Slow Cooker Bolognese

This easy slow cooker bolognese begins with a vegetable-based Italian battuto, chopped white onion, carrot, and celery cooked in butter and flavored with fresh parsley.

Slow Cooker Bolognese from the National Onion Association

Keep things simple in the kitchen and make this Italian-inspired meat sauce! Continuing with our exploration of Onions Around the World, the recipe features the onion cooking base, battuto. White onions have a crisp, pungent flavor that turns pleasantly sweet when cooked making them an ideal addition to this slow cooker bolognese.

All of the delicious ingredients blend into a thick and hearty meat sauce over several hours on low in the slow cooker. Use the sauce to top pasta or spiralized vegetables. It is so thick and rich that you can even use it as a sub sandwich filling or fill pizza dough for a homemade calzone.

Easy and delicious Slow Cooker Bolognese with White Onions from the National Onion Association

Slow Cooker Bolognese

Serves:  4 to 6


1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large white onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, diced
½ cup diced celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lean ground beef
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a large skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, until the pieces just begin to glisten in the butter. Add carrots and celery and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the garlic and parsley and cook for 1 more minute. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a large, 6-quart, slow cooker.

Stir in the ground beef, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, until the beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are tender. If possible, stir occasionally during the cooking process to prevent the thick sauce from gathering and blackening around the sides of the bowl.

Transfer to a bowl to serve over pasta, vegetables, or as a filling for sandwiches.


Recipe and images by Lori Rice for the National Onion Association.

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