If you want a comforting pasta dish that doesn’t cost a lot, this slow cooker chicken ragù recipe is for you!
Many common ragùs, like bolognese sauce, are made with beef or pork. In this recipe, we use affordable boneless skinless chicken breasts to bring lean protein nutrition to a very flavorful sauce.
This straightforward recipe lets you dump the ingredients into your slow cooker, set it, and walk away. However, if you have questions, or would like a little bit more context to the recipe, we’re answering a few questions below.
What is a ragù?
Ragù is a hearty Italian sauce, renowned for its rich and deep flavors that beautifully meld together over slow cooking. At its core, ragù is a meat-based sauce, traditionally made with finely chopped or ground beef, pork, or veal, simmered gently with onions, celery, and carrots.
These ingredients form the base of the sauce, infused with tomatoes and a touch of wine to add depth and complexity. Each region in Italy has its own variation of ragù, with some using different meats like lamb or game, and others incorporating dairy such as cream or milk to create a more tender texture.
Do I need to sear ingredients before I put them in the slow cooker?
Traditionally, the ingredients are seared before cooking, and if you would like to get more texture in your sauce (and if you have time), you can sear the chicken and vegetables in a skillet before you add them to the slow cooker.
This step is not necessary and does not detract much from the recipe if you don’t do it!
I want to spice this dish up – how can I do that?
Our slow cooker chicken ragù is a very moderately seasoned dish that can easily be spiced up if you like a bit of heat in your food. Here are two simple ways to bring a touch of authentic Italian spice to this dish:
- Before cooking, add Calabrian chili peppers to the slow cooker with your other ingredients. These are a spicy and smoky Italian pepper that come in a variety of forms. We suggest starting with two tbsp. of crushed peppers or two tsp. of paste.
- After the sauce is done cooking, add crushed red pepper flakes to your taste.
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Can I use bone-in chicken thighs for this slow cooker chicken ragù?
You can definitely use bone-in chicken thighs instead of boneless skinless chicken thighs in this slow cooker chicken ragù, but keep a few things in mind:
- We would recommend removing any skin before putting the chicken into the slow cooker.
- You will need to make sure to any bones that may have fallen out of the chicken into the slow cooker before serving.
It is a little more work to work with bone-in chicken thighs, but you will get a little bone marrow flavor if you use them. It’s up to you!
I don’t have time to make this in the slow cooker; can I cook it any other way?
Our slow cooker chicken ragù could also be made in a Dutch oven or similar cookware on the stovetop if you don’t have time to make it in the slow cooker. To do so, just follow these steps:
- Sear the chicken in a bit of oil in the Dutch oven. Set aside, sear the vegetables, add the chicken back in, add the tomatoes in, and season.
- Cover and cook at a simmer for about 1 to 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and ensure even cooking.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the Dutch oven and shred. Add the shredded chicken to the sauce and mix together. Serve over pasta as detailed in the main recipe.
Time to get cooking! We hope you enjoy this slow cooker chicken ragù recipe. We think it’s easy to cook and delicious – a real winning combination!
Don’t forget to leave a rating if you liked the recipe or a comment if you have any questions or tweaks you made that you thought were yummy!
- 1.5 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Carrot (peeled and chopped)
- 1 Yellow Onion (chopped)
- 2 clove Garlic (minced)
- 1 can Crushed Tomatoes (14 ounces)
- 1/4 cup Chicken Broth (or white wine or water)
- 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 lb Pasta (cooked – use a long and thick pasta such as fettucine or pappardelle)
- Basil (fresh and chopped – for serving)
- Grated Parmesan (for serving)
Add the chicken, carrot, onion, garlic, tomatoes, chicken broth, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper to a 6 quart size slow cooker. Stir to combine.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 – 8 hours until the chicken is tender.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the slow cooker and shred. Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and mix together. Taste the sauce and season with more salt and pepper to your taste.
Add the cooked pasta to the slow cooker and toss to combine. Divide the pasta among bowls and serve with freshly chopped basil and grated parmesan on top.
Enjoy your nourishing and delicious slow cooker chicken ragù!