Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce (Slow Cooker Recipe)

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce

I had beef short ribs for the first time at Olive Garden. They have this wonderful dish called Braised Beef & Tortelloni. It’s been at least a few years since I first had this dish and I have wanted to recreate this dish ever since. I googled many times over the years for a recipe and even sent Darden Restaurants an email to no avail. I have made beef short ribs at home several times with great results and recently made Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs in a slow cooker. Just recently though, I decided to drastically modify that America’s Test Kitchen recipe to recreate Olive Garden’s Braised Beef and Tortelloni (bigger tortellini) recipe.

The description on the menu includes portobello mushrooms and a basil-marsala cream sauce. Why not make it easy on myself and make it in the slow cooker like the red wine-braised recipe? After it was done cooking in the slow cooker, I removed the beef to allow it to rest and strained the sauce from the slow cooker and put it into a fat separator (my new favorite kitchen tool – the Oxo brand fat separator) and reduced the sauce, added sauteed portobellos and 1/2 cup of heavy cream.

The results? Amazing! I’m thrilled it out worked! I used store-bought tortelloni and it worked out awesome. This is a dish that may just enter into our regular rotation. My husband isn’t too crazy about tortelloni or tortellini so he had his with fettuccine which was also great! Add your favorite garlic bread or buttery rolls and you have Italian comfort food at its best.

Being careful with your knife, remove the short rib meat from the bone. I stand it up straight so I can get most of the meat off of the bone.

After microwaving the bones, place them at the bottom of the slow cooker.

In batches, brown the boneless short ribs.

Place them on top of the short rib bones in the slow cooker.

Brown the veggies and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot/pan.

This sauce is layered with flavor!

Pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce

Using a fat separator to remove the fat from a sauce or gravy is much faster than skimming it.

If you make any of recipes and decide to share them on instagram or twitter be sure to tag me @thelittlekitchn and use the hashtag #thelittlekitchenrecipes! I love seeing your posts and photos!

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce (Slow Cooker Recipe)

Yield: 4-5 generous servings

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 9 hours 20 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours 20 minutes


4 pounds bone-in short ribs, meat and bones separated

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 onion, chopped medium

1 carrot, peeled and chopped medium

1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried

2 Tbsp minced fresh basil or 2 tsp dried

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

2 cups marsala cooking wine

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 large portobello mushrooms, remove gills, cut into quarters and sliced

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced

9 oz. package of refrigerated cheese tortelloni


Place beef bones in a microwavable casserole dish and microwave, 10 to 12 minutes; add to slow cooker.

Use paper towels to dry short rib meat and add salt & pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a French oven at medium high heat for 4-5 minutes. In batches (if needed), brown short ribs on each side for about 7 to 10 minutes; add to slow cooker top of the bones. (Repeat for each batch.)

Add garlic, onion, carrot, thyme, and basil to French oven and cook over medium-high heat until onions are translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, mixing the entire time.

Whisk in wine and vinegar, use the whisk to scrape up browned bits at the bottom of your French oven. Reduce for about 5 minutes until the alcohol is reduced. Add drained tomatoes to wine sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Add wine sauce to slow cooker.

Add broth and stir in as best as you can in slow cooker. Add bay leaves to slow cooker. Cover and cook for 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Remove short ribs to platter and add foil but do not cover tightly. Allow meat to rest at least 15-20 minutes before slicing.

Using a strainer on top of a fat separator (not the one it came with because the holes are too big), strain braising liquid into fat separator. Set aside and discard solids.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil at medium heat in a braising pan or non-stick skillet for about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove and place mushrooms on a clean plate.

Add set aside braising liquid to pan and heat for about 5 minutes. While the sauce is being heated, start a large pot of salted boiling water and cook tortelloni according to package directions.

Reduce the sauce in the pan's heat to low. Add mushrooms, half of the diced tomatoes and heavy cream. Reduce sauce for another 4-5 minutes and then leave on warm until you're ready to serve with tortelloni. Garnish dishes with remaining diced tomatoes.

From The Little Kitchen, inspired by Olive Garden's Braised Beef & Tortelloni

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Disclosure: Olive Garden doesn’t know who the heck I am and this post does contain an affiliate link.

53 Responses to “Braised Beef Short Ribs with Tortelloni in a Marsala Cream Sauce (Slow Cooker Recipe)”

  1. 1
    Rachel — May 2, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    Julie – this looks AMAZING …. I can’t wait to try this. This was one of my husband’s favorite Olive Garden dishes too.


    • JulieD replied: May 2nd, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

      That’s so funny, Rachel. It’s the only thing I order when I go there. :)


  2. 2
    Penelope — May 2, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    Omg, it looks awesome and I love tortellini with it…I’m stumbling this, the pictures are incredible too.


    • JulieD replied: May 10th, 2011 @ 10:32 pm

      Thank you, Penelope!


  3. 3
    Crissy — May 2, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    I have morning sickness pretty bad today, but this still looks delicious!


  4. 4
    Shop with Me Mama (Kim) — May 2, 2011 @ 9:22 pm

    Oh this looks really good! I love slow cooker recipes :)


    • JulieD replied: May 10th, 2011 @ 10:49 pm

      Thank you! I hope you try it!


  5. 5
    Brandy — May 3, 2011 @ 1:05 am

    Always up for a slow cooker recipe! Thanks for sharing.


  6. 6
    Crystal @ Simply Being Mommy — May 3, 2011 @ 8:18 am

    Looks delicious!


  7. 7
    trisha — May 3, 2011 @ 9:03 am

    this looks fantastic!!!


  8. 8
    Ty @ Mama of 3 Munchkins — May 3, 2011 @ 10:01 am

    This looks absolutely AMAZING… I definitely going to have to try this.


  9. 9
    Mary @ Delightful Bitefuls — May 3, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

    WOW! This looks incredibly delicious. I’ve bookmarked this to try soon!

    New to your blog; happy I found you!

    Mary xo


    • JulieD replied: May 10th, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

      Thank you, Mary! I hope you do try it and enjoy it! :) So glad I found your site as well.


  10. 10
    Shasta — May 4, 2011 @ 7:54 am

    Yum! Looks like I found something to cook for my dh’s homecoming party! Thanks!


    • Shasta replied: May 4th, 2011 @ 7:55 am

      Oh, and he’s actually coming home from being away, he’s not in high school. Sounded kinda weird when I read it back to myself lol.


      • JulieD replied: May 10th, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

        You’re so funny, Shasta. I totally understood what you meant. Would love to hear about it if you tried it. :)


  11. 11
    Sky — May 4, 2011 @ 8:17 am

    YUM! Slow cooker recipes are a must for our family. I’m definitely storing this one away for the future!


  12. 12
    Carolyn G — May 4, 2011 @ 10:49 am

    OMG this looks so fantastic. I am definitely printing and filing this away because I LOVE short ribs. Yum!


  13. 13
    Gina — May 4, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

    Looks amazing!


  14. 14
    Sarah — May 4, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    This looks fabulous! I look forward to trying it, I turn to the slow cooker not only for hearty winter meals but when it gets too hot to turn on the stove.

    I put that fat separator on my Amazon wish list, looks like a great tool to have.


    • JulieD replied: May 10th, 2011 @ 11:29 pm

      You’ll love the fat separator for soups too. I love my slow cooker too, it’s really a must have in every kitchen. Thanks, Sarah!


  15. 15
    TerriAnn — May 5, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

    Oh my goodness – that looks so easy and delish!


  16. 16
    blueviolet @ A Nut in a Nutshell — May 9, 2011 @ 8:51 am

    That looks absolutely outstanding!


  17. 17
    Tired Mom Tésa — May 22, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    This is my favorite meal at Olive Garden! I’m so glad to hear you made this and loved it. It looks amazing! I’m excited to try to make it at home now too!


  18. 18
    Jacqueline — June 8, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

    Julie — I waitressed at the Olive Garden for years and this was always my favorite dish. I wanted to recreate it myself but never got hold of the recipe. I stumbled upon your website and tried this out…it tastes just like it!! Good job!


    • JulieD replied: June 12th, 2011 @ 2:43 am

      Hi Jacqueline, thanks for trying the recipe. So glad you liked the recipe! You made me smile!


  19. 19
    Roxie — February 22, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    Thanks for this recipe! I made this last night. It’s a least as good as, if not better than, the original! Spot on. Thank you!


  20. 20
    Amy — February 27, 2012 @ 6:36 pm

    This tastes identical to Olive Garden’s thanks so much for the great find!


  21. 21
    Stacie @ The Divine Miss Mommy — June 12, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    OMG this looks fabulous. My mouth is watering. I may have to make this for my husband this weekend for Father’s Day.


  22. 22
    Rylie's Mommy — December 10, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

    I have been searching forever for a copycat recipe for Braised Beef Tortellini at Olive Garden. I’m going to make this for Christmas dinner and need to know how many servings this is. So I can double or scale back the recipe according to my dinner guests. Thanks!!


    • Julie Deily replied: December 12th, 2012 @ 1:16 am

      Hi there, Rylie’s Mommy, I can’t believe I didn’t put this in the recipe to begin with. I would say there’s 4-5 big servings in this recipe – even more if you don’t have big eaters. Hope that helps!


  23. 23
    Traci — January 29, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    Im cooking this now..cant wait till
    tonight its smelling delicious!!


    • Julie Deily replied: January 29th, 2013 @ 10:45 am

      Oh my goodness, hope you enjoy it!! Please send pictures, I love posting them on my facebook page! :)


  24. 24
    Slade Roberts — February 13, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

    Ok, I am making this tomorrow for Valentines day! I love this dish at the Olive Garden! I don’t have a slow cooker, but I will braise the Short ribs in a dutch oven then make the recipe. Can’t wait.


  25. 25
    Rachel — April 21, 2013 @ 11:52 am

    Just had this last night for the 1st time at the Olive Garden and loved it so I decided to google any similar recipes. So glad to have found this! I’m going to try it today! Thanks Julie!


    • Julie Deily replied: April 21st, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

      I hope you enjoy it if you make it! We love this dish!!


  26. 26
    Rachel — May 19, 2013 @ 10:29 pm

    Thank you, I made this today and it was delicious! Will definitely make again. :)


  27. 27
    Joe — May 28, 2013 @ 4:19 am

    I also love the braised beef and tortelloni dish from olive garden. :) I was craving it the other night and tried to find a recipe online that was similar to it, I settled on this one. It was excellent! Hit the spot!! Thank you for sharing.


  28. 28
    Terri — June 25, 2013 @ 4:28 pm

    Making this right now! Smells amazing!


  29. 29
    Lovelle — July 9, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    Made this last night into the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately I didnt have ALL of the ingredients so I had to improvise where I could. Instead of Marsala, I used Pinot Grigio. And instead of Beef Short Ribs I had Beef Country Ribs. The flavor was/is great (eating some now… at 7:45 am), but definitely not Olive Garden. Next time I make this recipe, I will use all the ingredients called for.

    *PS – I added a little fresh grated parmesan cheese… it was like chewing on a million bucks! mmmm.


  30. 30
    Robert — January 24, 2014 @ 5:17 pm

    Ive made this recipe 5 times all but once on a stove top in about 2 hours and it tasted the same. I generally use different cuts of meats but am trying to short ribs for the first time today. Thanks for the great recipe!


  31. 31
    Nancy — February 17, 2014 @ 2:38 pm

    Thank you… this is my favorite Olive Garden dish and I tried to get the recipe also. This recipe is so much better than the others I saw online and tried. I made this dish last night and let it cook overnight. Came out great. I didn’t see why the vegetable oil was on the ingredient list? Love it!!!!! Thank you again, Nancy Freeport, NY


  32. 32
    mark — March 31, 2014 @ 8:27 am

    this recipe is great and very close to the olive garden one but a few tweaks can make it even closer (and easier to make). first off, there’s no point in cooking the onions before they go into the crock pot for 5 hours on high! they cook away to nothing anyway and cooking them until transparent doesn’t enhance their flavor any. also, add the chicken broth to the wine while its in the pan, don’t try and mix it in the crockpot with the meat. that’s just unnecessarily difficult for no purpose. there’s also no point in removing the bones from the meat ahead of time. after cooking, the meat will just fall off the bones.
    also the meat to tortelloni ratio is WAY off. we use a 24 oz package of ravioli’s or tortelloni and only 2 lbs of boneless ribs and there’s still way more meat and sauce than anything else. there’s also no point to frying the mushrooms. just throw them in the sauce and simmer at the end.
    hope this helps.


    • Julie Deily replied: April 5th, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

      Hi Mark,

      True, the onions do cook down but it adds to the sauce flavor that we’re creating when we cook up all of the goodness together before putting it into the crockpot. I remove the meat from the bones and cook the bones in the microwave to render a lot of the fat (I don’t put the fat into the crockpot), hope that helps explain why I did what I did.


    • Shelley replied: November 15th, 2014 @ 10:54 pm

      We love this dish at Olive Garden and I can’t wait to try this recipe!!! I just wanted to suggest to Mark that it isn’t necessary to change up someone’s recipe that they are willing to share with others. Just post your own version on your own website.


  33. 33
    Kerri — August 26, 2014 @ 6:57 pm

    My slow cooker just turned off with this in it. About to finish the final steps. So sad Olive Garden doesn’t make this anymore but it smells the same! Excited to try it


    • Kerri replied: August 26th, 2014 @ 8:27 pm

      OMG seriously. If heaven had a taste this would be it.itnis exactly the same if my better. I LOVE YOU


      • Julie Deily replied: September 25th, 2014 @ 9:28 pm

        Kerri, sooo sooo happy to hear this!! Now I’m craving this again! :)


  34. 34
    Heather — September 26, 2014 @ 11:50 am

    I just put everything into the crockpot. I have never had the OG version, but this smells incredible! I can’t wait to try it!

    Also, while googling this recipe (a friend on FB made it) I found that OG has it back on their menu now after so many people complained about it being gone!


    • Maniak68 replied: October 17th, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

      They did bring it back I just brought it home from OG to try for the first time. Wow, I think it is the best dish they have.. My wife could not stop eating off of my plate, it was so good.

      This recipe looks amazing and I can’t wait to make this. Thanks Julie.


  35. 35
    Clora — November 19, 2014 @ 8:18 pm

    I’m making this right now……in the crock pot, this is my Sons favorite dish at Olive Garden…so I’ll have him rate this for me……it’s gonna be good! Thanks for sharing.


  36. 36
    Theresa — December 26, 2014 @ 7:35 am

    This was fantastic. I made it for Christmas dinner yesterday. Thank you for figuring this recipe out!


  37. 37
    Darien — May 27, 2015 @ 1:52 pm

    I just came back from the store and realized my short ribs are boneless (I was in such a rush!!) Will it still be okay??


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