Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

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This Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese will make Italian Mamas proud. It’s rich, luscious, the sauce is silky and the meat is so tender it melts in your mouth. And the slow cooker does all the hard work!!

taking a scoop of Spaghetti Bolognese

Long and slow is how real Italian Mamas make proper Spaghetti Bolognese. It’s when the magic happens, the sauce thickens and infuses with incredible flavour that you simply can’t achieve in 30 minutes on the stove. The meat becomes so tender and soft, it literally melts in your mouth. The sauce is silky and rich, and clings lovingly to the pasta, staining the long strands a deep red.

So basically, slow cookers were made for Bolognese sauce. Or maybe Spaghetti Bolognese was made for slow cookers. Doesn’t really matter. They’re a match made in heaven! :-)

Spaghetti Bolognese in a white bowl

Now I have to tell you, this is a real proper authentic Bolognese recipe. So it’s not a “chuck it all in the slow cooker” recipe. Softening the onion and browning the beef before transferring it to the slow cooker is a key step, it can’t be skipped!

It just so happens that my slow cooker has a sauté setting – very handy for browning before slow cooking. However, when I make Bolognese Sauce in the slow cooker, I always make a double batch using 2 lb of ground beef. So if I were to brown the beef in the slow cooker, I’d have to do it in batches anyway because otherwise it would be (very!) overcrowded and the beef would end up stewing instead.

So I just brown the beef in a large skillet then transfer to the slow cooker. Well actually, I brown the onion first then transfer that into the slow cooker, then I brown the beef. Simply because of sheer volume – I don’t have a skillet large enough!

Spaghetti Bolognese made in the slow cooker

I am very particular about recipes I make in a slow cooker. I strongly believe that things should only be made in a slow cooker if it either enhances the recipe or the sheer convenience far outweighs a small compromise in the food.

As for Spaghetti Bolognese? It absolutely enhances it. Slow cookers on low cook maintain an even temperature lower than most stoves can manage. I truly believe to my very core that Bolognese Sauce made in the slow cooker is better.

This recipe makes a double batch but you could even triple it if you want! Because not only is Bolognese made for making in a slow cooker, it’s also made for freezing!

twirling Spaghetti Bolognese on a fork

taking a scoop of Spaghetti Bolognese
4.92 from 180 votes
Review Recipe

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 - 10
Author Nagi
Classic Spaghetti Bolognese made in the slow cooker is extra rich and luscious, with beef that literally melts in your mouth!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves , crushed
  • 2 onions diced
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup red wine such as a cabernet sauvignon or merlot (or chicken or beef broth)
  • 2 28oz cans crushed tomato
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes crushed
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Pasta

  • ½ lb spaghetti dried

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Instructions

  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, and cook until translucent and sweet - around 7 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in the same skillet and increase heat to high. Add beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until browned. Cook in 2 batches if your skillet is not large enough. Transfer to slow cooker.
  • Return skillet to the stove, turn the stove down to medium and add red wine. Bring to simmer and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the skillet into the wine, then pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
  • Add remaining ingredients into the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 6 hours.

Spaghetti

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook the spaghetti until just before al dente (still slightly firm). Remove 1 mug of the water from the pot, then drain the pasta.
  • Return the pasta to the pot and add 2 ½ - 3 cups of Bolognese Sauce, plus ½ cup of reserved pasta water. Toss gently over medium-high heat for 2 minutes, or until the Sauce has thickened and coats the spaghetti. (Note 3)
  • Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe Notes

1. Bolognese Sauce freezes wonderfully! Allow to cool overnight then freeze in serving size portions.
2. This recipe is a double batch and makes enough for 8 to 10 servings.
3. This step of tossing the pasta with the sauce and some of the pasta water is called "emulsifying" and it's when the magic happens. The oil in the sauce and the starch in the pasta water come together to make the Bolognese Sauce thicker so it clings to every strand of the pasta. This is the proper Italian way of making pasta!
*Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 343, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 816mg, Potassium: 653mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Vitamin C: 4.8mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 3.9mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian

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Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese, and a bowl of spaghetti bolognese
About the author

Nagi

Nagi is the voice, cook and photographer behind RecipeTin Eats, [Australia’s top food blog]. She believes that anyone can make amazing food with everyday ingredients, even if you’re short on time and cost conscious.

Nagi walked away from a corporate career to follow her passion for food. She truly believes that great food brings family and friends together, and more smiles into your life. She also firmly believes that whoever invented cheese deserves a Nobel Prize.

More Posts by Nagi

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Comments

  1. I can’t say enough about this sauce. It was rich and decadent, and I have been thinking about it since I made it a couple weeks ago. I followed this recipe exactly, and I will absolutely make it again and again and again.5 stars

    1. Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this recipe. We find it very flavorful, and most readers seem to love it too.

  2. This is now my forever bolognese recipe. It’s totally delicious with a depth of flavour. I don’t use wine only stock as I prefer to drink my wine 5 stars

  3. I’ve been making this bolognese as a staple in my house for a while but the one thing that I’ve always had to guess at was the beef bouillon cubes as they can come in different sizes and have different concentrates. I originally put 3 of what I thought was standard size into it and the dish was very salty. What size cubes are using for this recipe? I traditionally use the Knorr brand5 stars