This crock pot spaghetti is homemade beef meatballs that are simmered in tomato sauce, then tossed with spaghetti to make an easy and hearty meal. A slow cooker comfort food classic that’s always a hit with both kids and adults!
Some of my recipes are just so good and easy that I make them almost every week. Rounding out my top three favorites are slow cooker whole chicken, garlic butter sirloin steak and this ultra flavorful crock pot spaghetti.
There’s nothing better than a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs. My favorite way to prepare this dish is with this crock pot spaghetti recipe. The meatballs come out super tender from simmering all day, and the sauce is loaded with flavor.
How do you make crock pot spaghetti?
Start by combining ground beef with garlic, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese seasonings. Form the meat mixture into balls, then broil until they’re golden brown. Place the meatballs in the bottom of the crock pot along with marinara sauce, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce all day long. Stir in cooked spaghetti, then top with parmesan cheese and parsley and serve.
Can you put dry pasta in a slow cooker?
Yes, you can technically put dry pasta into a slow cooker. This recipe calls for mixing pre-cooked spaghetti into the meatball and sauce mixture. If you really don’t want to dirty another pot to boil the spaghetti in water, you can add the dry spaghetti, broken in half, into the crock pot during the last 30 minutes of the cook time. Be sure to add another 3/4 cup of liquid such as water, chicken broth or beef broth. I personally prefer not to put my dry pasta in the crock pot because I find that the texture can be overly soft, or the pasta can end up a little gummy if it’s not cooked exactly right. Some crock pots run hotter than others, so it’s hard to gauge that exact moment when the pasta is perfect. I find it’s a lot more foolproof to use freshly boiled spaghetti instead.
Tips for the perfect meal
- You can assemble the meatball mixture up to 24 hours before you plan to broil the meatballs.
- Use your favorite brand of marinara sauce. I like to use Newman’s Own as I feel that it has a nice, fresh flavor.
- I recommend using a high quality parmesan cheese such as parmigiano reggiano or grana padano. Freshly grated cheese is even better!
- Leftovers stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, which makes this recipe a great candidate for meal prep.
- You can freeze the cooked meatball and sauce mixture for up to 2 months. Thaw, then reheat on the stove over medium heat. Stir in freshly cooked pasta right before serving.
Crock Pot spaghetti flavor variations
While this recipe is great as-is, you can absolutely customize the flavors to your tastes.
- Meat: Swap out the ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken. Be sure to use the blend of 93% lean dark and white meat, not 99% lean chicken or turkey breast which will dry out. You can also use half ground beef, half Italian sausage for a different flavor.
- Pasta: No spaghetti on hand? Almost any other type of pasta will work such as rigatoni, penne, linguine or farfalle. I’ve also made this recipe by tossing the meatballs and sauce with cheese tortellini.
- Flavorings: Amp up the flavor of your sauce by stirring in sliced olives, Italian seasoning, or cooked veggies such as mushrooms or spinach.
CAN YOU PUT RAW MEATBALLS IN A SLOW COOKER?
You can technically put raw meatballs into the crock pot. I prefer to broil mine first because it ensures that your meatballs will hold their shape in the crock pot and that they won’t stick together. Broiling the meatballs takes just 10 minutes and is absolutely worth the extra time.
Once you try this crock pot spaghetti, you’ll find yourself making it every week like I do. It’s just that good!
More crock pot favorites to try
Crock Pot Spaghetti Video
Crock Pot Spaghetti
For the meatballs and sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef I use 90% lean
- 3/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- cooking spray
- 28 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 16 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 12 ounces spaghetti noodles cooked in salted water according to package directions
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Preheat the broiler. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic, egg, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. If it's hard to get everything to blend together, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time, until a smooth mixture forms.
- Shape the meat into 1 inch meatballs and place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
- Broil the meatballs until browned, about 8-10 minutes.
- Place the meatballs in the bottom of the crock pot. Add the marinara sauce, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir gently to combine.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours.
- Add the cooked spaghetti to the crock pot, then toss gently to coat the pasta with the sauce.
- Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley, then serve.