Jelly Toast

slow cooker meat sauce

slow cooker meat sauce from Jelly Toast #slowcooker #recipe

We’re whipping through the school year faster than a hot knife through butter, and the faster the time goes, the more unorganized I get with our weekly dinner routine. Sure, I make dinner, but sometimes our dinner is made up of two random side dishes that I made for blog posts and a pan of scrambled eggs. Thus is the life of a food blogger. Endlessly glamorous, I tell ya.

Anyway, I’ve been trying to grab dinner by the reins and stock up on easy, large batch meals to keep in the fridge or freezer for when busy nights pop up. This Slow Cooker Meat Sauce is one of my absolute favorite dinners. Not to mention one of my family’s favorites, too. My chicken noodle soup is another all time fave, too. 

slow cooker meat sauce from Jelly Toast #slowcooker #maincourse

What I love about this slow cooker meat sauce is that with just a little bit of prep, all of the ingredients can be tossed in the crock pot to simmer the day away, without the need to babysit a giant pot of sauce on the stove. It’s hard to replicate the flavor of slow cooked sauce with a quick recipe. I’ll make a batch of this on the weekend and put some in my fridge for a couple of dinners during the week, and the rest in my freezer for quick dinners on unexpectedly busy nights. Which is a common occurrence around here.

Last year, my husband bought me my new Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker. I used to have a dinky little thing that couldn’t handle big, make ahead dinners. Now with two kids and a crazy schedule the make ahead dinner is a necessity, I tell ya. My new cooker is big and programmable. And if you’re into cooking roasts in your slow cooker, this one has a probe thermometer that you can program it to cook to a specific temp and then switch to warm. Yeah, I’m not kidding. I need all the help in the planning department. I would be lost without it.

Anyway, back to the sauce. My kids have gotten so obsessed with this recipe, that every time I say I’m going to make it, they start screaming, ‘meat sauce!!’. Okay, I admit that it sounds less cute here than it is in reality. But I think I’m a sucker for anytime my kiddos rave about food that I make them. I’ll take crazy ‘meat sauce’ chanting any day over whining and complaining about what’s on their plate.

Luckily, I have more of the loving and less of the whining.

My slow cooker meat sauce is great over pasta or even on top of a baked potato. Serve it with crusty garlic bread or even tossed with pasta and cheese for a quick and easy baked pasta dish.  Oh, yeah.

Also, your house will smell ah-mazing. Just a little fyi.

slow cooker meat sauce from Jelly Toast

Happy Wednesday!

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce Recipe

Yield: 4-5 quarts

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 6-8 hours

Total Time: 6-8 hours


2 lbs ground Italian sausage (I used sweet)
1 lb ground chuck
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 bell peppers, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
3 28oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1 parmesan rind
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh)
kosher salt
black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to your taste)


In a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot set over medium/high heat, brown sausage and ground chuck. Remove from heat, drain excess fat, and transfer cooked sausage and beef to 6 quart slow cooker.

Return Dutch Oven to stove. Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions and peppers are soft and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Transfer vegetable mixture to slow cooker.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, parmesan rind, thyme, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to slow cooker and stir to combine.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve sauce over your favorite pasta, baked potatoes, garlic toast.

November 13th, 2013

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23 comments on “slow cooker meat sauce”

  1. My favorite dishes are ones that make my house smell amazing……and of course taste just as good as it smells. 🙂

  2. I love the addition of thyme here, and what’s better than an awesome slow cooker meal? NOTHING. Nothing.

  3. Such a cozy, comforting dish perfect for any day of the week!

  4. This looks wonderful! I would never have thought of doing meat sauce in the slow cooker, what a good idea.

  5. Wowza! This looks amazing. I really love the look and feel of your blog and the way you style your food photos. Such a good vibe going on here! I found your blog through the Mixed Conference attendee list. I’m happy to make this connection and excited to meet you in person next weekend!

  6. If I don’t eat pork can I substitute it for something else? Sounds like a great recipe.

    • Hi Louise! Yes, I add the sausage because it is already seasoned and adds great flavor to the sauce. You could substitute turkey or chicken Italian sausage if you would prefer. I’ve never made it that way, but I would think that would work well.
      Good luck and thank you so much for stopping by!

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  8. That plate of pasta has my name written all over it—definitely one of my all time favorite meals. I don’t have a slow cooker, but will for sure be making anyway!

  9. Hi! Found this through Pinterest. Was wondering…what size can of tomato paste? Looks yummy – can’t wait to try it! Thanks!

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  12. Thank you for the lovely recipe. Have a Wonderful Weekend!

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  14. This looks so good! I wondered about the parmesan rind…isn’t that wax? Why do you add it?

    • The rind of true parmesan is actually just the result of the cheese being brined and dried, therefore protecting the rest of the cheese. It is actually edible, although because of it’s hard nature, most of the time people don’t eat it. However, when added to soups and sauces it can impart fabulous flavor that is like no other. So don’t be worried! It’s not wax 🙂 Enjoy!

  15. my boyfriend found this recipe right after you posted it and we’ve been making it forever! it’s so unbelievably good. i just had some leftovers for lunch and posted a version of it on my blog today and linked to yours. thank you so much for the wonderful recipe 🙂

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  17. Just saw your recipe, sounds good, but, I was wondering if it could be made without the parmesan rind?. Mostly because I doubt that I could even find it where I live and also I cook for myself only so, I’d never use up all the parmesan before it went moldy.

    • Hi Steve, absolutely! I would just replace it with a bit of grated parmesan, or just leave it out all together. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I just happened to stumble upon this recipe one night and decided to make it for dinner the next day. THANK YOU!! The recipe was a hit. My kids loved and so did I. I didn’t get a chance to make it with the parmesan rind bcz I couldn’t find it in town but I’ll keep trying. Recipe is amazing!

    • I am thrilled to hear this, Chris!! This is one of my kids favorites, too! Thanks so much for coming back and letting me know that you enjoyed the recipe. xoxo Emily