This family favorite Crock Pot Spaghetti is a dream come true! Super yummy and easy to make ~the pasta cooks in the crockpot in the sauce! How’s that for convenience!
Ahhh, crock pot recipes.
Aren’t they wonderful?
They’re really the center of a busy home, I think. In my house they’re the glue that holds everything together (Okay, that might be an overstatement. But crock pot recipes do make sure we all get fed!)
We all know crock pot recipes are great.
They’re easy to make, quick to assemble, don’t require turning on a hot oven, and—of course—cut way down on the dirty dishes. (And let me tell you, there is nothing better than having less dishes on a weekday night.)
Today’s recipe for crock pot spaghetti is one of my all-time favorite crock pot dishes.
Not only does this recipe make a really good semi homemade, hearty meat sauce, it also cooks the pasta directly in the sauce.
No waiting for boiling water. No big ol’ clunky pasta pot to clean.
Seriously, just what I need on a busy weeknight!
And this spaghetti? Oh man, I love this spaghetti. It’s one of those dishes that is pure nostalgia.
The finished spaghetti comes out very similar in texture to a baked spaghetti casserole.
Since the pasta cooks directly in the crock pot after the sauce has simmered for a while, it cooks directly in the sauce, not plain ol water! YUM!
The pasta texture comes out very soft-just like spaghetti casserole.
I think lots of people have memories of how their parent used to make spaghetti.
In my case, my mom used to make a mean plate of chunky red sauce. She’d serve up a plate of hot noodles just smothered in delicious, gooey spaghetti sauce.
In our house, sauce was king. Not a single noodle would be left uncovered. This slow cooker spaghetti brings me right back to that.
As with most spaghetti, here the sauce is the key.
I adore a thick, rich, slow simmered, made from scratch meat sauce, but sometimes, a semi-homemade sauce fits better into my weekly schedule.
My mom never made homemade sauce, and I’ve taken a lesson from her for this easy recipe.
Jarred sauce can be just about as good as anything when you dress it up a little (hence the list of spices).
In this recipe, the crock pot spaghetti sauce has Italian sausage and onion—as well as any additional vegetables you may choose to add—which yields a really meaty, hearty tomato sauce. (That just sounds delicious, doesn’t it? “A meaty, hearty tomato sauce.” Yum.)
And the longer you let the sauce cook (before you add the pasta), the more the flavors will combine, the better the sauce will turn out.
It’s a huge relief to find a recipe my family loves that’s simultaneously convenient to make.
And wow, my weekday schedule couldn’t love this recipe more. I just quickly assemble everything in the morning and leave it to cook throughout the day. It’s ready just in time for dinner!
Cooking Time ~ Look, every crock pot is different. Period. There’s no magic cooking time I can tell you. What’s in the recipe is a general guideline: 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Exact cooking time may (will) vary based on your cooker.
The cooking process is essentially a 2 step process. First, I cook the sauce on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours, to concentrate and develop the flavors. Then I add the spaghetti noodles, broken in half, covering them in with the sauce, for about 40-60 minutes more on high heat. Stir the noodles every 20 minutes, making sure they stay under the sauce as much as possible. Different brands of pasta take different amounts of time to cook. I generally use the brand Barilla and find I like to cook it about 45 minutes
The finished spaghetti in this recipe comes out similar in texture to a crock pot spaghetti casserole. It is much, much softer than pasta cooked to al dente. However, be careful that the pasta doesn’t cook too long either. It will become really mushy—totally unappealing. To avoid this, check the pasta after it has been cooking for 40-45 minutes.
If you’re finished dish seems to have a little too much liquid you can take off the lid and continue to cook on high, stirring often, until you some of the liquid is evaporated. Conversely if your sauce seems too thick you can always add more water. Make sure you add hot water to the crock pot so the dish cooks more evenly. It takes a crock pot a long time to get cold liquids up to temperature.
To save time on this already quick recipe, boil the pasta ahead of time and stick it in the freezer. Then, thaw it in boiling water for 2 minutes and toss it in your sauce!
Crock Pot ~ For an even easier cleanup process, use a liner in your slow cooker.
Sauce ~ The sugar in the recipe is important. It may seem a little odd to have sugar in a spaghetti recipe, but it’s actually pretty standard among tomato sauce recipes. The sugar helps to cut the acidity of the tomato sauce and make the whole recipe smoother.
Sometimes, making up tomato sauce in a crock pot can end up pretty watery. The cooking ingredients create steam and then that steam becomes water which mixes into your ingredients. Here’s an easy fix: use a clean kitchen towel and put it over the top of the crock pot. Put the lid on over that. The towel will absorb the steam and evaporation, making sure that water doesn’t end up back into the tomato sauce. However, be ready. The sauce will stain your towel.
Don’t skimp on the garlic cloves. In such a full-bodied sauce, the garlic will get lost if you don’t use the full amount (or even a little more).
Additions and Variations ~ I love adding fresh vegetables to this chunky sauce mix. Chopped green peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, spinach—use your imagination. Every different combination will yield a sauce that has a unique flavor.
For a different flavor of chunky crock pot baked spaghetti, try turkey sausage or Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Or do half beef and half sausage. Or half Italian sausage and half hot sausage. The possibilities are endless! Whatever you decide, make sure you still cook up the meat on a skillet before tossing it in the crockpot.
Or, for a delicious crock pot chicken spaghetti (we call it “Million Dollar Spaghetti” in my house), cook up two lean chicken breasts and chop them into your crock pot. Chicken is an excellent meat option if you’re looking to make the dish just a little healthier.
Crock pot spaghetti and meatballs is also a wonderful variation on this dish. Ditch the ground beef for some frozen meatballs. Just stack them on top in the crock pot and fire it up! This is a great variation to reduce the (already very low) prep time. No need to cook up the ground beef.
Use a combination of parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese in your slow cooker for a cheesy, easy crock pot spaghetti dish. Adding cheese to this dish makes it a little denser, but just as delicious. The cream cheese will help to make the sauce oh-so-creamy.
For an extra flavor kick, put a little chicken or beef broth in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients. The noodles will absorb that flavor and really compliment the sweet, hearty taste of the sauce.
Garlic bread is the obvious choice as a side dish for this recipe. However, even something as simple as a warm baguette can be a perfect companion. I use the extra sauce as an appetizer and serve it with warm bread for a fantastic breadsticks and dipping sauce dish.
Source: Gonna Want Seconds
- Yield: Serves 4-6
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 Hours minutes
Crock Pot Spaghetti
- Olive Oil - 1 Tablespoon
- Sweet Italian Sausage, Casing Removed - 1 Pound
- Medium Yellow Onion - 1
- Garlic Cloves, Chopped - 4-6
- Salt - 1 Teaspoon
- Black Pepper - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Dried Oregano - 2 Teaspoons
- Dried Basil - 2 Teaspoons
- Dried Rosemary - 1 Teaspoon
- Granulated Sugar - 1/4 Teaspoon
- Spaghetti Sauce - 2-26 Ounce Jars
- Red Wine - 1 Cup
- Water - 1 Cup
- Spaghetti Noodles - 1 Pound
- In a large skillet, heat up the olive oil just until it shimmers. Add Italian sausage, onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until sausage is cooked through. Drain off excess fat. Pour drained sausage mixture into a large crock pot.
- Add salt, pepper, oregano, basil, rosemary, sugar, 2 jars spaghetti sauce, red wine and water and mix together. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low 6-8 hours.
- Turn crock pot on high for the last hour and add spaghetti noodles. Stir the noodles into the sauce so they're mostly covered. Check past after 45 minutes to see if the spaghetti is done.