Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce
Imagine your favorite spaghetti bolognese sauce, simmered and seasoned to perfection, rich and flavorful… and all done conveniently in the slow cooker!
Your new favorite way to enjoy a bolognese-style pasta sauce… made easily in the slow cooker! Rich, flavorful, and perfect for an easy weeknight dinner!
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Spaghetti. Such a classic meal. Is there anything better than a big plate full of perfectly cooked pasta, topped with a rich and meaty sauce, some grated Parmesan cheese and fresh minced basil? Not in my book! Except maybe some cheesy semi-homemade garlic bread to go with it! Now picture this… you can have that fantastic-tasting, lip-smackingly good, slow-simmered tasting sauce, with hardly any effort? How, you say? In your slow cooker!
That’s right, your slow cooker comes to the rescue once again! When I plan meals, I plan about 9 meals that last us about 2 weeks with leftover nights so we don’t waste much food. This past meal plan, I went a little slow cooker crazy, with the bulk of our meals having a slow cooker component. Coming off being sick, my energy just isn’t up to where it usually is, so I figured I’d help myself out a little and pick easy meals and when I think of easy, I think of my slow cooker.
Oh, and don’t be thrown by my fancy-pants name for it… “spaghetti bolognese”. A traditional bolognese sauce has other components that aren’t in this recipe (red wine, etc), so that’s why it’s more of a bolognese-style sauce… more suited for a weeknight dinner!
For me, my favorite spaghetti sauces all have meat in them. What can I say, I like meat 🙂 What about you? Do you prefer meat-free spaghetti sauce? A meat sauce? Meatballs?
Usually, to get a great tasting sauce, you have to let it simmer and let those flavors meld together for a while… like an hour or more. Well I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have that kind of time most nights. Especially if you work outside the home… I’m pretty sure the last thing you want to do is fight traffic, come home, and spend an hour cooking and babysitting sauce. That’s a thing of the past. Now you can walk in the door and smell a FANTASTIC sauce simmering away in your slow cooker!
Now this recipe uses both ground beef and mild Italian sausage, but feel free to change it up to fit your family’s tastes. It could be all Italian sausage, all beef, or you could go for a hot Italian sausage if you want to get spicy 😉
So the morning of, all you need to do is brown your meats with the onion and garlic… making sure you crumble up the meat pretty well. For me, my best tool for that is my potato masher. That’s right, you read that correctly lol. I start with my wooden spoon to break it up into large chunks, then go to town mashing away with my potato masher. It crumbles up meat like a pro!
Once the meat is browned, drain it, then add it to the bottom of your slow cooker. Next, add in the remaining ingredients, pop the lid on, set it to low, and you’re done!
This sauce cooks for 8 hours, so you’re free to go about your day. Then come dinner time, all you have to do is boil your pasta! Simple enough right?
You deserve this sauce… treat yourself!
LOOKING FOR MORE ITALIAN DINNER IDEAS?
- Semi-homemade garlic bread
- Cheesy garlic crescent rolls
- Slow Cooker Shredded Italian Beef
- Meatball Parmesan Bake
- 20 Minute Tortellini Carbonara
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Perfect for a weeknight dinner, this bolognese-style sauce is made in the slow cooker. Just boil some pasta and your dinner is ready!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground Italian sausage
- 1 onion minced
- 2 carrots, very finely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 3 - 14 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 - 24 ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I use Newman's Own)
- 1 cup water
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tsp better than chicken bouillon
- 3 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp sugar (to taste)
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 - 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add ground beef and Italian sausage, cooking until browned, about 5-6 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef and sausage as it cooks. The last 2-3 minutes, add onion, carrot and garlic to beef and cook. Drain in a colander to remove excess grease.
Place meat mixture into bottom of slow cooker. Add remaining sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
If desired, stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream at the end of cooking, cover and cook another 5-10 minutes to warm it through. Cream really rounds out the flavors and adds a beautiful richness, but it's optional