With a bit of meal prep, this slow cooker pork ragu is the perfect easy weeknight pasta dish. Hearty, protein-packed & delicious!
For many families, pasta is a go-to weeknight meal…and for good reason! It's quick, budget-friendly and, with all of the options now available in the supermarket., can be made to fit pretty much any diet.
That said, plain old pasta and marinara can get a little boring week after week. That's why I love this slow cooker pork ragu recipe! It's just as easy as your typical pasta dish, but way tastier. Just different enough to be interesting, it still has all of that classic, comforting, Italian flavor to keep the whole family happy.
I like making ragu in the slow cooker but if your pork shoulder is frozen or if you're just short on time, you can use the Instant Pot instead! Scroll below the recipe for Instant Pot instructions.
Slow Cooker Pork Ragu
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 # pork shoulder
- 4 oz grated parmesan (optional)
- 16 oz pappardelle pasta (or fettuccini)
- 32 oz jar marinara
- 1 T Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 T olive oil
- Chop 1 yellow onion.
- Trim any excess fat off pork shoulder if needed.
- In a small container, combine: 1tsp salt + 1/2tsp pepper + 1T Italian seasoning + 1 tsp garlic powder.
- Heat 2T olive oil over med-high heat in a large sauté pan or heat sauté function in slow cooker.
- Brown pork on all sides, ~3-4 mins per side. Place pork in slow cooker w/ chopped onion around the sides.
- Cook pork ~7 hours. Remove some of the oil from slow cooker leaving ~2T.
- Add 32 oz marinara sauce and cook an additional hour.
- Cook pasta according to package directions.
- Shred pork in marinara and serve over pasta w/ grated parmesan, if using.
What should I serve with slow cooker pork ragu?
Slow cooker pork ragu is hearty comfort food. To provide balance, I love serving with a green veggie or a simple salad.
Steamed broccoli makes a perfect accompaniment for this dish. You could also serve asparagus, green beans or zucchini, depending on what's in season and what your family loves.
Alternatively, a green salad also goes well with pork ragu. With a homemade vinaigrette, even a super simple salad can be quite tasty. Try one of my homemade salad dressings here! If you're new to making your own salad dressing, you'll be surprised at how easy and delicious it can be.
Can I make this a paleo dinner recipe?
Yes, absolutely! To make this a paleo dinner recipe, simply swap out pasta in favor of zoodles. You can also omit the parmesan if you don't include any dairy in your version of paleo.
Can I make Instant Pot pork ragu instead?
Yes! You can make pork ragu in the Instant Pot if you prefer. I find nothing compares to the long, slow method of the slow cooker for achieving perfectly tender meat. That said, sometimes you don't have 7-8 hours or perhaps you forgot to thaw the meat. In those cases, the Instant Pot can absolutely still result in a delicious meal.
To cook in the Instant Pot, first cut the pork shoulder into 3-4 pieces. (Note: If you skip this step, you may need to cook pork for up to 90 minutes on high heat for tender, shreddable meat.) Sear on all sides using the sauté function. Remove the pork and turn off the sauté function. Add 1 cup of water or broth to the Instant Pot. Add pork and cook on high for 60 minutes, using a natural release.
For a frozen pork roast that isn't cut into pieces, cook on high pressure for about 1 hour, 45 minutes.
For more tips on converting slow cooker recipes for the Instant Pot, check out my Instant Pot Conversion Guide!
Is this a good meal prep dinner recipe?
Yes! This pork ragu recipe is straight from our Prep Dish Super Fast meal plans. That means it's designed specifically for quick and easy meal prep. Our Super Fast meal plans enable you to prep 5 healthy dinners in just 1 hour! You can try them out for yourself, for free, with our free trial!
To prep this pork ragu ahead of time, simply chop your yellow onion and trim any excess fat from your pork shoulder. That's all you need to do!
If you prefer, you can make the whole sauce ahead of time as well. It's definitely the kind of thing that is just as good leftover. I personally love coming home to the smell of the ragu cooking away in the crock pot though so I like to cook it day-of!
You can also wash and prep any veggies you're serving as a side dish during your meal prep session.
What's the nutrition like for pork shoulder ragu?
In addition to plenty of protein, pork shoulder ragu offers some substantial nutritional benefits.
Remember, a lot of the nutritional content will be based on which jarred marinara and which pasta you choose. I generally don't make my own marinara for the simple reason that I've found jarred versions I love and feel good about feeding my family. (Personally, I love Raos!) I'm also 100% gluten free so choose either gluten free pasta or zoodles when I make this dish. No matter what brands of sauce and pasta you choose, make sure to check the labels to avoid excess, salt, sugar, gluten, etc.
With that said, here are some of the nutritional highlights of this dish:
Pork (Thiamine, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, Iron, Protein)
In addition to its many vitamins and minerals, Pork is high in creatine which supports muscle growth. The combination of pork's creatine and its high protein content makes it an excellent food to incorporate into your diet to help you build and maintain muscle mass. Pork also contains antioxidants such as taurine and glutathione.
Onion (Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Antioxidants, Folate, Potassium)
Did you know that the humble onion is actually packed with antioxidants? Antioxidants help protect you from free radicals that cause things like cancer and heart disease. Onions also have beneficial sulfides and polysulfides which may help protect against cancer.
Tomatoes (Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K, Folate, Lycopene)
Tomatoes are an excellent source of the antioxidant, lycopene. Lycopene is believed to be the reason that tomatoes are linked to lower rates of certain types of cancer. Eating tomatoes along with a source of fat, like the pork in this recipe, significantly increases how much lycopene your body absorbs.
I want more easy weeknight pasta ideas!
You can never have too many easy weeknight pasta dishes! If you get creative with it, you can easily serve pasta every week without getting bored. Here are a few of my favorite renditions:
This creamy chicken dish is full of Italian-inspired flavor with garlic, Italian seasoning and sun dried tomatoes. If you don't eat dairy, you can either simply omit the cream or replace with cashew cream. Either way is delicious!
Pasta doesn't have to mean Italian food! This Chinese-inspired noodle dish has been quite popular with our subscribers. You'll want to drizzle the simple homemade lo mein sauce on everything!
My vegetarian chili mac has all of the beloved flavor of chili, but is served over macaroni noodles. It's veggie-packed and super hearty – the perfect healthy comfort food!