Slow Cooker Beef Back Ribs

Fall-off-the-bone beef ribs in a rich, slightly spicy red wine sauce make for a great, fancy dinner that requires time but minimal work (thanks to the good old slow cooker).

Beef Ribs
I know it’s been around for a long time but I have only recently started to truly appreciate the beauty of the slow cooker. You add a bunch of ingredients with very little prep, turn the cooker on, go about your business, come back and everything is almost ready with minimal cleanup. It’s wonderful and it doesn’t even matter how long the cooking takes because it is so completely hands-off.

These delicious beef ribs were in the cooker for six hours in a mix of red wine, chicken broth, vegetables and a few chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a bit of heat. I bought them with the bone for extra flavor, seared them in a Dutch oven before transferring them to the slow cooker and by the time they were done the meat literally slid of the bone and tasted incredibly rich and flavorful. I cooked the braising liquid down into a spectacular sauce (no additional ingredients required) and then served the ribs over egg noodles but mashed potatoes work equally well.


Slow Cooker Beef Back Ribs Recipe

serves 2


  • about 2 pounds beef back ribs, bone in
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • cooked egg noodles
  • sour cream (optional)



  1. Cut the rib rack into individual ribs, season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or a Dutch oven until shimmering.
  3. Sear the ribs on all sides until browned, then transfer to a slow cooker.
  4. Add onion, carrot and celery to the pan or Dutch oven you seared the meat in and cook for about 10 minutes until starting to brown. Be careful not to burn the browned bits from the ribs that are in the pan, turn the heat down if you need to.
  5. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  6. Stir in wine, chicken broth and water, bring to a boil, then transfer to the slow cooker.
  7. Add the chipotle peppers and the thyme to the slow cooker, then cook on low for six hours.
  8. Transfer the liquid to a pot and cook on medium heat until reduced to a syrupy consistency.
  9. Shred the meat and serve with the sauce on egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
  10. Add a dollop of sour cream (optional).


Food Photography and Styling: I always like to light my food such that it looks like it’s sitting next to a window but this time I wanted to go a step further and show parts of the window sill and window side wall too. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I mostly don’t actually use window light so what you see in this photo is actually not a window sill and a wall but a few strategically placed pieces of styrofoam, paper and the rim of a tray. I found it pretty convincing and was rather happy with it. The other thing I was happy with in this photo is the pretty wine glass in the back, I found two of these beauties in an antique store the other day and loved their pretty shape and shortness (tough to find a wine glass short enough to fit comfortably into a food photo). I liked how the color of the red wine complemented the dark beef and since red wine is an important ingredient in this recipe it fit with the story as well.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/4, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.


  1. Nagi@RecipeTinEats says:

    Love your new profile photo Nic!!! And glad you are discovering the wonders of slow cookers :) I am wondering if beef back ribs are what we know as beef short ribs. Are they quite large with loads of meet on them?? Almost a square shape? The sauce for this is a ripper!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Hey there! So glad you like the pic, what can I say, I love to drink! ;) Short ribs actually come from a different section of the animal than back ribs do but they are similar in taste, in my opinion. And yes, large, almost scarily so! :)

  2. Sheena @ Noshtastic says:

    Hey Nicole,

    I just saw your post pop up in my email! your photo looks lovely as usual, and I just had an idea for a fake wine bottle when I saw your image! I have a small bottle of red wine vinegar that is very similar dimensions that would work, so thank you for the idea :) I may need to hunt around for a small enough wine glass to match though.

    • Nicole B. says:

      Hey Sheena! That’s exactly what I thought this bottle looked like, similar to a vinegar bottle! The bottle in this photo is actually one of those small fiascos and I ripped away the basket thingy that was around it.

    • Nicole B. says:

      Aw, thank you, Lori, that is very nice of you to say! For some reason I really like to photograph brown food, but I have lots of trouble with green… :)

  3. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    With your photos you make browns irresistible!! Wow!! I love what is going on with the meat and spices — sound so incredible. The way you have the dish staged it looks like it’s waiting for me to dig right in — and if I were there I would!! This could almost be in a very romantic restaurant — cozy table for two, a carafe of red wine — hmmmmmmm!! I think this would be a perfect coming home present to ourselves. Great recipe and shot Nicole (as always)!!

    • Nicole B. says:

      I’ve had one for a long time but have only recently started to use it! It is awesome though, you should get one! Thanks for the lovely comment, as always! :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thanks so much, Christy! I know, it’s so easy to forget about the slow cooker once it’s out of sight in the cabinet but I’m getting it out more and more now. :)

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