Slow Cooker Bolognese

Slow Cooker Bolognese

recipe image

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Photo by HalfPint
  • Makes
    2.5 quarts
Author Notes

With the days getting colder, we were in need of comfort food. For me, that meant pasta bolognese and I wanted to use my slow cooker. There’s something comforting about food gently simmering away in a Crockpot. This bolognese is adapted from a few recipes. The resulting sauce is so good (without being too rich) that we had pasta bolognese all week. Use a red wine that you like to drink. It doesn’t have to be an expensive red. In fact, I used my husband’s favorite red, the Yellowtail shiraz-cabernet blend, which is ~$7 a bottle and the resulting sauce is swoon-worthy. —HalfPint


  • 2 cups

    chopped carrots (~2 large carrots)

  • 2 cups

    chopped celery (~3 large celery stalks)

  • 3 cups

    chopped onions (~1 very large onion)

  • 1 tablespoon

    minced garlic

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 3 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried oregano, crushed finely with your hands

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme or thyme powder

  • 2 pounds

    ground beef

  • 28 ounces

    canned whole peeled tomatoes or canned crushed tomatoes

  • 1 cup

    whole milk

  • 1 cup

    drinkable dry red wine

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 2 teaspoons

    salt, plus more if needed

  1. In a large skillet, brown the carrots, celery, onions & garlic in the olive oil.
  2. Once the vegetables start to caramelize, add the oregano and thyme. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the tomato paste. Mix to combine the tomato paste. You’ll get a lovely orange/red tinge to the mixture. Cook and stir for ~1 minute, taking care not to burn the mixture. Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Add tomatoes to the slow cooker with the vegetable mixture. If using whole peeled tomatoes, crush the tomatoes with your hand and add to the slow cooker.
  4. In the same skillet, brown the beef. You can do in batches if needed. Transfer to the slow cooker with a slotted spoon if there’s too much fat. I use grass-fed beef that is probably ~15% fat and doesn’t have much fat rendered out after browning.
  5. Add milk, wine, salt, and bay leaves slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover with lid. Cook on High for 3-4 hours or on Low for ~6 hours, stirring about every hour or so.
  6. Taste and add more salt if needed. Discard the bay leaves. Serve with your favorite pasta.
  7. Note: this makes a fairly thick sauce. When I make pasta bolognese, I keep ~1/2 cup of the pasta water to add to the sauce, then I finish the pasta in the sauce.

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