This Crockpot ragu recipe is hearty, full of flavor, and it makes a big batch that's perfect for freezing so you always have a quick and delicious dinner option readily available.
This recipe originally appeared on The Recipe Critic. I contribute one recipe a month to Alyssa's food blog.
I’ve aimed to make this sauce fairly close to the traditional Italian version, so there is not a lot of tomato in here, contrary to popular belief in North America of what ragu sauce is. So, what is ragu? Ragu is a hearty meat sauce with a splash of cream added at the end to lighten it and give it a wonderful richer flavor. The combination of the meats and mirepoix (sautéd carrots, onions, and celery) really make this sauce shine.
This is the type of thing I always have in my freezer. I usually just throw in whatever without measuring since I've made spaghetti sauce so many times, but it's a staple in my diet. I love being able to quickly defrost and warm up a single-size container of this sauce for a hot meal on busy weeknights when I'm fending for myself. I freeze double-size containers for when my husband and I will both be eating it.
How to make ragu spaghetti sauce in the Crockpot
- Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in a large skillet until softened. Add the mix to your slow cooker.
- Cook the ground meats in the skillet until browned, then add them to the Crockpot.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, seasonings, broth, and wine to the Crockpot. Stir. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Stir in the cream and season with salt & pepper as needed.
Ragu is traditionally served over spaghetti. I love to top it with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Fresh parsley is optional!
Instant Pot instructions
Sauté the carrots, onions, and celery in your Instant Pot using the “sauté” function for 3-4 minutes, then add the ground meat and continue cooking until it’s browned. Spoon out most of the fat. Add the remaining ingredients (except for cream and salt & pepper), close the lid, set the valve on “sealing” and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Stir in the cream and season with salt & pepper as needed. Or, try a similar recipe for my Instant Pot spaghetti sauce.
- If you’re in a huge rush, you can just throw everything in the Crockpot and mix it together without doing the sautéing/browning step, but the sauce won’t be quite as flavorful, so I don’t recommend skipping that step unless totally necessary.
- If you don’t drink wine, you may leave it out. Just replace it with the same amount of beef broth.
- This sauce freezes well. I like to freeze it in individual portions.
- I prefer using a blend of beef and pork in this recipe. It’s what my mom did when I was growing up, and it just adds a nice balance of flavor. You could also trying making a mix with beef and sausage meat or ground veal.
- In a hurry? Buy a bag of the pre-chopped carrots/celery/veggie mixes and throw it in.
- I haven’t tested it, but you could cook this sauce for 3-4 hours on high. I do prefer to cook it low and slow, though, for better flavor (at least 6 hours).
More ground beef/pork recipes you may like:
- Easy Beef Bowls
- Instant Pot Beef Chili
- Ground Pork Tacos with Apple Slaw
- Crockpot Taco Soup Recipe
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe (Big Batch!)
- Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe
- Easy Cheesy Taco Pasta
Will you make this slow cooker ragu sauce recipe?
Questions? Leave me a comment below.
Crockpot Ragu Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 medium carrots chopped
- 4 sticks celery chopped
- 1.5 pounds ground beef
- 1.5 pounds ground pork
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 (5.5 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 dashes Italian seasoning
- 2 dashes dried thyme
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional, see note)
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Add the mixture to your slow cooker.
- Add the ground beef and pork to the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with your spoon as you go along, until it's browned. Drain most of the fat prior to adding the meat to your slow cooker.
- Add the remaining ingredients (except for the cream and salt & pepper) to your Crockpot and give it a good stir. Cook for 8 hours on low.
- Once the sauce is done, stir in the cream and season with salt & pepper as needed.
- The red wine adds great flavor to this sauce, but if you don't want to use it, replace it with the same amount of beef broth.
- This sauce freezes well. I like to freeze it in small containers so I've got individual portions that thaw quickly on the stove.
- This recipe conservatively feeds 8 but will feed more depending on how much people eat.
- Instant Pot Instructions: Sauté the carrots, onions, and celery in your Instant Pot using the "sauté" function for 3-4 minutes, then add the ground meat and continue cooking until it's browned. Spoon out most of the fat. Add the remaining ingredients (except for cream and salt & pepper), close the lid, set the valve on "sealing" and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Stir in the cream and season with salt & pepper as needed.