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!!
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! :-)
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!
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!
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
- 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
- ½ lb spaghetti dried
- 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.
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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I made this for dinner tonight. Rave reviews from the family. Served with crusty garlic bread. Good thing I made a double batch!
Can hide lots of vegetables in this recipe as Grandkids love it so much.
This is a good basic recipe to start from and the directions are very well laid out.
However, when we make sauce with 56 oz of crushed tomatoes a 1/2 tsp of salt and/ 4 cloves of garlic are simply scant. Even a professional taster couldn’t taste 1/2 tsp of salt with this much crushed tomatoes alone.
When we think about the amount of meat in this (and it’s appropriate) how could we ever expect it to get salt and garlic in those amounts?
I’m not trying to be nitpicky. But I do appreciate some of the commenters who are wondering about flavor. I think it would be shocking to my wife’s Italian family if they saw all of the meat and tomatoes laid out on one platter and the paltry amount of salt and garlic on the other.
This recipe does give a good roadmap for making a good basic bolognese, but there’s no way it’s as good as it should be with the bizarre ratio of ingredients here.
This is for tea today, can’t wait, feeling hungry already, looks so good
Oh my goodness!!! What is this witchcraft? I tried this recipe for the first time tonight after only ever using jar sauce. Our entire family loved it! My only complaint is that there was nothing left to freeze because my family devoured it! Thank you so much for sharing. It is sooooooooo good!
My apologies, I already posted my review, but I thought of a question afterwards. Could this be made in a instant pot or Ninja Foodie? If so, what would your thoughts on it be? For cook times and such. Thanks again.
Hi Rayne, for an instant pot recipe I recommend this recipe here! Enjoy!
This is the best bolognese sauce I have ever made. I used to love going to pizza hut and having their spaghetti
bolognese, but since covid, their menu has gone to crap and they no longer serve it.
You really don’t have to change a thing in this recipe, it’s delicious as is, but just for personal taste I always add veggies to my spaghetti sauces. Some carrot, corn, and sometimes celery.
I always make it with the beef broth. I would love to try making it with the wine, and I would love to add mushrooms, but I have a picky eater in the house and they won’t touch it if I add the good stuff LOL.
Anyway, excellent recipe, I gave it 5 stars. Thank you very much for sharing it with us.
So easy and so delicious. Made half the recipe and it was great.
I love this recipe so much and have made it half a dozen times at least. I do like to let it sit a day in the fridge after I make it, it really helps the flavor comes out!