Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe

This Slow Cooker Bolognese is a thick, flavorful meat sauce that goes perfectly over pasta. Once you try this, you'll never buy pre-made spaghetti sauce or marinara again!

what is bolognese?

Bolognese is a meat based sauce that comes from a place called Bologna, Italy, which is where it gets it’s name.

Bolognese is not the same thing as spaghetti or marinara sauce.  Marinara is a tomato based sauce filled with herbs and occasionally vegetables.  Bolognese is a meat based sauce that has just a little bit of tomato for flavor.

So if meaty sauce is your thing, then so is bolognese!

Can you put raw meat in the slow cooker?

You may have noticed that even though this is a slow cooker recipe, you have to brown your Italian sausage before putting it into the slow cooker.

Meat doesn’t necessarily have to be cooked before putting it in the slow cooker.  We often use raw chicken breasts, pork chops and roasts in the slow cooker.

However, the gentle heat of a slow cooker can’t brown meat, so if you are using a ground meat it is best to cook it before.

Cooking your ground meat before putting it in the slow cooker allows it to brown and gives it more flavor.

Cooking your bolognese in the slow cooker allows the tomatoes and other seasonings to simmer to give it the best flavor.

What kind of meat is used to make bolognese?

Bolognese is traditionally made with minced beef or pork.  We love using mild Italian ground sausage for our Slow Cooker Bolognese.

How to make bolognese in the slow cooker:

Making Bolognese in your slow cooker is easier than you might think.

Simply brown the Italian sausage in a skillet, drain the excess grease and add it to the slow cooker.

Next, mix in all the other ingredients and let it cook on for 8 hours.


This recipe can literally be thrown together in just a matter of minutes, but after that homemade bolognese sauce has been simmering all day it will taste like you spent hours slaving over it in the kitchen.

The other ingredients used in this Slow Cooker Bolognese include minced onion flakes, minced garlic, a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, dried oregano, dried basil, fennel seed, salt and pepper.

We serve this Slow Cooker Bolognese over pasta after it is done cooking and top it with some grated Parmesan cheese.

You can serve this meat sauce over whatever pasta you prefer.

What to serve with bolognese:

We love serving this Slow Cooker Bolognese with our Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread and Fresh Italian Green Salad.

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The best slow cooker Italian recipes:

Serves: 6

Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe

Thick and flavorful bolognese sauce that is so easy to make.

15 minPrep Time

8 hrCook Time

8 hr, 15 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion flakes
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat spaghetti noodles (cooked)
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese - optional topping


  1. Brown Italian sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking into small pieces; drain and rinse well.
  2. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Add cooked sausage and mix in onion flakes, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, sugar, oregano, basil, fennel seed, salt and pepper until well combined.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Serve over cooked pasta.
  6. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  7. Nutrition information does not include optional topping.

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21 Responses to “Slow Cooker Bolognese Recipe”

  1. If you add 1 shredded zucchini and 1 shredded carrot it is healthy and also tastes great. The kids won't even know they are eating all those veggies. I have a similar marinara that I slow simmer on the stove. I always use fresh basil though, so much more flavor. I also make ground turkey meatballs to go with it. I'll have to add a little turkey sausage to mix it up next time. Thanks!
  2. Every time I visit my in-laws or they visit us my Father-in-law requests I make this! He says it's the closest thing to Olive Garden's meat sauce (his favorite) that we've ever made at home, and he likes it even more. Thanks for the great recipes!! I have used two of the burger recipes from this blog and my husband is very impressed with me :)

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