Slow cooker Bolognese sauce is the best meat sauce you could dream of. A combination of ground beef and sausage simmer slowly to make a homemade sauce any Italian grandma would be proud of with just a fraction of the work. The drool worthy aroma and incredible taste will make this a recipe you will want to put on repeat!
Slow cooked Sunday sauce is a thing in our family.
There’s just something to be said for that savory blend of meats with sweet tomatoes.
Rather than babysit it at the stove all day, I like to put all the ingredients in my slow cooker and let it work its magic.
A delicious sauce that would make Nonna proud.
What is Bolognese sauce?
Bolognese is a slowly cooked meat sauce that comes from the Italian city Bologna.
It often includes a combination of onion, celery and carrot along with different types of beef and pork.
You’ll likely also find white wine, milk or cream, and tomato paste in this sauce.
Because the sauce is slow cooked for a long time, the sauce cooks down and thickens to create, a rich thick sauce.
To make my slow cooker version of this recipe you’ll need:
- Veggies– minced carrot, white onion and celery, the classic mirepoix mix
- Seasonings and spices– fresh minced or pressed garlic cloves, dried oregano, dried thyme, nutmeg, black pepper and bay leaves
- White wine– Use a white wine that you would drink and steer clear of cooking wine for best flavor.
- Breadcrumbs– I like Panko breadcrumbs for best texture.
- Heavy cream– While you can use milk or half and half, heavy cream will give you the silkiest results.
- Meat– Use a combination of ground beef and Italian sausage.
- Crushed tomatoes– Go for plain crushed tomatoes and not the kind that have been pre-seasoned.
- Parmesan cheese– It finishes it off with a salty sharpness.
How to Make
To make it, start by melting your butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.
Once the butter has melted add the diced onion, carrots and celery.
Season them with salt to help draw the moisture out.
Then sauté the mixture until the veggies are soft, roughly 8-10 minutes.
When the veggies are soft, work in the tomato paste and seasonings, stirring gently to combine.
Let the mixture cook for 2-3 minutes.
After the mixture has cooked, remove the pan from heat.
Then, pour the wine into the pan and stir, scrapping the bottom of the skillet with a sturdy wooden spoon, to deglaze.
Set the vegetable mixture aside.
Add the bread crumbs, heavy cream, meats, and ground pepper to the bowl of your slow cooker.
Stir them together to combine.
Then, stir in the vegetable mixture and the tomatoes until everything’s evenly combined.
Add the bay leaves.
Cover the slow cooker with the lid, and cook the sauce on low for 10 hours.
Make sure you stir 2-3 times during the cooking process and break up any large chunks of meat with a sturdy wooden spoon.
Before serving, stir a final time, breaking up any meat chunks as you do so.
Serve over freshly cooked pasta noodles and enjoy!
Dutch Oven Directions
If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can always bake this instead.
Prepare as instructed above, but put everything in a large Dutch oven instead of a slow cooker.
Bake covered at 300 degrees for 2 1/2-3 hours adding water if/as needed.
This sauce stores very well.
To store it, pour it while hot into mason jars.
Seal the jars tightly and keep in the fridge for 2 months.
After you open a jar, use it within 2 days.
You can also freeze the sauce by putting it into freezer safe containers.
The sauce will keep for 6 months in the freezer.
Tips and Tricks
- Going for a fancier feel? Sub lamb for the pork.
- Taste the sauce prior to serving and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Don’t forget to stir during the cooking process!
Other Slow Cooker Italian Recipes You’ll Love
This slow cooker Bolognese sauce will be a hit for Sunday dinner.
Make it this weekend for a little taste of Italy in your own kitchen.
Looking for other slow cooker Italian recipes?
- Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken
- Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana
- Slow Cooker Italian Drunken Noodle Pasta
If you’ve tried this SLOW COOKER BOLOGNESE SAUCE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 medium white onion minced
- 1 carrot minced
- 2 stalks celery minced
- pinch salt
- 1 can tomato paste
- 4 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 1/2 lbs ground Italian sausage
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- Add the butter to a large, heavy bottomed skillet set over medium heat.
- Once melted add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sprinkle the salt over top, and stir the veggies to combine. Sauté the mixture until the veggies are nice and soft, roughly 8-10 minutes.
- Add in the tomato pasta and seasonings, stirring gently to combine. Let the mixture cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Remove the pan from heat, pour in the wine, and stir to deglaze the skillet. Make sure to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom as you go. Set the vegetable mixture aside.
- To the bowl of your slow cooker add the bread crumbs, heavy cream, meats, and ground pepper. Stir them together to combine. Alternatively, you can use your hands to thoroughly knead it all together.
- Stir in the vegetable mixture and the tomatoes until everything's evenly combined. Add the bay leaves.
- Cover the slow cooker with it's lid, and cook the sauce on low for 10 hours. Stirring 2-3 times during the cooking process, and breaking up any large chunks of meat with a sturdy wooden spoon.
- Stir a final time, again breaking up any meat chunks as you do so, and carefully taste and adjust salt & pepper, as needed.
- Serve over freshly cooked pasta noodles and enjoy!