Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta

65 reviews / 4.2 average

You guys, I’m totally in love. With this yummy tomato-saucy braised BEEF ragu. As in beautifully browned and slow cooked meat. Like, what is even going on in the best possible way.

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta on two white plates.

As evidenced by recipes like these overwhelmingly Veggie Lentil Curry Bowls with cashew sauce, I am a self-declared most-of-the-time-vegetarian. I don’t really LOVE love chicken (it’s okay, haters gon hate) and I definitely doesn’t do large cuts of meat unless they are going to become perfectly golden brown and crispy Crockpot Carnitas which will then ultimately serve as a vehicle for mass quantities of cilantro, beans, cheese, and guacamole. After 5 years worth of posts, I could count the Pinch of Yum beef recipes on one hand.

But tadahhh! Look at me, Mom! I’m becoming a grown up who likes recipes called Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta.

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta on a white plate.
Beef in a crockpot.


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

  1. It can be soft and sort of mushy-like (my favorite).
  2. It can be hard and sort of chewy-like (Bjork’s favorite).
  3. It’s just made with cornmeal – like literally if you have cornmeal in your house right now, you can make it. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.
  4. It’s cheap (see #3).
  5. It only takes three seconds to make which means I can quickly get back to InstaStalking my friends.
  6. It goes with anything, like, for example, this here CROCKPOT BRAISED BEEF RAGU yummy.
  7. I feels ultra fancy when I tell people I’m making polenta. Pinkies up!
  8. It begs for a pat of melted butter, which is end of story for me. ♡

About a year ago, Giada and/or Giada’s ghost writers taught me how to make polenta from scratch. Right – from scratch, so I’m not talking about the premade tube of polenta from Trader Joe’s, which I most definitely have purchased and enjoyed in the past. Today I’m talking about a bubbling pot of homemade polenta on your stove. Bjork loved it so much and my wannabe-foodie-but-likes-easy-recipes soul loved it so much that I’ve never ever looked back. If you haven’t tried polenta, now is your time.

Chili on polenta, poached egg on polenta, braised beef on polenta, oh my.

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu.

Unrelated to polenta and all that is wonderful about braised beef ragu, I want to say one more thing that’s kind of a big deal to me:

As of today, like, this very day, I’m going to live and eat and do my thing for 60 days without refined sugar.

Whoaaaaa! Yep. Crazy food lady is back.

This summer Bjork and I participated in a 60-day course called Go Sugar Free where we learned about the effects sugar has on the body and ways to form lasting habits that allow us freedom from sugar (and that link is an affiliate link because we highly recommend the way Jacqueline supports, teaches, and inspires through this course). You can read the recap post about our previous experience with the course here. I had been toying around with the idea of rejoining the course for a while, thinking like hey! I sort of enjoyed that little experiment, and maybe I should do it again… but then yesterday I actually decided to get serious about it, and I looked up the details for the next course, and guess what? It starts TODAY. So I recommitted myself just in time for the start of this round, and Bjork, by some really awesome husbandly miracle, has decided to take the jump with me.

There are a lot of reasons that I’ve decided to do this again, but the top two reasons are that 1) I just genuinely like how I feel when I eat good, real, unprocessed food without all the sneaky added sugar, and 2) I am extremely inspired by the personal and professional (?) challenge of making really, really, really good recipes that taste good, period. No sugar required. It gives me a little happy zing to think that I can create veg-heavy healthier recipes without refined sugar that will resonate with a mainstream audience of busy home cooks. Like, lentil curry? Seriously? You guys, too? And here I thought I was the only one.

If the challenge of creating recipes without sugar can help us enjoy a superdelicious + healthy lifestyle, I am ALL OVER THAT.

Okay but just a quick leetle disclaimer: Friday’s post is going to sugar-bomb your world (no regrets! no regrets.), and then after that, we’ll be free and clean of sugar for the next 60 days, and if I do my job as a food blogger well, you’ll forget I’m even doing anything different. Aha! Trickery.

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta and herbs.

Now, back to the beauty of Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu and Polenta. This is warm, cozy, and saucy. It’s tomato-tangy with perfect San Marzano Italian canned tomatoes and richly flavored with red wine, bay leaves, and nice little pinches of basil and oregano. The beef is tender, the polenta is semi-firm and perfectly textured, and the specks of bright green parsley are pretty to look at.

Also, you guys, you must put a last minute hunk of goat cheese on top of this. Not negotiable. Creamy, tangy, and absolutely heavenly.


Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta on a white plate with a fork.
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Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta in a bowl.

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta

  • Author: Pinch of Yum
  • Total Time: 7 hours 50 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x


Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta! Browned meat with canned tomatoes and flavored with red wine, bay leaves, and pinches of basil and oregano.



For the Braised Beef Ragu

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 lbs. beef rump roast or round roast
  • half a yellow or white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 28-ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • black pepper to taste

For the Polenta

  • 6 cups water
  • 12 teaspoons salt
  • 1 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons butter


  1. Optional, but for best tasting results: Heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan. Add the beef in one whole piece and fry on each side for about 5 minutes, turning until the whole exterior is golden brown. I had some splattering issues so I covered the pan with a lid.
  2. Place all remaining ingredients with the beef in a crockpot or slow cooker (5 quart size worked for me). Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. When the beef falls apart easily when pulled at with two forks, it is ready. Shred the beef into pieces and give it a good stir.
  3. For the polenta, boil the water and add the salt. Slowly add the cornmeal, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. The polenta will start to thicken quickly. Continue whisking or stirring for 2-3 minutes before removing from heat. Stir in the butter until melted (you can also add cheese I’M JUST SAYING). For solid and chewy polenta, pour into a rectangular dish, let cool for 15-20 minutes, and cut into pieces. For softer polenta (my preference), serve scoops of polenta immediately before it has hardened.


I’ve done this a few ways in terms of the tomato sauce — I’ve used two cans, with one drained and one undrained. I’ve used two full cans, both undrained. And I’ve used just one can, undrained. So it can work a lot of different ways – it just depends on your desired meat-to-tomato ratio for the sauce.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 7 hours 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: beef ragu, crockpot recipe, polenta recipe, beef and polenta

Crockpot Braised Beef Ragu with Polenta - super easy to make and perfect for winter weeknights!

One More Thing!

This recipe is part of our collection of yummy beef recipes. Check it out!

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    You are going to totally question my food blogging prowess for the next sentence:
    I have not tried polenta. Like ever. It’s always on me “to put in face list” though! And, considering I am an all the time meat eater, the braised beef is making my heart do the pitter patter. I need to eat this.
    And good luck with the no sugar shenanigans, that’s gotta be tough! Pinned!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      It’s weird – it was not nearly as hard as I thought it would be when we did it this summer. But we kept honey and real maple syrup on our “allowed sweeteners” list, so it was kind of a soft version of going sugar free. 🙂

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Are the nutritional facts listed as a per serving of each the braised beef and polenta? What are the serving size (measurements) for each? Thanks!!

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I didn’t know what polenta was until I read this post. But I’m a guy who loves his beef so I’m glad you posted a beef recipe. Going to ask wife to make this. (Don’t worry, I’m doing the laundry this week!)

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Yum! As a kid, I was weird enough that I used to BEG my mom to make me cornmeal mush, because I loved it that much. I haven’t had it in a while, so polenta is about due for a visit to my belly! Going without sugar is difficult, but sooo rewarding! Good luck!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Whaaaaaaat! Delicious. Seriously. I am so hungry right now in my office. Why do I read your blog when I am starving at 10:16 in the morning and I KNOW lunch won’t be here for another 1.5 hours? Help. But the butter on that polenta… yes yes yes! Also, congrats on going for it again with the Sugar Go Free course! I was going to sign up for this round but I’m AFRAID. I love sugar so much. I will be joining Jacqueline some day in the future. Her emails have been so sweet and supportive, I know it will happen. But I’m not ready yet. Hopefully later this year. But thank you for introducing me to her!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      She’s a gem, that girl! We really respect way she’s been able to build such a positive, encouraging community through GSF.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I don’t know if I’ve ever braised a dang thing in my life. I had to wiki it to make sure it was actually “braised” 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Okay, like many others, I haven’t tried polenta either. It looks delicious though. I do love me some meat so that recipe looks amazing. Good luck on the sugar detox next week. I always tried and tried but alas, could never commit.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This sounds outstanding! And I had a total “AHA” moment when you said I could make polenta. Duh I have all the ingredients why did I never think of that? Thanks!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Wow! This looks really good and I love that the ingredients list is fairly short. I feel like I would get major wife points if I made this for my husband! 🙂

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve been afraid to make polenta before even though I want to try it. Now I’m not afraid to give it a try, especially with this amazing looking ragu on top.

    My friend and I are going off sugar the length of the GSF thing, but keeping in pure maple syrup, honey, and um, coffee creamer (but just a little). I realize the coffee creamer thing is weird, but it will make it more do-able in the long term 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what else you’ll be cooking up!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Oh good gosh – I haven’t tried polenta – nor is there a single beef recipe on my blog…does that mean Iam not a grown up???
    Congrats on going sugar free again! I am sitting here with my mouth open that you’ve doing it again – quick shove a spoonful of this polenta and braised beef into it for it to close! 🙂

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Being as I’m potato nut is itggood on mashed potatoes.
    I have a dilemma. I’m not in the kitchen very much, to put it mildly.I don’t have a slow cooker? Crockpot? I’m 70 years old. Is it worth me getting a slow cooker and if not, howhy long would the meat have to cook, on the stove or in the oven.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Hi Judy,
      This looks and sounds like an awesome recipe, doesn’t it?! Thanks Lindsay for always activating my Pinterest finger! Judy, you can totally do this in the oven. Braising is all about low and slow. Follow Lindsay’s directions for the recipe, except instead of putting the remaining ingredients into a slow cooker, put them into a large pot and get them hot. Once your beef is well browned all over (colour=flavour) get it snuggled into your tomatoes and other jazz and cover it and cook it in a 280F oven for about 3 hours. Check it after the first two hours. 🙂

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Hi Lindsay! I plan to cook this delicious recipe for my family, tomorrow. Which Temperature do you take for the 7-8 h in the slow cooker? I have a souvide cooler. Does that work, also?


  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’m literally sitting here with my mouth watering….in the midst of trying to conquer a cake, batch number two in the oven now… and making a nice healthy veggie soup for the next few days lunches…but NOW I just want some of this beef on top of polenta…we don’t make beef often here either…maybe once every couple of months…this will most definitely be the next one to try!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’m a huge fan of polenta, and it just doesn’t get it’s day in the sun as much as it should. Good on you with the no sugar plans. Creating recipes with a challenge is always more inspiring!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Thanks Heidi! It’s one of those things where I’m like, why am I doing this again? 🙂 But I was so inspired to see how much readers enjoyed the refined sugar free recipes from this last summer, so I’m ready for round two!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I serve anything braised or chili-like over a big bowl of grits! I guess I should give polenta more of a chance. And I’m not ashamed to admit that a lot of the time I also add a poached egg for extra creaminess 😀 I can’t wait to try this!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So excited to hear you’ll be going sugar free again! I’m day 11 into my 21 day sugar detox, really looking forward to your recipes to help me spice things up and keep going!