Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Tacos | Make Ahead Mondays

Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos for Make Ahead Mondays |


My brother and his wife live in Korea. When he went over to teach English, none of us knew he was going to meet and marry one of the most beautiful and kind women on the planet. The culture in Korea suited him to a ‘t’. We get it, but we miss him. The upside of this (in addition to getting an AWESOME sister-in-law) is that when they come to visit -sadly, infrequently- they bring suitcases full of food goodies for me. Us. I mean us. It’s not exclusively mine. He intends for me to share it with the children and my husband. Dangit.

I spent a lot of time trying to learn to create Korean flavours before their first visit so I could make them feel at home. Now I’m borderline obsessed. Okay, I’m just plain obsessed. It’s just so good. Korean cuisine is, to me, the comfort food of Asian cuisine. It’s so good, it’s so hearty, it’s so flavourful, and it has a little KICK to it courtesy of the ubiquitous gochujang*. Even better than all of that is the fact that Korean food is easy to make at home. REALLY EASY to make at home! Once you have the most common ingredients in your pantry, you’re just a hop-skip-and-jump from tantalizing, home-cooked Korean food.

 *Thick, brick-red, fermented hot pepper paste that tastes deliciously spicy and salty. It’s like a spicy umami bomb! (The image below is an affiliate link. If you click on it and purchase it, I will receive a small commission which in no way effects the price of the item. Thank you!)

Today’s recipe is a perfect example of A.) Why Korean food rocks and B.) How easy Korean food is. If you’re thinking tortillas aren’t authentically Korean, you’re absolutely right. This just happens to be one of my favourite delivery-to-my-mouth methods for this particular beef. If you wanted to be more in line with how this would actually be served, you’d be more than welcome to serve it over sticky rice. That’d be super tasty, too… But this was my beef and I wanted tacos. Desperately. Besides that, I don’t think the tortilla delivery device stands out big time. It still tastes totally Korean to me!

When you see the list of ingredients, don’t freak out. It’s a little lengthy, but it’s a lot of pantry stuff AND the work isn’t daunting! You start by generously salting and peppering some fresh boneless beef short ribs. And can I just say for a moment how over-the-top my love is for beef short ribs? Moving on…

The salted and peppered beef short ribs are laid down in a screaming hot pan to brown on each side. Please, for the love of all that is tasty, don’t skip this step. I know a lot of folks think that a slow-cooker should relieve you of all effort in cooking, but it just isn’t so. Sure, it takes most of the work out of the long, slow braise it was designed to accomplish, but you still have to build flavours before it goes in to get the optimal result. SO! While you’re browning all of the available surfaces of these soon-to-be-succulent short ribs, you can turn your attention to assembling the sauce/braising liquid. DON’T PANIC. You’re just stirring things together here. Peel, core, and remove the stem for a ripe pear and grate it into the slow-cooker. To that, you’ll add grated ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, gochujang, sesame oil, mirin (or rice wine vinegar), pear or apple juice, and a bit o’ brown sugar. After you stir that all up, you nestle those browned short ribs into the sauce, add the cover and let it rip until the beef falls apart when pulled at with a couple of forks.

Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Taco meat from

At that point, you transfer the beef to a container with a tight fitting lid and deposit it in the refrigerator. I’d like to point out that I ate one of these short ribs before moving onto the next step. Quality control, ya know.

Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos sauce on

The pan sauces are poured into a large, heat-safe bowl or measuring cup, covered with plastic wrap, and stashed in the refrigerator until the fat rises to the top. Skim the fat off and hold onto the sauce. There’s a good chance there will be more than you need, but the beautiful beefy, spicy sauce is excellent drizzled over bowls of hot rice as a snack.

Once the sauce is skimmed, dinner is mere moments away. Shred the beef with two forks, toss with as much of the sauce as you need to make it flavourful and moist but not sloppy then serve. Serve it on charred tortillas, topped with slaw or kimchi like I did, or over rice, but do make this. You can freeze any leftover shredded beef in single meal portions to thaw and reheat for a fast meal later on, making this an ideal addition to our Make Ahead Mondays series. Shoot, it is so good, you probably want to double it so you HAVE some to freeze! While you’re at it, triple the recipe so you can freeze some for entertaining. If you break these out at a football party you will get quite the reputation as the entertainer.

Slow Cooker Korean Beef Tacos for Make Ahead Mondays on

P.S. Cilantro is not usually used in Korean food, but I tossed a few leaves on my taco because I wanted them there. I say go for it if you want them!

5 from 1 reviews
Slow-Cooker Korean Beef Tacos | Make Ahead Mondays
Korean tacos are a big deal in the food world right now. Get to know why when you put your slow-cooker to work on flavourful, tender, Korean beef short ribs and serve them on charred tortillas topped with kimchi or Asian slaw. Double the recipe and freeze leftovers in meal sized portions so you can enjoy whenever the urge strikes!
  • 4 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or peanut oil
  • 1 cup pear juice (or unsweetened apple juice)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3-4 inches of fresh ginger root, grated
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup gochujang
  • ¼ cup mirin or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and stem removed
To Serve:
  • Flour tortillas, charred over an open flame on the stove top, or wrapped in foil and heated in a moderate oven.
  • Kimchi or Asian Style Slaw and Asian Pickled Carrots
  • fresh leaves of cilantro, if the spirit moves you
  • Sriracha
  1. Generously salt and pepper the beef short ribs and set aside.
  2. Put a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat and let it heat while dry for at least 2 minutes but up to 5 minutes. While the skillet heats, stir together the garlic, ginger, light brown sugar, gochujang, mirin or rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce in the crock of your slow-cooker. Grate the pear over the sauce. Cover and turn the heat to HIGH.
  3. Drizzle the oil into the hot cast-iron pan, swirl to coat, and place as many short ribs into the pan as you can without crowding them. They should not touch in the pan. Let them cook about 2-3 minutes, or until the short ribs have developed a deep brown crust on the cooked side, then flip them onto another side. Continue until all four sides of the short rib are well browned. Transfer the browned ribs to the sauce in the slow-cooker. Repeat until all of the short-ribs are well browned. When all the ribs are in the slow-cooker, return the hot pan to the HIGH burner and carefully pour in the pear or apple juice. It should bubble up almost immediately. Scrape all of the caramelized bits off of the pan then pour it into the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or until the beef ribs come apart easily when pulled at. Use tongs to transfer the cooked beef to a container with a tight fitting lid and put it in the refrigerator. Pour the cooking liquid from the crock into a large heat proof container or measuring cup. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the fat separates from the rest of the sauce and rises to the top, about 30 minutes or so. Spoon off the fat and discard it.
  4. If necessary, reheat the beef slightly in the microwave then shred with two forks or your hands. Toss with only as much of the sauce as is necessary to keep it moist. You don't want it to get sloppy wet.
  5. Serve on charred tortillas with Kimchi or Asian style slaw and Asian Pickled Carrots with a drizzle of Sriracha over the top.



    • says

      That’s exactly right. The slow-cooker lets these guys take their time getting fork tender while infusing it with all that great sauce. Sigh. Now I’m wishing I had saved some for the freezer.

  1. Kathryn says

    My standard question – can these be made in a Dutch Oven in the oven? No slow cooker here. Probably what, 8 hours at 350?

  2. says

    As a Korean/American (born and bred in NY, currently living in Seoul), I’m thrilled that you have several Korean recipes on your site and that you are so enthusiastic about Korean cuisine! This looks insanely delicious!

  3. says

    I’ve seen this paste in our local Asian market, but have never tried it. Now I have a reason to try it! What wonderful flavors in this! Featuring on my Facebook page tonight.

  4. says

    Ok, so I know I’m late, but I have to tell you that I just made Bo Samm for the first time last weekend. We are still full!!!! Oh it was Wonderful! So now I have all this Ssamjang ?? and ginger root left over. Can I use it with Sriracha sauce? Will that approximate the flavors?
    I also found a friendly Asian market, so I’m beginning my experimentation with Korean food. On to Short Ribs!

  5. Jen says

    I was wondering if the gochujang is refrigerated? If I go out looking, it may help me to have an idea of where in the store to find it. Also, how long does it keep? Thank you

  6. Michael Lu says

    These Korean beef tacos were amazing!! I was inspired to make Korean beef tacos after having some from a local hotspot and I must say these blow them out of the water!! I made the recipe exactly as stated and they turned out amazing. Tons of flavor and best of all, it was easy! Served them with Foodnetworks Asian style slaw and Sriracha! Give these a try!

  7. Kelly says

    Hi there!
    How many people does this recipe serve? Figuring 2 tacos per person. I want to make this for a party we are having this weekend!!! Looks sooo yummy! Thank you!

  8. Leslie says

    Made these for dinner tonight and they were delicious. The linked slaw recipe went perfect with the beef. Thank you for a great recipe. Oh, and we added the cilantro leaves and they were a perfect complement.

  9. Janice says

    I made these today and they were a hit with everyone in the family. The flavors were so good! I followed the recipe exactly and then reduced the sauce on the stove to make it a bit thicker. Spicy but not too spicy. Yum! Thanks for a great recipe.

  10. Kim says

    Hi, This recipe looks awesome but I’m a little confused with the 3 – 4 inches of grated ginger. What does this mean? I’ve never seen a recipe ingredient measured in inches.

      • Kim says

        It helps immensely and makes perfect sense now. Thanks Rebecca and I’m looking forward to giving this a try! I love Korean food!

  11. Michelle says

    These were really good. However, I will use a different cut of beef next time. I bought 8lbs (EIGHT!) so there would be lots of leftovers. I even got it at a local butcher thinking the ribs would be “meatier”. I ended up with only 1.75 lbs of meat….the rest was bone and mostly FAT. Too pricey for such a small amount. I also had to buy the sauce on Amazon as the local Asian market didn’t carry it and it’s impossible to figure out a sub when everything is written in Korean.

    • says

      Hi Michelle,
      My first thought on seeing that you went from 8 pounds raw to 1.75 pounds cooked beef was that your butcher had hosed you! Then I saw that you had bones and fat leftover and the lightbulb went off… In the recipe, I call for boneless beef short ribs rather than bone-in. Yes, even boneless beef short ribs are a touch on the fatty side, but they’re definitely not 3/4 fat! I think you’ll have far better luck and yield if you ask your butcher for boneless beef short ribs next time.
      As for the gochujang, thank GOODNESS for Amazon, eh? I’d be out of luck too many times to count if I didn’t have Amazon to provide many of my ingredients!

  12. Lia says

    I made these with a couple changes due a special diet and they were delicious. I substituted crushed pineapple and pineapple juice for the pear and apple juice. I omitted the garlic and served scallions at the table.

    My only regret was splurging on organic short-ribs. I think that was a big reason they came out so well, but it was also very expensive for a recipe that would probably work just as well with cheaper meat. I’ll likely try chuck or another roast next time.

    I cooked on low for about 7 hours but think they would have been fine going longer. Next time, I would plan to have the recipe finish earlier next time as the fat didn’t separate in only 30 minutes. It was still tasty though, just a bit oily.

    Overall, great! I had this bookmarked for years and it lived up to my expectations. Thank you!

  13. Mamalala says

    Made these tonight with the carrots I made last week. This meal was so easy and very good. I cooked it to a T and even made the slaw with it. Will make it again for sure. Whole family loved it.


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