These fall-off-the-bones Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs are tender, juicy and delicious with an unbelievable savoury-sweet glaze. Gingery heat gives a sticky sauce serious backbone, hitting all the right notes and making it irresistible.
I’m so excited to share this recipe today as my first in a 2022 partnership with Crockpot™. I rely on my slow cooker so much lately (and I know you do, too, because you’re always requesting more slow cooker recipes). Although I value my larger models for making big batches, this 3 QT Slow Cooker, with its warm woodgrain aesthetic, will have a permanent spot on my counter. Perfect for quick weeknight meals, like these Korean beef short ribs, and it’s just so pretty.
How to Make Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs
Ok brace yourself: To make this Korean short rib recipe, you can just dump everything in and walk away.
I don’t begrudge slow cooker recipes that require a sear and/or saute first, but my weeknight-busy self has a whole cheerleading team’s worth of enthusiasm for a recipe that nixes those steps and still tastes AMAZING. You can even do the entire recipe in one bowl by mixing up the sauce ingredients right in the Crockpot™ stoneware bowl before adding the ribs and tossing to coat.
- Mix sauce ingredients in the stoneware bowl.
- Add the ribs and onions; toss.
- Slow cook to desired doneness (see notes below)
- Transfer ribs to a serving plate.
- Skim and discard excess fat from the sauce.
- Whisk cornstarch dissolved in water into the sauce and zap in the microwave until thickened.
- Optional garnishes: sliced green onion and/or sesame seeds
So to recap: this is a dump and walk-away, one-bowl, super delicious recipe that yields tender, juicy ribs with an amazing sticky sauce. Please tell me I have your full attention.
Bonus: The removable stoneware and glass lid are both dishwasher safe. Winning.
How to make Korean Short Rib Sauce:
Traditional Korean Short Rib recipes contain Asian pear, which adds sweetness but also contains enzymes that tenderize meat. This is great if you’re planning to marinate and grill your ribs but here, we are letting the slow cooker take care of the tenderness.
The ingredients for this sauce include:
- soy sauce
- honey or maple syrup (sub brown sugar if you like)
- fresh ginger
- a hefty amount of garlic
- black pepper
You could add a good pinch of gochugaru (Korean hot pepper) or red pepper flakes for more heat if you like.
How to thicken a slow cooker sauce
Some sauces you’ll make in a slow cooker can benefit from reducing for half an hour to thicken up and concentrate the flavours. This particular sauce is mostly soy sauce based, so we don’t want to reduce it too much which also makes it saltier. Other recipes will ask you to whisk a cornstarch slurry into the crockpot itself and let it cook for an additional 30 minutes.
Two thoughts on the latter:
1. Cornstarch’s thickening power is only activated only at a near-boiling temperature, which takes a long time to reach at slow cooking temperatures.
2. Why bother even trying when you can microwave and have dinner ready in 2 minutes?
Because the Crockpot™ stoneware bowl is microwave safe, here’s what I do:
- Make a slurry of 1/4 cup water with 1 tablespoon cornstarch blended in. You don’t mix the cornstarch into the sauce directly or it will still be in lumps when it gelatinizes and the sauce will be lumpy, too.
- You want about 1 tablespoon cornstarch per cup of liquid for a gravy-like thickness.
- Microwave the sauce, stirring at 30-ish second intervals to stir, until sauce is thick and glossy.
Can you overcook ribs in a slow cooker?
Sure, you can slow cook ribs for too long if your aim is to serve them as portions with ribs intact. If you continue slow cooking ribs past their peak doneness, they will just continue to get more tender and eventually fall apart. My ribs were so tender after 4 hours of slow cooking on high that the bones fell right out as I lifted them from the sauce. Everyone loves the meltingly tender texture, but aim for a shorter cooking time if you prefer to serve them before they’re quite so fall-apart tender.
What to serve with Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs
A simple steamed green vegetable like broccoli, broccolini, spinach or bok choy is perfect. Drizzle with a little sesame oil for flavour. On nights with more time, I’ll serve them a quick salad made from julienned (with my julienne peeler) carrots and cucumbers lightly dressed with rice vinegar, plus a pinch of sugar and salt. Kimchi and white rice are also great options!
Slow Cooker Korean Short Ribs
- 2 1/2 lbs flank-style beef short ribs
- 1/2 large onion thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
- 2 tbsp finely-grated fresh ginger
- 6 large cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
For thickening the sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/4 cup water
- toasted sesame seeds
- minced chives or green onions
- Pour all ingredients for the sauce into a 3-quart or larger Crockpot™ Slow Cooker; stir to combine. Add ribs and sliced onions. Toss to coat evenly.
- Cook ribs on high setting for 3-4 hours, stirring once halfway through for even coating in the sauce. At 4 hours, the ribs will be completely falling off the bone, and can be served to top rice bowls. At 3 hours they will be less buttery tender but should maintain their rib shape for serving.
- Remove ribs to a plate while you finish the sauce. First, use a ladle or a spouted measuring cup to remove the excess fat from the surface of the sauce (the ribs release a lot). In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch into cold water until smooth. Pour this cornstarch mixture into the sauce.
- Remove the stoneware cooking dish from the Crockpot™ base and microwave the sauce for 1 1/2 -3 minutes, stopping to whisk every 30 seconds, until the sauce is thick and glossy.
- Toss ribs with the sauce and serve topped with green onion and/or sesame seeds, if desired.