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
4.95 from 367 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

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

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.

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.
4.95 from 367 votes

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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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Comments

  1. on your recipes, when you scale up the serving size, ingredients scale up, but dont scale in the instructions. Example: 1 pound ground beef in a 4 quart slow cooker (scale up 3x) 3 pound ground beef still a 4 quart slow cooker (that would definitely over crowd the slow cooker).not to mention overfilling it when other ingredients are added.5 stars

    1. Hi Daryl, that is correct, the ingredients amounts will adjust as you increase the servings however the recipe instructions will not adjust. I hope you enjoy the bolognese!

  2. This was really good. I did season my onions and ground beef before adding to the slow cooker. My lunch is all packed for tomorrow. Thank you for the recipe.4 stars

  3. Followed the recipe exacly and it was fairly quick and easy. Freezes well. One thing to mention is that traditional bolognaise has a mellow flavor with a hint of sweetness and this was a little on the tangy side. If I make it again, I’ll try browing the tomato paste and deglazing with the wine and maybe cutting back on the Worcestershire sauce. Thanks for posting.4 stars

  4. In the bolognase sauce, you add 2-3 cups to the speghetti. Then, do you serve the sauce in a separate bowl, for each person to add as they wish ! I found that a little confusing. I’m making this on Crida for guests. Thank you. It looks amazing!!

    1. Exactly Shirley! I toss the pasta with 2 1/2-3 cups of sauce and any remaining sauce can be spooned over when serving. Enjoy!

  5. Absolutely the best recipe! I do substitute turkey mince for the beef and chicken stock instead the beef stock due to a food allergy but other than that I follow the recipe and make a double amount- it freezes well and the family love it!5 stars

  6. Tasted okay but had a bit of bitterness about it. I commented whilst eating that perhaps a bit of sugar in it would help balance it, and can now see in the comments others have said they do this. I’ve also seen other recipes add a small amount of milk at the end to neutralise the acidity of the tomatos, perhaps this would have helped too?3 stars

  7. This is the only sauce we have in our house. Often add a bit of sugar (based on acidity of the tomatoes at the end) and always add a Parmesan rind or two for a little extra oomph. In fact I’m making this now with Elk meatballs for the win!! Great recipe!!5 stars

  8. I made this for dinner tonight. Rave reviews from the family. Served with crusty garlic bread. Good thing I made a double batch!5 stars

  9. 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.4 stars

  10. 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!

  11. 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.5 stars

  12. 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.5 stars

  13. 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!5 stars