Including chuck roast, fire-roasted tomatoes, aromatics, and red wine, this Slow Cooker Beef Ragu has a deep, rich flavor bursting in every bite. Serve over pappardelle or your favorite noodles for an easy weeknight dinner.
Easy Beef Ragu Recipe
This recipe takes a classic Italian beef ragu recipe and turns it into an easy weeknight dinner by giving the majority of the work to the slow cooker. Instead of watching carefully as the sauce simmers for hours, you can just set it and forget it in the morning. Then come home from work, boil some noodles, and enjoy a mouthwatering dinner.
This sauce is similar to my bolognese sauce with a few differences, including using chuck roast instead of ground beef, and slightly more robust than classic spaghetti sauce due to the red wine – though all three are so delicious. You’ll just have to try them all and decide your favorite!
What Is Ragu?
Ragu is a popular meat-based tomato sauce that’s typically served over pasta, most commonly pappardelle. It’s usually made with onions and garlic, along with some dry red wine, for a thick, chunky, and savory meat pasta sauce.
This slow cooker tomato sauce is loaded with flavor, from a few seasonings and herbs as well as onions, garlic, and wine.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Olive oil – For pan searing the meat first.
- Chuck roast– Cut into 2-inch cubes.
- Onion & garlic – Adds aromatics and flavor to the ragu beef.
- Dry red wine – Red wine gives this sauce a wonderful deep flavor. I recommend a merlot, pinot noir, or cabernet sauvignon. It doesn’t have to be a high end brand, but avoid bottom shelf. Use something you enjoy drinking.
- Fire-roasted crushed tomatoes – Fired roasted tomatoes do not make this sauce spicy, they just add more depth of flavor. Regular crushed tomatoes can be used instead, if preferred.
- Tomato paste – Enhances the tomato flavor in the meat pasta sauce.
- Spices & seasonings – Fresh thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper add additional flavor.
- Pappardelle – Pappardelle are the noodles traditionally served with ragu but you can use any other noodles desired. They are cooked separately from the sauce.
- Parmesan cheese (optional) – Freshly grated parmesan cheese is added for serving. You can omit if you need a dairy free meal.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
The great thing about this recipe is that beyond a few minutes spent searing the beef, the slow cooker does all the work.
(Don’t miss the detailed printable recipe card below.)
- Sear the beef. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the chuck roast and sear until browned, working in batches if needed. Transfer to the crockpot.
- Sauté the aromatics. Sauté the onions until softened, then add the garlic. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Simmer for 2 minutes, then transfer to the crockpot.
- Cook in the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the pasta and parmesan, to the crockpot. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 6 hours on high.
- Shred the meat. Shred the meat into small pieces with a fork.
- Enjoy. Serve the ragu sauce over cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.
Do I Have To Pre-Cook The Ingredients?
I highly recommend taking the time to sauté the meat and vegetables before putting them in the crockpot, because it really elevates all of the flavors and you will notice a difference with the end result. However, if you are pinched for time or just want to simplify the recipe, you can skip that step.
Tips & Variations
Here are a few tips for making homemade beef ragu.
- Sear the beef. Searing the beef before transferring it to the slow cooker adds so much flavor to the dish.
- Can’t find (or not interested in using) pappardelle? This meat pasta sauce can be used with any pasta.
- Swap out the wine. If you don’t drink alcohol, you can replace the wine with beef broth.
- Cook the pasta separately. I like to begin cooking the pasta just before I shred the meat, so everything is ready to serve at more or less the same time.
As mentioned above, you can serve this ragu sauce with pappardelle or any other pasta of your choosing. I also add a generous serving of freshly grated parmesan on top as well, but you can omit if needing to keep this a dairy free meal.
For sides, I like to keep it classic with a simple side salad (or caesar salad) and some breadsticks. Garlic bread is also a tasty option and pull-apart garlic parmesan bread is a fun and tasty options for guests.
How to Store Leftovers
- Storing leftovers. Store leftover ragu meat sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave. I do recommend storing it separately from any leftover pasta.
- Can You Freeze Ragu Pasta Sauce? Yes, this beef ragu pasta sauce freezes very well. It will last in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat gently on the stove or microwave.
More Beef Crockpot Recipes:
- Slow Cooker Beef Brisket
- Corned Beef & Cabbage
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Taco Soup
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 pound chuck roast , cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 medium onion , chopped
- 5 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 28 ounce can fired-roasted crushed tomatoes , undrained
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 16 ounces pappardelle , cooked per package directions, for serving
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese , for serving (optional to keep this meal dairy free)
- Coat a 6-quart crockpot with nonstick spray.
- Warm the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once shimmering (but not smoking) add the chuck roast pieces with space in between; sear the meat until the sides have browned (you might need to work in batches.) Transfer the meat to the crockpot.
- Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 20 seconds. Deglaze your pan with the red wine and allow it to simmer for two minutes. Transfer the mixture to the crockpot.
- Add to the crockpot, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, fresh thyme, bay leaves, salt, and pepper; stir to combine. Cover with the lid and set it to low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
- Using two forks, shred the meat into small pieces.
- Serve the ragu over the cooked pasta with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.