Beef Ragù

published Oct 15, 2023
Beef Ragù Recipe

Whether you toss it with pasta or serve it over creamy polenta, you can't go wrong with this cozy Italian-style meat sauce.

Serves8 to 10

Makesabout 6 cups

Prep20 minutes

Cook3 hours to 4 hours

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Overhead view of beef ragu on a grey and beige striped plate, topped with cheese and herbs, and a fork on the right side of the plate.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

There’s no better smell than a pot of ragù simmering on the stovetop. Although I didn’t grow up in an Italian family, my husband did, and whenever we make ragù (or simply “sauce,” which he refers to it as) the aromas of garlic and tomato bring him straight back to his grandmother’s kitchen. There is no one ragù recipe — everyone has their own variation — but this is a good place to start if you’re looking for an ultra-simple, ultra-cozy rendition to call your own. 

What Is Ragù?

Ragù is an overarching word for a braised meat sauce that’s cooked slowly on the stovetop or in the oven. It’s most often served with pasta. Ragù can be made with ground meat as well as different cuts of meat — such as beef chuck, pork shoulder, and lamb shoulder — that require low, slow cooking to break it down and become tender.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Brett Regot

What Is Beef Ragù Made Of?

This recipe for beef ragù requires just a handful of aromatics and spices, which lets the meat stay front and center. Start by sautéing onion, carrot, and celery (this power trio is called soffritto in Italian) with garlic, before adding seared cubes of beef chuck roast, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, red wine, tomatoes, a few thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. Simmer the sauce slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours until the meat is fork-tender and can easily be shredded.

How to Serve Beef Ragù

Beef ragu is most typically tossed with pasta, often pappardelle or tagliatelle, but there are a number of others ways to enjoy it.

  • Served over creamy polenta.
  • Tossed with gnocchi.
  • Stirred into risotto.
  • Spooned into a baked potato.
  • Paired with other pasta shapes, such as rigatoni, ziti, or malfade.

Beef Ragù Recipe

Whether you toss it with pasta or serve it over creamy polenta, you can't go wrong with this cozy Italian-style meat sauce.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 3 hours to 4 hours

Makes about 6 cups

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 1

    medium carrot

  • 1

    medium celery stalk

  • 4 cloves


  • 2 pounds

    boneless beef chuck roast

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fennel seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 2 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 1 cup

    dry red wine

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    whole peeled tomatoes

  • 3 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1

    dried bay leaf


  1. Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Peel and dice 1 medium carrot (about 1/2 cup). Dice 1 medium celery stalk (about 1/4 cup). Mince 4 garlic cloves.

  2. Trim any large pieces of fat from 2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, then cut the roast into rough 2-inch cubes. Pat dry with paper towels and season all over with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot over medium until shimmering. Add half the beef and sear until the bottom is browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip the beef and sear until the second side is browned, 2 to 4 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the remaining beef to the pot and repeat browning.

  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the now-empty pot. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, and sauté until translucent and softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  5. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste is darkened in color and some of it sticks to the bottom of the pot, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in 1 cup dry red wine and scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the wine is reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.

  6. Add 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices, 3 fresh thyme sprigs, 1 dried bay leaf, and the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the reserved beef and any accumulated juices on the plate, and stir to combine.

  7. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fork tender, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. Remove the pot from the heat. Remove and discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Use a potato masher to break the meat apart into shreds and break up any large pieces of tomatoes. (Alternatively, transfer the meat to a plate, shred it with two forks, and stir it back into the sauce.) Served tossed with pasta, gnocchi, or over creamy polenta.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The ragù can be made up to 1 day ahead of time. Let cool before refrigerating in an airtight container or in the pot you cooked it in. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat.

Storage: Leftover ragù can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.