Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Easy slow cooker bolognese sauce recipe, homemade with simple ingredients. Loaded with ground beef, tomatoes, carrots, celery and lots of Italian herbs. Best served with spaghetti.
This homemade will take pasta night to the next level. It is hearty and embodies all the flavors of a Grandma’s hundred year old recipe, without having to stand over a pot all day. This Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is another delicious and quick option.
What is Bolognese?
It is an Italian Ragu or tomato sauce with meat, traditionally cooked on low-heat for many hours. This version BWLOW just puts the “many hours” in the crockpot instead of on the stovetop.
How To Make Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce Recipe From Scratch?
- Prep pan– Heat butter and oil in a pan.
- Saute vegetables– This includes onion, garlic, carrots, celery.
- Transfer- To slow cooker.
- Cook beef– Until no longer pink.
- Transfer- To crockpot
- Deglaze pan- With red wine and scrape all the brown bits.
- Transfer- To crockpot.
- Add remaining ingredients in slow cooker- This includes crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, milk, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, sugar, crushed bouillon cubes, red chili flakes, bay leaf.
- Mix- Until combined.
- Cover– And cook.
- Enjoy! Garnish with parsley.
What To Serve With Best Beef Bolognese Sauce?
Pastas are the classic choice:
- Spaghetti, fettuccine rigatoni, penne.
- Zoodles or spaghetti squash (low carb healthy alternatives)
This hearty sauce can also be used as a topping or filling for:
- Slow Cooked Mashed Potatoes
- Baked potatoes
- Stuffed peppers
- Grilled cheese sandwiches
What is The Difference Between Traditional Bolognese Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce?
Both sauces are red meat based sauces. However, bolognese has milk, making it a creamier sauce, instead of simply a tomato based sauce.
Why Do You Put Milk In Bolognese Sauce?
It makes the sauce richer and silky smooth. I highly recommend using whole milk!
Variations for Homemade Pasta Bolognese
Turkey bolognese– Use ground turkey or even shredded or diced leftover turkey.
Chicken bolognese– Use ground chicken or shredded leftover or rotisserie chicken.
Add shrimp or crab– Make it a seafood sauce as a twist on a classic.
Add ground pork– For another layer of flavor and richness.
Add Italian sausage– You can use mild, sweet, or hot based on your preference.
Add meatballs– You can add pre-cooked frozen meatballs.
Add mushrooms– Add your favorite whether it be morels, portobello, shitake, button, or cremini.
Add other vegetables– Such as diced bell peppers, spinach, zucchini, peas, or artichoke hearts.
Add other herbs/seasonings– Such as smoked paprika, Cajun seasoning, chives, or fennel.
Add caramelized onions– Caramelize the onions first and then, add them to the sauce near the end of cooking.
Make it vegetarian– Simply leave out the meat and use vegetable broth instead.
Tips And Techniques For Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe
How to thicken sauce in slow cooker? Cook uncovered in the last 30 minutes or mix in a small amount of a cornstarch slurry. I prefer the first method because it prevents an odd “chalky” after-taste.
How to make sauce thinner? You can add more water or broth.
Do I need to drain the fat from the ground beef? This is not necessary if you are using lean meat with low fat content. If using something else, draining fat may be required to prevent sauce from becoming too greasy.
What to use instead of red wine? Simply replace the red wine with more broth.
Use nonstick pot for browning meat– Because this prevents sticking and burning.
Fresh tomatoes vs. Canned tomatoes – Canned tomatoes are often ripened to a more appropriate point than fresh tomatoes are before being picked. They are also fully cooked before going into the cans which makes them more convenient. The only downfall is that they can be more acidic. Fresh tomatoes are obviously fresher, not as acidic but they do take a bit more time to cook. So make sure to adjust accordingly.
Adjust amount of Italian seasoning- More or less can be used, based on your preference.
Sugar alternatives- Try honey, maple syrup or even molasses.
Use low sodium broth and bouillon cubes- Because it prevents this meal from becoming too salty.
Refrigerate– In sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freeze– In a sealed freezer safe container for up to 1 month.
Reheat– From thawed, in the microwave or stovetop.
More Slow Cooker Pasta Recipes
- Slow Cooker Pasta
- Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato Pasta
- Slow Cooker Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Slow Cooker Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo
- Slow Cooker Mac And Cheese
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
- 2 tbsp Butter, Unsalted
- 2 tbsp Oil
- 2 cups Onion, Finely chopped
- 4 cloves Garlic, Finely minced
- 1.5 cups Carrots, Peeled, Diced
- 2 stalks Celery, Diced
- 2 pound Ground beef
- 1 cup Red wine, Or use low sodium beef broth or vegetable broth
- 2 cans Crushed tomatoes, 28 oz. can each
- 1 can Tomato paste, 6 oz. can
- 1/2-1 cup Milk, Whole, Adjust according to your preference
- 1.5 tbsp Italian seasoning
- Salt , To taste
- Pepper, To taste
- 1 tbsp Granulated sugar
- 2 cubes Beef bouillon , Crushed
- 1/4 tsp Red chili flakes, Optional
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 tbsp Parsley, Roughly chopped, For garnish
- Heat half the butter and half the oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, garlic, carrots, celery and saute until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant.
- Transfer this to slow cooker.
- Heat remaining butter and oil in the same nonstick pan over medium-high heat.
- Add beef and cook, breaking it up, until browned.
- Transfer to slow cooker as well.
- In the same nonstick pan, add red wine.
- Bring to simmer and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- Then, pour this mixture into the slow cooker too.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, milk, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, sugar, crushed bouillon cubes, red chili flakes, bay leaf.
- Mix until combined.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours.
- Discard bay leaf.
- Garnish with parsley and enjoy!
- Read all my tips above.
- Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days and reheated in the microwave or stovetop.