You’ve heard the legends of long-simmered Bolognese made by Italian grandmothers of old. Well, the legends are true. Slow cooking makes any Bolognese better. Fortunately, this version makes use of the slow cooker so you needn’t sit home all day waiting for your sauce to reduce.

But, don’t scrimp on the details. A half-hour of prep work gives you at least ten hours to take it easy as your sauce cooks. And it makes enough for multiple meals or one feast for a small army.

You will need at least a 6 1/2 quart sized slow cooker for this recipe (alternatively, split up the amount between two smaller slow cookers). Because steam rises from the sauce as it cooks, it’s best to place the slow cooker on a counter with no cabinetry overhead.

Slow Cooker Bolognese
By Lori & Paul
Makes enough sauce for 4 pounds of pasta


3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large carrots, finely chopped
3 ribs of celery, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 pounds Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 pound ground beef
1 can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 cups whole milk
3 cups dry white wine
2 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes*
salt and pepper


Heat butter in a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium high-heat until foaming. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the Italian sausage and ground beef, breaking it apart with your spoon and cooking until it is just browned. Add tomato paste and thyme, stirring until well combined.

Add milk, bring to a rigorous simmer, and cook until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains on the surface of the sauce, about 10-15 minutes. Add wine and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Transfer mixture to the slow cooker, cover, and set temperature to high.

When the sauce comes to a boil in the slow cooker, tip the lid so that the cooker is only partially covered, and allow the sauce to simmer for at least ten and up to 12 hours. The sauce should be very thick.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Freezes well. Store in airtight containers for up to three months.

*If you prefer a smoother, less rustic sauce, use crushed tomatoes or tomato puree.

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