Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

Published on October 3, 2015 By Lauren

Looking for an easy sauce recipe that you can set and forget that the kids will LOVE? This Slow Cooker Meat Sauce is so flavorful and hearty, no one will believe it only took you 5 minutes to throw together!

Looking for an easy sauce recipe that you can set and forget that the kids will LOVE? This Slow Cooker Meat Sauce is so flavorful and hearty, no one will believe it only took you 5 minutes to throw together!

This recipe is part of an AMAZING slow cooker dump meal plan!

And this recipe was also designed to be incredibly freezer-cooking friendly. Just toss the uncooked ingredients in a freezer bag for a later date.


Start by placing a pound of ground beef in the bottom of the slow cooker. There's no need to pre-cook it, but make sure that you use lean ground beef (at least 90%) so that there won't be much grease when it cooks.

Ingredients in crockpot

Add basil, black pepper, garlic and salt on top, and then cover with 2 cans of crushed tomatoes.

Set your slow cooker to medium or low (6 hours or 8 hours respectively). When it's done, stir it and break up all of the ground beef.

Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy! And although I haven't tried it yet, I bet this sauce would also be AMAZING for a lasagna.

And if you like this one, you might be interested in 40 other slow cooker dump recipes that are AMAZING!

Dump Recipes

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 - 1.5 lbs. lean ground beef (at least 90%)
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • Salt to taste
  1. Place ground beef in the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Add all other ingredients on top.
  3. Cook on medium for 6 hours, or low for 8 hours.
  4. Serve over your favorite pasta.

Have you grabbed my freezer meal plans, yet? I might be biased but I think they are pretty amazing! They have saved our dinner hour for years now. Check them out!

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  • Hi! This sounds delicious! I do have a question. My two sons are very picky eaters, but love spaghetti. Is there a way to make this without crushed tomatoes, for example, with a tomato paste instead? They don’t like big chunks of tomatoes. Thank you!

    • Hi Shelly – this will definitely not work with tomato paste… since it’s too thick. I don’t like chunks of tomato in my sauce either, so I use brands that are really smooth. One of my favorites is tuttorosso. No chunks at all in their crushed tomatoes.

    • Run your crushed tomatoes through a food processor of some sort (I have a magic bullet and that works great). I do this for most recipes that call for crushed or diced tomatoes since my kiddos are not fans of chunks either.

  • I used Contadina crushed tomatoes, they were liquified enough for me I also added a green pepper, a white onion, and a can on portabella mushrooms. couldnt find minced garlic so I used chopped garlic, really just as good. I’ve nevermade my own sauce before, but I’m making it for a family Sunday night dinner, I tasted it and it tastes pretty fucking good to me. I am using Rigatoni and I also made 28 meatballs. I just buy frozen Garlic bread.

  • I have needed this recipe so much….. We are pasta-eating fiends in my house; my two kids and I. We go through six of the cheapo jars every two weeks. I can’t eat meat, unfortunately, but I threw in eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, white onion, shiitake mushrooms, and some bell peppers. It looks and tastes like fancy sauce. I’m pleased.

  • This sounds to easy to be true but I’m trying it today. I’ll let you all know ,usually I make my own red gravey bur this sure sounds goood and a LOT EASIER!!!!

  • I would like to use Fresh Roma or Better Boy tomatoes. About how may should I use and how should I prep them. Such as blanch, remove the skins, and run through a food processor first?

  • Hello I have a question in the stovetop recipe you say you could use canned crushed tomatoes that have basil garlic in them but in the recipe above you do not say that for the slow cooker recipe is it still OK to use the crushed tomatoes that have the additional flavor or is it going to make it too strong and also if you can use them do you use the same amount of the basil and garlic

  • I accidentally doubled the basil in this sauce. I thought it was 2T, not 1T. Have I ruined it? Should I add something counteract the basil? I just started it about 30 minutes ago (it’s 8am). Help!!

  • My wife and I love to blend sweet ground Italian sausage with hamburger meat for our pasta dishes. Is it ok to use half Italian sausage half ground beef in this slow cooker recipe? Will it be too greasy?

  • It sounds like you don’t crumble the ground beef. Just break it up after it has cooked. Is that true? And do you stir the garlic and spices in the tomatoes before turned the crockpot on?

    • Yes, you can. If you make your own, it’s best to slightly cook them first (you can even nuke them for a minute), so they don’t fall apart in the sauce.

  • I have never not browned ground meat before placing in the slow cooker. Does it affect the texture of the meat? This household is very sensitive to food textures.

  • This is so easy & so good! Threw it in the crockpot and did all my yard work. At the end of the day, it was done & delicious! My better half couldn’t believe I made homemade sauce as we usually use the jar crap. I only added mushrooms & onion to this great recipe. Thanks!!!

  • Sorry, Lauren, we tried this and it was a miss for us. The texture of the beef was wrong, and the sauce felt like it needed more flavor. The basil and tomatoes just weren’t cutting it. I kept trying to tinker with it to make it edible and gave up.

  • Hi! Can I use ground sausage and ground chorizo instead of beef or will it make it too greasy? I have made this with ground beef and it was delish! Thanks!

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