This crock pot spaghetti sauce is perfect for an easy weeknight meal. It has everything you want from delicious comfort food. Made with homemade meaty spaghetti sauce poured over your favorite noodles, and enjoyed with crusty Italian bread or a simple side salad.
It's an easy ‘’dump’’ dinner that is made all in one pot, all you have to do is cook the noodles and serve. And the best part is homemade is so much better than the jar sauce!
With this slow cooker recipe, you can make a mouthwatering spaghetti bolognese with minimal effort. Just cook the meat mixture in the slow cooker, and you'll achieve that traditional and delicious flavor.
- Minced garlic - always use fresh garlic for the best flavor.
- Vegetables - you'll need brown or yellow onion, carrot, and celery sticks. Feel free to add bell peppers or other vegetables of your choice (we also love adding sauteed mushrooms).
- Lean ground meat - substitute beef with ground turkey, pork, or Italian sausage. Or alternatively, you can use frozen meatballs instead. When cooking everything in one pot, I like to use lean meat without ending up with lots of fat in my sauce.
- Beef broth - veggie or chicken broth can be used as a substitute.
- Passata - you can use tomato puree or fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Tomato paste - make sure to use good quality tomato paste, as it forms the base and enhances the flavor of the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce - for extra depth of flavor you can also add ½ cup of dark red wine.
- Apple cider vinegar - any mild vinegar will work.
- Herbs - bay leaves and dried oregano are essential. Don't skip these! You can also add other herbs or Italian seasoning for an authentic Italian taste.
- Honey - use honey or maple syrup to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. Adjust the amount to suit your taste. If you don't have these, brown sugar is the best substitute.
- Salt and black pepper - good-quality salt, such as sea salt or kosher salt, for the best natural flavor.
For the full list of ingredients, please scroll down to where you'll find the recipe card.
In a medium skillet, brown the beef over medium-high heat. This is an optional step but is essential if you'll be using nonlean ground beef. Season with salt and black pepper.
Spray a 4-quart slow cooker/crock pot (you can use a larger too) with cooking oil and place beef and all the sauce ingredients into the cooker.
Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or LOW for 6 hours. Check for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Discard the bay leaf.
15 minutes before the end, cook the dry pasta in a pot with a little salt.
Serve the spaghetti with bolognese sauce for a hearty meal.
- For convenience, you can use canned tomatoes in this dish. Or Ro-Tel tomatoes. They'll give it a subtle kick of spiciness.
- Season the sauce well. Feel free to adjust the amount of salt and pepper in the recipe according to your taste preferences. It's all about finding that perfect balance of flavors.
- To offset acidity from tomatoes, you can add 1-2 tablespoons of brown sugar instead of honey. But this is optional and sauce tastes delicious without it.
- Use low-sodium broth if you want to reduce salt intake.
- To avoid ending up with mushy pasta, it's important to cook the dry spaghetti noodles separately from the tomato sauce. If you cook them together in the crockpot, they'll become overcooked and lose their texture.
- Easily adjust the flavor of this easy crock pot spaghetti by including different herbs and spices.
- To enhance the flavor, top the spaghetti sauce with freshly grated mozzarella cheese or parmesan cheese. Grate the cheese from a block as this way it will incorporate into the sauce better. The cheese adds a delightful touch and brings out the flavors even more.
- Why is my bolognese watery in a slow cooker? If the bolognese is watery, it hasn’t been reduced enough to get rid of extra liquid. To further reduce the red sauce, simmer on the warm setting of the slow cooker with the lid off.
Another option is to add a cornstarch slurry to the meat sauce or even cream cheese. Both of these options will help thicken the consistency.
- Cook the bolognese in the crock pot with the lid on. I would only recommend taking the lid off and allowing the sauce to simmer if you need the sauce to reduce further.
If you can, don't mix the pasta sauce and spaghetti in the pot. I'd rather, top the individual portions with a dollop of sauce for better storing leftovers later.
- 🍱To Store. Let the sauce cool completely. Store slow cooker spaghetti sauce in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the fridge. The sauce will thicken as it sits and when reheating you may need to add some water or broth to return the initial consistency.
- 🥶Freezing. Follow the same steps and place the sauce (only beef sauce) into an airtight container. Frozen sauce should last in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat in the microwave or over the stovetop. Stir constantly until warmed through.
✅ EXPERT TIP I don’t recommend freezing the bolognese sauce together with noodles. Spaghetti will taste so much better when cooked fresh from scratch.
Serve it with spaghetti, fettuccine or smaller tubular pasta shapes.
We like to have a simple green salad and crusty bread on the side.
🤷Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. You can overcook bolognese in a slow cooker just like you can overcook bolognese on the stovetop. Ensure to follow the cooking time in this recipe so the bolognese doesn’t overcook and dry out.
You can, but I like to brown the beef slightly to lock in the juices even more. The slow cooker will cook the raw ground mince evenly throughout.
While it’s not mandatory to brown the mince first, I definitely recommend that you do so as it locks in flavor and also helps prevent the mince from clumping while cooking in the slow cooker.
I hope you enjoy this spaghetti sauce recipe, happy cooking!
Easy Pasta Recipes
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Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 teaspoon garlic minced
- ¾ cup brown onion diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound spaghetti wheat or gluten free
- ¾ cup beef broth
- 1 can 15 oz passata or tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium carrot about 1 cup diced
- 1-2 medium celery sticks sliced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon honey or more depending on what tomatoes is used taste the sauce towards the end and add more if needed
- salt and black pepper to taste
- In a medium skillet, brown the beef over medium-high heat. Season with salt and black pepper.
- Spray a 4-quart slow cooker/crock pot (you can use a larger too) with cooking oil and place beef and all the sauce ingredients into the cooker.
- Cook 3-4 hours on HIGH or LOW for 6 hours. Check for seasonings and adjust if necessary. Discard the bay leaves.
- 15 minutes before the end, cook the dry pasta in a pot. Serve the spaghetti with the bolognese sauce for a hearty meal.