5 from 10 votes
Overhead photo of Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu Bolognese over papparelle pasta in a neutral colored serving bowl with slices of toasted baguette, fresh basil leaves, a ramekin of grated parmesan cheese and a pale blue linen arranged around the bowl.
Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu Bolognese Recipe
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
7 hrs 15 mins
Total Time
7 hrs 40 mins

This easy Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu Bolognese doesn't require hours of babysitting the stove!  Silky, rich and packed with tender meat, this sauce is sure to be a hit with your family and become a staple in your home!

Recipe can be scaled up or down by using the slider if you hover your mouse over the number of Servings.

Course: entree, main, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bolognese, crockpot, meat sauce, ragu, short rib, Slow Cooker
Servings: 8
Calories: 347 kcal
  • 2 ½ - 3 pounds Boneless Beef Short Ribs – cut into 2-3’’ pieces
  • Kosher Salt & Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 2 TBS Olive Oil - DIVIDED
  • 1 medium Sweet Onion – finely diced (1 ½ Cups)
  • 2 large Carrots – peeled & finely diced( 1 Cup)
  • 3 medium stalks Celery – finely diced (1 Cup)
  • 4 large cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 TBS Tomato Paste
  • ¾ Cup Dry Wine (or beef broth) - DIVIDED (SEE NOTES)
  • 1 (28 ounce) Can San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes (or whole tomatoes crushed by hand)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • ¾ tsp EACH: Dried Thyme, Dried Basil & Dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes - or more to taste
  • 2 tsp Cornstarch mixed with 2 TBS water (OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE)
  • 2 TBS - ¼ Cup Heavy Cream , or more to taste (OPTIONAL FOR CREAMY SAUCE)
  • 12 ounces Flat Wide Pasta Papparelle or Tagliatelle*
  • 2-3 TBS Fresh Parsley and/or Basil – chopped
  • ½ Cup Parmesan - freshly grated
For Serving: Baguette, Buffalo Mozzarella or Burrata, Fresh Parsley or Basil
  1. Season short ribs on all sides generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown short ribs:  In a large Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add half the ribs and sear on all sides until browned (about 2 minutes per side). Transfer meat to slow cooker. Repeat with remaining tablespoon of oil and ribs. OPTIONAL: With the heat still on under the pot, add 1/3 cup of wine and scrape off the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour wine and browned bits over meat in the slow cooker. ALTERNATIVELY, you can add all the wine directly to the slow cooker and skip deglazing the pan.

  3. In the slow cooker:  Add all the remaining ingredients (EXCEPT CORNSTARCH MIXTURE or HEAVY CREAM) to the slow cooker and season generously with salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir to combine.

  4. Cook:  Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours* or until short ribs are fork tender.

  5. Shred meat:  When ribs are tender, either shred the meat right in the slow cooking or remove them from the slow cooker and transfer to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat. Remove the bay leaves from the slow cooker and discard. Add the meat back to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover and switch slow cooker to WARM while you make the pasta.

  6. OPTIONAL FOR A THICKER SAUCE: Add the cornstarch/water mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes to thicken.
  7. OPTIONAL FOR A CREAMY SAUCE: Stir in heavy cream to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-10 minutes, or until heated through.
  8. To Serve: Top with fresh parsley and/or fresh basil and grated parmesan. Enjoy!

  1. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta to just barely al dente according to directions on package.

  2. Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of cooking liquid, and return to pot. Add enough Ragu Bolognese sauce to coat, along with some of the cooking liquid. Quickly cook over medium-high heat, tossing/stirring gently to combine, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to a large serving platter or divide among serving bowls. Top with fresh parsley and grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes
  1. Make sure you use a high quality wine you would drink yourself. While white wine is traditionally used in bolognese, I personally prefer the rich taste of a dry red wine. I normally either use a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or Chianti.
  2. While flat, wide pasta noodles are generally served with bolognese, you can use any type of pasta you prefer. Or, if you don’t fancy pasta, try serving this sauce over polenta, or in lasagna!
  3. If you don’t like your sauce too saucy, either switch the slow cooker to HIGH and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid, or use a slotted spoon to serve the ragu.  Keep in mind that the sauce will thicken significantly as it sits.  If you need to thin the sauce, just add more broth or cream.
  4. I recommend cooking this sauce on LOW in the slow cooker. However, if you are pressed for time, you can cook it on HIGH for 4-5 hours instead. Please note that the meat will not be quite as succulent and tender.
  5. Leftover bolognese sauce should be stored in an air-tight container. Properly stored sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Or, this sauce freezes exceptionally well! To freeze, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. Sauce will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. To reheat the sauce, defrost in the refrigerator overnight if frozen and reheat in a saucepot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until fully heated throughout.

Recipe Serves:  8-10

Nutritional Information is an approximation and based on 8 servings (does not include pasta)

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu Bolognese Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 87mg29%
Sodium 251mg11%
Potassium 704mg20%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 3185IU64%
Vitamin C 4.9mg6%
Calcium 110mg11%
Iron 3.5mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.