These easy slow cooker short rib tacos are perfectly juicy and easy to make! The tacos are seared to perfection for a cheesy, crispy, perfect dinner.
Short Rib Tacos
Our Taco Tuesdays were made PERFECT with these crispy, juicy short rib tacos! Every bite is full of deep, rich flavor that comes from several hours of slow cooking beef short ribs until they literally fall off the bone. To really push it over the top, we didn’t just toss these in some tortillas… We soaked our tortillas in enchilada sauce and seared the tacos to crispy perfection.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- Full of flavor – This recipe has you searing the short ribs before letting it cook in seasonings and enchilada sauce for 4-8 hours. Then the tortillas are drenched in enchilada sauce before finishing the tacos in the pan, so obviously every bite is SUPER flavorful!
- Great for picky eaters – While this has loads of flavor, it’s a favorite for some of our families’ pickiest eaters! The tacos have just meat and cheese, so the veggie haters stay happy.
- Perfect for meal prep – The short ribs can easily be cooked ahead of time and even frozen so you can enjoy your tacos later! Leftover short ribs could be added to taco salad, a quesadilla, or so much more!
Short Rib Taco Ingredients
Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need for the short ribs. Find exact measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Short ribs – Bone-in. These tend to have much more flavor than the boneless version, and you get the added benefit of making stock with the bones later!
- Canned goods: Enchilada sauce and Tomatoes with green chilies – You can use the canned sauce or make your own if you’d like. I used the original rotel (tomatoes with green chilies), but you can choose a spicier version if you like it extra hot!
- Seasonings: Chili powder, Paprika, Garlic powder, Cumin, Kosher salt, Pepper
- Garlic and White onion – Feel free to use yellow onion if you prefer, but it gives a milder, sweet flavor versus the sharp taste that comes from a white onion.
- Beef broth, Lime juice, and Fresh thyme (optional) – Store-bought or homemade broth will work great. Fresh or bottled lime juice are fine.
For the tacos, you’ll also need corn tortillas, cheese, and butter. I recommend using your favorite melty cheese (like pepper jack) to get the right texture. While queso fresco and cotija add great flavor to a taco, they don’t melt the way we want. You’ll also want to have a little extra enchilada sauce or the liquid from the slow cooker as well.
How to Make Short Rib Tacos in the Slow Cooker
This easy crockpot recipe is simple. As far as tools go, you’ll need a skillet and stovetop or hot plate, a shallow bowl or pie plate, and a slow cooker. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for these tasty tacos.
Sear short ribs
Pat the short ribs dry and season with salt and pepper. If there are any excess fatty bits that need to be trimmed off, do that now. Heat a large skillet to medium heat and spray with cooking oil or add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Sear the short ribs on each side about 2 minutes, until they have a nice sear.
Cook in slow cooker
Transfer the short ribs to a slow cooker. (Prep it with a liner first if you want to avoid the cleanup.) Top the ribs with the enchilada sauce, canned tomatoes, spices, garlic, onion, beef broth, lime juice and herbs if using.
Cook on low up to 8 hours or on high up to 4 hours. Once the ribs are falling off the bone and are fork tender, they’re finished.
Remove the ribs from the slow cooker and shred, discarding the bones. If desired, spoon a little bit of the sauce remaining in the slow cooker over the meat. At this point you can use the meat for tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos, and more.
Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. When the skillet is very hot, add the butter and let it melt. Quickly dip the tortilla in the enchilada sauce (carefully) and place the soaked tortilla in the hot butter. Add the cheese and meat to the tortilla. Once the tortilla has begun to brown, fold one half of the tortilla over. If needed, flip the tortilla to brown the other side until it is crisp. Serve immediately!
How to Serve Short Rib Tacos
These delicious tacos are amazing on their own, but we to drizzle them with our favorite toppings like Mild Salsa or Salsa Verde. If you prefer a creamy dip for your tacos, try this Smoked Queso or Creamy Jalapeno Sauce! You could sprinkle with some cotija or queso fresco for some extra cheese if you prefer! We love adding these Smashed Brussels Sprouts with Queso on the side.
More sides to serve with tacos:
- Mexican Street Corn
- Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice
- Corn Fritters
- Avocado Bacon Dip
- Seasoned Black Beans
It’s best to store the short ribs and taco ingredients separately. Allow the meat to cool completely, then place it in an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3-4 days. If you have already-made tacos leftover, store those in a different container and consider placing a paper towel or two between them to prevent them from becoming soggy.
Can I freeze short ribs?
Yes, short ribs are an excellent freezer meal! After allowing the meat to cool completely, portion it out as you’d like (we like 1/4 lb servings), and freeze in small bags (pressing out as much air as possible). Place the smaller bags in a larger freezer bag for added protection. Thaw and enjoy within 3-6 months for the best flavor and texture.
Leftover seared tacos are best reheated in a skillet on medium low, covered with a lid. Heat for 3-5 minutes on each side until warmed through. If you’re reheating a lot, use the oven: Preheat it to 350, place tacos on a baking sheet, and bake for 5-10 minutes until warmed through (flip to get both sides crisp). The air fryer can dry them out if you’re not careful–Try 325 degrees for 2-4 minutes. You can microwave them, but they lose any crispiness on the shell.
If you’re reheating the short ribs on their own, microwaving is your quickest option–Just place on a microwave-safe plate, spoon over a little leftover liquid if you still have it, then blast in 1-minute increments at 50% power until warmed through. If you prefer the oven, place it in a baking dish with a bit of the liquid and reheat for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
If you like these tacos, you will LOVE these tasty recipes!
- Instant Pot Tacos with Spicy Coleslaw – There is a TON of flavor packed into this easy recipe! It’s easy to make low-carb with Carb Balance tortillas, too.
- Bacon Breakfast Tacos – Tacos aren’t just for dinner! Fluffy eggs, crispy bacon, and melty cheese are the best way to start the day!
- Cauliflower Tacos – Perfect for Meatless Mondays or when you want a lighter, healthier taco! Cauliflower gets perfectly crispy and is amazing with the avocado crema.
- Shrimp Tacos – These are quick, easy, and pretty healthy! Shrimp cooks super quickly in the air fryer so you can get these on the table in a flash.
- Keto Tacos – When you want to keep things super low-carb, you can replace your tortilla with these melted cheese shells!
- Flank Steak Tacos – These are stuffed with delicious, marinated steak, perfect for easy weekdays or when you’ve got company over!
For the short ribs
- 2 pounds bone in short ribs
- 1 (10 ounce) can enchildada sauce
- 1 (10 ounce) can tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons EACH paprika, garlic powder, cumin, kosher salt
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 white onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 cup beef broth
- 2 limes, juiced
- fresh thyme, optional
For the tacos
- Tortillas: corn, flour, low carb or gluten free
- A shallow bowl with cold or room temperature enchilada sauce, or some of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker (just try to skim off as much fat as possible or they will be very greasy.)
- Cheese: any variety or mixture you prefer.
- Butter: a neutral cooking oil can also be used.
- Pat the short ribs dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet to medium heat and spray with cooking oil or add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the pan. Sear the short ribs on each side for about 2 minutes until they have a nice sear.
- Transfer the short ribs to a slow cooker. Top the ribs with the enchilada sauce, canned tomatoes, spices, garlic, onion, beef broth, lime juice, and herbs if using.
- Cook on low for up to 8 hours or on high for up to 4 hours. The ribs are done when they are falling off the bone and fork tender.
- When ready to serve, remove the ribs from the slow cooker and shred, discarding the bones. If desired, spoon a little bit of the sauce remaining in the slow cooker over the meat. At this point, you can use the meat for tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos, and more. Below are the directions for the tacos photoed.
To make the Tacos
- Making the tacos requires high heat and will get a bit smoky. Turn on the exhaust fan in your kitchen before you get started. This process goes quickly, so it is best to prep your ingredients ahead of time. This is what you need:
- Corn tortillas: no need to warm or preheat.
- A shallow bowl with cold or room temperature enchilada sauce or some of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker (just try to skim off as much fat as possible, or they will be very greasy.)
- Cheese: any variety or mixture you prefer.
- Butter: a neutral cooking oil can also be used.
- Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. When the skillet is very hot, dip the tortilla in the enchilada sauce, carefully and quickly butter the skillet and place the soaked tortilla in the hot skillet.
- Add the cheese and meat to the tortilla; once the tortilla has begun to brown, fold one-half of the tortilla over. If needed, flip the tortilla to brown the other side until it is crisp. Serve immediately.
- This recipe serves 6 people, with three tacos being a serving size.
- If using a carb balance street taco three tacos has 523 calories, 31 grams of fat, 158 grams of cholesterol, 1530 grams of sodium, 35 carbs, 26 grams of fiber, 0.7 grams of sugar, 49 grams of protein. NET CARBS: 9
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: Nutrition for the full taco is found above. This nutrition is meat only about 1/4 a pound or 3 tacos worth.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 14.1gCholesterol: 120.9mgSodium: 802mgCarbohydrates: 4gNet Carbohydrates: 3.3gFiber: 0.7gSugar: 0.5gProtein: 31g