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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu

15 MINPrep Time
270 MINCook Time
by Giada De Laurentiis
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Newman
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My short rib ragu is a classic recipe of mine that I've made for ages. I gave it an update with San Marzano Style Tomatoes and adapted it to the slow cooker to make it extra simple. I think this would be a perfect dish to make for Valentine's day, or any special day - you can relax while the short ribs braise to tender perfection in the slow cooker!

The grated chocolate on top is optional, but I highly recommend trying it. It gives the entire dish such a wonderful warmth and complexity. If you have leftover sauce, it freezes really well!
Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu


Main Course



Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

270 minutes




Giada De Laurentiis

Image of Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs (cut into 3-inch pieces)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 red onion (cut into 1/3 inch dice)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and cut into 1/3inch dice)
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled and smashed)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 28-ounces San Marzano style tomatoes, crushed by hand

  • 1 2inch piece parmesan rind
  • 2 ounces 80% or higher dark chocolate (optional)
  • Pasta for serving, such as Ziti Rigati


  1. Place a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil and heat an additional minute. Season the short ribs evenly with 2 teaspoons of salt. Add them to the pan in a single layer being careful not to over crowd the pan. This can be done in two batches if needed. Sear the meat until deep golden brown on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove the meat to a 4 quart slow cooker. To the pan add the red onion, carrot and garlic. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Using a wooden spoon, scape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring often, for about 3 minutes or until fragrant and beginning to soften. Add the tomato paste and the cocoa powder. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Deglaze with the red wine scaping up any remaining bits from the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon. Add the mixture to the slow cooker along with the tomatoes and parmesan rind. Set the slow cooker for high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours. Using a shallow spoon, remove any oil that may have risen to the surface during cooking and discard.
  2. When ready to serve, use two forks or a pair of tongs to pull apart and shred the meat. Stir the meat to coat it evenly in the sauce. Serve the ragu tossed with your favorite pasta and parmesan cheese or over creamy polenta. Grate the dark chocolate over the top if desired.



Nutrition Serving Size
per serving
Amount/Serving % Daily Value
11 grams
24 grams
17 grams
Saturated Fat
7 grams
67 milligrams
895 milligrams
3 grams
6 grams
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gluten free
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5 reviews & comments

  • Author's avatar image
    Alison - Jan 17

    My second season loving this dish! As the weather starts to cool this is one of the first things I make in the crockpot. It is super easy, yet flavorful. It will satisfy both meat eaters and pasta lovers!

  • Author's avatar image
    Aileen Wilson - Jun 09

    Sounds delicious. How would you modify it for bone-in short ribs without having to sear? I have made Korean short ribs in the slow cooker without searing and they are amazing.

  • Author's avatar image
    Toni Leonetti - Jun 09

    I've made this twice already!! It is so Delish!!! The flavors just come together beautifully!!!

  • Author's avatar image
    Cindy Lewis - Jun 09

    Delicious!!! I’m always looking for a different short rib recipe, the chocolate gives it a deep rich color and don’t skip grating the chocolate at the end. Definitely a keeper and perfect for a cool winter night

  • Author's avatar image
    Milton Sandy - Jun 09

    Outstanding recipe . Was really skeptical about lack of Italian spices except for garlic and the chocolate. Short ribs always have wonderful beef flavor and the chocolate compliments the tomatoes and beef perfectly. Was testing for Valentine's. Nice way to slip in chocolate in an unconventional way.

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