Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Torie Cox
Active Time:
25 Mins
Total Time:
6 Hours 25 Mins
Yield:
Serves 12

A house full of guests requires a great meal that’s also easy on the cook, and our Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce is exactly that. This hearty meat sauce serves 12 people generously—or 16 people if you serve smaller portions or have lots of side dishes. Made with ground beef, spicy Italian sausage, and diced pancetta plus red wine, Italian seasoning, and lots of vegetables, it’s a robust, fully flavored topping for your favorite pasta. Best of all, this Bolognese sauce tastes incredible even when made ahead. (In fact, it may taste even better after the flavors have had a few days to come together.) The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days or frozen in an airtight container (or ziplock freezer bags) up to 3 months.

How to Make It

Step 1

Combine ground beef, sausage, and pancetta in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high, stirring to break into small pieces, until browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a 6-quart slow cooker; reserve drippings in skillet.

Step 2

Add onion, celery, and carrots to hot drippings; cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red wine; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add onion mixture to slow cooker with meat. Stir in sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Using your hands, crush tomatoes to break apart; add to slow cooker and stir. Cover and cook on LOW until flavors meld, about 6 hours. Remove and discard bay leaf.

Step 3

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain well. Serve sauce over pasta; top with cheese and basil. Sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days or frozen up to 3 months.