Spiced Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

Posted on: March 18, 2024. Updated on: March 19, 2024.

by Carolina Gelen

3.9 / 5. from 105

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beef ragu

How to make beef ragu?

Start by searing the beef in a smoking hot pot until it develops a rich, dark brown crust on most of its surface. Since we are using 80/20 ground beef, there will be quite a bit of fat rendered in the pot in which we’ll use to cook the veggies in. Transfer the meat from the pot to a clean bowl and add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot. Cook the veggies until you start to see brown, caramelized bits all over and most of the veggies look translucent.

Toss the spices in the veggie mixture and toast until fragrant. You won’t typically find all these spices in a traditional ragu, so don’t worry if you can’t find some of them in your pantry, simply omit them or substitute with your favorite spices. Return the beef back in the pot, and top everything off with red wine, beef broth and tomatoes.

I prefer using whole canned tomatoes in my ragu, they bring a pleasant sweetness and acidity level to the sauce compared to tomato paste. That said, if you want to take the tomato-paste-path, I am not opposed to it. The mixture will look very soupy and liquid in the beginning. Now cover the pot with a lid and slowly and patiently simmer everything for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the sauce has reduced in volume and thickened.

Lastly, you have to options: save the sauce for later or serve it right away with pasta. The sauce freezes very well and will keep in the fridge for about 3 days. If you’re serving the sauce immediately after: it’s time for the pappardelle! Cook the pasta al dente and toss it in the sauce with a splash of pasta water. Serve once the sauce has slightly thickened and sticks to the pappardelle.

What is the secret to a good ragu?

Time. Taking the time to properly brown the beef so it develops a chocolaty-brown exterior, cook the vegetables until sweet and slightly caramelized in certain spots, but also slowly simmer the sauce for 2 to 2 1/2 hours are key to developing the richest flavor.

beef ragu
beef ragu

Can you make ragu in a slow cooker?

Absolutely! For maximal flavor, I highly encourage you to follow the first five steps of this recipe and cook everything in a separate pot. I know it’s an extra dish to wash, but developing a beautiful sear on the beef and golden brown spots all over the veggies will guarantee the best flavor in your homemade ragu sauce. After deglazing the pan on step 5, add all the remaining ingredients for the sauce to a slow cooker: the browned beef, caramelized and spiced veggies, all the residual juices from the pot, the beef broth, tomatoes and a hefty pinch of salt and cook on low for a few hours. Taste and season the sauce as needed.

beef ragu

What pasta shape is best for serving ragu?

Pappardelle (the pasta shape pictured below) and ragu are a classic pairing, and by far my favorite shape to serve with the sauce. It’s a hearty sauce, and I think it deserves an equally hearty pasta shape. That said, tagliatelle are also a great option, so are bucatini, spaghetti, rigatoni, or even shells.

beef ragu

Looking for other recipes to make for dinner? Try:

Spiced Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

3.9 / 5. from 105

Click to vote

Servings: 6
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 pound (450g) 80/20 ground beef
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil or neutral oil
  • 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 5 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoons chili flakes
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 4 cups beef bone broth or stock
  • 1 (36-ounce) can whole tomatoes
  • 6 servings of pappardelle (about 18 to 20 ounces or 500 to 580g )


  1. Place a medium (4 to 5 quart) heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the beef, a pinch of salt and cook until deeply brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium, as needed.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a small bowl, leaving most of the beef fat in the pot. If needed, add more oil.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the veggies have significantly reduced in volume and have a light brown color throughout with caramelized brown bits here and there.
  4. Add the coriander, fennel, cumin, paprika, chili flakes, some black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until toasty and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Carefully add the wine and scrape off any brown bits off the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. They will bring lots of flavor to the ragu.
  6. Return the browned beef to the pot. Add the beef broth, the canned tomatoes and tomato juices from the can (crushing them as you add them to the pot) and a hefty pinch of salt.
  7. Stir everything to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover with a lid and cook, slowly simmering the ragu for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until reduced by half and significantly thickened.
  8. To serve the sauce right away, 10 minutes before the beef ragu is ready, bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with a hefty pinch of salt. Add the pappardelle to the boiling water and cook for 4 minutes less than what the packaging calls for.
  9. Using a pair of tongs, add the pasta to the sauce, alongside a few splashes of pasta water. Stir to combine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the sauce sticks to the pasta and looks nice and glossy.
  10. Serve right away.

Carolina Gelen

I speak 5 languages, but my favorite way to communicate is through the universal language of food. I translate food to be more approachable and accessible for the everyday cook. I didn't grow up with a lot, so I’ve always loved thrifting and finding a good sale. That also shapes my approach to cooking: I try to make most of my recipes as affordable as possible, and that is what my SCRAPS newsletter is about. Every two weeks I will send an exclusive recipe to your inbox. Subscribe to get full access to the newsletter and website.

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3 thoughts on "Spiced Beef Ragu with Pappardelle"

  1. LaToya Roux says:

    This is how I usually make my ragu, so I know it’ll be tasty. I’ve not used wine before so I’m going to try it today. I do usually zest and juice a lemon into the sauce, that’s pretty much the differences. Seeing this made my mouth water and is pulling me into the kitchen today. Thank you for that. And for all your recipes and videos. I find that if I’m uninspired, I lack desire to cook. And often all I need is a good recipe and a good vibe. That’s you all day.

    I accidentally rated this recipe as 4 stars. I was actually just trying to read the reviews and I thought the stars would act as a link to them. But no, so sorry as I am sure this deserves 5 stars.

  2. Sue K says:

    Wish you would add a “print recipe” function to these pages to make them easy to print at the correct scale and format. When I try to print they come out all wonky :’(

    1. Carolina Gelen says:

      Thank you so much for the feedback! Working on itttt