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Quick Beef Ragu Recipe

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This Easy Ground Beef Ragu is the perfect comfort meal. Rich & hearty, it is the perfect sauce to serve over pasta or polenta.

This easy weeknight beef ragu is the perfect comfort meal. It is rich and hearty and has the perfect sauce to serve over pasta or polenta.
plate with pasta and beef ragu next to serving platter

Quick beef ragu is a delicious meal that is easy to make, and easy to eat!

white platter with pasta and beef ragu with serving spoon on the side

This recipe is part of my Eat Like A Princess Series, where I create weeknight meals inspired by the classic princesses in order to help kids explore new foods, flavors, and cultures.

This meal is inspired by Belle from Beauty and the Beast. It is one of the foods that the enchanted castle objects serves her in her first meal at the beast’s castle!

Princess Belle Recipe

So, Ragu! With ground beef!

How to make Quick Beef Ragu

Traditionally, a beef ragu is a saucy, slow cooked way to enjoy a budget cut of meat. After it simmers in a bath of simple ingredients, the meat becomes tender and fall-apart and perfect to top with thick and wide noodles. This recipe takes a typically weekend-only recipe and turns it into the perfect weeknight meal that kids will LOVE.

Here is a general over view of how to make this meal. For the full instructions, please make sure you scroll down to the recipe card below.

  1. Heat a medium dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Dice the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms super small. This will help them cook faster and help deepen the flavor as it cooks.
  3. Dice the bacon into small pieces and cook until mostly done – you want it to be somewhere between mostly limp and mostly crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, but keep the drippings.
  4. Add the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms to the dutch oven and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes, or until the onion is starting to become translucent.
  5. Add in the ground beef and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until there is no more pink left. Drain off any accumulated grease.
  6. Add in the garlic and Italian seasoning.
  7. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, tomato paste, and bay leaf.
  8. Bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove the bay leaf, and serve over pasta with freshly grated tomato cheese and fresh chopped parsley.
  10. Enjoy!
collage showing images to make rags - chopping vegetables, sautéing vegetables, beef, and pouring in sauce

Quick Ground Beef Ragu Shortcuts:

  • Using Ground Beef is a great way to make this meal cheaper and faster! Use a low fat percentage because we are going to add in more fat and flavor with other ingredients.
  • Prep veggies ahead of time to make it even faster. Use a food chopper to make the veggies super small and super fast!
  • This meal can be made ahead of time, stored in the fridge, and reheated when ready to eat.
plate with pasta and beef ragu next to serving platter

How to serve beef ragu to your family

Serve this ragu over pasta. You could also serve it over polenta.

To make meal, serve this with green beans almandine, some crusty bread, and strawberry Napoleon for dessert! A nice red wine will pair beautifully for the parents, too, and grape juice will be a fun choice for kids.

over head view of white platter with beef ragu

How to make this meal kid friendly

This beef ragu recipe is a great kid-friendly dinner, but if your kids need a little more persuasion, here are some easy ways you can help your kids be more interested in the meal:

  • Have your kids help you pick what shape of pasta to use. Traditionally, ragu is served with tubed like penne or ziti or a thick ribbon type noodle like tagliatelle or pappardelle. But really, any pasta shape will work just fine.
  • Have your kids help you make the meal, and plate and serve the meal to their family. You can even make it a fancy meal with dress up clothes and candles!

Dinner conversations with kids

Dinner is a great time to talk to your kids about what you are eating and help them be more comfortable and open to trying new things. More than just bite management, dinner time conversations are perfect for setting the mood and curiosity of the meal.

Try these conversation starters:

  • How is this similar to spaghetti and meatballs? How is it different?
  • What smells can you detect in the sauce?
  • What is the favorite part of this meal?
  • If we make this again, what would you change and what would you keep the same?

Read more about how to explore the sense of taste with kids.

Get your Kids in the Kitchen:

Inviting your kids into the kitchen with you is a great way to help them be more curious about the food you eat. Teaching them kitchen skills helps them to be more independent, and also feel proud of the meal they have helped to cook. These all help to peak interest in helping kids try, and actually like, the food you serve.

  • Kids aged 0-3 can help you pick you the produce, measure out the Italian Herb Seasoning and other ingredients, and add the fresh cheese and parsley to the top.
  • Kids aged 4-7 can help you do everything above plus mince the produce, especially if you use a food chopper with a handle. They can also help you open the cans of the tomatoes and measure everything out, as well as use kitchen shears to cut the bacon into small pieces.
  • Kids aged 8-12 can help you do everything above plus cook the meat, and help plate the meal.

*Please note that these recommendations are generalized, and to please use your personal discretion with your child’s skill level. And always, always supervise! If you need a refresher on teaching age appropriate tasks, please read “How to Cook and Bake With Your Kids“.

overhead close up view of beef ragu and pasta on white platter

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plate with pasta and beef ragu next to serving platter

Quick Beef Ragu

This easy weeknight beef ragu is the perfect comfort meal. It is rich and hearty and has the perfect sauce to serve over pasta or polenta.
4.95 from 39 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: 30 Minute Meal
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 479kcal
Author: Jenni - The Gingered Whisk


  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped super tiny
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 celery stalk diced super tiny
  • 4 oz mushrooms diced super tiny
  • 1 lb ground beef lowest fat content you can get
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 15- oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15- oz can tomato puree or sauce, but not marinara/spagetti sauce
  • ½ cup beef stock or dry red wine
  • ¼ cup no salt added tomato paste
  • bay leaf
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup freshly grated romano cheese
  • pasta for serving - pasta that is wide like fresh egg noodles or pappardelle.


  • Dice the onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms super tiny.
  • Heat a large pot of water to boiling.
  • Cook the pasta to package directions. Drain, and set aside, keeping warm.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  • Dice the bacon into small pieces and cook until mostly done. Remove from pan and set aside. Keep drippings in the pan.
  • Add the onion, carrot and mushrooms to the pan with the bacon drippings and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes.
  • Add in the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, or until nice and fragrant.
  • Add in the ground beef and italian seasoning and cook for 10 minutes, or until the beef is browned, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the liquid of choice (water, wine or broth), and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with freshly grated romano cheese and freshly chopped parsley.
  • Enjoy!


Mince the onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms are finely as you can. This will not only speed up cooking time, but will also help to deepen the flavor as it cooks better and hide any unwanted specs that diners might discover (namely, your husband will never know you put mushrooms in there, unless he reads this, which he most likely won't....)


Serving: 1g | Calories: 479kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 418mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g

Looking for other easy meals designed to get kids to eat?

Beef Ragu in Le Crueset Braiser
plate with homemade pasta topped with beef ragu
small white plate with homemade pasta and beef rags on top



braised with homemade ragu beside plate of pasta topped with ragu


  1. Jacque Hastert says:

    This sounds simply amazing!

  2. Oh my gosh, of course I love Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – I can practically hear and see the whole “Be Our Guest” scene unfolding as I think about this mouth-watering recipe. What a fun, fast, and delicious meal, so incredible to spice up a busy weeknight.

  3. Lisa | Garlic & Zest says:

    Holy cow — you went THERE! Homemade pasta! I’m impressed – I’m sure your family is loving this ragout — great way to get the kids to help, too.

  4. Karen @ Seasonal Cravings says:

    I love this series idea! It’s so much fun to get the kids in the kitchen and so good for them. This looks like the perfect dish for the kiddos!

  5. linda spiker says:

    Perfection! Love that hand rolled pasta!

  6. I am all about getting kids into the kitchen. My grandson LOVES helping….and I let him as often as I can. I loved nothing more than helping my baba in the kitchen when I was a kid. Love the sound of this easy recipe….so delicious.

  7. I love your Disney princess history. And this ragu! So simple, but so flavorful. Mouth watering!!!

  8. David @ Cooking Chat says:

    fun idea for this series! I am a big fan of ragu style sauces, and appreciate the tips here for expediting the process.

  9. I absolutely love that you are doing such a fun activity with your daughter . She will be full of knowledge and your delicious food. Love this Ragu, super flavorful and tasty!

  10. 1- I love this series SO MUCH! and 2- I was thinking just that- this is Italian! But you totally convinced me- and I love that you paid enough attention to know that she was licking ragu off her finger lol

    1. Haha I am glad I convinced you! 🙂

  11. Love the series Jenni! I know there are lots of adults who are wary of making their own pasta — I used to be one of them. 😀 Kudos to you for encouraging your daughter!

  12. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids says:

    First, I love this series. Second, I can’t wait to try this recipe! This Ragu looks amazing and a crowd pleaser!

  13. I love the idea of teaching kids about different cultures plus expanding their taste. If you don’t introduce different foods to them they’ll never eat them. What a shame! And kids should help in the kitchen!! I was always in the kitchen with my mamma. Your dish sounds delicious. Special yet easy enough for a weekday meal.

  14. Kathryn @ FoodieGirlChicago says:

    I love a good meat-based pasta sauce and love that you made your own pasta too!

  15. So you are my hero for making homemade pasta and I love the story of this recipe. So awesome to get the kids in the kitchen and introduce them to the world of food and cooking early. … and the Beef Ragu looks amazing!!

  16. I am very impressed I have never made my own pasta, would be great to do with my daughter. Your ragu looks delicious-)

  17. What an adorable idea! I love the princess theme – and Belle’s my favorite too. 😉 This pasta looks AMAZING.

  18. I love a good ragu recipe, this looks delicious! And such a cute play on the movie.

  19. Rezel Kealoha says:

    This is such a great idea to teach your daughters about other cultures food and using stories that they know! I also loved reading about the history of it all. Loved this article!

  20. Britt @ A Lil' Sweet, Spice, & Advice says:

    I absolutely love that you made the pasta from scratch without a pasta roller. Now I feel confident enough to make pasta from scratch without a pasta roller, so thank you! The ragu looks sooo delicious and like you’ll want to eat the whole pot by yourself. LOL

  21. “Be our guest, be our guest
    Put our service to the test
    Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
    And we’ll provide the rest
    Soup du jour, hot hors d’oeuvres
    Why, we only live to serve
    Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious
    Don’t believe me, ask the dishes!”

    I love Beauty and the Beast!

    Your ragù looks splendid; I may not eat meat but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a delicious-looking meal when I see it!

  22. Such an awesome post! Some history and tying it together with how you are going to cook your meal, which, incidentally, looks terrific!

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