and mix it all together (if your saucepan isn't big enough you can use a large bowl or just use the slow cooker bowl).
- You can either heat the tortillas in the microwave or oven, or you can gently toast them in a frypan. I like this method because they become a little crispier around the edges and you’ll get some little patches that brown which gives a nice flavour.
- Serve the whole lot on a large platter and get everyone to dig in.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon
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