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Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

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This family favorite slow cooker spaghetti sauce is made with simple ingredients and without the need to watch over a simmering pot. The slow-cooked beef and veggies makes a thick and rich sauce that is perfect over your favorite pasta noodles!

wooden spoon scooping spaghetti sauce from a slow cooker.

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

Slow cooker meat sauce is a great way to make a hearty, meaty, and flavorful sauce without having to watch a simmering pot on the stove while still getting that slow-cooked classic aroma that everyone loves about a homemade sauce!

Make a big batch of it and have a budget-friendly, delicious sauce ready and on hand at any time.

This is a life-saver for those extra busy nights. Easily whip up a quick spaghetti dinner, enjoy it over rice or mashed potatoes (yes, seriously), or you can even add it on top of a baked potato!

To round out any of these meals, I’ll always have a simple chopped veggie side salad and of course 1-hour dinner rolls or garlic knots. There’s no way I’m leaving any of the sauce behind!

It’s never been easier to enjoy homemade comfort food made from scratch!

Why you’ll love Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce 🍝

Flavorful – My family calls this the best spaghetti sauce and loves coming home to a crockpot full. The simple and satisfying ingredients like ground beef, veggies, tomatoes, broth, and herbs are a very good way to get everyone to run to the dinner table!

Makes a lot – A large batch will come in handy to feed a crowd, whether a large family coming for Sunday supper or to keep leftovers for the busy week ahead. It makes enough for everyone and then some!

Better than jar sauce – Skip the store-bought stuff, nothing compares to homemade sauce. Just ask your grandma. There’s so much more flavor in it when you use fresh ingredients, and you’re able to control the amount of sugar and salt added.

overhead shot of spaghetti with parmesan cheese.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Ground BeefFor this sauce, I use extra lean ground sirloin (93/7). It’s still flavorful but won’t produce too much extra fat and grease. Even if you don’t use exactly 93/7, stick to a leaner ground beef such as 90/10 or even 80/20.
  • Salt & PepperSeason to taste. Once the sauce is cooked, you’ll be able to taste test and adjust as needed.
  • Garlic & OnionMince garlic and diced onion are aromatic ingredients that increase the depth of flavor.
  • Beef BrothThis is used as the liquid that turns the ground beef and tomato mixture into a thinner, silky sauce. Use low sodium if preferred.
  • Crushed Tomatoes – Look for crushed tomatoes or passata (pureed, strained, uncooked tomatoes). Just one can will do. Check the label. Some will come seasoned with additional salt and sugar. If you’re up to using fresh tomatoes crushed in the food processor, feel free.
  • Tomato PasteThis helps to thicken the sauce, add a deeper red color and intensify the tomato-y flavor.
  • Carrot & CeleryTraditional in a bolognese sauce, and although this isn’t authentic bolognese sauce, we’re definitely taking some of the most delicious aspects from it. Diced veggies add texture, body, and of course flavor and nutrients.
  • Worcestershire SauceProvides that savory, sweet, and salty umami flavor that adds a boldness to the taste of this slow cooker spaghetti sauce. You don’t want to skip this!
  • Bay LeavesYou’ll add these in whole and remove them before serving. The slow cooking will help to infuse the herbaceous flavor into the meat sauce, but dried bay leaves are not pleasant to eat.
  • Dried Oregano Another delicious herb that is ever present in most Italian-inspired pasta sauces.
  • HoneyIn place of sugar, this natural sweetener will help to cut the acid from the tomatoes and tomato paste and help to mellow and round out the flavors. You can add more if you prefer your sauce to be sweeter.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients to make spaghetti sauce.

How to make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

  1. Step One: Brown the ground beef in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink. Drain the grease, if needed. If there is just a bit, an easy way to do this is by moving your meat to one side of the skillet, slightly tilting the pan so the grease falls to the opposite end, and using a paper towel to absorb it.
  2. Step Two: Spray the basin of your slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. I suggest using at least a 4-quart size, even larger if you’re doubling the batch. Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot.
  3. Step Three: Cover with the lid and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 6 hours on LOW. Once it’s almost ready, carefully remove the lid, stir with a wooden spoon, and adjust any seasonings to taste.
  4. Step Four: While the sauce is on, cook the spaghetti (or your noodle of choice) separately according to package directions. Al dente is the way I like it, it’s tender with a bit of a bite, that way the noodles won’t get too soggy under the sauce. Add the noodles to your dish and spoon the sauce over the spaghetti to serve. Enjoy topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, if desired!
overhead shot of ingredients in a slow cooker to make spaghetti sauce.

What to serve with Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

There are so many ways to serve and use up this amazingly flavorful sauce. It’s so versatile that even making a large batch of homemade spaghetti sauce doesn’t last long in our house!

When I make it specifically for pasta night, my go-to is usually spaghetti and meat sauce. Sometimes I’ll use it to make a quick skillet lasagna or slow cooker lasagna.

It’s even great as a meat version of my easy spinach ravioli lasagna.

This sauce is great to have on hand when I’m making American goulash. Having it ready replaces a couple of steps, saving me some time.

More fun ways to use this sauce would be to use it as an air fryer baked potato topping, pour it over zucchini noodles (zoodles), or use it to dip garlic cheese bombs into!

Tips & Suggestions 🍝

  • Replace the dried seasoning with a homemade Italian seasoning blend.
  • For a lighter sauce, replace the ground beef with ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • Italian sausage can also be used in place of the ground beef. Or use a combination of both.
  • If you like a spicy spaghetti sauce, add some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce.
  • Add some extra finely diced veggies if you’d like. Mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.
  • Taste the sauce at the end and add up to an additional teaspoon of honey if needed.
  • You can swap the honey for granulated sugar, if preferred.
  • Always season well with salt and pepper.
bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce.

How to reheat and store leftovers

How to store leftovers

Once cooled, transfer the sauce to an airtight container and keep any leftovers stored in the fridge.

How long will homemade meat sauce last in the fridge?

It’s good for up to 4 days.

Can I freeze it?

Yes! When the sauce is done, portion out what you know you’re going to freeze. Transfer to a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag (I do this to save space because I can lay it flat) and freeze the sauce for up to 2 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

How to reheat leftovers

In a saucepan over medium-low heat until it’s entirely warmed through. You can also use the microwave for a single serving.

Be careful though, spaghetti sauce can splatter all over your microwave!

overhead shot of meat sauce in a crockpot.

FAQs

Can I put raw ground beef in slow cooker?

You can, but I highly recommend browning it first in a skillet. This will give it additional flavor and also give you the chance to grain the excess grease before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Why does sauce go watery in the slow cooker?

Crockpots don’t allow steam to escape, so all of the moisture is trapped inside. The condensation drips back into the sauce from the lid, which tends to make it watery.

To combat this, it’s important to use the amount of liquid noted in the recipe card.

If it’s still too thin for your liking, you can always continue cooking it with the lid off until it has thickened some more.

Should I rinse my spaghetti after cooking it?

No! That starch that remains on the noodles is what helps the sauce stick to the noodles.

Need more crockpot beef recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Easy Slow Cooker Ravioli Lasagna

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Click here for my entire collection of slow cooker recipes.

spoon lifting spaghetti sauce from a crockpot.

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wooden spoon scooping spaghetti sauce from a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
This family favorite slow cooker spaghetti sauce is made with simple ingredients and without the need to watch over a simmering pot. The slow-cooked beef and veggies makes a thick and rich sauce that is perfect over your favorite pasta noodles!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Course Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 153 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound lean ground beef I like sirloin (93/7)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ¾ cup diced yellow onion
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • 15 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium diced carrot about 1 cup
  • 1 medium celery stalk diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon honey more if needed

Instructions
 

  • To a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat until no longer pink. Drain any grease, if needed.
  • Spray at least a 4-quart slow cooker with non-stick spray and place all the ingredients into the cooker.
  • Cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or for 6 hours on LOW.
  • Check for seasonings and adjust if necessary adding more salt, pepper, or honey if tart. Discard the bay leaves.
  • Cook spaghetti separately and spoon sauce over noodles to serve.

Notes

Depending on what tomato is used, taste the sauce towards the end and add up to an additional teaspoon of honey, if needed.
For a sweeter sauce add more honey or sugar and season well with salt and black pepper.
Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to 4 days. 
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 153kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 18gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 319mgPotassium: 626mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1953IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 59mgIron: 3mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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