Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce (Crockpot Bolognese)

This Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce would make my Nana Lamancuso proud. It’s silky and luscious with super tender meat and so much flavor. Crockpot bolognese is where it’s at! 

I’m definitely a pasta fiend. Give me bowls topped with Vodka Sauce, Broccoli Pesto, or my Nana’s Sunday Gravy any night of the week and I’ll be a happy girl. 

And, now that summer is winding down and we’ll be entering comfort food season once again (and we ALL need comfort food right now) I thought it was time to share this recipe with you – Bolognese Sauce, made in the slow cooker

I’ve shared my recipe previously for white bolognese sauce, but this is the traditional tomato based bolognese.

As with any great tomato sauce recipe, bolognese meat sauce benefits from a low and slow cook.

That’s why the crockpot is the perfect kitchen tool for making it! Unlike many stove tops, slow cookers maintain a low, even temperature. They’re the best kind of set it and forget it tool and in my book, you can’t beat a slow cooker for making the BEST bolognese sauce.

Hands holding bowl of pasta topped with slow cooker bolognese.

This is a super easy bolognese sauce recipe, but I do have a couple key tips for making it amazing. 

First, while we would all love the option to just throw everything into the slow cooker, put the lid on, and walk away, I find it really important to brown the vegetables and garlic first before adding them to the pot.

This really helps to enhance the flavor, especially when combined with the fact that when they’re done browning, the skillet gets deglazed with a splash of white wine. 

Second, I’m using a special ingredient to ensure that our sauce is deliciously thick and silky – panko. Here’s how we’re incorporating it: 

While the veggies are cooking away in the skillet, add the panko, heavy cream, beef and pork to your crockpot with a pinch of salt and pepper. Knead this mixture together to get it well combined. The breadcrumb/cream mixture is what will help to tenderize the meat and make it extra delicious.

This is a tip that I learned from America’s Test Kitchen, and that bread/milk mixture is called a panade. Here’s some more information on the process if you’re interested! 

Overhead shot of pasta with bolognese and parmesan

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter – I prefer to use unsalted butter so that I can control the seasoning
  • Onion, Carrot, Celery – The holy trifecta of veggies. Feel free to leave any out.
  • Tomato Paste – This will give a sweet, concentrated tomato flavor to your sauce.
  • Garlic – I use 3 cloves, but feel free to throw caution to the wind and use more!
  • Oregano, Nutmeg, Bay Leaf, Kosher Salt + Pepper
  • White Wine – A dry wine like Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc works best. The wine is optional and can be left out.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs – This is what will help thicken the sauce.
  • Heavy Cream – Lends a silkiness to the sauce.
  • Meat – I use a combination of half lean ground beef and half pork. Feel free to use all ground beef if you prefer. Or, try adding in some Italian sausage.
  • Crushed Tomatoes – San Marzano are best.
  • Parmesan Cheese

🔪 How to Make It

  • Melt butter and saute onion, carrot, celery and salt.
  • Add tomato paste, garlic, oregano, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until fragrant.
  • Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Combine panko, cream, beef and pork in the slow cooker.
  • Knead the mixture together.
  • Add vegetable-herb mixture and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add bay leaf.
  • Cook 9 to 10 hours on LOW or 6 to 7 hours on HIGH.
  • Break up meat with a spoon. Stir in parmesan and season with salt + pepper.
  • Enjoy!
Celery, carrots and onions in saute pan

Can You Freeze It? 

  • Yes! This slow cooker meat sauce makes a big batch and it freezes wonderfully for up to three months. I like to freeze it in individual portions. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge, or heat over very low heat on the stove. 

How Long Do You Cook Bolognese in the Crockpot? 

You can make slow cooker bolognese on high or low heat: 

  • HIGH heat: 6-7 hours
  • LOW heat: 9-10 hours 

Recipe FAQs

What Kind of Meat Do You Use for Bolognese? 

I like to use a combination of lean ground beef (85%) and ground pork. Alternatively, you can use equal parts beef, pork and veal (also sold as “meatloaf mix” in stores). You can also use all beef or all pork if you prefer. If you don’t eat red meat, you can use ground turkey or chicken. 

Do You Need to Brown Mince Before Putting it in the Slow Cooker? 

No. This crock pot bolognese recipe has no browning of the beef. Instead, the meat gets combined with cream and breadcrumbs which helps to tenderize the meat as it cooks away. 

Can I Put Frozen Mince in the Slow Cooker? 

For food safety reasons, it’s best to not cook frozen meat in the slow cooker. This is because the crockpot doesn’t get hot enough to ensure that bacteria won’t become a problem. 

How Do You Thicken Bolognese in the Slow Cooker? 

This recipe adds panko breadcrumbs into the mix to ensure that our sauce is thick and delicious. However, if you find that near the end of your cook time, your sauce is still too thin, simply remove the lid and continue to cook uncovered for 30 minutes and the sauce should thicken up. 

Overhead shot of pasta with bolognese sauce.

How to Serve It

What to Serve with It

Wine Pairings for Bolognese Sauce

  • Since we’re eating authentic Italian Meat sauce, I’m going for an authentic Italian wine – Try a Chianti, Barolo or Teroldego
  • MORE —> the BEST wines to pair with pasta.
Side view of bowl of pasta with bolognese sauce.

More Slow Cooker Recipes

More Pasta Recipes

Did you try this crockpot bolognese?

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Hands holding bowl of pasta topped with slow cooker bolognese.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

This Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce would make my Nana Lamancuso proud. It’s silky and luscious with super tender meat and so much flavor. Crockpot bolognese is where it’s at! 
5 from 21 votes
Print Pin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8 people



  • Melt butter in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and salt and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, oregano, pepper and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up any browned bits; set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in slow cooker, combine panko, cream, beef and pork with a pinch of salt and pepper. Use your hands to knead the mixture together. Then add the vegetable-herb mixture and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Add bay leaf.
  • Cover and cook until meat is tender, 9 to 10 hours on LOW or 6 to 7 hours on HIGH.
  • Break up any large pieces of meat with spoon. Stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


Oven-cooking instructions: Prepare sauce in a covered dutch oven and bake in a 300-degree oven for 2-3 hours, adding water if needed.
Storage: Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.  
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Large Skillet


Calories: 559kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 39g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 170mg | Sodium: 605mg | Potassium: 749mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2048IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 4mg

Be sure to check out my tips on how to clean a dutch oven after using it.

Check out the web story here.

This crock pot bolognese sauce post was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2023 to add new information. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy.

12 thoughts on “Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce (Crockpot Bolognese)”

  1. 5 stars
    I decided to try this and substituted lamb for pork. I must say, it was quite tasty! I didn’t reveal the ingredients to my family and my children gobbled it up just as if it was regular “spaghetti sauce”. With the recipe being super easy and yummy, it will definitely be a repeat!

  2. I hope you can respond to this in time! I didn’t add the breadcrumbs right away because I was waiting to see if a gluten-free friend was joining for dinner. I added later… not I’m worried the meat won’t be cooked. Do you think it will cool after 8 hours on low in the crockpot?

  3. The recipe calla for 2 28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes but doesn’t include where or how you add them in the actual recipe…?

    Also shouldn’t it specify san marazano tomatoes? Other tomatoes are to acidic?

    • Hi Cierra – The tomatoes go in during step 2 of the recipe. I don’t find that San Marzano tomatoes are necessary. They’re best, but not necessary. If you do find your tomatoes are not sweet enough, you can add a pinch of sugar. Hope that helps!


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