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Slow-Cooker Bolognese

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 6 hr 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 16 servings
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4 tablespoons olive oil

4 celery stalks, chopped 

2 carrots, chopped 

2 onions, chopped 

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 cloves garlic, chopped 

One 6-ounce can tomato paste 

1 cup dry red wine 

4 pounds ground beef 

2 cups whole milk 

Two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes 

1 tablespoon dried oregano 

1 tablespoon dried basil 

2 teaspoons dried thyme 

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1 Parmesan rind, optional, plus grated Parmesan, for serving

Cooked spaghetti, for serving

Chopped fresh basil, for serving

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the celery, carrots and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute. Pour in the red wine and cook until it is mostly evaporated, about 3 minutes. Pour this mixture into a slow cooker.
  2. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons oil into the skillet, add the beef and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up any lumps, until it is nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the milk and cook until it is mostly absorbed by the meat, about 5 minutes. Add this to the slow cooker along with the tomatoes, oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg and Parmesan rind if using. Add some salt. Give it a good stir, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
  3. Skim off any fat on top and check the consistency. If it is too thick, add a bit of water. If it is too thin, cook for another 30 minutes with the cover off.
  4. Remove the rind and serve over spaghetti with lots of grated Parmesan and topped with fresh basil and parsley. Extra sauce can be frozen for later use.