Skip to Content

Simple Ragù

February 15, 2024

Meaty, garlicky goodness, it doesn't get easier or more delicious than this simple ragù. Over pasta, polenta or straight out of the pan—however you eat it, it's impossible not to love.


homemade simple ragù in a bowl topped with parmesan cheese

Our Simple Homemade Beef Ragù Recipe is Pure Weeknight Comfort

When does a pound and a half of ground meat become a transcendent meal? When it’s cooked with herbs and plenty of garlic, then given a glorious umami boost from canned tomatoes and simmered until it’s positively dripping with flavor. Spoon that glorious mixture over your favorite pasta and you’ve got a dinner that’s both simple and simply the best. Working with just pantry and freezer staples, we created an easy ragù recipe that’ll rescue dreary weeknights and hurried dinner times—it’s so good, it basically forces you to stop and take notice! So, on a day that really needs dinner time—whether it feels like there’s time or not—whip up this quick ragù recipe and gather the crew. This recipe is an invitation to sit down and chat and eat and enjoy together, even for just a few minutes.

tomatoes, spaghetti, onions, carrots, celery, olive oil, chicken broth, spices and chicken broth in bowls on the counter

What Is Ragù?

No, we’re not talking about that jarred stuff—though there’s nothing wrong with that Ragù brand of pasta sauce. When we say ragù we mean it in the Italian sense of the word! In Italian cuisine, the word “ragù” refers to a whole category of meat sauces which, yes, includes but is not limited to ragù bolognese (and even Hamburger Helper!). We have a recipe for an easy bolognese, but this ragù is even simpler than that with even fewer ingredients. Bolognese usually has dairy in it—milk or cream or both—and this simple ragù recipe is dairy-free. It’s all about that lovely combination of ground meat and tomatoes—simple and perfect.

chopped carrots, celery and onions being sautéed in olive oil in a pot
chopped carrots, celery, onions and ground beef being sautéed in olive oil in a pot

Everything You’ll Need To Make This Easy Ragù Pasta Sauce

So, no dairy. But what is in our easy ragù recipe? Well, we’ve tried to make a ragù recipe that’s ultra flexible so that you might not even need to make a grocery run and so that you can easily adapt it to suit your preferences or dietary needs. If you’re worried about saturated fats, use a lean ground meat and swap olive oil for butter. If you’re wanting something more robust, use butter and a richer ground meat. You can use chicken stock or beef stock and you’ll get a slightly different result depending on which you choose. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this ragu recipe:

  • Olive oil or butter

  • Vegetables: carrots, celery, onion

  • Fresh garlic

  • Ground meat of your choice! Use what you’ve got—beef, pork, veal or lamb.

  • Canned, crushed tomatoes

  • Herbs!: Again, dealer’s choice—use basil, oregano, thyme or just take the shortcut and use Italian seasoning.

  • Nutmeg

  • Sugar

  • Stock

  • Parmesan

chopped carrots, celery, onions, ground beef and crushed tomatoes being sautéed in olive oil in a pot
homemade simple ragù sauce in a pot with a wooden spoon

How To Make Our Simple Ground Beef Ragù Recipe

This ragù sauce will become one of those things you can do without looking at a recipe. You’ll be able to grab the ingredients you need without thinking about it, and you’ll be able to throw it together at a moment's notice. If you have kids that are old enough to be curious about cooking, this is a great one to teach them—it’s easy and nearly foolproof in a way that’s perfect for building confidence in the kitchen! Here’s the TLDR of how to make this super easy ragù recipe:

  1. Sauté carrots, celery and onions.

  2. A few minutes later, add the garlic.

  3. A minute later, add the ground meat. Sauté.

  4. Six minutes later, stir in the tomatoes, spices and stock.

  5. Simmer for 30 minutes.

  6. EAT! Over your favorite pasta, ideally.

homemade simple ragù sauce in a pot with a wooden spoon
homemade simple ragù in a bowl topped with parmesan cheese

Tools You’ll Need:

More Weeknight-Ready Pasta Sauce Recipes

homemade simple ragù in a bowl topped with parmesan cheese
homemade simple ragù in a bowl topped with parmesan cheese

We Hope You Adore this Ragù Recipe

If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

💌 Let's Stay Together

There are so many great ways to receive all of our latest recipes, meal tips, and inspiration.

Simple Ragù

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  45 min
  • Calories: 292


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive Oil or salted butter
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 celery ribs, minced
  • ½ medium yellow onion finely chopped, about ¾ cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ pounds ground beef, pork or lamb
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ cup chicken, or beef stock
  • Thin pasta noodles, such as spaghetti or angel hair, (optional)
  • Creamy polenta, for serving (optional)
  • Parmesan, for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 more minute.

  2. Add the beef to the skillet and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, 6-8 minutes.

  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, nutmeg, sugar and stock.

  4. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, prepare your pasta noodles or creamy polenta. If serving with pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and salt it. Cook the pasta until al dente, according to the package instructions. Drain.

  6. Serve the ragu over pasta noodles or polenta with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories292
  • Protein26 g
  • Carbohydrates10 g
  • Total Fat18 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol71 mg
  • sodium286 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Simple Ragù

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • jane

    why are the carbs so high? do you have a low carb version?

    Hi Jane, we had included a a box of pasta noodles which was confusing since the sauce can be served over top of whatever you like. We have removed the pasta noodles from the nutrition and updated it. Thanks for brining this to our attention and we hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Stefani

    What's the name of this pasta shape? Thanks!

    We used long fusilli con buco noodles.

  • Matthew

    Forgot to mention in my previous review that I would suggest cooking the veggies in step one for 10 minutes instead of 5.

    Despite the long simmer, the celery and onions can be a bit crunchy if you don't saute them longer.

    Thanks for the recommendation! We haven't noticed them being crunchy but if we cut them at different sizes that could easily account for the difference in texture.

  • Matthew

    Followed the directions exactly.

    Was a little nervous about the extra grease/fat because I couldn't find very lean pork or beef, but it came out great. I did 1/2 beef 1/2 pork.

    Solid recipe. Easy to make. Toddler approved.

    Thanks Matthew, we are so glad you enjoyed it! And even more happy to hear the toddler enjoyed it!

  • Bradley

    Best ragu EVER. Very simple to make, and absolutely delicious! I did make a couple simple changes, like adding some fresh diced tomatoes, a small rind of parmesan, a tablespoon of tomato paste, and a couple fresh sprigs of basil. I'll be using it to make a spaghetti squash casserole, and I can only imagine how awesome it will be!

    Thanks you Bradley, so glad you love it!

  • NN

    This ragu was absolutely delicious! Prefect balance of flavors and will create again!

    Thank you so much! We are glad you loved it and so happy to hear you'll be making it again!

  • Jamie

    I had been arguing with my husband for the better part of the afternoon over the daily toddler challenges. Made this Ragu and both my husband and aforementioned toddler loved it. Even successfully served steamed broccoli as a side.

    So your ragu ended our fight. 5 stars and will be a staple of the weeknight menu. Thanks!!

    Thank you Jamie! We are so glad we help end the fight for you! :) We love to hear it's becoming a weeknight staple! Glad the family enjoyed it!