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spaghetti bolognese slow cooker

spaghetti bolognese slow cooker

spaghetti bolognese slow cooker

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spaghetti bolognese slow cooker
spaghetti bolognese slow cooker

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!!

 

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.

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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! 🙂

 

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!

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!

 

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

 PREP TIME20 minutes
COOK TIME6 hours
TOTAL TIME6 hours 20 minutes
 SERVINGS8 – 10
 AUTHORNagi
Classic Spaghetti Bolognese made in the slow cooker is extra rich and luscious, with beef that literally melts in your mouth!
PRINT RECIPEPIN RECIPE

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.

Recipe 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.

Slow cooker spaghetti bolognese is a staple in our household. I try to vary up our weekday meals as much as I can, but this one seems to feature more frequently than most!

It’s just so quick and easy to make, I usually just add it all in and set it off, no pre cooking or fussing about with other pots and pans.

slow cooker spaghetti bolognese on a plate.

How Do You Make Spaghetti Bolognese In A Slow Cooker?

Making Bolognese in a slow cooker is really easy. You can either put it all in raw or brown the mince off first. I talk about this more further down.

I used to always brown my mince before putting in the slow cooker for Bolognese, but now, I rarely do!

Ingredients

For exact measurements scroll down to the recipe card!

  • Mincemeat – usually beef, but you can substitute for pork, chicken or turkey. 500g is enough for 4 servings but I normally use 750g as there are 5 of us!
  • Onion, garlic, red pepper
  • Bay leaves – don’t forget to take these out at the end!
  • Passata and/or chopped tomatoes – I tend to use 2 x 400g cartons, or 1 of each. If you have some tasty fresh tomatoes you can use an equivalent amount of these instead.
  • Tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce, dried mixed herbs and 1 beef stock cube/pot.

How Long Does Spaghetti Bolognese Take To Cook In A Slow Cooker?

I prefer to cook Bolognese on low in the slow cooker – it helps the meat turn really tender and full of flavour. I have been known to leave my Bolognese on low for as long as 10 hours, at a minimum I would leave it on low for 6 hours. If time isn’t on your side you can cook it on high in 4 to 5 hours.

spaghetti bolognese slow cooker
spaghetti bolognese slow cooker

Suggested Extras

You can add any extras you wish to a slow cooker Bolognese. Here are some suggestions;

  • red wine (about 100ml)
  • celery
  • carrots
  • chilli
  • bacon

Serve With

Aside from cooked spaghetti, it also tastes great with your favourite cheese grated on top. Oh and some garlic dough balls or garlic bread are also welcome!

Can You Put Raw Mince In A Slow Cooker?

Yes you can. You can put any raw meat in a slow cooker and it will cook just fine. But some recipes just taste better when the meat has been seared beforehand – but really it’s a matter of personal taste – and time!

I used to brown the mince (with the onions) in a pan before putting it in the slow cooker but now I just add it all in raw!

Of course, if you have one of those wonderful Morphy Richards Sear and Stew slow cookers you may as well go ahead and brown off that meat!

You can also make it in an electric pressure cooker. Check out my Instant Pot Spaghetti Bolognese recipe.

How To Store Spaghetti Bolognese

Have you got any leftovers? Once the mince has completely cooled down you can store it in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze it for 3 months.

You can also turn it into a Bolognese soup in the soup maker!

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Making a good bolognese sauce is a real labor of love. Sure, you could just add some ground beef to a tomato sauce and call it good (and heck, we often do!), but there’s a certain irresistible silkiness and a deep, meaty flavor that can really only come from all-day cooking. This is a dish that takes a humble package of ground beef and turns it into something worthy of the finest dinner party. Bolognese is that good.

spaghetti bolognese slow cooker
spaghetti bolognese slow cooker
Tester’s Notes

This bolognese is a keeper. I’ve made it many, many times since first sharing it on Kitchn in 2008, with very few changes. I love how silky and beefy the sauce becomes over the course of cooking — we so often think of ground beef as an ingredient meant only for burgers, weeknight tacos, and other quick-fix meals, so it’s always fun to see it get its moment of glory in this sauce.

To my original recipe, I’ve added a bit of tomato paste and a pinch of spices. These changes don’t distract from the beefiness or make the dish overly complicated — they just give the dish a bit of spirit.

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