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Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce for Pasta

Slow cooker bolognese sauce is the perfect crowning element for a spag bol or classic lasagna this recipe creates more than enough to freeze.

All you have to do is chops some ingredients, brown them and throw them in the slow cooker, then kick back and relax!

Slow cooker bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle pasta and fresh basil.

Crock Pot Bolognese Sauce

Everyone loves a good bowl of spag bol and I’m no different, but it gives me a challenge.

I cook for two and not usually one for “leftovers”, I love to cook, but bolognese is one of the few dishes I make an exception for.

But a good ragu alla bolognese needs good slow cooking and to do that with minced meat you need a body of ingredients.

In order to do that I make my bolognese sauce in the slow cooker or crockpot! Don’t worry I have provided stovetop instructions too.

It makes a wonderfully rich and thick sauce that is just as good stirred through pasta, dolloped on pasta or even in a classic lasagna bolognese.

It is an exceptionally meat-rich ragu that is built on classic Italian recipes, it contains very little tomato and has quite a lot in common with both my duck ragu and wild boar ragu recipes.

I finish it off with milk… yes, milk! It is a very traditional approach and gives the sauce a wonderfully smooth finish.

A bonus of making so much of this recipe is that you get to try it at its best. The flavours mature with time, so eating this on day 2 or 3 is a real treat.

It also freezes really well.

Close up slow cooker bolognese sauce on a spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this bolognese sauce best cooked in the slow cooker on the stovetop?

I almost always cook it in the slow cooker the main reason is that it is a much more energy-efficient way of cooking.

Stovetop cooking for me involves an induction hob. Whilst they are great at quick and hot cooking, they are distinctly average at low and slow.

I have provided instructions for cooking this bolognese sauce recipe on both the stovetop and in the slow cooker.

Do I have to brown the meat and soften the vegetables?

For the best results, yes!

How would I freeze this?

I portion it up in bags with enough for two people and then flatten it, It will last for 6 months in the freezer.

Do I have to defrost it before cooking?

I never bother, I cook it boil-in the bag style, yes you read that correctly.

Bring a pan of water to a boil drop a leaf steamer in the base and drop in the bag and cook it until it is piping hot. I do this because it reduces the amount of evaporation when reheating making sure the sauce remains juicy.

Just make sure you use a heavy-duty freezer bag.

Does the size of slow cooker really matter?

Yes, cooking in a slow cooker relies on having a reasonable volume of ingredients in the pot. If you no not have enough you will burn or dry out the food, even in a crockpot!

Close up slow cooker bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle pasta and parmesan.

Serving Suggestions

A bolognese sauce is very closely associated with pasta. We all know spaghetti bolognese right?

Well, traditionally it would not be served with spaghetti. This is because it does not offer enough surface area for the sauce to cling to.

Now if you have a really saucy tomato bolognese then you are good to go with your spag bol!

This slow cooker ragu alla bolognese sauce needs more “real estate”, traditionally that would be fettucini or tagliatelle.

It also should be combined with the pasta as far as I am concerned. But you go right ahead and dollop it on top if that is your style.

I also usually add basil and freshly grated parmesan because I can!

As for sides, who can resist a nice slice of cheesy garlic bread… right?

You can even use small amounts of bolognese sauce to stuff air fryer arancini!

Portrait image of a classic Lasagna Bolognese served as a slice on a plate with side salad

Equipment Used

I only recommend specific brands of equipment if I believe that they will make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • 28cm or 11″ frying pan or skillet, try not to use nonstick if you can.
  • Slow cooker, I use a 3-3.5 litre slow cooker.
  • Sharp kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
Slow cooker bolognese sauce served with tagliatelle pasta.
Yield: 8-10 Servings

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 40 minutes

I always make this pretty traditional Italian Ragu Alla Bolognese Sauce in my slow cooker to get plenty of leftovers to freeze!


  • 500g (17oz) Minced Beef
  • 400g (14oz) Minced Pork
  • 150g (5oz) Smoked Streaky Bacon
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Onion
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Carrot
  • 100g (⅔ Cup) Celery
  • 50g (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Butter
  • 375ml (Half of a Bottle) Red Wine
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 125ml (½ Cup) Full Fat Milk


  1. Begin by cutting your celery, carrot and onion into a uniform fine dice approximately 3mm in size.
  2. Cut the bacon into a 7-10mm dice.

Slow Cooker Instructions

  1. Heat a frying pan (not non stick) over a high heat and add the bacon and minced pork and cook for two minutes.
  2. Add the beef to the pork mix and cook until it starts to caramelise, stirring occasionally. This will take around 10-12 minutes.
  3. After cooking season well for with salt and pepper, then add the bay leaves and transfer to a slow cooker..
  4. Return the pan to the heat and add the butter.
  5. When melted add the onion, carrot and celery and cook over a medium heat until softened, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Do not colour the vegetables.
  6. Turn the heat up to high and add the tomato puree and red wine, then mix well.
  7. Add this mix to the slow cooker and mix well.
  8. Add the lid and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours.
  9. Pour in the milk and continue to cook on for a further 45-60 minutes.

Stove Top Instructions:

  1. Heat a 28cm or 11" frying pan (not non-stick) over medium a high heat, when it is hot add the bacon and cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the butter and when it begins to foam add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, this will take about 10-12 minutes. Do not colour the vegetables.
  3. Add the beef to the pork mix and cook until it starts to caramelise, stirring occasionally. This will take around 10-12 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat up and add the minced pork and beef and cook until well-browned stirring occasionally, this will take 10-15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the add the tomato puree and red wine.
  6. Cook for 5 minutes before adding a lid, then reduce the heat to low and cook on for 90 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and stir in the milk, return the lid and cook for another 30 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 436mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 30g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 10th of November 2015

I'll let you into a wee secret, celeriac is there as we have failed to grow celery for the last 7 years so it came about by necessity but it works really really well!


Monday 9th of November 2015

I'm making this very soon. I don't know when I'll have the energy to make a meal after vacation, so I love that it's made in the slow cooker!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 10th of November 2015

This is perfect for you then, 10 portions of bolognese sauce to do with what you wish whilst recovering from the post holiday slump ;)

Brian Jones

Friday 6th of November 2015

Interesting question, I do lots of preserving but have never tried it with any meat based recipes... Do come back and let me know if you do any experimenting :D

Brian Jones

Friday 6th of November 2015

Why thank you *whisper mode on*I never use a tripod despite singing their praises*whisper mode off*... I shoot with strobes so my shutter speed is irrelevant and I have my fearless stunt wifey as my able assistant :D

Brian Jones

Thursday 5th of November 2015

Thanks Shiho, I always add a little sweetness to anything that contains tomatoes and it is usually in the form of honey if we have some good stuff in the cupboards :)

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