Slow Cooker Ancho Short Rib Tacos

These Slow Cooker Ancho Short Rib Tacos are so incredibly melt-in-your-mouth tender and full of sweet n’ spicy, deep, rich flavor. Best made a day ahead!

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Gluten Free, Mexican
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 7 hours
Total Time 7 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Kim Peterson


  • 4 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black ground pepper
  • ¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 6 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, or 4 ½ lbs boneless
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Warm corn or flour tortillas
  • Toppings: shredded cojita cheese, sliced jalapeños, chopped cilantro, sliced red onion, squeeze of lime


  1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the dried ancho chiles, reduce the heat and simmer until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and discard the liquid.

  2. Place the softened chiles on a cutting board to remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. You can easily peel the skin off as well, but you don’t have to. Place the peppers in a blender and add the onion, garlic, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, and beef broth. Puree until smooth.

  3. Pat ribs dry and generously season on all sides with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the ribs in 2 batches, turning every minute or so, 6-7 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned ribs to a 7-8 quart slow cooker.

  4. Pour the pureed sauce over the ribs. The sauce will reach about halfway or so up sides of the meat. Cover and cook on low for 7-9* hours until very tender and falling off the bone (if using boneless ribs, cook on low 6-8 hours). Skim as much fat as you can off the top. Allow the ribs to cool at least 15 minutes in the sauce before transferring them to a cutting board to shred.

  5. You can shred the meat with your hands, discarding the bones and excess fat along the way. Place the shredded meat back into the sauce in the slow cooker pot. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours for the remaining fat to solidify, or chill overnight if you can. When ready to reheat, remove the solidified fat from the surface. Either reheat in the slow cooker on warm, or transfer meat and sauce into a pot to reheat on medium-low on the stove. When hot, spoon the meat and sauce into warm corn or flour tortillas, and serve with suggested toppings. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*Actual length of cooking time may vary according to individual slow cooker. The one I have gets hot so I stick to the lower end of the range.