This slow-cooked Italian-style beef bolognese is so packed full of flavor, you’ll think you’re eating in a fancy Italian restaurant! It’ll be our little secret how easy it was to make.
For today’s comfort-food delight I’m taking your tastebuds on a one-way trip to Italy. All expenses paid, no hidden fees. Pack your bags. We leave NOW.
All aboard the Italian-food train. We’re on our way to the Land of Beef Bologonese. A magical land where all your hopes and dreams can come true.
Which, by the way, is totally my dream vacation. Actually I’d just like to live and eat in Italy forever. The end.
Since I know that’s probably not gonna happen anytime in this lifetime of mine, I guess I’ll just have to settle with the fact that I now know the secret to eternal Italian food-happiness.
It’s called beef bolognese. The yin to every Italian-food lover’s yang. My new favorite happy place. Heck, just the name of it makes me SO hug-myself-happy.
The smell of it enchants and woos me. As all Italian food does.
The taste of it makes me swoon from content. And seriously question whether I’m sitting in a quaint little Italian restaurant in the heart of Italy or just chilling on the couch in my living room.
Since I haven’t won the lottery just yet, if you guessed that last statement, you’re right: I eat fancy-schmancy Italian food from the comfort of my couch in the comfort of my pajamas.
I can pull off the look though, guys. My family told me so.
This bolognese sauce is unbelievably rich, creamy, full of tender beef and loaded with DEEP Italian-flavors. The slow-cooker really works it’s magic here, guys. You won’t believe the flavors here. You really, really won’t.
The easiness and the simplicity and the BEST STUFF YOUR TASTEBUDS WILL TOUCH.
Do note that this recipe makes a HUGE batch of beef bolognese sauce and you can certainly halve the recipe if you’re cooking for smaller quantities. I usually only use about half of the sauce for one meal and then stash the other half in the freezer for a quickie dinner on a busy weeknight.
So can we talk about the purely amazing quality of this sauce? For one thing it cooks nearly ENTIRELY in the crockpot. No pre-browning of the beef beforehand! We’re just going to simply mash up the beef with some half-and-half cream and torn bread pieces to make a potent and then just crumble it into the crushed-tomato sauce in the crockpot. Cooking the beef entirely in the tomato sauce will ensure that the beef will cook up super-moist and tender.
Now you have a choice: You can switch that crockpot on to either high temperature and let it cook for 3-4 hours OR if today is a super-long day and you have hours to spare, you can go ahead and let the sauce cook on low temperature for 5-6 hours.
A few hours later your house should start to smell more or less like an Italian restaurant. And at this point you should start the pasta water for those noodles and break out the french bread and those fake french-mustaches because the best dinner of your LIFE is very quickly approaching.
Once the sauce is cooked, you might notice a few big clumps of cooked beef. Use a spoon to break up these clumps into bite-sized pieces and then throw a bunch of fresh minced basil and salt and pepper to taste into the sauce. This last step really brightens all the flavors of this sauce, guys.— Don’t skip it!
At this point, you should leave the kitchen now and go stock up on lettuce leaves unless you want to gain 10,000 pounds from tonight’s spaghetti dinner. This stuff is NO JOKE in the pig-out department!
I’ve gathered this fact just by watching my family. No personal experience, I PROMISE.
Watch out, Italy. My beef bolognese is better than yours. ♥
Slow-Cooked Beef Bolognese
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 1 medium carrot minced
- 1/4 cup minced celery
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cans 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 2 slices day-old bread torn into pieces
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/2 lbs ground beef
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Hot pasta for serving
- In a small skillet over medium-high heat, brown onion, carrot, celery, and garlic in oil until veggies are browned. (about 5 minutes) Reduce heat to low and stir in tomato paste until combined. Slowly stir in red wine until mixture is smooth. Bring to a low simmer then remove from heat and transfer to a 3-qt crockpot. Stir in crushed tomatoes and set aside.
- Place torn bread slices in a large bowl and pour half-and-half over top. Mash with a potato masher until mixture forms a thick paste. Using hands, work in ground beef, salt, and pepper until combined.
- Crumble uncooked beef mixture over tomato mixture in crockpot, then gently stir sauce until combined. Cover crockpot and cook on high 3-4 hours OR on low 5-6 hours.
- Just before serving, use a spoon to break up meat into bite-sized chunks and stir basil into sauce. Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve hot with pasta.
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
This definitely looks like restaurant style bolognese, Sarah! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! Makes me want to dive right into this dish for breakfast. Sounds perfect since my husband and I love pasta! Delish!
Thanks Gayle! It’s definitely the perfect choice for Italian night! 😉
Italian-grandmother approved! Not that I”m a grandmother, but I like to think I have some authority given that I’m 100% Italian. Perfetto!!
Ahhh! I forgot that you’re Italian, Joanne! How awesome is that??!
Jen @ Baked by an Introvert says
Your photos are so gorgeous! I want to reach right in and swirl those noodles around my fork! Pinning!
Thanks for the photo love and for the pin, girlfriend! xoxo
Oh how I wish I could reach through the screen and eat that. Perfect comfort food and I love that it is made in the slow cooker!
Kelly - Life Made Sweeter says
This looks absolutely perfect, Sarah! Wish that plate of noodles was on our dinner table right now! Love that you made it in the slow cooker too!
Thank you Kelly!! xoxo
Yum!!! This is such great comfort food! And I love that it’s in the slow cooker!
I also totally want to go to Italy – some day, some day!
Ahhhh! We should both totally go to Italy together! 😀
Annie @ The Garlic Diaries says
This looks so delicious! I have never made bolognese but have been wanting to for a while. I will definitely put this on my list!
Let me know if you make this Annie!!
Jess @ Flying on Jess Fuel says
Homemade pasta sauce is truly the best. I hard ever eat Italian out because I feel like I can always make it at home better and cheaper!! I’ll have to try this sauce… my hubby would love how beefy it is!
Homemade Italian is totally the best! 😉 Thanks Jess!
This bolognese looks so rich, fresh and delicious Sarah! Love it! Better than a fancy restaurant! Pinned 🙂
Thanks for the kind words and for pinning, Mira!! 🙂
Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps says
Bolognese totally speaks to my heart, and this is no exception. The twirly noodles. The creamy sauce. Ahhhh…..
This is SO up your alley, Nicole! You must try. 😉
These photos gorgeous, Sarah!! They make me want to scarf a down a big bowl of this asap! I’ve never made a bolognaise sauce before, but it looks so good I also love the idea of making a tomato sauce in the slow cooker, I bet the flavors are amazing!
Thanks for the photo love and the super-sweet words, Izzy! You’re the best, girl! 🙂
Natalie @ Tastes Lovely says
Ok, this sauce sounds AMAZING! And I love that you made it in the slow cooker. The flavors will be bursting by the end! Funny story about bolognese. I had only known about it from reading in magazines. And I was pronouncing it ALL wrong. I called it “boloneese”, haha! Whoops!
Hahaha! That’s so funny about the pronunciation of bologonese because whenever I say it, I’m afraid that I’m pronouncing it completely wrong too! LOL.
Amber @ Dessert Now, Dinner Later! says
I love that you used a slow cooker for the sauce! Can’t wait to try it!
This recipe was exactly what I’m looking for! The only thing that makes me a little hesitant is I’ve never not drained the grease from ground beef. Am I missing something or do you just leave the grease in the slow cooker?
I’ve found that the sauce isn’t too greasy from the beef cooking right in the sauce, so unless you’re worried about a little grease that forms on the top, you can always just scrape it out with a spoon!
Katrina Russell says
We have dairy allergies in our house, do you think it would be possible to replace the half and half with something else – full fat coconut milk perhaps?
Coconut milk would work fine, Katrina!
Please dont tell italians though… Coconut milk in bolognese? Mamma mia!
What type of bread do you like to use?
Hi Jenetta! We like to use Italian or French bread.
British Maple says
I have made so many variations of bolognese sauce in search of my ‘go-to’ recipe and this is now it! Thank You!
I made this yesterday and just polished off a bowl of it with spaghettini and crusty bread and had to comment straight away! I added a little oregano and omitted the salt in favour of a beef stock cube (I like mine a bit more beefy ?)
I’ll definitely link to this recipe from my blog soon x
I’m SO happy to hear that you’ve found your go-to bolognese recipe! Thanks for letting me know and enjoy! 🙂
Betty Greeley says
This looks very good, but I need the nutritional information.
What is the serving size for this dish? One, two or more?? you haven’t mentioned that
This serves about 4-6, Micky.
What is half and half?
Half and half cream! Equal parts heavy cream and milk.