Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
Perfect homemade bolognese sauce in the slow cooker! This bolognese is slow cooked for hours to give it that rich, delicious flavor. Make a large batch and freeze it for lasagnas, and quick weeknight pasta dinners all winter long!
It’s that time again! We’re throwing a bunch of ingredients into a crockpot and slow cooking a big batch of homemade meat sauce aka bolognese that will make you a true HERO with all the hungry little people you have at home. And the best part? You can use as much as you like and freeze the rest for easy weeknight dinners for whenever you please.
After the labor day weekend, my hope for you is that you’ll join me in cooking up big batches of comfort food like this meat sauce and freezing it for those chilly fall evenings when all you want to do is curl up on the couch and binge watch good tv, twirl your fork, and slurp noodles while you cuddle with your significant other. How beautiful does that sound? <– Totally the epitome of fall. Can I get an amen up in herrrr?
Can you tell i’m so ready for fall? Like a dork, i’ve only been talking about it for the last 2 weeks now!
Shall I dare say that this is the best bolognese sauce recipe i’ve ever experienced? Yes, I think I shall. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had good bolognese before, but great bolognese sauce! Great bolognese is hard to come by. After recipe testing for almost 2 years (slightly longer than the blog has actually been around), i’ve finally settled on my favorite recipe for it.
So what makes my bolognese sauce recipe unique and better? I used a combination of fresh and canned tomatoes. As tomato season comes to a close, I wanted to make up a big batch of bolognese to enjoy all winter long. Um.. yeah, about that. I’ll definitely need to whip up another batch this week as we’re having family over this weekend for a big lasagna dinner, where my bolognese sauce is theSTAR.
Your 5 year old and I would like to have a word with you. We have a real problem with meat sauces That contain big chunks of onions, carrots, and celery. I like to chop up the veggies extra fine because i’m pickier than any child you’ve ever met. If you don’t want to spend the time chopping, toss it all into a food processor with a coarse grater attachment. 8 hours in the slow cooker and the veggies won’t even be recognizable! Those toddlers/ little kids/ I aren’t gonna know what hit
Other than the fresh tomatoes, i’m using tomato paste, 1-28 ounce can San Marzano along with 1-14 ounce can of diced tomatoes. We’re using 4 different forms of tomatoes so that the bright acidic flavor really shines through.
Also, toss in a few parmesan rinds. DO IT. You’ll thank me later. If you’ve made my minestrone soup before, you know how much flavor it brings to the table. A couple of bay leaves and some Italian seasoning blend makes this homemade bolognese sauce a home run hit!
Homemade bolognese sauce is exactly what a chilly fall evening needs. Serve it over a bed of spaghetti with a sprinkle or a fistful of freshly grated parmesan and lots of garlic bread to catch all that extra bolognese.
Clear your to-do list for the weekend and make this sauce too. Let it cook up all low and slow in the crockpot and I promise you, you won’t regret it!
- 2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (see note)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced or coarsely grated
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced or coarsely grated
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced or coarsely grated
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 21/2 - 3 pounds ground beef (I used 85% lean) (see note)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning, 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1-28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
- 1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 parmesan rinds
- 1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped (plus more for serving)
- 3/4 cup half and half (or heavy cream!)
- Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Core the fresh tomatoes and mark an "X" on the top and bottom so it's easier to peel. Add the tomatoes and allow the tomatoes to boil for 15 minutes. Drain and submerge the tomatoes in cold water to immediately stop from cooking further.
- In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Drain any unnecessary grease with the exception of about 1-2 tablespoons. Add the garlic along with the tomato paste and let cook for 30 seconds.
- Increase the flame to medium-high, add the ground beef, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, the Italian seasoning, and the red pepper flakes. Allow the meat to brown, add the apple cider vinegar and allow the met to cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the ground meat to the crockpot along with the diced tomatoes, san marzano tomatoes, bay leaves, parmesan rinds, and parsley. Add a big pinch of salt and pepper, and allow the bolognese to cook for 8 hours on the LOW setting of your crockpot. Add the half and half and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over pasta sprinkled with parmesan cheese and additional parsley.
- Tomatoes - If you don't want to use fresh tomatoes, use an additional 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes. This is less than the 2 1/2 pounds, but the flavor is also more concentrated.
- For the Ground Beef - I like to use about 3 pounds because I like a little extra meat throughout my meat sauce. If you like more sauce, just cut back the quantity of the meat to 2 1/2 pounds. Also, you don't want to choose something that's too lean as it will dry out quite a bit in the long cooking process.
Leftover bolognese can be frozen in ziptop bags and can be thawed and reheated for serving.