Homemade crock pot spaghetti sauce with ground beef, fresh garlic, sliced baby portobello mushroom, and fresh herbs is one of my favorite weeknight meals. I struggled to find the right title for this sauce; slow cooker beef bolognese, meat and mushroom pasta sauce, crack pasta sauce, etc. You get the point. It's the only red meat sauce you need for your spaghetti, angel hair, linguine pasta.
This sauce cooks over a very long time, making the ground beef almost melt in your mouth. It's an easy sauce to cook while you are doing other things, or away at work, and when you are ready for dinner, voila! All you need to do is boil some pasta, spread some pasta sauce love, and top with shaved parmesan and fresh herbs.
Why I Love This Pasta Sauce
There is a time and place for stovetop sauces, but sometimes it's nice to be hands-off. I really like that this homemade crock pot spaghetti sauce is cooking all day low and slow without any effort from my side. It's a great meal to have leftovers for those busy weeks, and it tastes fantastic.
Another reason I love this homemade pasta sauce is that most of the ingredients are things I already have on hand. Not to mention, it's very easy to substitute ingredients in this recipe.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Ground Beef: I use organic ground beef. Lean beef, ground chicken breast, and ground turkey breast are all suitable options for this sauce.
- Canned Tomatoes: You can use canned crushed tomatoes, canned tomato puree, canned diced tomatoes, or canned peeled tomatoes. I've made this sauce with half canned tomatoes and half chopped fresh tomatoes. I haven't tried making it with all fresh tomatoes.
- Tomato Paste: Any kind of tomato paste works.
- Mushrooms: I use baby portobello mushrooms. White mushrooms and brown mushrooms are a suitable option as well. Alternatively, you can omit mushrooms from this recipe if desired.
- Onion: White onion, brown onion, and sweet onion are the best option for this sauce.
- Fresh Garlic: I recommend fresh garlic for this recipe.
- Herbs: I use fresh herbs from my herb garden. This particular recipe uses fresh oregano, fresh basil, and fresh thyme. Dry herbs are an appropriate substitute. For every 1 tbsp of fresh herbs, use 1 tsp of dry herbs.
- Pasta: I use angel hair pasta for this recipe because it cooks very rapidly. See the section below for other pasta options.
- Sugar: I add 1 tbsp of sugar to this recipe. Omit if desired.
- Salt to taste: I never add salt quantities because salt preference is personal and different types of salt have different saltiness levels.
You will also need:
- Crock Pot (7 quart or larger), Instant Pot (8 quart or larger), or slow cooker (8 quart or larger)
- Chef's knife and cutting board
- Large stovetop pot (to boil the pasta)
Making Sure The Ground Beef Doesn't Clump
This pasta sauce requires 2 intermediate stirs throughout the process of cooking in the crock pot. The ground beef will clump together if the sauce is not stirred twice (once after an hour and the second time after the halfway mark).
If you are planning to make this sauce without needing to stir it, cook the ground beef separately in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Then you can literally add all of the ingredients into the crock pot and forget about it until it's done.
How To Make Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce
Prepare all of the ingredients. Slice the baby portobello mushrooms, chop the onions, chop the garlic, and chop the fresh herbs.
In a crock pot, add the ground beef, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped onions, chopped garlic, chopped herbs, sugar, 2 cups water, and salt. Don't mix. Cook on the high setting for 4 hours or the low setting for 8 hours.
Mix the sauce after 1 hour and again at the halfway mark (4 hours on the low setting and 2 hours on the high setting).
What's The Best Pasta For This Sauce?
My favorite pasta for this spaghetti sauce is angel hair pasta. It's thinner and cooks quicker than regular spaghetti. Other options for pasta are:
- homemade sweet potato gnocchi
Tips and Tricks
- Use a crock pot, instant pot, or slow cooker on a slow cook function. I prefer to make this sauce low and slow. The flavors really infuse together, and the meat melts in your mouth. This recipe can be made on the stovetop but requires more effort and time to attend to it. See the notes section in the recipe card for different ways to cook this sauce.
- Use defrosted ground beef. Do not add frozen ground beef to the crock pot because it will clump.
- Stir the ground beef a minimum of 2 times (after 1 hour and at the halfway mark). You can stir this sauce as much as you want but it needs a minimum of 2 stirs for the ground beef not to clump.
- Prepare the pasta once the sauce is finished. It takes about 10 minutes total to boil the water, drop the pasta in, cook the pasta, and strain.