Spicy Slow Cooker Short Rib Tacos


I love tacos.  Not the “Americanized” version with the hard shell, lettuce and cheese. I like a 4 inch corn tortilla filled only with some sort of succulent meat. Usually you’ll find optional condiments like onions, cilantro and salsa to put on top. That is the kind of taco you used to get only from a taco truck or authentic Mexican joint. Notice I said joint, not restaurant? Just like I only eat BBQ from a BBQ joint, not a restaurant. Restaurants will try to fancy things up, while a joint will bring them back down to bare-boned goodness.

I do confess my first tacos while growing up were ground beef seasoned with a packet of Lawry’s taco seasoning. Mom would then soften some corn tortillas by frying them in oil. In went the meat, then on went the shredded cheddar cheese, lettuce and maybe some chopped tomato. Not quite authentic, but they were good! As I got older, we would make late night taco truck runs after a night out on the town. The trucks would have their designated spot to park, and all the bar and nightclub patrons would wander up at 2 AM to balance the amount of alcohol in their bellies with some tacos. Some trucks offered such exotic (to me) fare such as brains and tripe! No matter how drunk hungry I was . . . I stuck with carnitas, carne asada and chicken.

Tortillas lend themselves to being filled with all sorts of meats, seafood and vegetables. In Mexico, what state you are from will often determine what you put in your tortillas. A while back I had braised some short ribs, and made tacos with some of the leftovers. As I was eating them I thought they would be a great item for the blog. But, of course we ate them all up before I could get a picture! That turned out to be OK, because this made me develop a spice mixture to marinate the ribs in, which made these tacos even better than the first batch. And I still had to protect the meat from my family, so I could take a picture! Oh all right, I had to protect the meat from ME, because I kept nibbling on the tacos while I was trying to take my pictures!


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Spicy Slow Cooker Short Rib Tacos
Succulent, spicy beef short ribs cooked slowly until the meat melts in your mouth, tucked into a soft corn tortilla. What’s not to love?
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 inch corn tortillas
  • fresh cilantro leaves
  • diced sweet onion

In a small bowl mix all the spices together. Rub the spice mixture into the sort ribs, being sure to cover every surface. Let the ribs marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Place the sliced onions in a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the short ribs on to of the onions.

Cover and set your slow cooker to low. Cook the short ribs for 8 hours, or until tender and falling apart.

With two forks, shred the meat in the slow cook. Stir the shredded meat together with the meat juices and onions.

Over a gas burner on the stove, soften the tortillas just until the begin to puff slightly. Fill each tortilla with some meat. Top with a sprinkle of onion and some cilantro leaves.



Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 8 hour Total time: 8 hour 15 mins Yield: 3 – 4 cups shredded meat

Cheryl D Lee on Foodista

11 thoughts on “Spicy Slow Cooker Short Rib Tacos”

  1. Hi Kim,

    No liquid needed. But this is only because they are cooked in a slow cooker. Placing the onions on the bottom offers a layer of insulation for the meat, and the slow cooking rate allows the rich juices to be released by the ribs. When meats are cooked in an enclosed environment the juices turn to steam, the steam stays in the pot and recirculates, so the meat stays moist.

  2. This recipe looks amazing. Curious, though, no liquids? Many recipes similar to these call for at least 12 ounces of liquid. I believe the ribs will brown beautifully using your recipe, but concerned about the meat drying out. What are your thoughts?

  3. We made these tonight. I could only find bone-in short ribs though, which gets pricy to get enough meat. They were SO good! I’d love an idea for a slightly less fatty cut of meat that might be almost as good. (sorting through it took quite a while). Still, a big hit in this house!

  4. Love that you use raw onion and lots of cilantro without abandon. The crunch of the onion with soft, tender meat is perfect. There are a few taco trucks that make these delicious tacos with certain parts of pig and cow that make some shudder. Wondering if you tried any of those too!

  5. as a chef with a twist of world food experience especially french caribbean food i am in search of a new horizoning the could help recognised the natural produce of the tropiques ,
    of when mention about caribbean food all focus goes on jerk chicken ,,,but its all wrong i have spent many years in the sunshine to understand the differents and where we could improve and create a innovation dishes ,
    me writting to you is more of a network .i do have a few home videos posted on http://www.dominican-diaspora.com/ web site,,,,
    hope i am have been an inspiration ,and hope to hear from you soon ,,with some knid of feed back….

  6. This looks really good and is so full of flavor. I’m a huge fan of tacos myself and love when it’s done right. The more authentic the better.

  7. I smiled ear to ear when you explained why you ate at a joint for some cuisines and not a restaurant. Now can you please come and explain that to my boyfriend? He does not get the appeal of places I love that are real food – not fancied up of fried in duck fat.

    These tacos sound great. I love short ribs and any excuse to use my slow cooker. (Though I wont lie, I sometimes still reach for that seasoning packet for nostalgias sake) 😉

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