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
4.94 from 256 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

Equipment

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.
4.94 from 256 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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. I’ve made this recipe a few times and everyone in my family loves it! I was wondering if anyone has tried adding some carrot and celery to this recipe for extra vegetables?

    I wasn’t sure if carrot and celery would make the sauce too watery or ruin the texture or flavour.

    Thank you 5 stars

    1. I think it’d work perfectly! I would suggest dicing them small and adding them along with the onion. Let us know how it goes!

    2. I always add very finely chopped carrot and celery to my bolognese. I have added them to this slow cooker recipe and I think the flavour is even better. Hope this helps.5 stars

  2. I’ve made this a few times and it’s delicious. A family members just requested Turkey bolognese. Can the ground beef be swapped for Turkey? Any tips?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi JR, the ground turkey should work well in this recipe. You should be able to just swap it in as is.

  3. I’m planning to cook this tomorrow for dinner but only have powdered beef stock. How many teaspoons would I need to use for the recipe. Am looking forward to trying it.

  4. I’m a guy – just getting back into my Crock Pot. I added some mushrooms and a few Roma tomatoes with a little less crushed can. Absolutely amazing!

    Now I have lunch for at least a week. Thanks5 stars

  5. I have my sauce cooking in the slow cooker, just looking at what to do with the pasta and realised it doesn’t seem like much pasta to sauce ratio??? 1/2lb of pasta for 8-10 servings?? Is this right? and do you mix all together then freeze with pasta in it or just freeze sauce?

    1. Hi Coby, we just freeze the sauce without adding pasta. You can make some extra pasta for larger servings but with sauce, we find it about 8-10 servings.

  6. Chef’s kiss. One of those recipes where you simply don’t need to change a thing. I made this a few months back and just finished the last portion I had frozen with some gourmet dry pasta imported from Italy. We dined al fresco with a big bowl of leafy green salad on the side. Adding this to my recipe book as the go-to bolognese. I’ve tried an instant pot version and it just doesn’t compare. Flavors are rich and complex, yes please!5 stars

  7. Do you drain after browning the meat? It didn’t look like it in the video…can’t remember if I was looking at the stove or slow cooker version, but either way I am just wondering if you drain the grease. I am assuming you do, but it didn’t say that. Thanks! This looks awesome. I cannot wait to make it this week.

    1. Hi Michelle, if you find you have a lot of fat in the bottom, you can drain the beef before continuing with the recipe.

  8. I have made this recipe a number of times and it turns out delicious every time. I’m looking forward to making it again this week.5 stars

  9. I’ve made bolognese many times in the past, both on the stove and in a slow cooker. I was impressed with how silky the texture of the sauce was. I was somewhat surprised by how bland it was, however. I used the red pepper, which was “optional,” and I also grated in carrots and sauteed that with the onions, and cooked bacon with the beef, both of which are common for this sauce. I think next time I will increase the red pepper, garlic, and possibly the black pepper, as this cooks down in the crockpot.4 stars

    1. One of the great things about this recipe is that it’s super easy to add spices to your preference. Enjoy Amrita!

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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