Savory beef ragu is easy to prepare, amazingly hearty, and a healthy comfort food.  A true Italian classic dish that’s easy to make in your slow cooker or instant pot!

Savory Beef Ragu

Savory Beef Ragu:

This dish is hearty, healthier than you might guess, and also a great comfort food as we prepare to finally transition into warmer temperatures! A braised roast simmering in the good company of San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, onions,  balsamic vinegar, and onions makes for an irresistible combination of Italian flavors.  The best thing is that it’s delicious served with pretty much anything! We like this savory beef ragu served over gnocchi, polenta, mashed potatoes, or your favorite pasta!   Keeping with the spirit of versatility, you can whip this up in your slow cooker and it simmer all day filling your kitchen with great smells like our Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce,  or use your instant pot if you’re in more of a time crunch. In the mood for more heavy-hitting Italian flavor? Try our Roasted Red Pepper Gnocchi or Instant Pot Spaghetti!

Savory Beef Ragu

Beef Ragu Notes:

  • Browning the roast on all sides before adding the other ingredients in either the slow cooker or instant pot will add more flavor! However, it still tastes great if you skip this step. If browning in the instant pot, us a wooden spoon to deglaze the browned bits.
  • Opt for a top round roast if you can. It is leaner, not as tough, and won’t require as much time as a chuck roast for the fat and collagen to dissolve.
  • Play with the seasonings to suit your own personal tastes! The cayenne pepper called for in the recipe gives a nice flavor boost, but isn’t too hot. If you like a little heat, feel free to add more.
  • You can use either red wine or beef broth in the sauce, and this recipe will still taste great! While they will both add richness, wine will add a sweet, more fruity note, and beef broth will reinforce the savory-ness.
  • You can save leftovers for 3 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months if frozen. If freezing, thaw in the fridge overnight before you want to use it.



5 from 12 votes

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

Prep 10 minutes
Cook 8 hours
Total 8 hours 10 minutes
Servings 10


  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Pounds Beef Top Round Roast
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion Minced
  • 2 Cans (28 ounces each) San Marzano Tomatoes, Drain one can
  • 1/2 Cup Red Wine or Beef Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Teaspoons Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • Optional for Serving Fresh grated parmesan cheese and parsley


Slow Cooker Instructions:

  • Optional see note:  In a large pan over medium heat, brown beef on all sides in 1 Tablespoon olive oil.
  • Place roast in slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients, except for the parmesan and parsley.  Stir well.
  • Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, until roast is fork tender.
  • Remove bay leaves from slow cooker.  Shred meat with two forks and stir the mixture well.
  • Serve the ragu over gnocchi, mashed potatoes, polenta, zucchni noodles, etc.

Instant Pot Instructions:

  • Set the instant pot to saute mode on low heat. Brown the meat on all sides then remove it from the pot and set aside.
  • Turn the instant pot off then add the garlic, onion, tomatoes, red wine, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and oregano. Stir to combine.
  • Place the roast back in the pot and cover with the sauce and tomatoes.
  • Place the lid on the pot, close, and make sure the quick release valve is closed. Set the instant pot on manual mode for 45 minutes.
  • Once the time is up, carefully open the quick release valve and let the steam release fully. Open the lid and remove the meat to a cutting board.
  • Set the instant pot to saute mode on medium heat and let the sauce reduce for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it has reduced by half and the tomatoes have broken down.
  • Meanwhile, shred the beef with two forks and add back to the sauce when it's ready.
  • Stir to combine and serve or gnocchi, mashed potatoes, or pasta.



NOTE:  The beef will have more flavor if you brown it on all sides before adding it to the slow cooker.  This step is optional.  I've made this without browning the beef first, and the flavor is still great!
NOTE: Leftovers can be refrigerated up to three days, and frozen for three months. 


Calories: 184kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 56mg, Sodium: 611mg, Potassium: 341mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 17IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 27mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Rate & review this recipe below!


Hey! Nice to meet you! I'm Nichole!

Welcome to The Salty Marshmallow! I'm a mom, animal lover, photographer, & kitchen mess-maker. Here you will find the result of my decades-long passion for chasing the best flavors in the kitchen, all meant to be cooked by regular people with busy lives just like you and me.

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  1. 5 stars
    If you haven’t tried this yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. Along with myself, my 10 year old son and 12 year old daughter,whom are both the most picky children when it comes to food, both devoured their dish and asked for more. They now ask me very often if I’ll make it again. I will say myself, this dish was, by far, better than any dish that I’ve ever ordered in a restaurant. You must try it. I can’t wait to try more of these recipes, which is going to start tonight. My kids and I are off to the supermarket. Thanks “The Salty Marshmallow”.

  2. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit all around the table! So hearty and delicious; the whole family loved it!

  3. 5 stars
    This is amazing and so delicious! My family and I love this recipe! So tasty and yummy! I will definitely be making this recipe again!

  4. 5 stars
    Such a flavorful, comforting meal! This beef ragu looks so good paired with the gnocchi and I love how you have included instructions for both the slow cooker and instant pot.

  5. 5 stars
    Giving this five stars for aroma alone. Just put into the slow cooker for tonight. It’s a busy day for us and this looks perfect! Thanks for a simple straight forward recipe- I came across all sorts that include things like cornstarch or almond milk- not very appetizing.


  6. Can you make this in the instapot? If so, have you tried to before and can you recommend the cooking time?