Looking for a hearty winter dish that doesn't require a lot of fuss? Our Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese recipe is the perfect meal for busy families.
This great recipe features a homemade ragu sauce made with carrots, onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, mixed herbs, beef stock, and red wine.
Mince beef (ground beef), bacon or pancetta is slowly cooked for hours in the ragu to make it a bolognese sauce, then served with some spaghetti or tagliatelle for a complete meal.
The recipe is easy to follow and doesn't require any stirring during slow cooking. The end result is a delicious, classic dish that will warm your soul. Having been slowly simmered, the bolognese sauce is full of flavour.
How to cook Spaghetti Bolognese in the Slow Cooker
Watch the slideshow video below for how to cook this slow cooker spag bol recipe, or use the links below to jump to what you need to know
If you love bolognese recipes, you should may want to try our bolognese pasta bake too.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a popular dish worldwide, and many believe it is an original Italian recipe. However, in Italy, the closest thing to it is tagliatelle al ragu.
The first known recipe for a meat-based sauce served with pasta was published in Pellegrino Artusi's 1891 Italian cookbook, "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well".
Artusi's recipe was similar to the bolognese sauces that are popular today. But it used minced veal, pancetta, butter, carrots, celery, onion, broth and finished with cream.
Over time, this dish has evolved to what we make now, and there are still many different variations of it; you can make it how you like!
The ingredients for this slow cooker spag bol can be found in most supermarkets or online.
I will give suitable alternatives too and feel free to add more vegetables too, I have added mushrooms, sweetcorn and peas in the past for extra goodness!
We use smoked bacon lardons in our slow cooker bolognese to help give the sauce a lovely smoky flavour.
You can substitute bacon lardons with chopped smoked streaky bacon or Italian pancetta instead.
Carrots are a classic ingredient in Bolognese sauce. They add sweetness and depth of flavour.
When chopping carrots, it's important to get them into small, even pieces. This will help them cook evenly and prevent them from being too hard.
The best way to do this is to finely chop the carrots into small cubes. If you're feeding fussy children, you can also grate the carrots instead.
Including chopped onion in our slow cooker mince recipe provides a sweet flavour profile.
You could use shallots instead.
Garlic adds so much flavour and depth to our slow cooker spaghetti bolognese. If your not a garlic fan, you can leave it out.
Adding olive oil will help to keep the beef mince from sticking to the bottom of the frying pan. If using a high-fat content mince, you may not need it.
If you don't want to use olive oil, you can always use olive oil spray or rapeseed oil spray, which is a healthier option.
Mince beef is a good choice for making a slow cooker Bolognese because it is inexpensive and adds flavour.
We prefer to use frozen mince beef for this recipe because it breaks down easier, which helps to create a thick and hearty sauce.
You can also use half beef and half pork mince if you prefer. This will give the sauce a slightly different flavour.
Other popular substitutions include venison, lamb or turkey mince.
The bolognese sauce is enhanced with the addition of red wine. If you are not a red wine drinker, you can buy a small single-serve bottle to save waste.
You can use white wine instead. Or, if you don't have any wine on hand, just substitute for the same amount of stock.
We like to use beef stock in our Bolognese sauce because it adds a meaty flavour and dark colour. However, you can use vegetable or chicken stock if you prefer.
Beef stock pots work better than dried stock cubes in this recipe because they dissolve quickly, are richer in flavour.
Puree is a key ingredient for adding a lovely rich tomato flavour.
If you can find some, try sundried tomato puree instead, a richer puree with a lovely deep flavour; use half the amount compared to normal puree.
We use mixed dried herbs in this slow cooker spaghetti bolognese recipe.
It is best not to use fresh herbs in slow cookers as they lose their flavour over the long cooking period. You can mix in more dried or fresh herbs once cooked.
A little bit of brown sugar helps to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes, and it also gives the sauce a lovely sweetness.
Add a splash of balsamic vinegar to the bolognese for extra sweetness.
In this slow-cooker bolognese, tinned tomatoes are a key component since they add a delicious fresh tomato flavour and sweetness.
You can use crushed tomatoes or passata instead.
Salt and Pepper
Adding salt and pepper to taste is important because it helps to bring out all the flavours when cooking your spaghetti bolognese in the slow cooker.
We like to use spaghetti in this recipe because it is the classic pasta shape to serve with Bolognese sauce.
However, you can use any shape of pasta you like when making bolognese. From tagliatelle to penne, any will work!
Adding some basil leaves to the sauce before serving gives it a lovely fresh flavour.
Adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce before serving gives it a lovely creamy flavour.
Or, if you don't have parmesan, why not use grated cheese such as cheddar instead.
You will need a frying pan, a wooden spoon and slow cooker for this slow cooker bolognese recipe, oh and a large pan for cooking the pasta in.
Tongs come in handy for stirring the spaghetti into the bolognese sauce.
Here's a quick rundown of the cooking instructions;See the recipe card for the cooking times and the ingredient measurements.
Feel free to make a double batch of this Bolognese sauce and freeze half for another day.
We recommend cooking the bacon, softening the vegetables and browning the minced beef off in a pan or large skillet over medium-high heat before adding them to the slow cooker crock pot.
Browning your raw mince before adding it to the pot is a key step.
It may seem like an extra step, but browning the mince helps to prevent it from clumping together in large lumps, and it adds a depth of flavour that cannot be achieved by simply throwing the raw mince into the slow cooker.
To release some of the alcohol, boil off the red wine with the brown mince.
Once everything is in the crock pot, give it all a good stir so that the ingredients are well mixed together and place the lid on
The cook time depends on the setting of your slow cooker, I recommend 8 hours on a low setting or 6 hours on a high setting.
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DO NOT remove the lid from the slow cooker at any point until it's finished cooking.
Opening the lid during cooking releases heat and moisture, which can affect the final outcome of your dish.
Once the slow cooker bolognese has had the full cooking time, remove the lid, give a good stir and leave the lid off to release some liquid whilst you cook the pasta.
Cook the spaghetti pasta to the packet instructions, or a little less if you like it al dente.
You have two options for serving. You can serve a scoopful of bolognese on top of spaghetti.
Or add the cooked spaghetti into the slow cooker pot and stir it through, so it is evenly distributed.
Either way, you'll have a hearty and satisfying meal that the whole family will love.
Serve with grated parmesan and fresh basil on top.
Or try some of our other Italian bread recipes.
📖 Step by Step Recipe
Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
- 200 g Bacon Lardons or Diced Pancetta
- 1 large Carrots finely diced
- 2 Onions diced
- 6 cloves Garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 kg beef mince I recommend frozen 5% fat
- 400 ml Beef Stock Use 1 stock pot or 2 stock cubes with boiling water.
- 180 ml Red Wine
- 2 tins Chopped Tomatoes (800g)
- 3 tablespoon Tomato puree
- 2 tablespoon Dried Mixed herbs
- 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
- Salt and Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
- 500 grams Spaghetti
- Fresh Basil chopped to serve
- Parmesan grated
- Prepare and chop all the ingredients.
- Fry the bacon lardons in a pan for about 2 minutes.200 g Bacon Lardons
- Add the carrots, onion and garlic and fry until softened, about 8 minutes.1 tablespoon Olive oil, 1 large Carrots, 2 Onions, 6 cloves Garlic
- Transfer to the slow cooker pot
- Next, heat oil in the same pan, add the mince and cook until it's just browned.1 kg beef mince, 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- Pour in the red wine with the mince stir well, and bring to a boil.400 ml Beef Stock, 180 ml Red Wine
- Then pour into the slow cooker pot with the stock
- Add all the remaining ingredients except the fresh herbs.2 tins Chopped Tomatoes, 3 tablespoon Tomato puree, 2 tablespoon Dried Mixed herbs, 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar, Salt and Black Pepper, 1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
- Stir all the ingredients together.
- Place lid on. Cook for 8 hours on low or6 hours on highDO NOT remove the lid at any point! It does not need stirring.
- Once the time is up, remove the lid.
- Stir and turn the slow cooker to high, keep the lid off to allow it to evaporate a little.Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti pasta to packet instructions
- You have two options for serving. You can serve a scoopful of bolognese sauce on top of cooked spaghetti.
- Or add the cooked spaghetti into the slow cooker pot
- Stir it through until it is evenly distributed.
- Serve in a bowl with some grated parmesan and fresh basil on top.Fresh Basil, Parmesan
When batch cooking, I suggest making a double batch of this recipe (make sure your crockpot is large enough!) follow the storage advice below.
Storing cooked spaghetti bolognese is easy. Simply cool the sauce down to room temperature, then place it in an airtight container in the fridge.
The spaghetti bolognese will last for up to 3 days in the fridge, and the taste will improve as the flavours have time to develop.
If you want to store it for longer, then freeze it in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
You can freeze the bolognese sauce and make the pasta up fresh when serving or freeze it mixed in with the pasta. Whatever you prefer?
If frozen, defrost the spaghetti bolognese first.
Reheat it on the hob or in the microwave until piping hot.
More Slow Cooker Recipes
Now you have dusted it off, plan your next recipe, and take a look at our other recipes for slow cookers.
No, you don't have to cook the ingredients in the pan first. However, we find that browning the beef mince and softening the vegetables before adding them to the slow cooker gives a deeper flavour to the final dish.
Yes, you can. Follow the same instructions but cook on low heat on the stove for 3-4 hours.
Yes, you can use any type of pasta you like. We like to use spaghetti in this recipe because it is the classic pasta to serve with Bolognese sauce. However, you can use any type of pasta you like.
Have you tried this slow cooker spaghetti bolognese recipe yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.