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!
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!
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.
Equipment you’ll need
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 Beef – For 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 & Pepper – Season to taste. Once the sauce is cooked, you’ll be able to taste test and adjust as needed.
- Garlic & Onion – Mince garlic and diced onion are aromatic ingredients that increase the depth of flavor.
- Beef Broth – This 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 Paste –This helps to thicken the sauce, add a deeper red color and intensify the tomato-y flavor.
- Carrot & Celery – Traditional in a bolognese sauce, and although this isn’t authentic bolognese, we’re definitely taking some of the most delicious aspects from it. Diced veggies add texture, body, and of course flavor and nutrients.
- Worcestershire Sauce – Provides 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 Leaves – You’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.
- Honey – In 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.
How to make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
Click here for my entire collection of slow cooker recipes.