Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

This was restaurant good! But don’t skip on the browning and sautéing before letting it slow cook!

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Ragu is not bolognese. It is a meat-based sauce with a small amount of tomato sauce added to it. Ragu sauce has more meat and minced elements. Bolognese is a variation of Ragu and the most popular version of Ragu.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6


  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 lb chuck roast
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan and fresh parsley, for serving


  • In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Season chuck roast with salt and pepper and sear until browned on all sides, 10 minutes. Remove into a large bowl.
  • Heat remaining oil, still over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft, 6 minutes. Add garlic, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
  • Add tomato paste and cook until it is darkened in color, 1 to 2 minutes more. Deglaze pot with wine, scraping any brown bits up at the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon.
  • Add whole peeled tomatoes, water, thyme, bay leaf, balsamic vinegar, and seared pot roast and season with salt and pepper.
  • Stir to combine and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until meat easily shreds, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If using a slow cooker then slow cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  • Use a wooden spoon to break up tomatoes and meat, and remove bay leaf. Serve over your favorite pasta or polenta. Top with parmesan and parsley before serving.

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