This slow cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle is one of my favorite comfort food dishes. The tender beef melds with a velvety tomato and red wine sauce to create a simple, flavorful meal.
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I tried many versions of beef ragu, changing and adjusting ingredients dozens of times, before I landed on this one. It seems so simple. But the ratio of ingredients and cooking method really do make a big difference in this recipe.
There’s no dish more satisfying than this on a cool evening. It’s a soul-satisfying comfort dish. Admittedly, I avoided making something like this for a long time because I thought it would be too difficult to make it well. It looks like it needs to braise forever to develop flavor.
Braising beef is not a quick endeavor, that’s for sure. But it’s so worth it! I learned once I made this recipe the first time that it just takes patience. There isn’t any special magic to it. This combination of ingredients, when cooked for a long period of time over a slow heat, is just a winning combo.
The good news is that this dish can easily be made on the stovetop, in the slow cooker and also in the Instant Pot. If you have a preferred cooking method, you can go that route. The outcome will blow you away.
The flavors need time to develop and meld together into one stunning Ragu sauce, so the slow cooker is the perfect cooking method for this dish, if you have the time to devote to it. That usually means you need to prepare the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook all day.
I’ll give instructions below for cooking this in the Instant Pot too, in case you don’t have that much time. It cooks in a fraction of the time, in the Instant Pot.
The stovetop method is good, as well. I often cook this on the stovetop. You just need to be around all day if you do it that way, because you don’t want to leave it cooking without watching it.
Ingredients You’ll Need
You’ll need the following ingredients for this dish:
- Braising beef (shin, chuck steak, flank, or brisket) – Any of these cuts of beef will tenderize and shred easily in this dish
- Cooking oil
- Red wine – Don’t use anything fancy. Just a bit of Merlot or Cab will do nicely.
- Beef broth – You can use beef broth or a beef bouillon cube dissolved in water.
- Canned tomatoes
- Tomato paste – This thickened, reduced form of tomato is very useful for deepening the flavor of your sauce. It also helps thicken it a bit.
- Salt & pepper
How to Make Beef Ragu
Start by cutting the beef into 3″ chunks. Seasoning with salt and pepper. Add cooking oil to a skillet over medium heat and sear both sides of the meat until browned.
If you’re making this in the Instant Pot, you can sear the meat directly in the Instant Pot.
Transfer the pieces of meat from the pot to the slow cooker. In the skillet, add the wine a whisk to remove the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the beef broth, tomatoes, tomato paste and remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Pour the sauce over the meat in the slow cooker. Add the onions, garlic, and rosemary over the top. Cover with the lid and cook for 6-8 hours on low.
If you’re making this in the Instant Pot, close the lid and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook for 45 minutes.
To cook on the stove top, cover the pot with a lid and simmer on low for 4 hours.
As it cooks, the meat will break down and become very fork-tender. It develops incredible flavors as it cooks.
It’s super important to have high-quality beef to make this recipe with. I’m a huge fan of the 100% grass-fed beef from ButcherBox. It’s a meat subscription box that’s delivered to your door monthly with the cuts of meat you choose. All the meat is humanely raised and never given antibiotics or added hormones. I appreciate the peace of mind that gives.
How to Serve Beef Ragu
Once the meat sauce is done cooking, remove the bigger pieces of meat and shred it. Then return the meat to the pot and simmer until you’re ready to serve it.
I personally love Pappardelle pasta. I can’t get enough of the long thick strands of pasta. So I always serve this ragu over pappardelle. However, if you can’t find or don’t want to use Pappardelle, you can serve this beef ragu on just about any pasta – tagliatelle, farfalle, rigatoni, even spaghetti.
This sauce also goes really well with polenta, if you’re avoiding flour or gluten. I’ve even had this on top of cauliflower rice, spiralized vegetables or gnocchi. Who am I kidding – it’s so good that you might be caught eating it straight from the pot.
Making Your Own Pasta
I highly encourage making your own pasta, if you’re up for the challenge. It’s really not difficult to make and it’s so much better than dried store-bought pasta.
Try this recipe to make your own pappardelle pasta at home.
Check out this amazing electric pasta maker from Hamilton Beach. Fresh, homemade pasta is now as simple as adding ingredients and pushing a button. In 15 minutes or less, you can have pasta that’s ready to boil. The pasta machine mixes, kneads and extrudes the pasta for you.
This electric pasta maker has 7 different pasta shapes: thick spaghetti, lasagna, spaghetti, angel hair, wide noodle, penne and fettuccine. It’s pretty brilliant.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best cut of beef to use?
Any of these cuts of beef will tenderize and shred easily in this dish. Beef shin, chuck steak, flank, roast or brisket.
What is ragu?
Ragu is an Italian meat-based sauce. Ragu in Italian means meat sauce. The meat is the star of the show and is often made with veal, lamb or beef. The meat is slow cooked in tomato sauce with aromatic herbs.
Tips and Notes
- If making this in the Instant Pot, use the pot on Sauté mode to brown the beef, then mix the sauce in the pot and add back in the beef. Cook for 45 minutes on high pressure with a natural pressure release. You may need to put the pot on Sauté mode for 5 more minutes to thicken the sauce before serving.
- To cook on the stovetop, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 hours, until the beef is easy to shred.
What Our Readers Are Saying
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Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil (15ml)
- 1.5 pounds beef shin or chuck roast (650gr)
- 4 ounces red wine
- 4 ounces beef broth
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes (1 x 400gr can)
- 2 ounces tomato paste
- 1/2 onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 ounces rosemary dried or fresh
- 1 ounces salt
- 1/2 ounces ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish
- 4 ounces Pappardelle pasta dried or homemade
- Cut the beef into 3” cubes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the cooking oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the beef and brown on each side. When done, transfer the beef to the slow cooker.
- Add the red wine to the skillet and whisk the brown bits from the bottom. Simmer for 3 minutes. Then add the beef broth, tomatoes and tomato paste, salt and pepper to the skillet and whisk to combine. Pour the sauce over the beef in the slow cooker.
- Add the onion, garlic, and rosemary on top of the beef mixture in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours. When done, shred the beef and return it to the sauce.
- Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.
- Serve the ragu on top of the pasta. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- If making this in the Instant Pot, use the pot on Saute mode to brown the beef, then mix the sauce in the pot and add back in the beef. Cook for 45 minutes on high pressure with a natural pressure release. You may need to put the pot on Saute mode for 5 more minutes to thicken the sauce before serving.
- To cook on the stovetop, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4 hours, until the beef is easy to shred.
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Laura is a home cook who loves making new recipes and finding new favorite things to eat, whether at home or abroad. She also runs a popular travel blog and spends a lot of her time traveling for food.
15 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle”
This beef Ragu looks delicious! I love that it’s made in a slow cooker because it’s so simple to throw together. I can’t wait to try your beef Ragu I know my husband will love it!
This is such a simple and flavorful comfort meal. We really enjoyed it. Adding this to my regular rotation!
This slow cooker beef ragu looks super easy, and flavorful! I just love using the slow cooker during the winter months! It makes cooking so much easier!
This made a hearty and delicious dinner, we loved how tender the beef was with the pasta. I will definitely make this dish again, thank you!
I would love a plate of this right now. It sounds like the most delicious comfort food!
Looks so delicious! Can’t wait to try this one!
This beef ragu is so good! I love that it’s made in the slow cooker and serving with the pappardelle? Just yum!
This Slow Cooker Beef Ragu is making my tummy growl.
So simple and delicious!
This looks incredible! I’ve been looking for more slow cooker meals, so I’m adding this one to the lineup!
THANK YOU for this recipe! I made this for last evening and it was a HIT! Easy to follow recipe with great results! DELICIOUS!
Great recipe. I doubled the onion and used thyme as well as Rosemary. When the meat was done I took it out of the slow cooker and then use an immersion blender to liquefy the sauce. I Pasta sauce with egg noodles and then added healthy portions beef stick each plate along with another scoop of sauce.
That sounds perfect, John. Thanks for your feedback.
What is it really supposed to be on high for low for six-8 hours? I turned it down to mow half way through as it seemed to be boing all the liquid away. I cooked it for six hours and I’m wondering what it supposed to look like at the end is it supposed to have a little sauce or a lot of sauce??
Hi Janice, you’re right – it should say low for 6-8 hours, not high. The sauce should look just like it does in the photos when it’s done cooking. It’s not a lot of sauce, but it’s not cooked down so much that it doesn’t thoroughly coat the pasta.