Start crockpot spaghetti sauce in the morning and forget about it all day. At dinner time, cook up a big pot of pasta and enjoy an absolutely delicious homemade spaghetti dinner.

Spaghetti sauce in a black slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

If you’re used to spaghetti sauce from a jar, you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Homemade is so much better! Yeah, yeah, you knew I was going to say that, I know. 

But it’s so true! Sauce from a jar just falls flat in comparison to homemade. There’s a little more work involved with homemade. Obviously, you can’t get much easier than opening a jar although even when I do use sauce from a jar, I find myself adding all sorts of stuff to doctor it up so it tastes better. 

But there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of adding a little bit of this, a little bit of that to the pan and then letting that spaghetti sauce simmer, simmer, simmer while the house fills up with the smell of an Italian restaurant and everyone is just eagerly anticipating dinnertime because they’ve been captivated by that wonderful smell of sauce cooking all. day. long!

Spaghetti sauce is healthy, too, with lots of the antioxidant lycopene. And when you make your own, you know exactly what’s in it, no added preservatives, sodium, or “natural flavor.”

So enjoy! Don’t wait for a special occasion. Make a big crockpot full of spaghetti sauce, invite friends and family, and feast on a homemade spaghetti dinner. Serve it with fresh warm bread and olive oil dipping sauce. A glass of red wine would be very nice, too.

Overhead view of a large white bowl filled with spaghetti and meat sauce.

About this crockpot spaghetti sauce:

The recipe for this crockpot spaghetti sauce is very similar to my popular stovetop spaghetti sauce. There are two differences: you make this sauce in your slow cooker and I’ve added meat to the recipe. The advantage of this recipe is that you can make the sauce in the morning (or right after lunch) and forget about while your slow cooker does all the work. 

Not sure what time you’re going to be eating dinner? No problem, the sauce can simmer until you’re ready. Perfect for those days when you’re flying around doing errands, going to games, swimming lessons, or whatever is on your agenda for the day.

Wooden spoon in a crockpot of spaghetti sauce.

What’s in crockpot spaghetti sauce: 

  • meat of your choice: ground beef, ground turkey, Italian sausage (or none at all!)
  • onion and garlic
  • lots of tomatoes: tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes
  • sugar — just a hint to balance all the acidity of the tomatoes
  • red pepper flakes — for a suggestion of warmth
  • dried herbs: oregano, thyme, bay leaf
  • fresh herbs: basil and parsley
  • butter: little extra richness
  • salt, to taste (have you ever noticed how much sodium is in a jar of spaghetti sauce? Whew!)

A white bowl filled with spaghetti that is topped with red sauce and flakes of parmesan cheese. Bread in background.

Can I add red wine to this recipe?

Sure, wine adds another delicious dimension of flavor to your sauce. Use a dry, fruity red wine such as Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Chianti, or Sangiovese, just to name a few. Use a red wine that you would drink but don’t pour in an expensive wine.

Add 1/2 cup to a cup of wine to the pan after the meat has browned and continue to cook until the wine has reduced almost completely. Proceed with the recipe as directed.

Close up of crockpot spaghetti sauce with a wooden spoon inserted into the slow cooker.

How to make slow cooker spaghetti sauce:

It’s easy. You can cook it all day (6-8 hours) on low or just for the afternoon (3-4 hours on high).

Begin the sauce by cooking the meat and onions in a large skillet. Break up any large chunks of meat. Add the garlic, sauté for a minute, then add the tomato paste, stirring and cooking briefly.

Scrape the contents of the skillet into the crockpot, along with all the canned tomatoes, sugar, dried herbs, and red pepper flakes. Cover and simmer until you’re ready for dinner, then stir in fresh chopped basil and parsley, and a pat of butter. That’s it!

Spaghetti and meat sauce in a white bowl with fresh basil and parmesan garnishes.

How to make this easy spaghetti sauce your own:

  • No slow cooker? You can easily make this sauce on the stovetop in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven. You’ll have to give it a stir now and then as it simmers for one to three hours.
  • Choose whatever pasta you like best: fettuccini, linguine, pappardelle, rigatoni, penne … 
  • Try a gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles if you prefer, instead of regular pasta.
  • Looking for vegetarian spaghetti sauce? Simply omit the meat and proceed with the recipe.
  • Like meatballs instead of ground meat? Try these baked turkey meatballs.
  • If you’re on a diary-free diet, omit the butter.
  • Have a surplus of fresh tomatoes? Peel the tomatoes and use them instead of the crushed tomatoes. If your tomatoes are really juicy, squeeze some of the juice and seeds out before adding them to the sauce.

Big pile of spaghetti with sauce and parmesan cheese.

Make ahead and Reheating Tips

This recipe makes a big batch of sauce! It will keep three to four days in the fridge and it also freezes well. If you’ve made extra, use freezer safe containers to freeze the sauce up to three months for dinners in the future.

Thaw it overnight in the fridge for best results and reheat gently in a saucepan or the crockpot.

Use leftover spaghetti sauce to stuff spaghetti squash for another great dinner. Or try easy baked spaghetti pie from Recipe Girl. 

Overhead view of spaghetti with sauce in a white bowl with silver serving utensils.

More Slow Cooker Ideas

Using your crockpot on busy days is such a timesaver. The work is all done in the morning — fix and forget! Try:


A wooden spoon inserted into a black crockpot full of spaghetti sauce.

Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce (beef, turkey, sausage, or vegetarian!)

Yield: 9 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

Start crockpot spaghetti sauce in the morning and forget about it all day. At dinner time, cook up a big pot of pasta and enjoy an absolutely delicious homemade spaghetti dinner.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 - 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a skillet over medium-high heat, brown meat and onions, breaking meat up as it cooks. Cook until meat is cooked through and onions are translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until incorporated. 
  2. Add meat mixture to slow cooker along with crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, sugar, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf.
  3. Cover slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours. Immediately before serving, stir in basil, parsley, and butter. Stir until butter melts. Taste, and add salt if desired.
  4. Serve over cooked pasta of your choice.


  • No slow cooker? Make this sauce on the stovetop in a large heavy pan or Dutch oven. Simmer it for one to three hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Try a gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles if you prefer, instead of regular pasta.
  • Looking for vegetarian spaghetti sauce? Simply omit the meat and proceed with the recipe.
  • Omit butter for dairy-free spaghetti sauce.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: appr. 1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 374Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 391mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 29g sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

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