Go Back
+ servings
Simple Beef Ragu over spaghetti on a white plate
Print Recipe
4.88 from 8 votes

Simple Beef Ragu

Few things beat the heartiness and versatility of a classic Italian meat and tomato sauce like this Simple Beef Ragu. Take the basic recipe and make it your own - add extra vegetables, fresh herbs, or some spice.
This is a great recipe to scale up. Make it for a crowd or make extra to freeze for later.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy dinner, sauce
Servings: 4
Calories: 278kcal
Author: Jess Smith via Inquiring Chef
Cost: $7.00


  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil (olive oil works great; I use grapeseed oil or avocado oil for most everyday cooking)
  • 1 1/2 lbs Ground Beef (93% lean)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 28-oz can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Sugar


  • Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. (Note: if you are going to cook the entire sauce on the stovetop, be sure to use a pot that will hold all of the ingredients.)
  • When oil is hot, add beef, salt, and pepper.
  • Cook beef, breaking it apart with a spoon or spatula, until cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes.

To Cook Sauce in the Instant Pot

  • Combine cooked beef, garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, water, and crushed tomatoes in the bowl of a 6-quart Instant Pot / pressure cooker.
  • Stir well.
  • Set pot to “sealing” and pressure cook on high for 6 minutes.
  • Leave sauce to release naturally for 10 minutes and then manually release any remaining pressure.

To Cook Sauce in the Slow Cooker

  • Combine cooked beef, garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, water, and crushed tomatoes in the bowl of a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker.
  • Stir well.
  • Slow cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. (Note: It’s best to cook this on low; many slow cookers get so hot on the “high” setting that they can cause a tomato-based sauce to burn.)

To Cook Sauce on the Stovetop

  • Add garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, water, and crushed tomatoes.
  • Stir well.
  • Let sauce cook until it begins to bubble, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Reduce heat so that the sauce is barely simmering and give it another good stir.
  • Place a lid on the pot and let it simmer gently for 30 minutes to let the flavors develop.
  • Check the sauce occasionally to be sure it isn’t burning on the bottom and to reduce the heat if needed.

For All Cooking Methods

  • Stir sugar into the finished sauce. Taste and season the sauce with some salt and pepper or a bit more sugar, if needed until it tastes balanced.


This is a great recipe to double. Freeze the leftovers or use them to make Lasagna Bolognese.


Calories: 278kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 105mg | Sodium: 406mg | Potassium: 639mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 5mg