With its rich, savory flavor and easy prep, Slow Cooker Beef Ragu is a dinnertime win. This recipe is a staple in our household!
Beef stew meat is cooked low and slow in a tomato sauce loaded with herbs and garlic. This cooking method makes the beef so tender that it falls apart as you shred it.
Serve beef ragu over your favorite pasta for a delicious dinner that shouldn’t be so simple.
Why KJ Loves
I love everything about this recipe – it’s comforting, healthy and easy! Serve over your favorite pasta, or herb roasted potatoes to keep it gluten free!
What is beef ragu?
According to Pasta Evangelists, the term “ragu” comes from the French word ragoût — a meat stew that made its way to Italy in the late 18th century.
Ragoût was eventually adapted to the ragu we are familiar with today: a tomato-based meat sauce served over pasta.
Ragu is cooked low and slow to create a more full-bodied flavor than your average meat sauce.
But instead of simmering this dish over a stovetop, we’re making this an easy beef ragu recipe by taking advantage of your slow cooker. No need to spend all afternoon in your kitchen!
Beef Stew Meat
Beef stew meat often gets a bad rap. People think it’s tough and chewy.
But that’s because beef stew meat is not always cooked in a way that brings out its best qualities.
It turns out: if you cook beef stew meat low and slow, the cuts of meat get fall-apart tender.
Plus, the natural fat in the meat adds even more decadence to this beef sauce.
Beef stew meat is usually cut from a roast and is affordably priced. Another win for this weeknight staple.
You could buy a chuck roast and cube it yourself if your meat counter doesn’t have beef stew meat precut. But you can typically ask the people behind the meat counter to cut some for you to save you the hassle!
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu Ingredients
This full-bodied sauce packs a lot of flavor with only a few ingredients!
Beef stew meat
Use cubed stew meat. If there’s no cubed stew meat, you can usually ask the people behind the meat counter to do it for you.
Grab a jar of your favorite pasta sauce (this sauce is my all-time favorite!).
This is one of the secret ingredients that gives this sauce a deep flavor.
Dried basil (crushed)
Red pepper flakes (crushed)
How to Serve Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
After this decadent slow cooker meal has simmered all day on your countertop (and made your house smell AMAZING), then it’s time to dig in!
Simply use a couple of forks to shred the meat and stir the sauce. I like leaving some of the shredded beef chunks larger for variety.
Serve over your favorite pasta. You could use dried pasta or go all-out with fresh pasta from the refrigerated section!
Beef Ragu With Pappardelle
This delicious wide pasta comes from the word “pappare,” which means “to gobble up.” 🙃It’s often served with heartier meat sauces since the wide noodles hold more sauce in each bite. You could use other wide noodles like fettuccine.
Beef Ragu Over Spaghetti
You can’t go wrong with a classic spaghetti — a time-tested fav. 🍝
Beef Ragu With Smaller Noodles
If you want to create more of a goulash feel, try smaller noodles or elbow pasta.
Beef Ragu Over Polenta
For a fun twist, serve your ragu over some creamy polenta. It’s a great, gluten-free alternative to pasta.
Side dish ideas
- Make garlic bread to dunk into this decadent sauce!
- Serve with something green, like wilted kale salad or easy roasted asparagus.
- And let’s not forget dessert — for an easy recipe, try out no-bake chocolate pretzel bars or invest a little more time into classic chocolate cake.
Another great thing about this dish: leftovers!
It just gets better with time and re-heats beautifully!
Beef Ragu FAQ
What size slow cooker should I use?
Use a 6-quart slow cooker for this beef ragu recipe.
Do I need to sear the beef beforehand?
No, you don’t have to sear the beef — we’re making this an easy beef ragu recipe! But if you want to take the extra step, you always could.
What is the best cut of meat for ragu?
Beef stew meat is the perfect cut of beef for this beef ragu recipe! When you cook the sauce in a slow cooker, it turns tender and delicious.
What is the difference between a bolognese and a ragu?
Technically, bolognese is a type of ragu! It’s a variation of ragu that originated from the region of Bologna (in northern Italy).
What pasta is best for ragu?
Wide noodle pasta is perfect for ragu since it holds more sauce with each bite. But you can choose any type of pasta you like!
Did you make this recipe?
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