Dinner Tonight: Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

I have seen recipes for years and years where people cook their spaghetti and meat sauce all day in the slow cooker.  I have never, ever tried this before.  My thing is that it’s really not that complicated to make spaghetti and meat sauce in the first place…so why not just do it on the stove and not the slow cooker?  I had this cynical point of view until one day when I realized that I had a very short window between gymnastics and soccer to squeeze dinner in for my family…the perfect storm for a stressful meal.  I thought that would be the best time to give this old method a try…and you know what…I loved it!!!  It was fabulous and easy (two things I look for in a meal!).  Plus, I added in spinach which gave my meal an even added bonus.  Yes, you have to brown your ground beef before you start, but I managed to do that while drinking my morning coffee and watching the news.  Pretty simple.
The next time you have a crazy busy day, try making your spaghetti and meat sauce in the slow cooker…you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Shopping List
1 pound ground beef, browned and crumbled
1 onion, sliced
1 jar of store bought spaghetti sauce (any variety)
2 cans of tomato soup (undiluted)
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and all excess water squeezed out
1 pound penne pasta noodles (uncooked!)
Fresh basil and/or Parmesan cheese to garnish
In your slow cooker, add in your browned ground beef, onion, spaghetti sauce and both cans of tomato soup.  Stir, cover and cook 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high. 
About 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat, change the setting on your slow cooker to high (if it wasn’t before) and add in your spinach and penne noodles.  Stir and re-cover for another 30 minutes. 
Ladle your spaghetti and meat sauce into bowls and garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.
Easy and simple.  My kind of supper.

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  • Sheaffer {Pinterest Told Me To} October 30, 2012 at 10:42 am

    You know how much I love a slow cooker recipe. This one looks GREAT!

  • Alisha Pearson October 30, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Do the kids eat everything you make, or do they ever have picky moments? Please tell me I'm not the only one with the picky 3 year old occasionally when I slave all day to cook something I think he might like and then turns his nose up to.

  • Aubs October 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    there you go helping a sista out again! a meal my family loves and done in the crockpot to ease my mommy guilt as i walk out the door for bootcamp each evening! you rock! =)

  • Mix and Match Mama October 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Hi Alisha!
    My kids totally have picky moments! Andrew and I really don't stress about what they're eating. I always give them whatever I made for dinner…sometimes, they love it and sometimes, they don't want it or are not hungry. We always say that cereal is always an option (I'm not going to make them starve at this age). For the most part, I'm pretty happy with what they eat (the less we "talk" about their dinner, the more they eat it). Don't stress! Don't give them a lot of alternatives…it's either what you made or cereal (or pb&j or something else easy…but always that…not a variety). Good luck!

  • Anonymous October 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    What kind of slow cooker do you use? Do you have a suggestion for a good but inexpensive slow cooker for a newbie? Do those special features really make a difference?

  • Mix and Match Mama October 30, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    I use a very basic slow cooker from Williams-Sonoma. It's 8 years old and not fancy. When shopping for a slow cooker, I would pick one that is oblong (not round) for longer cuts of meat (like brisket). I would also make sure it has a high and low setting. Don't forget to buy slow cooker liners! They're a life-saver!!

  • Anonymous October 31, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    This is amazing! I had the kids playing outside – ran in and put the pasta in and ran back out – dinner cooked while we continued to play (noblocking water so no monitoring needed). And it was even better than regular pasta – less watery – and less dishes. This may be the most genius meal yet… Nora

  • Anonymous November 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Does the pasta have to be fully immersed in the sauce?

  • Aubs November 8, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    made this one yesterday and of course it was delish!! LOVE adding the spinach in ~ great way to get the littles to eat some greens!! =)

  • Kelley August 11, 2013 at 5:13 am

    I've never tried the pasta in the slow cooker but I do chili and spaghetti sauce pretty regularly in it. I never brown the meat first. I just throw it in. It cooks up pretty well even without browning first. You don't get as big of chunks of meat that way, but still tastes good.

  • Debbie Hurtado October 17, 2014 at 1:25 am

    We tried your Crunchy Fiesta Chicken Casserole and unanimously added it to the family favorite list! So excited to try your Slow Cooker Spaghetti. After 30 minutes with pasta in sauce it still had quite a bite to it. I wound up adding an entire can of chicken broth. Tested it every 10 minutes or so. It was still good but I'd love to know what I should do differently next time… 'cause there will be a next time. Another big hit! Thanks for all you do.

  • Anonymous November 24, 2014 at 3:01 am

    Made this tonight with half marinara half Alfredo jar sauce and it was great! Hubby loved it!

  • Annie Nguyen October 5, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Tried to make this last night and it seemed like there was not enough liquid to cook the pasta. There were some cooked pasta and some uncooked pasta. Would have been better if the pasta was cooked separately and added later. Otherwise the recipe was good.