Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu (Pasta Genovese)

This traditional Italian beef ragu is amped up with onions and made easy in a slow cooker!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 9 hours
Total 10 hours
Servings 6 to 8 servings
Calories 697 kcal
Author Michelle


For the Sauce:

  • 1 pound to 1¼-pound boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
  • 2 pounds yellow onions chopped coarse
  • 2 ounces pancetta chopped coarse
  • 2 ounces salami chopped coarse
  • 1 small carrot peeled and chopped
  • 1 small celery rib chopped
  • cup dry white wine
  • cup water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

For the Pasta:

  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese grated (1 cup)
US Customary - Metric


  1. Sprinkle the beef with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and place in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Pulse the onions in a food processor until finely minced, about 15 pulses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer the onions to a large bowl and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. Drain onions in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing with a rubber spatula to extract excess liquid. Return the drained onions to the now-empty bowl.
  3. Process the pancetta, salami, carrot and celery in the now-empty food processor until ground to a paste, about 45 seconds, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Transfer the pancetta mixture to the bowl with the onions. Stir the wine, water, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, tomato paste, oregano, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper into the onion mixture until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour the onion mixture over the beef in the slow cooker, covering the beef with the mixture. Cover and cook until the beef is fully tender, 8 to 9 hours on low (or 5 to 6 hours on high).
  5. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the pasta and 1 tablespoons of salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain pasta.
  6. Using a potato masher, mash the meat until coarsely shredded into bite-size pieces. Stir in the Romano cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the pasta to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the sauce. If too thick, thin the sauce with the reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Recipe Notes

Nutritional values are based on one serving

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Beef and Onion Ragu (Pasta Genovese)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 697 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 75mg25%
Sodium 1855mg81%
Potassium 826mg24%
Carbohydrates 74g25%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 1875IU38%
Vitamin C 13.2mg16%
Calcium 185mg19%
Iron 3.7mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.