Pork Ragu is a delicious Italian meat sauce, made by slow cooking a pork shoulder in a red wine tomato sauce, filled with delicious Italian herbs, vegetables and garlic. It’s so easy to make in a slow cooker and perfect paired with pasta or served over creamy polenta!

pork ragu sauce tossed with pappardelle noodles in bowl with fork

In 2014, I published this recipe for Slow Cooked Beef Ragu on the blog and it quickly went viral. After appearing several times on The Huffington Post, it was pinned over 40,000 times and shared on many other websites! It’s one of my favorite recipes that I’ve ever made and continues to be incredibly popular, even years later.

This slow cooker pork ragu recipe is similar to the beef ragu, but is made with a pork shoulder and a few other minor changes. In this recipe, the pork is seared on the stove top to lock in the flavor, then transfered to a slow cooker, to slowly braise throughout the day. After a few hours in the slow cooker, you’ll have flavorful, tender, fall-apart pork that’s perfect for pairing with pappardelle pasta or creamy polenta.

This recipe only takes 30 minutes to prep, and the prep can be done the night before. The beauty of the slow cooker is that it does all of the work for you during the day, so you can come home to a delicious, mouth-watering, comfort food meal!

ingredients for pork ragu

Ingredients

  • Boneless pork shoulder – a pork shoulder might also be labeled as a pork butt at the grocery store. I’ve also made this recipe with a pork tenderloin. It’s leaner than the pork shoulder, so there’s less fat and calories, but also less flavor than a pork shoulder. Feel free to use either one, the results are delicious with either!
  • Salt + black pepper – to season the pork shoulder. I recommend a coarse kosher salt so that it really sticks on the outside of the pork.
  • Olive oil
  • Onion – I recommend a yellow onion, as it’s best for cooking.
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic – minced fresh cloves of garlic are preferred for the best flavor.
  • Oregano – fresh or dried oregano can be used in this recipe. I used freeze-dried oregano, as it’s the closest to fresh you can get, without actually using fresh oregano.
  • Tomato paste
  • Red wine – I recommend using a dry red wine, like a cabernet, pinot noir or syrah.
  • Beef broth – chicken broth can also be used, but beef broth will give the dish a more deep, rich flavor.
  • Diced tomatoes – for this recipe, I recommend using a can of diced tomatoes.
  • Bay leaves and fresh rosemary sprigs – these aromatics add a wonderful depth of flavor to the dish.

Instructions

I’ve included step by step photos below to make this recipe super easy to follow at home. For the full detailed recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

large pieces of pork shoulder in pot on stove

Step 1: cut a pork shoulder into four large pieces. Season all sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the pieces of pork and sear them on all sides.

seared pork shoulder pieces in Crock Pot

Step 2: once the pork is seared on all sides, transfer it to a slow cooker.

diced vegetables in pot with tomato paste

Step 3: in the same pot that you seared the pork, add more olive oil, then cook the diced onions, celery and carrots. Season the vegetables with garlic and oregano. Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomato paste to the pot.

tomato sauce and vegetables in pot

Step 4: pour red wine and beef broth into the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Pour the entire pot of ingredients into the slow cooker with the pork.

uncooked pork ragu sauce in crock pot

Step 5: add the can of diced tomatoes to the slow cooker, along with the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves. Cover and slow cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.

shredded pork ragu sauce in crock pot

Step 6: after the cooking time, use tongs to remove the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Shred the pork directly in the slow cooker with two forks, or remove the pieces of pork from the slow cooker, use meat claws to shred the pork, then add it back to the slow cooker.

pappardelle pasta tossed with pork ragu in bowl with fork

How to serve it

  • Over creamy cheesy polenta, topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
  • With pasta – preferably pappardelle or another wide, flat pasta noodle, like fettuccine.
  • In lasagna – seriously, the best lasagna you’ll ever make in your life is with this ragu as the sauce!
  • Over raviolis – to keep things simple, pick up a container of pre-made fresh cheese raviolis in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. They cook up in 2-3 minutes and pair perfectly with the pork ragu sauce, cooked down to a slightly thicker consistency.
  • Over spaghetti squash – for a low carb, healthier option, serve the ragu over roasted spaghetti squash.

What to serve with it

Pair the pork ragu with any of these scrumptious side dishes.

How to store and reheat

  • Refrigerator: store any leftover pork ragu in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 6 days.
  • To reheat: transfer the ragu to a pot on the stove over medium-high heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through. Or heat the ragu in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
  • Freezer: this pork ragu will stay at it’s best in the freezer for up to 3 months. To defrost, I recommend transferring the ragu from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat from frozen: place the ragu in a dutch oven on the stove, covered, set to low for one hour. You can also reheat the ragu in a slow cooker set to low for 1-2 hours.
cooked pasta tossed with pork ragu sauce in a bowl

How to make it gluten free

  • This pork ragu recipe is gluten free. Always double check that the beef broth used is gluten free.
  • Serve the ragu with creamy cheesy polenta for a gluten free meal.
  • If you’d like to serve the recipe with pasta, Gluten Free Tagliatelle Pasta can be found online. You can also find gluten free fettuccine in most major grocery stores.

How to make it in the oven

If you don’t have a Crock Pot, or slow cooker, you can also make this recipe in the oven. Follow the steps below to make oven-braised pork ragu.

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut a pork shoulder into four large pieces. Season all sides of the pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large pot, or dutch oven, on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the pieces of pork and sear them on all sides. Remove the pork and set it aside.
  3. In the same pot that you seared the pork, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, then cook the diced onions, celery and carrots. Season the vegetables with garlic and oregano. Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomato paste to the pot.
  4. Pour red wine and beef broth into the pot, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add a can of diced tomatoes, then add the seared pork shoulder pieces back into the pot. Add the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.
  5. Place a tight-fitting lid on the dutch oven, or if you do not have a lid, cover tightly with foil.
  6. Remove from the stove and place in the preheated 350°F oven for 2 hours.
  7. After 2 hours, remove from the oven. Shred the pork directly in the pot with two forks, or remove the pieces of pork from the pot, use meat claws to shred the pork, then add it back to the pot and serve.

Pro tips

  • The sauce can easily be thickened on the stovetop. Simply transfer the ragu from the slow cooker to a dutch oven or large pot on the stove over medium high heat. Allow the ragu to simmer and reduce, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. You can also omit 1 cup of the beef broth to make a thicker sauce in the slow cooker.
  • To spice up the sauce, add 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the oregano.
  • Sprigs of thyme can be used in place of the sprigs of rosemary. Or if you’d like to double up on the fresh herbs, you can use both thyme and rosemary.
  • The red wine can simply be omitted in this recipe or replaced with white grape juice. I’ve made this ragu before without the wine and it was still totally delicious!
pasta stirred in fork in bowl with pork ragu sauce

More ragu recipes

Check out these delicious variations on this popular dish!

More Italian sauces

And don’t miss these other popular recipes for Italian pasta sauces!

braised pork ragu tossed with cooked pasta in bowl with fork
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Pork Ragu

Pork Ragu is a delicious Italian meat sauce, made by slow cooking a pork shoulder in a red wine tomato sauce, filled with delicious Italian herbs, vegetables and garlic. It's so easy to make in a slow cooker and perfect paired with pasta or served over creamy polenta!

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 4 large pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 12 ounces pappardelle pasta, or polenta, for serving
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated – optional topping

Instructions

  • Season the pieces of pork on all sides with the salt and pepper.
  • Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large pot or dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat.
  • Add the pork and sear on each side for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the pork from the pot and place in a slow cooker.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot.
  • Add the diced onion, carrots and celery, cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the garlic and oregano and cook for an additional minute.
  • Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Pour in the red wine and beef broth.
  • Stir to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, then transfer to the slow cooker with the pork.
  • Add the can of diced tomatoes to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • Add the bay leaves and sprigs of rosemary.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Use tongs to remove the bay leaf and rosemary sprig.
  • Reach two forks in the slow cooker to shred the pork.
  • Serve the pork ragu over pasta or polenta, and grate fresh parmesan cheese on top.

Notes

  • To make the pork ragu in the oven:
    • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    • Follow steps 1-8 above, searing the pork in an oven-safe pot or dutch oven, then setting it aside instead of transferring it to a slow cooker.
    • After you’ve added the red wine and beef broth to the pot, add the can of diced tomatoes, then add the seared pork back to the pot. Add the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.
    • Place a tight-fitting lid on the dutch oven, or if you do not have a lid, cover tightly with foil.
    • Remove from the stove and place in the preheated 350°F oven for 2 hours.
    • After 2 hours, remove from the oven. Use tongs to remove the rosemary sprigs and bay leaves. Shred the pork directly in the pot with two forks, or remove the pieces of pork from the pot, use meat claws to shred the pork, then add it back to the pot and serve.
  • For the pork – a pork shoulder might also be labeled as a pork butt at the grocery store. I’ve also made this recipe with a pork tenderloin. It’s leaner than the pork shoulder, so there’s less fat and calories, but also less flavor than a pork shoulder. Feel free to use either one, the results are delicious with either!
  • Store any leftover pork ragu in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 6 days.
  • To reheat, transfer the ragu to a pot on the stove over medium-high heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through. Or heat the ragu in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
  • This pork ragu can be frozen for up to 3 months. To defrost, I recommend transferring the ragu from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight.
  • To reheat from frozen, place the ragu in a dutch oven on the stove, covered, set to low for one hour. You can also reheat the ragu in a slow cooker set to low for 1-2 hours.
  • The sauce can easily be thickened on the stovetop. Simply transfer the ragu from the slow cooker to a dutch oven or large pot on the stove over medium high heat. Allow the ragu to simmer and reduce, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. You can also omit 1 cup of the beef broth to make a thicker sauce in the slow cooker.
  • The red wine can simply be omitted in this recipe or replaced with white grape juice. I’ve made this ragu before without the wine and it was still totally delicious!

Nutrition Facts

Serving 6gCalories 217kcal (11%)Carbohydrates 12g (4%)Protein 17g (34%)Fat 11g (17%)Saturated Fat 3g (15%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 46mg (15%)Sodium 1236mg (52%)Potassium 755mg (22%)Fiber 3g (12%)Sugar 6g (7%)Vitamin A 3138mg (63%)Vitamin C 14mg (17%)Calcium 72mg (7%)Iron 3mg (17%)
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