Crockpot Shredded Beef (Best & Most Flavorful)

Forget the expensive barbecue joint and make this delicious crockpot shredded beef at home! It has the same smokey flavor thanks to smoked paprika and cumin. It’s easy too. It uses flavorful beef short ribs, a simple spice rub, and your favorite barbecue sauce. Serve it in a toasted brioche hamburger bun topped with coleslaw for an amazing sandwich that’s perfect for lunch, brunch, or dinner!

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Crockpot shredded beef sandwich on a dark wood cutting board on top of a cream napkin.

We have been thoroughly enjoying this crockpot shredded beef at home for a while now. For good reason, it’s absolutely delicious, tastes just like an expensive barbecue restaurant, and is so easy to make!

You don’t need a smoker to get the smokey flavor. That is accomplished with smoked paprika and cumin. The ingredients are quite simple and, like with these slow cooker sweet & sour ribs, your Crockpot does most of the work.

We love to serve this beef in brioche buns, topped with coleslaw, but this recipe is so versatile, and with a few modifications, you can make shredded beef tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burritos, or quesadillas.

Serve these sandwiches with a side of chicken macaroni salad, and you’ll have a meal that is sure to please!

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❤️ Reasons to Love This Recipe

  • It has restaurant quality flavor without the expensive price tag.
  • It’s a definite crowd pleaser. Serve this at your next potluck or picnic and expect to get compliments and requests for the recipe.
  • It’s make ahead friendly. You can easily make this ahead and freeze it to have on hand whenever you need something that’s ready to go. It will keep in the freezer for up to five months.
  • It’s high protein for long-lasting energy.
  • It’s easy. Simply combine the ingredients for the dry rub, rub it on the ribs, cook the ribs in the Crockpot, and shred the beef.

🥩 Ingredients

Crockpot shredded beef ingredients.
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar. Light or dark. For sugar free, substitute Swerve brown sugar replacement (aff link).
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Adds smokey flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder. Adds flavor and spice.
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. Adds smokey flavor. You can substitute regular paprika, but it won’t have the same smokey flavor.
  • ½ teaspoon salt.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper. Adds flavor and spice.
  • 3 pounds beef short ribs. These are essential for tender, flavorful shredded beef.
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce. For sugar free, use a sugar free barbecue sauce, like one of these from G Hughes Smokehouse. (affiliate link)
  • ¼ cup water.
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce. Stir this into the cooked, shredded beef for added flavor.
  • 6 brioche rolls. We love brioche hamburger buns for this recipe, but you can use your favorite hamburger bun.
  • ¾ cup coleslaw. Optional. Coleslaw adds a nice crunch and flavor, but feel free to omit, if desired.

📝 Instructions

Spray the inside of Crockpot with cooking spray.

Ingredients for spice rub in a small white bowl
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and ground red pepper.
Beef short ribs rubbed with spice rub in a white bowl
Rub ribs with spice mixture.
Beef short ribs in a slow cooker.
Place ribs in Crockpot, fat side up.
Beef short ribs in a slow cooker topped with barbecue sauce.  Water is being poured over the top.
Pour in barbecue sauce and water.

Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 4½ hours. Ribs are done when they are very tender and meat shreds easily.

Remove ribs to a large cutting board. Discard bones and remove meat to a large bowl. Shred meat using two forks pulling away from each other in opposite directions. Discard any large pieces of fat or sinew. Stir in 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce and 2 tablespoons of liquid from the Crockpot.

Completed shredded beef sandwich on a dark wood cutting board on a cream napkin.
Toast brioche buns and arrange bottom half of rolls on a platter. Top each with ¼ cup beef mixture and 1 tablespoon coleslaw. Place roll tops on each.

🍴 Equipment

  • Small bowl. Used to combine the dry rub.
  • Crockpot.
  • Large bowl. Used to shred the beef. You can shred it on a large cutting board as well. A large bowl will make the job cleaner though.

ℹ️ Substitutions

💡 Variations

  • Chicken – Substitute chicken boneless, skinless thighs for the beef. Cook for on high for 4-6 hours or until temperature registers 165 F (74 C).
  • Pork – Substitute one 3-pound pork shoulder roast for beef short ribs. Increase water to ½ cup. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  • Shredded Beef Tacos, Enchiladas, Nachos, Burritos, or Quesadillas – Substitute one cup of beef broth for the barbecue sauce. Use shredded beef in tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burritos, or quesadillas.
Crockpot shredded beef sandwich on a dark wood cutting board on top of a cream napkin with a dark wood background.

🌡️ Storage

This shredded beef will keep in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days. It also freezes well in a freezer safe container. Store it in a freezer safe container. It will keep in your freezer for four to five months. Reheat in the microwave then eat immediately.

See more sandwich and wraps recipes →

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Recipe from the Crockpot Recipe Collection.

📖 Recipe

Crockpot shredded beef sandwich on a dark wood cutting board on top of a cream napkin.

Crockpot Shredded Beef

Heavenly Home Cooking

Forget the expensive barbecue joint and make this delicious crockpot shredded beef at home! It has the same smokey flavor thanks to smoked paprika and cumin. It’s easy too. It uses flavorful beef short ribs, a simple spice rub, and your favorite barbecue sauce. Serve it in a toasted brioche hamburger bun topped with coleslaw for an amazing sandwich that’s perfect for lunch, brunch, or dinner!

Prep Time 5 mins

Cook Time 7 hrs

Total Time 7 hrs 5 mins

Course Brunch, Dinner, Lunch

Cuisine American

Servings 6 servings

Calories 711 kcal

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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Spray the inside of Crockpot with cooking spray.

  • In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, salt, and ground red pepper.

    1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper

  • Rub ribs with spice mixture.

    3 pounds beef short ribs

  • Place ribs in Crockpot, fat side up.

  • Pour in barbecue sauce and water.

    ½ cup barbecue sauce, ¼ cup water

  • Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 4½ hours. Ribs are done when they are very tender and meat shreds easily.

  • Remove ribs to a large cutting board. Discard bones and remove meat to a large bowl. Shred meat using two forks pulling away from each other in opposite directions.. Discard any large pieces of fat or sinew. Stir in 2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce and 2 tablespoons of liquid from the Crockpot.

    2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

  • Toast brioche buns and arrange bottom half of rolls on a platter. Top each with ¼ cup beef mixture and 1 tablespoon coleslaw. Place roll tops on each.

    6 brioche rolls, ¾ cup coleslaw

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 711kcal (36%)Carbohydrates: 54g (18%)Protein: 42g (84%)Fat: 36g (55%)Saturated Fat: 18g (113%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonnounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 241mg (80%)Sodium: 1000mg (43%)Potassium: 699mg (20%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 12g (13%)Vitamin A: 1097IU (22%)Vitamin C: 3mg (4%)Calcium: 82mg (8%)Iron: 5mg (28%)

Nutritional information provided is for one serving and is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Total Servings 6 servings

Food safety

  • Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
  • Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
  • Wash hands after touching raw meat.
  • Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
  • Never leave cooking food unattended.
  • Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
  • Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove.

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

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