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Easy Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Intense flavours and melt in the mouth minced beef are the stunning results of this slow cooker Bolognese Sauce recipe.

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Bolognese Sauce


1kg /2.2lbs of good quality ground beef
4 medium onions
2 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
5 garlic cloves
150ml / 5fl oz of red wine (or substitute with an equal amount of beef stock)
3 level tablespoons of tomato concentrate
120ml / 4fl oz beef stock (3 stock cubes)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
Small amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


: 20 minutes


: 5 to 7 hours (see ook's notes)


: Easy


? Yes


: 8 servings


1 slow cooker, see Cook's Notes for sizes.
1 large frying pan.
Some of the ingredients for Slow Cooker Bolognese sauce
Some of the ingredients for Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce


Top and tail, peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.

Chop the carrots into smallish chunks (see picture above).

Finely chop the celery.

To make the stock add the three stock cubes to a measuring bowl, add the correct amount of very hot water and also the wine. Mix in the stock cubes to the liquid.

Recipe by .


This bolognese sauce recipe is designed to be easy to prepare but at the same time remain true to the ingredients of an authentic Italian bolognese. In truth it's relatively easy to do that because the real bolognese recipe itself is relatively simple. Use only ground beef for the meat and forget more complicated mixtures of beef, veal, liver and pork!

The recipe will provide eight good portions of bolognese sauce and is enough to cook successfully in a large slow cooker, we used the Sainsbury's 6.2 litre slow cooker and it worked fine in that. For a slow cooker of that size you could easily add an extra half of the ingredients to increase the amount cooked. Any size down to a 3.5 litre slow cooker also works well. Below that size you will need to scale down the amount of ingredients. For most families eight portions, will be too much for one sitting so just freeze the remainder in individual pots for an easy to cook quick meal.

Key to this recipe is the amount of liquid used, this needs to be correct for a sauce of good consistency. When the sauce mix first goes into the slow cooker it may seem too dry but fear not, it will become more liquid as the cooking progresses. Probably the best overall slow-cooking time is five hours but up to seven hours is OK.

We suggest using lean minced beef because cheaper mince isn't really cheaper, you just get more fat in the meat which dissolves into the sauce especially when slow cooked. If you are using mince with a higher fat content we suggest reducing the amount of beef stock by 15ml / ½fl oz.

A traditional bolognese recipe often uses pancetta / streaky bacon. Feel free to chop up and add six of these if you want. We have left this ingredient out because it is expensive and we have never particularly liked the texture of soggy bacon in a bolognese sauce. The recipe below browns the minced beef in a large frying pan. The reason for this is not to colour the beef (slow cooking in the slow cooker will do this) it is to separate the strands of beef and stop them clumping together.

We would suggest serving this bolognese sauce on linguine pasta (roughly 100g per person) rather than spaghetti because the linguine will hold more of the bolognese sauce as you eat it, spaghetti will also do fine if you don't have linguine.

Slow cooking really does tenderise the minced beef, a side by side comparison between slow cooked bolognese and one cooked one the hob reveals how much better the slow cooked version is. As for convenience, bolognese is not only a winter meal it is great in the summer as well when the kitchen is warm. A slow cooker generates minimal heat compared to a hob cooked meal keeping your kitchen cool in the summer.

Finally, we wrap this introduction up by explaining why bolognese sauce is so much better when prepared in a slow cooker. First, cost and convenience. A bolognese sauce cooked in a slow cooker consumes minimal electricity compared to one cooked on the hob. Second, minced beef is more often than not a cheap cut of meat which is tough. Slow cooking really does tenderise the meat and it is very definitely noticeable.



Heat the frying pan on a medium heat and pour in one tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the of the minced beef (the full amount won't fit into the average frying pan) to the pan and fry until browned which will take around five minutes. Stir and break up the minced meat constantly so that it is does not form clumps of meat.

Pour all the contents of the frying pan into the slow cooker (on a high heat). Repeat with the remaining minced beef.

 Frying minced beef


Add all of the remaining ingredients (except the Parmesan cheese) to the slow cooker and stir well.

Let the Bolognese sauce slow cook on high for an hour. After that, cook on a low heat for a further four hours. Best served with linguine pasta and grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

 Bolognese Sauce in a slow cooker

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