I’ve been wanting to make a slow cooker spaghetti bolognese for a while now. Letting the bolognese sauce simmer in the slow cooker enhances the flavors and making this the perfect bolognese recipe. 

slow cooker spaghetti bolognese

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

Actually, this slow cooker recipe came about because I recently wrote an article about all things slow cooker, and that gave me the idea to make this slow cooker spaghetti bolognese. Or actually I used my Instant Pot and used the slow cook function of it. But of course you can make this in any other pan. I will give the instructions below for a “regular” bolognese versus a slow cooker bolognese.

Bolognese Sauce

Just for the record, you only make the sauce in the slow cooker. You just cook the spaghetti in a pot of boiling water, as you always do. I think I ended up having the sauce in the slow cooker for about 14 hours. I guess I don’t have to explain that it’s better not to do that with the spaghetti itself. And while you can use spaghetti to serve the sauce with, it can also easily double as a delicious sauce over roasted vegetables. It’s super flexible and By the way, the sauce is just as good with vegetables. It’s super flexible and tastes great with anything and everything.

I also added 350 ml of red wine into the meat sauce. That is optional and if you don’t want to add alcohol you can leave it out. I did think it added a lot to the flavor. You don’t taste it really but it’s just that the sauce gets more depth. But if you have kids and want to serve them the bolognese sauce you can replace it with beef broth. Want to add wine but not red? You can make this with white wine instead. 

Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese

What goes into the slow cooker spaghetti bolognese?

As a base for the bolognese sauce there are quite a few vegetables that go in as well as tomato paste, tomato sauce, carrots, celery stalks and minced meat. If you have an instant pot you can turn on the sauté function first and sauté the onions and the garlic cloves with a tablespoon of oil before adding the minced meat. You break it all down with a wooden spoon and add all the other ingredients to it and put the crock pot to slow cooking. You also add Italian seasoning like oregano, rosemary and maybe some red pepper flakes for some added heat.

Once that’s done put the lid on and let it simmer for at least 7 to 8 hours. The cooking time is a bit flexible. I think I left mine on for 14 hours as I wasn’t home. And the end result was totally delicious. Instead of the minced meat you can also use a mild Italian sausage. Do remove the skin of the sausage before adding to the slow cooker though. You don’t want the skins in your spaghetti sauce.

Can you make spaghetti bolognese without a slow cooker?

The answer is yes, of course. If you want to make this bolognese sauce recipe in a large pan or large skillet, follow step 1 as indicated, but of course in a regular pan. You may need a little more oil because it will get dry faster and will cook quicker to. Once you’ve done step one, you add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. When it boils, place the pan on low heat and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Keep in mind that slow cooking requires less liquid. In a pan you have to make sure there is still enough liquid left and add more broth or water if necessary to keep it from boiling dry.

Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese

To serve

To serve this good bolognese sauce, cook the spaghetti first. You can also serve it with zucchini spaghetti, for example, or over some cooked diced sweet potatoes. This sauce really is surprisingly versatile. There is no reason to have Bolognese only with spaghetti. You can use other kinds of pasta as well. Serve the spaghetti bolognese with fresh basil or fresh parsley and some crusty garlic bread. The good news is that it is even better the next day. The rich flavor of the pasta sauce is just fantastic. Because the quantity is quite a lot if you make it in the slow cooker, I place all the leftover sauce in plastic bags and freeze it like that so I always have a finished sauce in stock.

I serve it with fresh basil and lots of parmesan cheese. You can also substitute any other grated cheese to taste, if necessary. 

Additions and variations

I already mentioned that you can easily vary the slow cooker spaghetti bolognese by changing what you serve it with. But you can also change the sauce contents and make it slightly different. I think this is the best bolognese sauce made in the slow cooker. But if you want you can use ground turkey or regular beef for this. The acidity of the tomatoes will make sure the beef breaks down and becomes deliciously tender. 

Fan of pasta dishes?

slow cooker spaghetti bolognese

Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese

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A delicious and easy recipe for making spaghetti bolognese sauce in the slow cooker
Dutch: Spaghetti bolognese uit de slowcooker
Decorative clock showing preparation time
Prep time 25 minutes
Cooking time 12 hours
Total time 12 hours 25 minutes

6 people


  • Slow cooker or instant pot


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 carrots grated or shredded
  • 2 celery stalk sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary leaves only, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs oregano leaves finely chopped
  • 500 g minced meat
  • 800 g diced tomatoes in a can
  • 1 stock cube
  • 350 ml red wine
  • 140 gr tomato puree
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To serve

  • Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil

How to make the spaghetti bolognese sauce

  • Turn on the sauté function and add the olive oil. Sauté the ground beef for a few minutes, then add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and herbs. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cook for a few minutes. Then place the Instant Pot on the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 6-8 hours. I left it on for a total of 14 hours because that worked best for me. Longer is no problem! Once cooked, season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Nutrition Information per portion

Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 255mg | Potassium: 812mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 3723IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 5mg


The nutritional values above are calculated per portion. The details are based on standard nutritional tables and do not constitute a professional nutritional advice.

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Simone van den Berg

Food blogger from the Netherlands. Loves good food. Likes to create healthy and easy recipes for daily use, but also loves the occasional sweet dish. Lives in the Netherlands with her two cats; Humphrey and Buffy. Profession: Food photographer, food blogger, recipe developer and nutritionist