‘The Pioneer Woman’: Ree Drummond’s Slow Cooker Bolognese Is a Freezer Favorite Sauce

Ree Drummond whips up an easy Bolognese sauce recipe that simmers away in the slow cooker for hours. The Pioneer Woman star then freezes the sauce to use later for pasta and other dishes.

Ree Drummond wears a black, velvet top while giving a cooking demonstration on Stephen Colbert's talk show.
Ree Drummond and Stephen Colbert | Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

Ree Drummond calls her bolognese sauce ‘a freezer staple’

Drummond made her slow cooker bolognese sauce on an episode of The Pioneer Woman dedicated to recipes that used ground beef. “We make it all the time,” she said of the flavorful sauce. “It’s a freezer staple.”

She noted, “Bolognese sauce is hearty and meaty and rich and wonderful. And it’s a great thing to make in the slow cooker. However, the whole thing starts in a great big skillet.”

She heated olive oil in the skillet and added onions, carrots, and celery then cooked them for 10 minutes. She added finely chopped garlic to the pan and stirred the vegetables together.

“I’m gonna add a whole bunch of veggies because I’m making a huge batch of bolognese sauce,” she explained. “It’s definitely one of those things that you want to make in bulk. If you’re going to go to all the trouble to prep and chop and cook, you might as well make a bunch of it. It happens to be a great food for the freezer.”

Drummond added a can of tomato paste “for that rich, rich tomato flavor” and explained how she had to learn slow cooker recipes.

“I take so many cooking cues from my mom and, growing up, my mom never used a slow cooker,” she shared. “It just wasn’t in her daily routine. So, through the years, I’ve kind of had to teach myself a little bit about slow cooker cooking. And I am really hooked now. It’s just so rewarding to throw things in there, turn it on, and go on about your life.”

Drummond adds wine and an ‘unusual’ ingredient

Drummond added red wine and allowed the mixture to cook for 3 minutes. She seasoned it with salt and pepper then spooned the mixture into the slow cooker.

She added ground beef to the pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper and cooked it for 15 minutes.

Drummond then added what she called “the weirdest ingredient” to her sauce — whole milk. “This is sort of a traditional thing they do in Italy,” the Food Network star explained. “I think it’s a little bit unusual but I’m gonna trust the process and add it. The idea is just to add that nice fattiness and also to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.”

She added the meat to the slow cooker, then dropped in canned crush tomatoes, dried basil, nutmeg, oregano, thyme, crushed red pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese rind.

‘The Pioneer Woman’ star’s sauce can be packed up and frozen for later use

Drummond stirred the ingredients and placed the lid on the slow cooker, setting it to low to cook for 6 hours. “It’s so rewarding to make a big old batch of bolognese like this because I know it’s going to solve so many dinner issues down the line,” she said.

“The long slow cooking makes such a deep, rich sauce,” Drummond added. She served it on top of spaghetti, then sprinkled on grated parmesan, chopped basil, and parsley.

When the sauce cooled, she packed it up in freezer bags. “It’s the source of so many delicious recipes,” she said.

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

RELATED: ‘The Pioneer Woman’: Ree Drummond Uses a ‘Secret Ingredient’ in Her Hearty Cowboy Breakfast Sandwich Recipe