This amazing Chicken Ragu is the ultimate in easy comfort food! It takes hardly any effort, cooks in the oven, and is big on flavor!
You can serve it over pasta, gnocchi, cheesy polenta, or mashed potato for a delicious family meal that everyone will love. Add a side salad and some garlic bread, and dinner is done.
I'll show you how to make the best pasta ragu you have ever eaten! The chicken is melting tender, and the sauce is rich and full of flavor. It is the perfect family meal, or serve it to guests, I know they'll be impressed.
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What is ragu?
Originating from Italy, ragu is a meat-based tomato sauce that's cooked low and slow to give you meltingly tender meat and an intensely flavorful sauce. Many different types of meat can be used for ragu, pork, lamb, beef, or, like this recipe, chicken. It is traditionally finished with heavy cream and cheese to lighten the color and enrich the sauce's flavor.
And the best part? It's super simple to make at home. So whether you're feeding a family or impressing some dinner guests, this dish will surely be a crowd-pleaser.
One of the most common ragu's is one that most people are very familiar with - ragù alla bolognese - Bolognese sauce.
Recipe Hints and Tips
Chicken: Use chicken thighs for this recipe as they stand up better to slow cooking and stay juicy and tender.
Wine: You can use red wine or white wine for this recipe. Both give a great flavor. The photos in this pot were taken with chicken ragu cooked with white wine. If you don't drink alcohol, then you can use extra chicken broth.
Herbs: The recipe states dried herbs as they soften and mellow into the sauce. Ground fennel and sage give great depth to the sauce; they are easy to find at the grocery store and can be used in many Italian dishes. (Ground fennel is also great in curries like my Chicken Rogan Josh) But if you can't find them, you can leave them out.
Veg: I like to leave the vegetables quite chunky but feel free to chop them in a food processor or grate them if that is easier. They still add great flavor to the dish.
Pasta: Pasta is one of the most common ways to eat ragu. You want a wide noodle like pappardelle or fettuccine. Or go for a chunky shape like a rigatoni. If you don't want to serve the chicken ragu with pasta, check out the section below on other ways to serve it.
Heavy Cream: This is added when you toss the pasta through the finished ragu; it adds richness and helps the sauce coat the pasta. It is the Italian way of doing it, allowing the pasta and sauce to form one cohesive dish. Even if you serve the ragu without pasta, the cream is still important as it rounds out the sauce.
Parmesan: This is added to the pasta and sauce to help thicken everything, add seasoning, and enrich the finished dish. Serve extra parmesan for sprinkling over after serving.
Pasta Cooking Water: Before draining, the pasta, reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water. This can be used to thin the sauce if needed and helps the sauce stick to the pasta.
Make ahead of time?
After the ragu has cooled, place it in a lidded container and store it in the refrigerator for four to five days. You can also freeze your ragu for up to three months.
When you are ready to eat the ragu, reheat it and add the pasta, cream, and cheese as instructed
Ways to serve your chicken ragu
Pasta is one of the most common ways to eat ragu. You want a wide noodle like pappardelle or fettuccine. Or go for a chunky shape like a rigatoni.
Although pasta is one of the more traditional ways to serve ragu, this delicious sauce is fantastic over gnocchi, polenta, or mashed potato.
Or you can have a big bowl of it with some bread. It also makes a great meat sauce to serve alongside a simple risotto.
Dealing with Leftovers
If you have ragu that has yet to be mixed with cream, cheese, and pasta, you can refrigerate the ragu for four to five days. You can also freeze your ragu for up to three months.
If you have already mixed the sauce with the cream and cheese, it will still keep, but I recommend keeping them for only 2 days in the fridge or 1 month in the freezer.
If you make this Chicken Ragu, don't forget to come back and comment. You can also tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Get the Recipe
Authentic Chicken Ragu
For the Pork Ragu
- 3 lb chicken thighs skinless and boneless
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 carrots peeled & diced
- 2 large onions diced
- 2 stalk celery diced
- 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup wine (see note 1)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried ground sage
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried ground fennel
- 1 28oz/800g can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
To serve the pasta (assuming you are using all of the ragu)
- 1.65 lb dried egg pappardelle pasta (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup grated parmesan plus more to serve
To cook the Chicken Ragu
- Preheat oven to 325˚F/160ºC.
- Season the chicken thighs all over with salt.3 lb chicken thighs2 teaspoons salt
- Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pour in the oil, and once hot, sear the chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side. Leaving the oil in the pan, remove the chicken thighs from the pan and set it aside in a bowl.¼ cup olive oil
- Reduce the heat to low, add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery and sauté for 15 minutes until colored but not burn.2 carrots2 large onions2 stalk celery
- Add the garlic and saute for a minute.6 cloves garlic
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.2 tablespoons tomato paste
- Turn the heat back to high and add the wine scraping at the bottom to remove any browned bits.1 cup wine
- Add in the bay, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, and fennel. Then stir in the canned tomatoes, broth and salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer.2 bay leaves1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme1 ½ teaspoons dried ground sage1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary1 teaspoon dried oregano1 teaspoon dried ground fennel1 28oz/800g can crushed tomatoes1 cup chicken broth or stock½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the chicken back into the pan, along with any juices that have collected. Cover the pan and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven.
- Cook the chicken for an hour.
- Remove the pan from the oven and use two forks to shred the chicken thighs Leave it as chunky or a fine as you like. Stir the chicken into the sauce.
- At this point, the sauce can be cooled and refrigerated, or frozen. (see bulk of post for details)
To serve the pasta (assuming you are using all of the ragu)
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the salt and cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the packet suggests.1.65 lb dried egg pappardelle pasta1 tablespoon salt
- Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, drain the pasta and add it to the dutch oven of ragu.
- Stir in the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. If the sauce starts to look dry, use some reserved pasta cooking water to bring the consistency to your liking.¾ cup heavy cream¾ cup grated parmesan
- Serve with extra parmesan.
- You can use red wine or white wine for this recipe. Both give a great flavor. The photos in this pot were taken with chicken ragu cooked with white wine. If you don't drink alcohol, then you can use extra chicken broth.
- You want a wide noodle like pappardelle or fettuccine. Or go for a chunky shape like a rigatoni.
Nutrition is per serving