This amazing slow cooker bolognese is an excellent spaghetti sauce, perfect for simple weeknight dinners. Spaghetti bolognese is a popular ground beef dish, and with this easy recipe you can make a big batch with minimal effort.
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Spaghetti bolognese is one of the most classic everyday dinners in the UK. The bolognese I remember from my childhood was usually made by combining minced beef with a jar of pasta sauce. This recipe is almost just as easy to make, but tastes so much better.
The added vegetables provide nutrition and flavor, but since we dice them into tiny chunks, you will barely know that they are there. There's a few healthy swaps as well - and options to make the dish extra lean or kid friendly if you want.
Why you'll love it
- Easy way to make bolognese
- A great spaghetti sauce
- Vegetables added to the sauce (can be hidden!)
- Kids love it
- Traditional recipe
- Prepare dinner in the morning, and it will be ready by the afternoon
Ground beef: Ground beef, or minced beef, is the base for this easy pasta sauce.
Carrots + celery: These add flavor, texture and nutrients to the dish. Don't worry, we cut the celery and carrots into very small pieces, so you don't have to bite into chunks of veggies if you don't like them.
Onion + garlic: Adds flavor to the dish.
Tomato paste + tomato sauce (UK: tomato puree + passata): Makes the base of the tomato sauce. You can also use your favorite jarred pasta sauce, or my Healthy Spaghetti Sauce.
Seasoning: Use black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, parsley and basil. You can also use any combination of dried herbs that you like, or just use Italian seasoning.
You can find full instructions + ingredient measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of this page
Then, sauté finely diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Add this to the slow cooker.
Finally, add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and seasoning to the slow cooker, and stir. Cover with a lid, and leave the bolognese sauce to cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or on LOW for 6-8 hours.
- Don't remove the lid from the slow cooker while the bolognese cooks, as this will lower the temperature in the Crockpot and increase the required cooking time.
- If you want to avoid chunks of carrots or celery, you can either omit them, or puree them smooth with a blender or food processor before you add them to the slow cooker. This is a great trick to add more vegetables to your food!
Spaghetti with bolognese sauce is usually served for lunch or dinner. You can serve the dish on its own, or along with some simple side dishes if you prefer. Here are some of my favorite recipes to pair it with:
- Side dishes: Air Fryer Garlic Bread, Air Fryer Kale Chips
- Toppings: Easy Homemade Croutons, Parmesan, Roasted Walnuts
- Side salads: Lemon Kale Salad, Olive Salad
With extra added veg: Bolognese sauce with hidden veg is a great way to sneak more vegetables into your meals. You can either finely dice the vegetables, or puree them in a blender before you add them to the slow cooker. Use extra carrots, celery, mushrooms, cauliflower or sweet potatoes.
Turkey bolognese: Make the dish extra lean by using very lean ground beef, or even better; ground turkey! Turkey works really well for this dish, and is an excellent low fat and low calorie option.
Store leftover bolognese sauce in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Serve it with cooked pasta, or use it in other dishes like Minced Beef Pasta Bake.
I love to combine bolognese with spaghetti, and store it in individual containers in a refrigerator. Spaghetti bolognese can be reheated in a microwave for a few minutes, making it perfect for quick and easy future meals.
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Frequently asked questions
You can technically cook raw mince in a slow cooker, but it's usually recommended browning the mince first, as this improves the texture and flavor of the dish.
If your bolognese sauce is a little thin, you can make it thicker by adding cornstarch mixed with cold water, or tomato puree. However, this should not be necessary if you follow the recipe.
You might also like these recipes
- Healthy Bolognese
- Slow Cooker Braising Steak
- Mushroom and Lentil Bolognese
- Chicken and Chorizo Pasta
- Sausage Pasta Bake
- Instant Pot Chicken Pasta
- Halloumi Pasta
- Garlic Basil Pasta
- Healthy Spaghetti Sauce
Slow Cooker Bolognese
- Warm up the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the ground beef, and cook until the beef has browned completely. Then, transfer the beef to the slow cooker.
- Add finely diced celery, carrots, onion and garlic to the skillet, and sauté for a few minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Move the vegetables to the slow cooker.
- Finally, add the tomato paste, tomato sauce and seasoning to your slow cooker.
- Give everything a stir, and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or LOW for 6-8 hours.
- Serve the bolognese over boiled pasta.
- Store the leftover bolognese in a refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.
- Hidden vegetables: To hide the veggies in the sauce, you can puree diced carrots, celery and onions in a food processor or blender before adding them to the slow cooker. The bolognese will then get the same nice flavor, without any chunks of veg mixed in.