My Slow Cooker Pork Ragu is a hearty, vegetable-packed sauce that is perfect for any pasta you like.
What is Ragu?
Ragu isn’t necessarily a tomato-based “spaghetti sauce,” although it we often think of it that way. Ragu is essentially a rich, slow-cooked sauce, made for pasta, consisting primarily of meat.
In the case of Slow Cooker Ragu, I am simmering pork in red wine and/or diced tomatoes and their juices as well as carrots, celery, onion, garlic and the infamous “super green,” kale.
Using a slow cooker to make ragu is a revelation. There is no sauteing each ingredient one by one.
Taking things out or putting them back in. You don’t have to stir things every 15 minutes and check in on the sauce.The slow cooker eliminates all of that and while I am all for a sauce that takes all day, I also love being able to walk away from a meal so I can get other things done.
It is also a great game day recipe. Get things going, watch the game, and when the time is right, boil the pasta and feed a crowd.
Why You’ll Love This Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
Tender pork slow cooking in a hearty tomato sauce that is packed with flavor- what’s not to love!
- Comfort food – If you like trying new recipes, this is one the whole family will enjoy. Packed with savory flavors perfect for warming the soul on a cool fall or winter night.
- Easy to make – A recipe where you can just throw everything in the crock pot is perfect for any busy weeknights. And any home cooks will be able to follow the simple instructions.
- Loved by all – This slow cooker pork ragu is sure to become one of your family’s favorite recipes with it’s flavorful sauce and tender meat.
Ingredients for Pork Ragu
When it comes to pork recipes, this ingredient list is a little long. But you probably have most of them on hand already.
- Vegetables – A white onion, chopped celery, kale leaves and chopped carrots are all we need to make this comforting meal hearty and delicious. Sneaking te those veggies in the kiddos (and husbands!).
- Garlic cloves – Rather than using a jar of pre-minced garlic, I like to use fresh chopped garlic. You can use the jarred stuffed in a pinch.
- Fresh herbs – I like to use fresh flat leaf parsley and bay leaf. Nothing crazy, but flavorful enough to pack a punch and make a difference. Feel free to add other fresh herbs.
- Tomatoes – We need both petite diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes and some tomato paste to make that rich tomato sauce.
- Red wine – I like a nice dry red versus something jammy and fruit-forward. It will give your sauce a better body when it’s ready to serve. If you don’t cook with alcohol, omit this and use chicken stock or water.
- Seasonings – A blend of coarse kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and Italian seasoning add to the rich flavor.
- Boneless pork roast – Make sure you have the excess fat trimmed off. This prevents our sauce from having too much fat in it. Sometimes called pork shoulder or pork butt, this is the same type of roast you’d use for pulled pork.
- Butter – I always prefer to use unsalted butter when cooking. That way I am able to control the amount of salt that goes into the recipe. It adds richness to the sauce before serving.
- Cornstarch – This might not be needed, but if you feel that your sauce is too thin, you can make a cornstarch slurry to thicken it u0p a bit.
- Pasta of choice – I love serving it with gnocchi (either potato or ricotta) because of the fluffy texture of the pasta and the rich, savory sauce. You can also use pappardelle, ziti, or macaroni. Really, any shape will do. Fresh or dry pasta is perfect for this.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
You are going to love how easy it is to make this slow cooker pork ragu!
- Add ingredients to slow cooker. Place onion through black pepper in your slow cooker, mix with a spoon. Place roast in slow cooker, smear the top of the roast with mixture. Set slow cooker for low.
- Shred pork. Thirty minutes prior to serving, skim off any excess fat that has risen to the top and remove roast. Shred roast using two large forks. Return meat to the slow cooker and add unsalted butter and kale. If your sauce requires additional thickening, add the cornstarch slurry.
- Prepare desired pasta. Top pasta with Slow Cooker Ragu and enjoy!
What to Serve with Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
Our favorite things to serve this pork shoulder ragu with is some crusty bread like garlic bread or italian bread and a nice bold glass of wine. It’s a great recipe to make when entertaining, because it feeds quite a bit of people.
You can serve it alongside a serving of creamy polenta, your favorite pasta like fresh pappardelle pasta or even spaghetti squash if you’re trying to cut carbs. This easy meal tastes great with so many things. I’ve also served it over eggplant parm.
The best part of this meal is that there are plenty of ways to make it your own.
- Meat – Try it with ground beef. A good chuck blend is perfect or even with chicken. Because chicken is a little leaner, I would suggest going with dark meat like boneless skinless chicken thighs to keep it just as rich. You could even use a pork butt, boneless pork shoulder pork tenderloin or other cut of meat.
- Wine – You can also use non-alcoholic cooking wine or omit the wine altogether if you would like to. If you are choosing to do without the wine, I suggest going a little heavier on the spices. You will lose some flavor from the wine, so evening it out with those is the right way to go.
- Cooking method – You could experiment a little and try making this recipe in a large dutch oven. Or even try making an instant pot pork ragu if you’re feeling adventurous. It just might not be as fall-apart tender as the original recipe.
- Make it spicy – If you’d like to add another depth of flavor to your slow cooker pork ragu recipe, try adding some red pepper flakes to give it a little spice.
Storage and Freezing
Can you make pork ragu ahead of time?
Yes! This recipe tastes even better the next day! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Can you freeze pork ragu?
You can make a large batch and freeze half for another night. You can also freeze individual portions in freezer bags for lunches or single-serving meals. Thaw in the fridge and reheat as you would leftovers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Although you do need a good amount of liquid in the slow cooker, it does not need to cover the pork.
You need some sort of liquid, but this recipe does not call for water. The wine and tomatoes are enough.
You can use really any cut of meat that you desire, we just prefer a roast.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow Cooker Pork Ragu Recipe
- 1 large white onion halved and sliced
- 6 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/2 cup celery chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
- 28 ounces cans petite diced tomatoes
- 24 ounces can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 3 small bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3-4 pork boneless pork roast excess fat trimmed
- 5 inch ribs kale leaves removed and roughly torn
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch , if needed
- Pasta of choice cooked to package directions
- Combine the onion, garlic, celery, carrots parsley, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, salt and pepper in the slow cooker pot. Place the roast in the top and spoon some of the tomato mixture over the top. Set the slow cooker for low for 6 hours.
- Thirty minutes prior to serving, skim off any excess fat that has risen to the top, fish out the bay leaves and remove the roast. Shred the roast using two large forks, returning the meat back to the sauce.
- Stir in the butter and kale. If your sauce requires additional thickening, you can combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch in 2 tablespoons of water, whisking out any lumps, and then stir into sauce.
- Prepare your desired pasta and serve over top.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings!