Recipe: Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

I love spaghetti with bolognese sauce. My mom would simmer it for hours and it was so good you just wanted to eat it with bread.

by Deedra Abboud in Main Dish, Recipe
August 16, 2016 0 comments

I love spaghetti with bolognese sauce. My mom would simmer it for hours and it was so good you just wanted to eat it with bread.

I never order spaghetti from restaurants because it is just not as good.

First, it is usually sweet. What’s up with that? Spaghetti sauce should not be sweet.

Second, it is usually either bland or just okay, not tasty like my mom’s.

I have experimented over the years with different ways of cooking it, and I finally found the one my husband and I just can’t get enough of.

Once you taste bolognese sauce cooked in a slow cooker, (or at least simmered on the stove for hours) you will never be satisfied with canned, bottled, restaurant, or quick sauces.

No joke.

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

1 tbsp oil (I use avocado oil, but coconut, olive, or grapeseed oils also good)
2 tbsp fresh basil, or 1 tbsp dried
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, or 3/4 tsp dried
3/4 cup onion (purple, white, or yellow – I have a preference for purple)
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (I usually use ~7% fat)
1 cup chicken broth (can use water but will decrease flavor, unless you add chicken bouillon)
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tbsp garlic, crushed or chopped (from a bottle or fresh)
1 bay leaf (absolutely key ingredient)
1 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

Cook onions in oil until onions are golden brown. If using fresh herbs, cook them with onion. If using dried herbs, add just before meat. Add ground beef and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until it is browned. Add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 2 or 3 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker (crockpot) and add the remaining ingredients. Set at high and allow to slow-cook for a minimum of 3 hours – 5 to 6 hours is better.

Serve over pasta.

Serves 4 and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


  • Being from the South, bacon was the oil of choice. Being Muslim, that is not always an option, but I have used turkey or beef bacon (3 to 5 strips) for the oil and then used the crumbled bacon in the sauce. It is a very nice touch for flavor.
  • I like to crush the whole tomatoes a little with a wooden spoon when I add them to the crock pot.
  • If you prefer a more ‘tomatoey’ sauce, blend the canned tomatoes in a blender/food process before adding them to the sauce – or use fresh peeled tomatoes and food process them.
  • A lot of people add 1 tbsp of sugar to remove the acid flavor from the tomatoes. I never do this.
  • If you want the sauce to cook all day or night, you can set the slow cooker on low to cook for 8 to 12 hours, or longer.
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