Photo of Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti by WW

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce with Spaghetti

Total Time
4 hr 30 min
15 min
4 hr 15 min
Every cook needs a class Italian meat sauce in their recipe repertoire. The telltale orange color of classic Bolognese sauce comes from the addition of milk toward the end of cooking. It's a surprising ingredient that adds a silky body to the sauce and tenderness to the meat. If you're gluten-free, serve this sauce over spiralized veggie noodles or gluten-free pasta.


Olive oil

2 tsp

Uncooked fennel bulb

1 item(s), small, chopped

Uncooked onion

1 small, chopped


1 medium, cut into 1/4-inch dice


1 rib(s), medium, cut into 1/4-inch dice


4 clove(s), minced

Uncooked 93% lean ground beef

½ pound(s)

Uncooked 96% lean ground pork

½ pound(s)

Table salt

1 tsp

Red pepper flakes

¼ tsp

Black pepper

¼ tsp

Canned crushed tomatoes

28 oz

Grated Parmesan cheese

½ cup(s), divided

2% reduced fat milk


Uncooked whole wheat spaghetti

16 oz


½ cup(s), fresh, chopped


  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add fennel, onion, carrot, and celery; cook, stirring, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, pork, salt, pepper flakes, and black pepper; cook, breaking up meat with side of wooden spoon, until browned, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. Stir tomatoes into beef mixture. Cover and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, 3 1/2 hours on Low. Stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesan and the milk. Cover and cook 30 minutes on Low.
  3. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in same large pot according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.
  4. Divide spaghetti evenly among 8 bowls; top evenly with meat sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and the basil.
  5. Serving size: a scant 1 cup pasta, 3/4 cup sauce, and 1 tbsp Parmesan


Store the sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 4 days or freeze up to 4 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and gently reheat.