Slow Cooker Chicken Ragu
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This easy slow cooker recipe for Chicken Ragu takes only 10 minutes to prep, then slow cooks all day for a delicious dinner! Serve the sauce with pappardelle noodles or over creamy cheesy polenta for a tasty Italian meal.
If you love my Slow Cooker Beef Ragu (the 2nd most popular recipe of all time on the blog!) then you’re definitely going to love this Slow Cooker Chicken Ragu recipe!
Comforting, delicious, easy to prep in 10 minutes, and it makes your house smell amazing, what’s not to love about this recipe? By letting the chicken slow cook all day, you get perfectly tender meat in the most flavorful sauce.
Serve over creamy cheesy polenta for a gluten-free meal, or with your favorite pasta! I love to serve ragu sauce with pappardelle pasta. This wide egg noodle is perfect for twisting and twirling around the meaty sauce!
Table of contents
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh rosemary
- Chicken breasts – chicken thighs can also be used, or a combination of breasts and thighs. Either way, you want to make sure the breasts and thighs are skinless and boneless.
- Black pepper
- Chicken broth
- Red wine – I’ve used several different kinds of wine to make this recipe over the years, including cabernet, chianti and sangiovese. I would recommend any of these wines for making this recipe and pairing with the final dish.
- Tomato paste
- Diced tomatoes – for this recipe I used a can of diced tomatoes, but fresh chopped tomatoes can also be used in place of the canned variety.
Step by step instructions
Start the base. Add the onion, garlic cloves and fresh rosemary to the bottom of a slow cooker.
Add the chicken. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, then place atop the onions in the slow cooker.
Make it saucy. In a medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, red wine and tomato paste. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Add the can of diced tomatoes to the slow cooker.
Slow cook! Set the slow cooker to low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.
Shred the chicken. Use forks to pull apart the cooked chicken in the slow cooker. Mix the shredded chicken into the sauce. Serve with cooked pasta or prepared polenta.
Frequently asked questions
- What is the difference between ragu and bolognese? The two are actually related! Ragu refers to a meat-based sauce made with tomatoes and vegetables. Bolognese is a specific type of ragu made with ground beef.
- Can you put raw chicken in a slow cooker? Yes you can! In fact, slow cooking chicken is a great way to achieve tender shredded chicken easily.
- Can you put frozen chicken in a slow cooker? Now this is not recommend, as it can take the internal temperature of the chicken too long to rise in the slow cooker, potentially causing bacteria to build up, which we definitely don’t want! To be on the safe side, I always recommend thawing chicken breasts or thighs before adding them into the slow cooker.
- How do you thicken the sauce? 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.
- Is chicken ragu gluten free? This recipe is gluten free. Always double check that the chicken broth used is gluten free. The creamy cheesy polenta recipe that I recommend pairing the ragu with is also gluten free, or you could pair the sauce with gluten free pasta.
- Can I add (fill in the blank) to this ragu?
- Extra vegetables: Yes, diced carrots and celery can be added at the same time as the onion. This combination of vegetables is known as soffritto in Italian. I recommend adding 1/2 cup of each vegetable to the ragu.
- Red Pepper Flakes: Yes, for a little extra spice, add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the salt and pepper.
- Italian Seasoning: Sure thing! I would recommend 1 teaspoon added with the salt and pepper.
- Thyme instead of rosemary: Yes, if you’re not a fan of rosemary, I recommend using thyme in it’s place.
- What can I substitute for the red wine in this recipe? 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!
How to serve it
- Over creamy cheesy polenta – my favorite way to serve the dish!
- With pasta – preferably pappardelle or another wide, flat pasta noodle, like fettuccine. Top with fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese. (Or both if you’re like me and LOVE cheese!)
- In lasagna – swap out the beef ragu in this lasagna recipe for this chicken ragu to make a delicious chicken lasagna recipe.
- 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 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
After deciding how to serve the ragu, it’s time to decide what to serve on the side. I usually keep it simple with a salad and bread (to soak up any extra ragu sauce left behind!).
An easy caesar salad and warm baguette are perfect, but if you want to step it up a notch, here are a few of my favorite salad, bread and veggie sides to serve with chicken ragu.
- Rosemary Focaccia Bread
- Quinoa Caprese Salad
- Easy Roasted Garlic Parmesan Broccolini
- Cheesy Garlic Bread Nachos
If you’re looking for a wine to pair with the chicken ragu, I would recommend a chianti or sangiovese. It’s always a great idea to pair the wine that you used to make the sauce, with the final dish.
More ragu recipes to try
Check out these delicious variations on this popular dish!
More slow cooker recipes
Set-it and forget-it meals are the greatest! Here are more delicious meals that are easy to make in a slow cooker.
- Easy Slow Cooker Vegan Chili
- Crock Pot Pork Chops with French Onion Gravy
- Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs
Slow Cooker Chicken Ragu
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup red wine
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 12 ounces pappardelle pasta or polenta
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated – optional topping
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated – optional topping
- Add the onion, garlic cloves and fresh rosemary to the bottom of a slow cooker.
- Season the chicken with the salt and pepper, then add to the slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, combine the chicken broth, red wine and tomato paste.
- Pour the mixture over the chicken.
- Add the can of diced tomatoes to the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.
- Reach a fork into the crock pot and the chicken will pull right apart.
- I highly recommend serving the chicken ragu over creamy polenta or papparadelle pasta.
- Use a ladle to pour the chicken ragu and tomato sauce from the slow cooker over the polenta or pasta.
- Top with fresh grated parmesan or mozzarella cheese if you would like.
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