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Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta

With over 1 million pins, enjoy this addictive slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!

A slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!

Here’s a really simple meal to throw together that’s pretty kid-friendly too.  This slow cooker beef and cheese pasta boasts lots of melty mozzarella cheese strings and a rich meat pasta sauce that has plenty of time to marry the flavors long and slow.

It’s a big enough meal for eight servings so there are plenty of leftovers to go around, although there usually aren’t much leftovers with this one. Though not your conventional pasta sauce, the addition of sugar to balance out the tartness of tomato sauce and other seasonings to make it extra beefy makes this an addictive combination.  And with that, let’s get started.

A slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!

SLOW COOKER BEEF AND CHEESE PASTA TIPS AND TRICKS

Pasta:  I cooked the pasta till al dente and tossed it in the slow cooker 30 minutes before the end. Putting in cooked or uncooked pasta in the beginning will make for one soggy mess since it cooks for such a long time and no one likes soggy pasta!

Ground beef: Depending on how lean your ground beef is, it should be browned over the stovetop to melt away any fat before adding it to the slow cooker. Too much fat will dilute the sauce. If you have super-lean ground beef, you can skip this step but I would brown anything below 93% lean/7 % fat, then drain away all that fat.

Spinach: I used frozen spinach but if you want to use fresh spinach, toss in the cleaned leaves once it’s all done cooking and mix. The residual heat will be enough to cook them. It’s the same reason I tossed in the cooked frozen spinach last. Cooking spinach for too long will make it tough and leathery. There’s no such thing as undercooking spinach since you can eat it raw anyway but there is such a thing as overcooking it!

Marinara sauce: The marinara sauce is mildly sweetened to balance out the tartness from tomatoes. I’ve also added some beef bouillon cubes and Worcestershire sauce to enhance the beef flavor and make the sauce extra beefy. It’s like adding in the flavor of 2 cups of beef broth/stock, only you don’t have to cook it down to make a thick pasta sauce. Do a taste test and see if you need to add more of one of the other seasonings to tweak it your taste.

A slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!

And that’s about it! Like I said, a really simple meal if you’re craving meaty pasta and happen to like cheese!

For appetizers, these Parmesan garlic knots pair really well! Enjoy and happy cooking!

MORE PASTA RECIPES TO TRY

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A slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!

Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 6 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

With over 1 million pins, enjoy this addictive slow cooker beef and cheese pasta that is cooked long and slow to bring out the best cheesy meat sauce!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 10 oz. frozen spinach, cooked
  • 1 lb. penne/rigatoni/bow tie pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. Over medium high heat, brown the beef in a skillet until cooked and fat has melted. Drain any excess fat.
  2. Remove beef and sauté onions and garlic until onions are translucent.
  3. Transfer onions, garlic and beef to a 6 qt. slow cooker and pour in marinara sauce, tomatoes, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce, crumbled beef bouillon cubes and sugar.
  4. Stir to mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  6. Cook the pasta till al dente according to package instructions. Drain well and add cooked pasta, Parmesan and mozzarella cheese to the meat sauce and stir to combine.
  7. Cook on high for 30 minutes.
  8. Mix in cooked or raw spinach leaves and stir well.
  9. Dish and serve hot.
A no fuss recipe for slow cooker BBQ pulled chicken. It's literally set and forget until it's time to eat. Serve with coleslaw, pickles and chips!

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152 Comments

  • Reply
    Susan
    September 27, 2020 at 10:30 AM

    Very good sauce.I like the various depth of flavors. I used fresh spinach. Everything turned out great but if I would change one thing I wouldn’t use 1lb of pasta. I think 12oz would be enough and would make it a little more saucy and flavorful. I definitely recommend this recipe. It’s a keeper.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:08 PM

      Thanks Susan 🙂 I spent about 10 years perfecting the sauce. Adding in one ingredient each time to tweak it to my personal taste. I’m glad you like it too! I used 1 lb. of pasta because it’s easier to just use one box that’s sold in grocery stores and they usually do it in 1 lb. boxes. Makes no sense to have folks leave a few noodles out and waste them!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    July 12, 2020 at 7:04 PM

    I have found a new favorite!! Oh my gosh does this taste amazing! I tweaked it a bit and did sausage instead of ground beef (I like sausage better) and added some mushrooms.
    The only thing…I think when I make it next time I’m going to half everything. It was MASSIVE. Made waaaay more than 8 servings (probably in the neighborhood of 13-15 minimum). Guess I’ll freeze some, and I don’t have to cook for a while 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:06 PM

      Sounds good to me. I love mushrooms as well! Oh my gosh, maybe the hubby and I just eat HUGE portions then. Or you eat less than most? Thanks for trying it out anyway and I hope the leftovers tasted okay!

  • Reply
    Tina Marie Allen
    March 27, 2020 at 7:42 AM

    I am making this today …wish me luck

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:04 PM

      Hey, how did it turn out? I hope it was okay for you!

  • Reply
    Kelly Donoway
    February 6, 2020 at 8:08 PM

    I made this today and did not change one thing. It is delicious!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:03 PM

      Yay! Happy it worked out for you, Kelly! Thanks for taking the time and ingredient to try it out 🙂

  • Reply
    Rose
    December 16, 2019 at 8:37 PM

    5 stars with some adjustments!! Made on stovetop in dutch oven pot. Cooked the beef with onion/garlic then dumped everything but the spinach, pasta and cheese. I used 1 1/2 cans of tomatoes and reserved the remaining 1/2 can until the end. Simmered the meat mixture for 45 minutes. I had to add way more seasonings (at least double or more!) and added some granulated garlic. At 45 minutes I cooked the pasta al dente then added to meat mixture with 8oz fresh spinach, parm and mozz cheese. I also added the remaining 1/2 can tomatoes. The sauce really cooks down the tomatoes so this allowed for some tomato to bite into. Stir and cover until the spinach is wilted (about 5-10 mins). Done!! It came out fantastic!!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:03 PM

      Happy you managed to build off it, Rose! You sound like me; I love flavors that punch me in the mouth 😉

  • Reply
    Diane
    December 8, 2019 at 9:12 PM

    Very good and I also cut the cooking time in half. This dish is a favorite.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      November 8, 2020 at 11:01 PM

      Thanks for trying it out. Diane! Glad to know if works cooking in half the time as well. It should help others when they search for tips in comments.

  • Reply
    Kasie Bernal
    October 22, 2019 at 2:23 PM

    Would this work in the instant pot? Any ideas how to convert?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 30, 2019 at 3:41 PM

      I’d love to be able to answer your questions but I haven’t had the opportunity to test out an instant pot yet. It’s on my to do list. I’m going to be doing one month of instant pot meals so I can teach myself the ins and outs of it. In the meantime, I hope you manage to figure out the conversion yourself. Good luck!

  • Reply
    Sue York
    February 12, 2019 at 7:10 PM

    Awesome Recipe! Easy and very flavorful. We will be fixing this again and again at my house. Loved it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      October 30, 2019 at 1:28 PM

      You’re very welcome Sue. Thanks for leaving some love in the comments and for trying it out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly Hershey
    October 1, 2018 at 7:23 PM

    Made this tonight. Hands down it was delicious. The only thing I did different is I added the spinach when I added the noodles and cheese. bon appétit

  • Reply
    Laura Walke
    February 21, 2018 at 6:56 PM

    This is an excellent and easy dish!! Even better the next day. I use fresh spinach always. I do double check my sauce for seasonings/taste as you suggest. Family loves it. Thank you!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      February 26, 2018 at 11:37 PM

      You’re very welcome, Laura! Checking the seasonings should always be part of cooking but sometimes, people just need reminding 🙂

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