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Slow Cooker Ground Beef Ragu

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Beef Ragu in the slow cooker, made with lean ground beef, sausage, onions, carrots, and celery is perfect over pappardelle, spaghetti squash or your favorite pasta.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

My slow cooker recipes are so popular this time of year. I have a delicious slow cooker beef ragu in my Fast and Slow cookbook, made with chunks of beef that mimic short ribs. For this recipe, I wanted to make it with ground beef, which is more economical. I don’t typically like lean ground beef in sauce, but the slow cooker’s low heat makes it so tender you won’t know the difference. Serve it over your favorite pasta, roasted spaghetti squash, or, my favorite… a combination of whole wheat spaghetti and spiralized zucchini. More slow cooker ground beef recipes you may love are this Crock Pot Bolognese, Madison’s Slow Cooker Beef Tacos, and Slow Cooker Picadillo.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

I always have ground beef in my freezer, and one of the ground beef recipes I love to make is meat sauce! This slow cooker recipe is so easy and flavorful, a hit in my home!

What is the difference between beef ragu and Bolognese?

“Ragù” is the Italian word for meat sauce, so Bolognese, originally from Bologna, Italy, is a type of ragu. Ragus are typically thick meat sauces.

Ways to Serve Beef Ragu

  1. Pasta: Serve ground beef ragu with pappardelle or any other kind of pasta with a dollop of ricotta and grated cheese
  2. Volume Eating: Serve it with a combination of whole wheat spaghetti and spiralized zucchini, for a healthy serving of veggies and bigger portions.
  3. Veggies: Or serve it over spiralized zucchini or  roasted spaghetti squash.
  4. Comfort Food: Serve it over creamy polenta or mashed potatoes.
  5. Use it in a homemade lasagna
  6. Side dish: Add an arugula salad or roasted vegetable to complete the meal.

Beef Ragu in the Slow Cooker

Beef Ragu Ingredients:

  • Ground Beef: I use 90% lean ground sirloin.
  • Sausage: Using a spicy Italian chicken sausage link (I love Premio) gives the ragu extra flavor without adding a ton of ingredients. You can also use sweet if you prefer.
  • Vegetables: Chopped onion, carrot, and celery
  • Tomatoes: Use one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes. The Tuttorosso brand is my favorite.
  • Parmesan Rind: I listed this as optional, but I highly recommend using it!
  • Flavor: Bay leaves, and kosher salt flavor the sauce. To elevate the dish, add a few thyme sprigs to the beef.

How to Make Beef Ragu in the Slow Cooker

Using the slow cooker for beef ragu makes most of the cooking hands-off. Start it in the afternoon, and all you have to do right before dinner is boil some pasta. Perfect for a busy weeknight!

  1. Brown the ground sirloin and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and season with salt. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker.
  2. Sauté the vegetables in the skillet on medium-low for a few minutes and then put them in the crock pot.
  3. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and parmesan rind, cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for four to six hours. If you cook it any longer, the sauce will burn. Discard the bay leaves and rind before serving.

How to Store and Freeze

You can store this Italian beef ragu in the refrigerator for three or four days and in the freezer for up to 6 months in airtight containers. Thaw the dish in the fridge overnight and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

slow cooked beef ragu with pappardelle

More Slow Cooker Ground Beef Recipes

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Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

4.73 from 37 votes
Beef Ragu in the slow cooker, made with lean ground beef, sausage, onions, carrots, and celery is perfect over pappardelle or your favorite pasta.
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
Total: 4 hours 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
Serving Size: 7 /8 cup



  • 1 large onion, finely chopped 1 cup
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped 1/2 cup
  • 1 large celery, diced 1/3 cup
  • 3/4 pound ground sirloin beef, 90% lean
  • 1 link Italian spicy or sweet chicken sausage, 2.9 oz, removed from casing
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes, I swear by Tuttorosso
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Parmesan rind, optional
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt


  • In a large skillet over high heat, brown the beef and sausage and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Brown the meat, breaking it into smaller pieces with your spoon until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  • Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to the skillet. Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté on medium-low for about 3 to 4 minutes, until soft. Transfer to the slow cooker, add the crushed tomatoes, bay leaves, and Parmesan rind if using, cover and cook low 4 to 6 hours. (Any longer, the sauce will burn.)
  • When the meat sauce is ready, discard bay leaves and rind and serve.

Last Step:

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Makes 5 1/4 cups.
If you don't have a slow cooker, you can let this simmer on the stove with 1/2 cup broth, covered on low stirring so it doesn't burn 1 to 2 hours.


Serving: 7 /8 cup, Calories: 176 kcal, Carbohydrates: 15 g, Protein: 16 g, Fat: 7 g, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 47 mg, Sodium: 553 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 8 g