Tender and flavoursome beef in a rich tomato sauce; this Slow Cooker Beef Ragu is a great family meal served with pasta, creamy mash or whatever takes your fancy.
I’m often asked for more slow cooker recipes and I can understand why. They really are a parent’s best friend and with a little bit of morning prep work, you can come home to a delicious meal ready and waiting.
Slow cookers are great for busy weeknights, when kids can be tired, hungry and cranky, but also great for the weekend when you want to spend the day with the family and come home to a glass of wine and a meal all prepared ;). They are fantastic for winter comfort foods but also ideal for summertime, when you really don’t want to be switching an oven on or slaving away at a hot stove.
This Beef Ragu is our new favourite slow cooker recipe and gets two big thumbs up from both my boys.
How to Make Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
- Cut Your Beef into 3-4 Smaller Portions
- Sear Beef Pieces Although searing the meat first isn’t strictly necessary, I strongly recommend you don’t skip this. Browning the meat creates a caramelisation which will give added flavour to the finished ragu.
- Saute onions and garlic
- Add celery & carrots and continue to saute Again, the few minutes of extra effort, to saute the vegetables, is worth it for flavour.
- Add all ingredients into the slow cooker, stir and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours on HIGH for 5-6.
- Remove beef from the cooker, shred then add back into the sauce. Serve with a side of your choice.
Slow Cooker Beef Ragu – Ingredient Tips and Information
- Beef Cut I used chuck roast and this is the only cut I have trialled the recipe with. If you can’t get chuck then you are best to use the cheaper cuts of meat for slow cooking, something like blade or skirt.
- Veggies The sauteed veggies add great flavour to the sauce and if you choose to leave them out then your sauce will be lacking in the flavour they provide. The carrots and onions also add some sweetness which helps counterbalance the acidity of the tomatoes. If you want to add more vegetables, (because we are always trying to up our kids’ veggie intake), you could also add finely chopped red capsicum (bell pepper) or some sliced mushrooms.
- Beef Stock If making for a baby, use homemade beef stock or high-quality beef stock that is lower in sodium. Check the ingredient list at the back of the pack, different brands can vary greatly.
What to Serve with Beef Ragu
This beef ragu is great mixed with any noodle style pasta such as pappardelle (pictured), spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine. If your kids are anything like mine, they love the extra fun factor that noodles provide to a meal! (See my little guy enjoying ragu with pappardelle in the pictures below).
Of course, the ragu will work with any pasta shape. Serve it with whatever you have available or your kids’ favourite variety. Large shells or ridged tubes will help capture the sauce and spiral pasta is a great shape for babies to pick up.
Rugu isn’t limited to just pasta, you can really serve it with whatever you fancy! It’s delicious served over creamy mash or why not try serving it with creamy polenta, gnocchi, couscous, rice, or some crusty bread.
How to Store Leftovers
- Refrigerate: Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Freeze: Store in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months.
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Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 950g (2 lb) Beef Chuck Roast, cut into 4 equal-sized pieces
- 4 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 1 Onion, finely diced
- 2 Medium Carrots, finely diced
- 2 Celery Stalks, finely diced
- 800g (28 oz) Canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Tomato Paste
- 250ml (1 cup) Beef Stock *SEE NOTE 1
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 2 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme
- Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over high heat in a frying pan. Sear the beef pieces, on all sides, until browned (approximately 5 minutes each side). Place the beef into the slow cooker. *SEE NOTE 2
- To the same pan, add the remaining olive oil and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1-2 mins. Add the carrot and celery and continue to saute for a further 5 minutes. Add to the slow cooker *SEE NOTE 3
- Add all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-9 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours. The beef is ready when it can be pulled apart easily with a fork. *SEE NOTE 4
- Discard the herbs and remove the beef. Shred the beef, using two forks, and return to the slow cooker.
- Taste and season accordingly. *SEE NOTE 5
- Serve with your favourite pasta or side of your choice. *SEE NOTE 6
- If making for a baby, use homemade beef stock or high-quality beef stock that is lower in sodium. Check the ingredient list at the back of the pack, different brands can vary greatly.
- Although searing the meat first isn’t strictly necessary, I strongly recommend you don’t skip this. Browning the meat creates a caramelisation which will give added flavour to the finished ragu.
- Just like searing the beef, taking the time to saute your veggies in oil, before adding it to the slow cooker, is worth the 5 mins of extra effort.
- I find I need 1 cup of stock when cooking on high but only 3/4 cup when cooking on low. Slow cookers can vary considerably. If you find the sauce to liquidy you may have to simmer with the lid off to reduce the sauce. If you feel the sauce is too thick you may have to add a splash more stock.
- I find the sauce needs a good shake of salt, if cooking for baby / young child remove their portions and season the remaining to taste. You may also feel that it needs a pinch of sugar just to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Rugu is perfect served with a range of different pasta shapes. However it isn't limited to pasta, you can really serve it with whatever you fancy! It's delicious served over creamy mash or why not try serving it with creamy polenta, gnocchi, couscous, rice, or some crusty bread.