Slowcooker Makaronatha (Greek Beef Ragout)



I’ve been making a concerted effort to use my slowcooker more frequently and, in general,I’ve been highly rewarded. Although I don’t think I’ll ever be one of those people who can use their slowcooker for nearly anything (I really do get confused by some of the stuff people make in theirs), I always appreciate an extra recipe to add to my arsenal. The ones that have been successful over the last year or so have been really successful, and I find myself  making them or versions of them pretty frequently these days. I try to get dinner ready as soon as humanly possible after work, because my son has taken to talking foreeeeeever during dinner, which means we spend a lot more time at the dinner table than I’d like (so the earlier we start eating, the better).

Given my interest in using the slowcooker combined with my knowledge that it’s the perfect vessel for anything that will result in shredded meat of some sort, it’s really weird that I never thought to make this before. We make this “makaronatha” or pasta dish pretty frequently the regular way—which basically means braising chunks of beef in a spicy (allspice-spicy, not pepper-spicy) tomato sauce for a long time, and then eating the really tender, flavorful bites over pasta loaded with aged myzithra cheese (okay, and some butter, too).

This dish works particularly well in the slowcooker because it has very minimal prep work.  The spices are so perfect and warm for this time of  year (though I’ll take them anytime), and the beef is fall-apart tender, so it’s ideal for shredding and serving with pasta (but feel free to pair it with polenta or a favorite grain).

I loved coming home to the familiar smells of this dinner, and knowing all I had to do was boil some pasta to eat it. Zachary is always a fan of “Greek-style” meats and sauces, because he also loves allspice and cinnamon, so this meal was a winner for him, too. I highly, HIGHLY recommend myzithra if you can find it, but if not, a slightly strong, salty cheese like a good quality Pecorino Romano will work well, too.

Slowcooker Makaronatha (Greek Beef Ragout)

  • 5 minutes
  • 8 hours
  • about 8 servings


  • 1 beef roast, about 2.5-3 lbs.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15 oz.) can broth or water
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley or about 2 Tbsp. dried
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-10 whole allspice balls or cloves*
  • cornstarch slurry (optional)
  • pasta for serving


  1. Season the roast liberally with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Place the roast in the hot oil and brown well on all sides. Move to slow cooker.
  2. To the pan, add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes before stirring in the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, broth or water, and salt and pepper to taste. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and then pour the mixture over the roast in the slow cooker. Add the parsley, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and all spice to the slow cooker.
  3. Cook on low for about 8 hours (longer is absolutely fine). Remove the cinnamon stick, bay, and allspice. Shred the meat and season to taste if necessary. If you want, make a corn starch slurry, turn the slowcooker to high, and add it at the end for a few minutes to thicken up the sauce.

    *Note: I like allspice, a lot, so I use the high end (maybe even more). You could also use ground allspice, and I would start with a scant 1/2 tsp., adding more later if you want.
Elly Says Opa

22 thoughts on “Slowcooker Makaronatha (Greek Beef Ragout)

  1. I never really mastered the art of using my slow cooker….for, well. Anything. I think it’s just not my thing. But I DO love the spices in this sauce! So warming.

  2. I love using my slowcooker, especially in the winter. It makes the house smell good and it makes dinner easy on me. This ragout looks so good I can almost smell it through the screen.

  3. Mmmm this looks great! I need to get my husband to make this as he is the crockpot king. Looks like your son has got the Greek flava flavs down!

  4. I don’t have a slow cooker but I’m going to try this in the oven – while I’m home!

    My youngest child used to talk continually at the table during dinner. Which is great, right? Interaction during dinner and all that. Her siblings were ready to stab her to death with a spoon. We were finally forced to limit the amount of words she could say. She could talk as much as she wanted while dinner was being put on the table and we were dishing out food. When we started eating she was stuck at twenty five words. Her siblings took great delight in counting her words and shutting her down when she reached her limit. We all rejoiced when it no longer took us three hours to eat. (no one leaves the table until everyone is finished) She learned, pretty quickly, how to eat dinner and converse without being the target of death threats. She still talks a lot and eats slower than anyone I’ve ever met.

    1. Hah, yes, I love that he talks and at this age he is VERY entertaining, but we don’t have a lot of time during the week between us getting home from work and him going to bed, so I really don’t like to spend it telling him over and over to make sure he’s still eating.

  5. Having lived in Cincinnati for more than half my life, I’ve gotten used to the warmth of a touch of cinnamon in meat sauce (or in Cincinnati’s case, chilli). I’ve been looking for more ways to use my own slowcooker, and this Ragout is going to the top of my to-try list!

  6. This was so good and smelled amazing cooking all day! I used stew meat in a smaller crockpot without browning to make it a quick meal to throw together before work. Next time I’ll need to find the Greek cheese.

  7. Ooooh my gosh, I must make this one as soon as humanly possible! Next week I was planning to make a recipe for french dip sandwiches, but that one has just been shoved off the table in favor of this. Mmmm.

    One dumb question- what do you use to turn a great big hunk of beef in a skillet? A big meat fork? That seems like the obvious choice, but I’m afraid poking holes in it could cause juices to leak out.

  8. Hi Elly! I’ve been stalking your site for some time and finally decided to try one of your recipes. This was phenomenal! And really tugged at our Greek roots 🙂 Thanks for making a simple recipe like makaronatha extra special!

  9. I made this yesterday and it got two thumbs up from everyone! Of course, I completely forgot the cheese but it was delicious without it. I used ground allspice and started with the suggested 1/2 tsp but found myself adding more when I thickened the sauce – yum! We’ll try the cheese on tonight’s leftovers – thanks for another keeper, Elly!

    1. I used top round. You can use any kind, really. Some fattier cuts will make a more tender beef, but you’ll just have to do a little more fat separation.

  10. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! This was one of my favorite meals my mom made growing up, and every time I have asked her for the recipe I’ve heard the typical Greek answer of, a “little of this, a little of that” and it never turned out right. I made this tonight for my family and it tasted just like hers. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow night!

    1. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed it, Tina! And personally, I think the leftovers are actually better. 🙂

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