Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese is an easy way to cook an all time classic family favourite. With a throw it all then set and forget approach, dinner will be cooking itself without effort or fan fare. Every single kid I know from little to big loves a great big ole bowl of slow cooker spag bowl. Sprinkle some parm on top of the meat based sauce and childhood memories will arise from days gone by ❤.
My Garlic Spaghetti takes the meat out of pasta and gives an insanely easy and delicious vegetarian spaghetti. Got to say woot to that right😉.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about this bolognese recipe in the points below:
- Budget friendly: there is nothing in this recipe that will break the bank. Beef mince is cheaper than other cuts of meat and you can use in season veggies to keep the weekly shop under control (Mince Beef Spaghetti with veggies and a thick rich sauce for around $10 to $15 for 4 meals, who is up for it?)
- Meal prep: it looks like your Mum's home cooking (or Italian Grandma), it smells and tastes like it, but you you don't have to go and see her (every day 😘) to recreate her cooking at home. Chop the vegetables before work, set the slow cooker to on you can be at the office all day thinking that dinner is 'almost done!'. Portion and freeze and you will thank yourself later 💗.
- Family friendly: whilst there is flavour from the Italian herbs, it is not too intense flavour. So everyone from little kids to big will like to have a bowl of this slow cooked bolognese sauce and pasta for dinner!
- Set and forget: the best think about slow cookers is that it cooks the meal for you! 😘😉. So all you need to do is throw the ingredients into the bowl and turn it on. Weeknight meals have never been so easy! The hearty bolognese sauce will create itself! Mince in the slow cooker is taking things back to basics and cooking doesn't get much easier than that type of recipe (no need to brown the mince 1st either 😉!
- Smart easy: if you want to get some cooking done during the day so that dinner is done when 'dinner time' hits the clock, this is the recipe for you. It will soon become your favorite pasta with minced beef! Start early in the day and you will pat yourself on the back as soon as the aroma of the bolognese starts wafting its way through the house 🥰!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see, the recipe calls for:
- Beef mince: this is the same thing as ground beef. You can also use lean ground beef. It is budget friendly, freezer friendly and extremely versatile! Lean beef mince or regular both work well for the recipe. Purchase from Walmart, Safeway, Woolies, Tesco, Aldi, Coles or your local butcher!
- Passata: this is readily available in Australian supermarkets and called 'passata'. In other countries like the USA and Canada it is called tomato puree (but it is the same thing!).
- Diced tomatoes: is it really Italian pasta if it doesn't have tomatoes in it...me thinks not! 😂. If you read my substitutions and variations you can hear me talk about other types of tomatoes you can use.
- Sliced mushrooms: save yourself time and effort and purchase store bought sliced mushrooms 😉😉. That way all you need to do is throw them into the crockpot. The price difference is minimal and the fuss free nature of them is too easy!
- Diced carrots: peeled and chopped or whizzed through the food processor, this allows us to add an additional vegetable to the sauce. Omit if you aren't keen on carrots in your spag bowl 😉.
- Dried onion: you will be able to get your hands on this in the spices section of the supermarket. It is such a great ingredient to use! Providing onion flavour but no tears, it is a time saver and almost essential to have in your pantry spice collection!
- Garlic: you can use fresh cloves of garlic finely chopped or use mince garlic, both will work well for the recipe.
- Italian herbs: this is a very versatile choice as it offers more than one dried herb in the mix and helps to tick the 'Italian flavour' box of the spaghetti sauce.
- Salt and pepper: we only need a little of each of these to season the ingredients. I also recommend using cracked black pepper for serving.
Tasty Tip: For serving, we cook the pasta separately on the stove (or in the Instant Pot) according to the packet instructions. It will take about 10 mins and you can do this towards the end of the cook time for the bolognese.
Here at the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by adding the bolognese sauce ingredients to the slow cooker bowl.
- Add beef mince to slow cooker bowl (Photo 1)
- Next add sliced mushrooms (Photo 2)
- Then add the diced carrot (Photo 3)
- Next pour in the passata (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
Start to make the bolognese by adding all of the sauce ingredients to the slow cooker bowl. A tiny touch of spray oil to grease the bowl is ideal as 'its not Italian spaghetti without olive oil' is both your and my thought process 💖. (Helps clean up to!).
- Add the diced tomatoes (Photo 5)
- Then add the salt (Photo 6)
- Next add the pepper (Photo 7)
- Then add the garlic (Photo 8)
- Add the dried onion (Photo 9)
- Then add the Italian herbs (Photo 10)
- Ensure all ingredients are in the bowl (Photo 11)
- Stir to combine the beef mixture (Photo 12)
Then you can literally 'set and forget'. The slow cooker will start to do its thing and the bolognese sauce magically cook to perfection. It is funny that the thing that will remind you that this is cooking is the amazing smell wafting through the house! The cook time is a minimum of 4 hrs on low or 2 hrs on high. The delicious flavor will be worth the longish cook time and the best thing is there is only one bowl to clean up!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
For this recipe, I like to cook the spaghetti separately on the stove top. Or sometimes I use the Instant Pot also. One of the main reasons I do this is that it allows us to have leftover bolognese sauce to freeze that is separate from the cooked pasta (ie not a meal in one). Then you can use defrosted sauce and cook fresh pasta at dinner times if you wish.
👍 How To Guide
How to Store
Let the dish fully cool, then transfer to an air tight container for fridge leftovers.
It will keep 2 to 3 days in the fridge.
How to Freeze
Ensure the bolognese sauce has fully cooled before portioning into containers (or zip lock bags to save freezer space 😉) and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to Reheat
You can reheat both the sauce and the spaghetti from frozen, depending on your container. Glass containers tend to reheat better and can be reheated from frozen whereas most plastic containers require defrosting before heating.
You can use the microwave or reheat in a pan on the stove. If using the stove, add a couple of drops of olive oil so that the Bolognese sauce doesn't stick to the pan. (As well as to make the clean up easier🥰).
😘 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- You can add some red pepper flakes if you like for an extra depth of flavour.
- Drizzle in a small amount of red wine if you like to use that in your bolognese sauce.
- You can use dried thyme instead of the Italian herbs if you wish.
- Alternatively you can use oregano.
- Ground turkey is an alternative protein that can be used in place of the ground beef (healthy swaps for a less heavy meal).
- Or you can do a combination of half beef mince and half pork mince for a little variety.
- If you prefer to use crushed tomatoes (smaller texture), you can sub them in and switch out the diced tinned tomatoes (more chunky).
- Rinsed and finely chopped celery sticks can can be added if you want to up the vegetable component.
- Add a tablespoon of tomato paste in to the sauce if you traditionally use this and aren't worried about a lengthy list of ingredients.
- Fresh parsley or fresh basil leaves are a great way to garnish the dish and will add delightful pops of colour.
💡 Tasty Tips
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the recipe in the points below:
- Have all of the ingredients prepped and ready to go as you can then turn the heat on and simply add them to the slow cooker bowl.
- Give the ingredients a good stir to combine in the slow cooker at the start of the cooking time.
- Read the packet instructions for the spaghetti and follow these to cook the pasta, some brands will specific longer cook times than others.
- Garnish the dish with parsley, cracked black pepper and parmesan cheese for serving 😘.
- Leftover sauce can be used for Bolognese Pizza, grilled cheese or Baked Meatball Subs.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
Can you put raw mince in the Slow Cooker?
You can absolutely put raw ground mince meat into your Slow Cooker. It will cook evenly throughout.
Do you need to brown mince before putting in Slow Cooker?
You do not need to brown your mince before adding it to the Slow Cooker. Spray the base of your Slow Cooker bowl with olive oil, then add the ingredients.
The mince will cook over the length of the cook time, changing colour as it goes. You will notice that is is less oily than stove top cooked beef mince as less oil is used when compared to stove top bolognese sauce.
What vegetables can I add to Bolognese sauce?
There is a wide variety of vegetables that can be added to bolognese sauce. Here are some tasty suggestions:
- Diced tomatoes
- Crushed tomatoes
- Sliced mushrooms
- Cherry tomatoes
😍 More Easy Spaghetti recipes
It doesn't have to be spaghetti, you can use you favourite pasta, or be inspired by one of these dishes!
- Pork Bolognese
- Lamb Bolognese
- Garlic Prawn Spaghetti
- Turkey Mince Bolognese
- Smoked Salmon Spaghetti
- Artichoke Spaghetti
- Instant Pot Penne Pasta
- Blue Cheese Mac and Cheese
- Sausage Spaghetti
- Baked Pasta Bolognese
You can also find all of my spaghetti recipes in the one tasty spot . Get your fork, splade and parmesan on my friend!
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese Recipe (No Browning)
- 1 Slow Cooker
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Saucepan
- 1 Colander
- 500 gramz/16 oz beef mince (ground beef) Note 1
- 1 cup mushrooms sliced, Note 2
- 2 cups carrot peeled and diced, Note 3
- 400 grams/14.5 oz diced tomatoes Note 4
- 700 grams/24.5oz passata (tomato puree)
- 1 tbs dried onion Note 5
- 1 tbs garlic minced, Note 6
- 1 tablespoon Italian herbs Note 7
- ¼ teaspoon salt Note 8
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper Note 8
- 500 grams/16 oz dried spaghetti cook according to packet instructions, then drain
- Slow Cooker: turn your Slow Cooker onto low temperature and spray a small amount of olive oil into the bowl.
- Bolognese ingredients: add beef mince, sliced mushrooms, diced carrot, passata, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic, dried onion and Italian herbs to the bowl.
- Stir to combine: use a wooden spoon to stir these ingredients together so the herbs and sauces are mixed in well with the vegetables and sauces.
- Cook: allow the bolognese sauce to cook for 4 hrs (or 2 hrs on high)
- Spaghetti: cook the dried spaghetti according to packet instructions, then drain. Note 7
- Serve and enjoy: plate cooked spaghetti and spoon Slow Cooker Bolognese over the top. Garnish with cracked pepper, parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Note 8
- Note 1 Beef mince: this is the same thing as ground beef. It is budget friendly, freezer friendly and extremely versatile! Lean beef mince or regular both work well for the recipe. Purchase from Walmart, Safeway, Woolies, Tesco, Aldi, Coles or your local butcher!
- Note 2 - Sliced mushrooms: to make this recipe as easy as it can be, I use store bought sliced mushrooms. By all means you can buy whole mushrooms and slice your own but it will take longer.
- Note 3 - Carrots: 2 cups diced carrots is 3-4 carrots. I cut the tip and end of and use my food processor to chop.
- Note 4 - Diced tomatoes: diced tomatoes are chunkier than crushed tomatoes, yet you can use either. Also avoid brands with extra herbs as we add our own and don't need or want additional herbs in the recipe.
- Note 5- Dried onion: will be found in the spices aisle at the store. It is one of my all time favourite ingredients to cook with. Saving both time and tears but still giving great flavour. This is a must try ingredient if you haven't come across it before 😊.
- Note 6 - Garlic: crushed garlic, minced garlic or fresh garlic are all fine. I prefer crushed or minced for a recipe like this as you literally scoop it from the jar with your measuring spoon, tip it into your Slow Cooker and then you are done. No chopping or peeling which saves a chunk of time!.
- Note 7 - Italian herbs: If you don't have Italian herbs, you can use Oregano, but use ½ the quantity, so its not only oregano you taste in the dish.
- Note 8 - Salt and pepper: We use the salt and pepper to season the mince and vegetables when we put the ingredients into the Slow Cooker at the start. We use additional cracked pepper for garnish when serving our dish.
- Note 8 - Cooking spray oil: I have both canola spray and olive oil spray in the cupboard. For a recipe like this where we are using the Slow Cooker then I recommend the olive oil spray. You can use either and they will both be fine, but the reason I do this is that we are not adding additional oil to the ingredients so I like to use the spray which is the closet to the oil I would use on the stove to cook the recipe.
- Note 9 - Spaghetti: You can cook your spaghetti about 10 mins before the end of the bolognese cook time. Or you can turn the SC temperature to 'warm' and cook the spaghetti if the sauce is already done.
- Note 10 - To serve: this is the fun part of the dish. The cracked pepper, parmesan and parsley add pops of colour to the spaghetti bolognese. If feeding a crowd at a big table, have small bowls of each nearby so people can garnish their own spaghetti as they please.
Recipe published Jan 2020, updated October 2022 with more tasty tips for you 🥰😘👍!