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5-Spice Slow Cooker Short Ribs Recipe

Dec 4, 2020 | Recipes | 2 comments

Slow Cooker Short Ribs Recipe

This 5-Spice Slow Cooker Short Ribs recipe is healthy, easy and kid-friendly! The sauce for these Asian short ribs is delicious and it comes together in the crock pot so quickly. Easy short ribs recipe for the win!

Have you tried cooking short ribs before? I know it can be intimidating to branch out to cooking different types if meat but, in this case, it's 100% worth it. Not only are these Asian short ribs delicious, they are EASY.

I mean who doesn't love a recipe that simply cooks itself in the crock pot all day?

This easy short ribs recipe is also super versatile. Serve it over rice, rice noodles, zoodles or cauliflower rice – it's completely delicious regardless! Mix up the veggies if you aren't a fan of bok choy.

Basically, whatever you choose to smother in this addictive sauce is going to taste good. The slight sweetness from the honey in the sauce is also great for encouraging kids to embrace new flavors. If you have family members who are sensitive to spice, feel free to leave out the sriracha and simply make it available on the table.



Slow Cooker Short Ribs Recipe
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5-Spice Slow Cooker Short Ribs Recipe


  • 2 " ginger root
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha* (more for spicier)
  • 15 oz beef broth*
  • 2 T tamari*
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 T olive oil (separated)
  • 1.5 # beef short ribs
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice*
  • 1 bunch bok choy


  • Peel and mince ginger to get 1 T minced ginger.
  • Mince 4 cloves of garlic.
  • For the sauce, whisk together the following in a medium container: 1 T minced ginger, 4 cloves minced garlic, 1-2 tsp sriracha, 15 oz beef broth, 2 T tamari, 1 T honey, 1 crumbled bay leaf.
  • Toss short ribs with 2 tsp Chinese Five Spice.
  • Heat 1 T olive oil in a large sauté pan over med-high heat. Add short ribs and brown on all sides (~1-2mins per side). You can do this in the slow cooker if yours has a sauté function.
  • Add short ribs to slow cooker. Add sauce mixture to slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  • Heat 1T olive oil over med heat. Add chopped bok choy and cook, stirring, ~8mins.
  • Serve short ribs & bok choy over rice or zoodles.


*Read ingredient list to avoid added gluten, sugars & msg

What is the nutrition like for this 5-Spice Slow Cooker Short Ribs recipe?

For comfort food, this recipe is quite healthy! Some of the nutrients include:

  • Ginger: Ginger helps with nausea and indigestion and also provides antibacterial and antioxidant benefits.
  • Garlic: Garlic has been used in homeopathic remedies for thousands of years and is thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol and some types of cancer.
  • Tamari: Tamari imparts all of the wonderful umami flavor of soy sauce, without the gluten. While most soy sauce in the US is made with wheat, tamari is generally wheat and gluten free, though you should of course look for the gluten free label to be sure if you have an intolerance!
  • Spices: All of the warming spices in this slow cooker short ribs recipe are quite beneficial for your health. Cinnamon is good for your heart and blood pressure, cloves are beneficial for your liver and star anise is high in shikimic acid, an antiviral compound used in medicines like Tamiflu. Furthermore both fennel seeds and peppercorns are high in antioxidants.
  • Beef: Particularly high in iron and zinc, beef also contains vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium, niacin, phosphorus and, of course, lots of high quality protein.

What's in Chinese 5-Spice?

Chinese 5-spice typically contains star anise, szechuan peppercorns (or regular peppercorns), fennel seeds, cinnamon (or cassia) and clove.

It provides a unique and complex flavor to savory dishes. A little goes a long way so if you want to experiment with adding some to your next stir fry, start small!

You can find a high quality, organic version here.

Is this a Paleo short ribs recipe?

While this recipe is Paleo-friendly, there are a couple of ingredients you'll want to watch out for.

The first is sriracha, which often contains sugar and sometimes wheat as well. You can make your own Paleo-friendly sriracha pretty easily though. Simply follow a recipe like this one. Alternatively, you can purchase Paleo sriracha here!

The other ingredient you'll need to substitute to keep these short ribs Paleo is the tamari. Tamari is typically gluten free but it's still made from soy. Coconut aminos are an easy Paleo substitution for tamari or soy sauce.

You'll of course want to serve over cauli rice or zucchini noodles instead of rice to keep it Paleo as well.

With these small tweaks you can enjoy this easy short ribs recipe while sticking to a Paleo lifestyle.

What else could I serve with these Asian short ribs?

You'll definitely want to serve these Asian short ribs over something to get the full benefits of the sauce. Whether you choose rice, cauliflower rice, gluten free rice noodles or zucchini noodles, you want something to soak up all of that delicious sauce.

You can also mix up the veggies you serve with this meal. Basically anything that would be good in stir fry would be delicious here. Carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers or snow peas all make delicious sides.

If you're looking to encourage a picky child to try these short ribs, try choosing their favorite veggie as the side. Serving something familiar along with a new dish makes it so much more approachable!

What should I look for when buying beef?

When it comes to buying beef, there are some pretty significant nutritional differences between the types available.

It can be a little confusing though. Is buying organic or grass fed more important? And what does grass finished mean?

While cows naturally mainly subsist on a diet of grass, many of today's cows, especially in the US, are mostly fed grains, corn and soy instead. Feeding cattle grains is simply far less expensive than having enough pasture for them to graze all day.

Allowing cattle to eat grass is of course better for the cows, but it results in much more nutritious beef as well. Grass-fed beef is lower in fat overall and is also up to 5 times higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. Grass fed beef is also higher in vitamin A and vitamin E.

One thing to look for when buying grass fed beef is a label that says either “100% grass-fed” or “grass-fed and grass-finished.” This is because most cattle are grass-fed when they are young but are “grain-finished,” meaning they feed on grain toward the end of their lives which directly impacts the nutrient quality of the meat.

To make matters more confusing, buying organic does not mean the beef is 100% grass-fed. Rather it means that the cows were able to graze seasonally and were given organic feed.

If you don't want to worry about sifting through the options at the grocery store, US Wellness offers high quality grass fed and grass finished beef, including short ribs, here.

Can I turn this into an easy Instant Pot short ribs recipe?

Yes! The instant pot works well for cooking short ribs and this Asian short ribs recipe is no exception.

Start by making the sauce just like with the crock pot version. Turn your instant pot to the sauté function on high and brown the meat for a couple of minutes on each side.

Then simply add the sauce, close the lid and seal and cook on high pressure for about 40 minutes (check the instructions on your specific Instant Pot model to be sure). Use the natural release for 10 minutes and then quick release if needed.

And that's it! Easy Instant Pot short ribs ready to enjoy 🙂

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5-spice Slow Cooker Short Ribs
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  1. Lee Bernstein

    5 stars
    I am excited to try this recipe, with adjustments for sugar and gluten. I really appreciate how you put these suggestions in the recipe. I’m VERY impressed! Thanks.

    • Meri Raffetto

      Thanks Lee, I’m glad you enjoyed it!


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