Hearty Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe (Your Family’s New Favorite)

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Did you know a slow cooker is one of the best tools for crafting a rich and flavorful Bolognese? Remember that patience is vital. Take time to allow the ingredients to meld, achieving a robust depth of flavor. The best way to relish every bite? Serve it hot over fresh pasta. Pay attention to the aroma; it’s the number one indicator of its delectable goodness. Be aware of the quality of ingredients you use, as it’s crucial to the outcome. Considering its ease and flavor, slow cooker Bolognese recipe is one of the simplest yet most rewarding dishes you can prepare.

The aroma of a simmering Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe instantly transports me back to my travels through the streets of Rome and the bustling marketplaces of Istanbul.

While wandering through Europe and the Middle East, I encountered numerous variations of this classic dish, each region adding its unique twist. 

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Yet, amidst the exotic flavors and the novel experiences, I found that recreating the same depth of flavor back home was challenging.

My kids often requested the rich sauce they tasted at a friend’s place or that memorable European restaurant visit. 

The main issue? Time. Standing over the stove for hours isn’t always feasible in our fast-paced lives. Enter the slow cooker. By letting the Bolognese sauce simmer, I found the solution to replicating those authentic flavors. 

Now, every spoonful reminds us of distant lands and local flavors, all from the comfort of our kitchen.

What Is Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe is a rich and savory meat-based sauce prepared using a slow cooker or crockpot.

Traditional ingredients include ground beef or pork, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs, combined and left to cook slowly for several hours. 

This slow-cooking method ensures that flavors meld perfectly, resulting in a deep, layered taste. Remember that the essence of this dish lies in its patience; the longer it cooks, the better it gets.

It’s one of the simplest ways to achieve a restaurant-quality sauce at home. Serve it over pasta, and you have a hearty and exquisite meal.

History Of Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe

The origin of Bolognese sauce traces back to Bologna, Italy. Historically a rich meat and tomato-based sauce, it became a staple in Italian cuisine.

However, the adaptation of cooking this sauce in a slow cooker is a more modern twist. The slow cooker, also known as a crockpot, was invented by Irving Naxon in the 1940s.

Drawing inspiration from his grandmother’s stories of cooking dishes in slow-burning ovens in Lithuania, he designed the Beanery, a predecessor to today’s slow cooker. 

Merging the traditional Bolognese recipe with the convenience of a slow cooker allowed for a seamless blend of history and modern innovation.

Interesting Facts About Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe

The Slow Cooker Bolognese recipe transforms the traditional, time-intensive process of making Bolognese sauce into a convenient and hands-off affair. Here are some interesting facts:


Did you know that while the initial prep might take a few minutes, using a slow cooker means leaving the sauce unattended for hours?

Flavor Depth

The prolonged cooking time allows for a deeper melding of flavors, making the sauce richer than its stovetop counterpart.


While primarily served over pasta, this sauce is an excellent option for lasagna, stuffed bell peppers, and even as a pizza base.

Nutrition Boost

Slow cooking retains more nutrients than high-heat methods.

Wine Integration

Some recipes suggest adding red wine, which, when slow-cooked, adds complexity to the sauce’s flavor.

Global Twist

While originating in Italy, many cultures have adapted this dish, incorporating local spices and herbs.

Low Electricity Use

Slow cookers consume less electricity than ovens, making the process energy-efficient.


It’s one of the safest ways to cook, especially for extended periods, as the risk of burning or overcooking is minimal..

Slow Cooker Bolognese

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe, rooted in Bologna, Italy, has seen global adaptations, each bringing its distinct flair:

  • Italy: Beyond Bologna, regions like Tuscany add wild game meats.
  • France: Called “ragoût,” it may have wine or local herbs, differing from its Italian counterpart.
  • United Kingdom: The sauce might include Worcestershire sauce or a dash of curry for a distinct flavor.
  • Argentina: Locals might add “chimichurri,” a herb-based sauce, for an extra zing.
  • India: The Bolognese can be spiced with garam masala or turmeric for a unique taste.
  • United States: Versions might include smoked meats or local spices, reflecting the country’s melting pot nature.

What Will Make You Love This Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

  • Effortless Cooking: One of the best features is the set-it-and-forget-it approach. No constant stirring or monitoring is required.
  • Consistent Flavor: The slow, even heat ensures that the ingredients meld perfectly every time, giving consistent results.
  • Versatility: It serves as a base for multiple dishes, from spaghetti to casseroles, making it an excellent option for varied meals.
  • Aroma: The lingering scent throughout your home will be a delightful teaser of the coming meal.
  • Texture: Achieving a velvety, rich texture is simpler with slow cooking.
  • Economical: Using cheaper cuts of meat becomes viable, as the prolonged cooking tenderizes them.
  • Healthier: The method retains more nutrients, making it a wholesome choice.
  • Time Management: While it cooks, you can manage other tasks. The efficiency is one of its standout features.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Ingredients List

Olive oil2 tbsp
Finely chopped baby carrots1 cup
Finely chopped onion1
Minced garlic cloves2
Lean ground beef1 lb.
Whole milk1 cup + 1/2 cup
Can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)1
Can of tomato paste (6 oz.)1
Salt1/2 tsp.
Ground black pepper1/2 tsp.
Dried basil1 tsp.
Dried oregano1 tsp.
Crushed red pepper flakes1/4 tsp.
Grated Parmesan cheese1/4 cup

Ingredient Tips 

  • Olive Oil: Opt for extra-virgin for a more authentic flavor and richer aroma.
  • Baby Carrots: Fresh is best. If unavailable, regular carrots finely diced work just as well.
  • Onion: Yellow onions provide a sweeter, more caramelized flavor when slow-cooked.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced garlic offers a more robust flavor than its powdered counterpart.
  • Lean Ground Beef: Ensure it’s fresh for the best texture and flavor. Consider mixing with ground pork for added depth.
  • Whole Milk: Use full-fat milk for a creamier sauce.
  • Tomatoes: Opt for a brand with no added sugars or preservatives for crushed tomatoes.
  • Herbs: Whenever possible, use fresh herbs, adjusting quantity accordingly.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Grate it fresh for the richest taste.
  • Red Pepper Flakes: Adjust to taste. For a milder sauce, omit or reduce the amount.

What Are The Variations Of Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

  • Meat Choices: Swap lean beef for ground turkey, chicken, or pork. Some even combine multiple meats for a more complex flavor.
  • Vegetarian: Omit the meat and add lentils, mushrooms, or soy-based crumbles.
  • Dairy-Free: Substitute whole milk with almond, soy, or oat milk, and use vegan cheese instead of Parmesan.
  • Wine-Infused: Add a splash of red wine for a richer depth of flavor.
  • Creamy Version: Stir in heavy cream or cream cheese for a more luxurious texture.
  • Spicy Kick: Integrate hot peppers or increase the amount of red pepper flakes.
  • Seafood Bolognese: Incorporate shrimp, clams, or mussels.
  • Global Twist: Adapt herbs and spices, like adding curry powder for an Indian flair or cumin for a Middle Eastern touch.
  • Low-Carb: Replace tomato paste with diced tomatoes for a less dense version.
  • Cheesy: Mix in mozzarella or cheddar cheese for a gooey finish.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • Skillet Preparation: Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, onion, and carrots. Cook and stir for approximately 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  • Adding Meat: To the skillet, introduce the ground beef. Cook and stir, ensuring the meat breaks apart. Continue until it is fully browned.
  • Draining & Milking: After draining the excess fat from the skillet, mix in 1 cup of milk. Bring the entire mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low. Allow it to simmer for 15 minutes or until the milk is absorbed.
  • Slow Cooker Time: Transfer the beef mixture to your slow cooker. Set it on high. Introduce red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. Make sure to stir everything well.
  • Cooking Duration: Let the mixture cook for 2 hours. Then, blend the Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Ensure everything is mixed well. Continue cooking for an additional 2 hours.
  • Rest and Serve: Turn off the slow cooker once cooking is complete. Let the Bolognese sauce rest for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to settle. Serve over your favorite pasta, and enjoy!

Transform your pasta night with the deep, hearty flavors of our Slow Cooker Bolognese – simplicity meets sophistication.

Scaling The Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe 

  • Double or Halve: The simplest way to scale is to double or halve the ingredients. Remember that increasing volume may extend the cooking time slightly.
  • Slow Cooker Capacity: Ensure your slow cooker can accommodate the increased quantity. A standard 6-quart slow cooker comfortably holds a doubled recipe.
  • Spices and Herbs: When scaling up, be cautious with seasonings. Sometimes, less than double is best to maintain balance.
  • Cooking Time: While increasing ingredients, the initial cooking time in the skillet remains relatively constant. However, you may want to add an hour when doubling in the slow cooker.
  • Reducing: When halving the recipe, reduce cooking time in the slow cooker by an hour to ensure it doesn’t overcook.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads?

Indeed, the versatility of the Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe sauce extends beyond just pasta:

  • Marinade: Its rich flavors make it suitable for meats like chicken or pork. Before grilling or baking, marinate for several hours to impart depth.
  • Dipping Sauce: When thickened further, it can serve as a hearty dipping sauce. It pairs well with breadsticks, garlic bread, or even grilled vegetables.
  • Salad Dressing: For a dressing, consider diluting the sauce with olive oil and perhaps a splash of vinegar to lighten its consistency. It can provide a robust, Italian-inspired flavor to mixed greens, pasta salads, or antipasto.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

The rich and hearty nature of Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe pairs wonderfully with a variety of side dishes:


Classic choice! Spaghetti, tagliatelle, or rigatoni are great options.

Garlic Bread

A crusty loaf, buttered and infused with garlic, complements the sauce’s robust flavors.

Caesar Salad

A crisp Caesar with its creamy dressing provides a refreshing contrast.

Roasted Vegetables

Zucchini, bell peppers, and eggplants roasted with olive oil and herbs enhance the meal.

Vegetable Platters

Raw or steamed veggies get an uplift from the sauce.


This creamy cornmeal dish, perhaps with a sprinkle of Parmesan, serves as a comforting base.


Fresh tomatoes, basil, and olive oil on toasted bread offer a light counterpoint.

Italian Meatballs

For a meatier feast, serve alongside or even mix them into the sauce.


A creamy risotto, like one with mushrooms, can be exquisite.

Antipasto Platter

Marinated olives, cheeses, and cured meats bring in a touch of authenticity.

Steamed Greens

Broccoli or green beans, lightly seasoned, provide a healthy balance.

Slow Cooker Bolognese

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe, with its rich and hearty flavor, is the star ingredient in several classic dishes:

  • Spaghetti Bolognese: The most iconic pairing, where the sauce is served over freshly cooked spaghetti.
  • Lasagna: Layered with pasta sheets, cheese, and béchamel, the Bolognese adds depth to this baked delight.
  • Tagliatelle al Ragù: A classic Italian dish featuring wide pasta ribbons smothered in Bolognese.
  • Bolognese Stuffed Bell Peppers: Hollowed peppers filled with the sauce and baked until tender.
  • Ravioli: Stuffed pasta pockets filled with Bolognese, often served with a light tomato or cream sauce.
  • Shepherd’s Pie: A twist on the classic, using Bolognese as the meaty layer beneath a mashed potato crust.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe Offers?

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe captivates the palate with a symphony of flavors and sensations:

  • Savory: The meat and tomatoes create a deep, umami-rich base.
  • Sweet: Slow-cooked onions and carrots impart a subtle natural sweetness.
  • Herbaceous: Dried basil and oregano introduce a fragrant, earthy note.
  • Spicy: Red pepper flakes hint at heat, igniting the palate.
  • Creamy: Whole milk and Parmesan cheese make the sauce smooth and velvety.
  • Rich: The slow cooking melds the ingredients, producing a dense, concentrated flavor.
  • Aromatic: The combined scents of simmering meats, tomatoes, and herbs tantalize the senses before the first taste.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life?

Yes, Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe can be stored and preserved for future use:

  • Refrigeration: Once cooled, place the sauce in airtight containers and refrigerate. It remains fresh for 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: For more extended storage, freeze the sauce in portioned containers or freezer bags. It can last up to 3-4 months.
  • Reheating: Thaw frozen Bolognese in the fridge overnight, then reheat on the stove until piping hot.
  • Canning: While less common, you can store the sauce using proper preservation techniques. This method can extend its shelf life to a year or more.
  • Shelf Life: Remember that signs like an off-smell, mold, or change in texture indicate spoilage and the sauce should be discarded.

What Are The Substitutes For Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe?

If you’re seeking alternatives to Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe, consider these options, each offering its unique flavor profile:

  • Marinara Sauce: A tomato-based sauce with garlic, onions, and herbs, but without meat.
  • Arrabbiata Sauce: A spicy tomato sauce infused with red chili peppers.
  • Pesto: A fresh green sauce made from basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil.
  • Alfredo Sauce: A creamy blend of butter, heavy cream, and Parmesan cheese.
  • Puttanesca Sauce: A tangy tomato sauce featuring olives, anchovies, and capers.
  • Carbonara: A rich sauce of eggs, cheese, pancetta, and black pepper.
  • Ragu Alla Napoletana: A meat-heavy sauce with larger chunks of meat, often including sausage or pork ribs.
  • Primavera: A light tomato or cream sauce with assorted spring vegetables.
  • Ratatouille: A Provençal vegetable stew with eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers.
  • Mushroom Sauce: A creamy or tomato-based sauce heavily featuring sautéed mushrooms.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Adjusting the consistency of the Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe can be achieved with simple steps:

  • Too Thin: Continue cooking on a low setting, uncovered, allowing excess liquid to evaporate. Alternatively, add a tomato paste or a roux (butter and flour mixture) to thicken.
  • Too Thick: Gradually add small amounts of broth, water, or tomato sauce until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Creamier Texture: Incorporate heavy cream or whole milk to give a velvety finish.
  • Richer Body: Add grated Parmesan cheese or a pat of butter, stirring well.
  • Maintain Consistency: When reheating, add a splash of water or broth to restore the original texture.

Embrace the ease and richness of our Slow Cooker Bolognese, where time and low heat work magic on flavors.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe is traditionally served warm. Here’s why:

  • Flavor Profile: Warmth enhances the sauce’s aromatic properties, making it more fragrant and inviting.
  • Texture: When heated, the sauce attains a smooth, velvety consistency, ensuring it coats pasta or the chosen base evenly.
  • Digestibility: Warm foods, including sauces, are often easier to digest, aiding in a comfortable eating experience.
  • Pairings: Bolognese is typically paired with pasta, lasagna, or polenta, best complemented by a warm sauce.
  • Safety: Reheating the sauce to a proper temperature ensures no harmful bacteria are killed, especially if stored for a while.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Nutritional Values

The nutritional values of Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe can vary based on ingredients and proportions. Generally, it’s a source of protein from meat, vitamins from vegetables, and fats from olive oil and dairy.

What Are The Total Calories In Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe? 

The total calories in Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe will depend on the specific ingredients and quantities used. On average, a serving (about one cup) of homemade Bolognese sauce can range from 150 to 250 calories. 

Factors affecting calorie count include the type and amount of meat, oil, dairy, and additional ingredients used. 

Dietary Restrictions Of The Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe

The Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe may pose challenges for certain dietary restrictions:

  • Vegetarian: Contains meat, which is unsuitable for vegetarians.
  • Vegan: Has meat and dairy, both not allowed in a vegan diet.
  • Lactose Intolerant: Contains milk and Parmesan cheese which have lactose.
  • Low-Carb/Keto: The carrots, onions, and tomatoes add some carbs, though the amount is moderate.
  • Gluten-Free: Generally gluten-free, but always check store-bought ingredients like tomato paste for hidden gluten.
  • Low-Fat: Contains fats from meat, dairy, and olive oil.
  • Halal/Kosher: Ensure the beef and all ingredients meet Halal or Kosher guidelines.

Nutrition Table

Slow Cooker Bolognese

What Are The Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

Making Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe seems straightforward, but there are potential pitfalls. Here are common mistakes to avoid:

  • Overcrowding the Cooker: Filling the slow cooker too much can prevent even cooking and may cause it to overflow.
  • Skipping the Browning: Not browning the meat beforehand can lead to a lack of depth in flavor.
  • Using Low-Quality Ingredients: Since the sauce cooks long, using fresh, high-quality ingredients is essential for the best flavor.
  • Rushing the Cooking Time: Bolognese benefits from long, slow cooking. Speeding up the process might not allow flavors to meld properly.
  • Overseasoning Early: As the sauce simmers, flavors intensify. It’s best to season conservatively at the start and adjust later.
  • Not Stirring Occasionally: Even in a slow cooker, it’s good to stir occasionally to ensure even flavor distribution.
  • Ignoring Fat Content: Using extremely lean meat might make the sauce less flavorful. A balance is vital.
  • Not Tasting and Adjusting: As the sauce simmers, it’s essential to taste periodically and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Improper Storage: Storing the sauce while hot or not using airtight containers can reduce its shelf life.
  • Not Draining Excess Fat: After browning the meat, draining excess fat ensures the sauce isn’t overly greasy.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

Leftover Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe can be repurposed in delightful ways:

  • Stuffed Vegetables: Use as a filling for bell peppers or zucchinis, then bake.
  • Pizza Topping: Spread on pizza dough, add cheese, and bake.
  • Sloppy Joes: Serve it on toasted buns for an Italian twist on this classic.
  • Bolognese Quesadillas: Sandwich between tortillas with cheese, then grill.
  • Taco Filling: Use in tacos, topped with lettuce and cheese.
  • Baked Potatoes: Top steaming baked potatoes with the sauce and some grated cheese.
  • Bolognese Nachos: Layer over tortilla chips, sprinkle cheese, and bake.
  • Rice Casserole: Mix with cooked rice, veggies, and cheese, then bake.
  • Stuffed Pasta Shells: Fill large pasta shells and top with cheese before baking.
  • Bolognese Soup: Thin with broth, add veggies and beans for a hearty soup.
Slow Cooker Bolognese

Special Tools & Equipment Needed 

  • Slow Cooker: The primary tool, available in various sizes, to simmer the sauce for hours.
  • Skillet or Frying Pan: For browning meat and sautéing vegetables before they go into the slow cooker.
  • Wooden Spoon: Helps in stirring and breaking up the meat while cooking.
  • Chef’s Knife: For finely chopping vegetables and other ingredients.
  • Cutting Board: Preferably two – one for meats and one for vegetables.
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons: Ensures accurate quantities of ingredients.
  • Ladle: Useful for serving and transferring the sauce.
  • Can Opener: If using canned tomatoes or tomato paste.
  • Strainer or Colander: Helps in draining excess fat after browning the meat.
  • Airtight Containers: Essential for storing leftovers or any prepped ingredients.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I Use Ground Chicken Or Turkey Instead Of Beef In This Recipe?

Absolutely! Ground chicken or turkey can be a lighter alternative to beef. Just be aware that they might impart a different flavor and texture to the sauce, so you might want to adjust seasonings accordingly.

How Can I Make A Vegetarian Version Of This Bolognese?

You can substitute the meat with lentils, mushrooms, or plant-based meat crumbles for a vegetarian version. These ingredients will still offer a hearty texture reminiscent of the traditional Bolognese.

Is It Necessary To Brown The Meat And Vegetables Before Adding Them To The Slow Cooker?

While skipping this step is possible, browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables beforehand helps develop a deeper flavor profile. It caramelizes the ingredients, enhancing the overall taste of the sauce.

What Type Of Pasta Pairs Best With This Sauce?

Bolognese sauce pairs well with a variety of pasta types. Traditionally, it’s served with broader pasta like tagliatelle or pappardelle, but it also goes well with spaghetti, rigatoni, or fettuccine. The choice of pasta often comes down to personal preference.

Can I Add Other Vegetables To The Sauce?

Definitely! While the recipe specifies onions and carrots, add other vegetables like celery, bell peppers, or zucchini. They can add more depth, texture, and nutritional value to the sauce.

Hearty Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe (Your Family’s New Favorite)

5 from 2 votes
Course: Sauces


Prep time


Cooking time






Ferment/Rest Time



Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe is a rich, savory meat sauce simmered perfectly over several hours. This dish offers a harmonious blend of flavors combining beef, tomatoes, herbs, and select seasonings. Ideal for pasta, it represents the epitome of comfort food, merging tradition with the convenience of modern cooking.


  • 2 tbsp 2 Olive oil

  • 1 cup 1 Finely chopped baby carrots

  • 1 1 Finely chopped onion

  • 2 2 Minced garlic cloves

  • 1 Ib. 1 Lean ground beef

  • 1 + 1/2 cup 1 + 1/2 Whole milk

  • 28 oz. 28 Can of crushed tomatoes

  • 6 oz. 6 Can of tomato paste

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 Salt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 Ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 Dried basil

  • 1 tsp 1 Dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp 1/4 Crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Grated Parmesan cheese

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preparation: Gather all your ingredients. Finely chop the baby carrots, onion, and mince the garlic.
  • Browning Vegetables: Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, stir in the garlic, onion, and carrots. Sauté for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  • Cooking Meat: Add the ground beef to the skillet. Break the meat apart with a wooden spoon and cook until browned thoroughly.
  • Drain and Simmer: Drain off any excess fat. Add 1 cup of milk to the meat and vegetable mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the milk is absorbed.
  • Slow Cooker Transfer: Move the beef and vegetable mixture into the slow cooker and set it high.
  • Adding Ingredients: Add the crushed red pepper flakes, dried oregano, dried basil, ground black pepper, salt, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes to the slow cooker. Stir well to ensure everything is mixed.
  • Slow Cooking: Let the sauce cook on high for 2 hours.
  • Final Additions: Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Mix well.
  • Continue Cooking: Let the mixture cook for an additional 2 hours.
  • Serving: Once done, give the Bolognese sauce a final stir. Serve hot over your choice of pasta or store for later use.
  • Tip: Always taste the sauce before serving, adjusting the seasonings if necessary. Enjoy your homemade Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe!

Recipe Video


  • Meat Variations: While lean beef is commonly used, combine it with ground pork or veal for a richer flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh herbs can be substituted for dried. If using fresh, you’ll generally want to use about three times the amount specified for dried.
  • Wine Addition: For added depth, consider deglazing the skillet with a half cup of red wine after browning the meat, then reduce before adding to the slow cooker.
  • Dairy Substitutions: If lactose intolerant, lactose-free milk or non-dairy alternatives like almond or oat milk can be used.
  • Consistency: If the sauce is too thick for your liking at the end of cooking, you can thin it with a bit of broth or water. Conversely, if it is too thin, leave the slow cooker lid ajar during the last hour of cooking to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
  • Storage: Leftover sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 4 months.

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