Beef/ Pasta/ Popular/ Slow Cooker

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!


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!


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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


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!


  • 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


  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!



Shredded Mississippi pot roast in a bowl with pepperoncini peppers.



♡ Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn commissions from qualifying purchases from You can learn more about it here.


  • Reply
    September 10, 2015 at 8:44 AM

    Can’t wait to try this recipe, it sounds so yummy! Thank you for posting, it’s inspired me to write my own

  • Reply
    The Cooking Jar
    September 5, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Estella. I’ve had a lot of failures with slow cooker recipes because I’ve discovered some recipes are just not that honest. A slow cooker chicken wing recipe, for example, rendered so much fat from the chicken skin in the slow cooker that the sauce was diluted beyond all flavor recognition. But their pictures and instructions did not address and reflect this. So I try to be honest in the workability of my recipes, especially with the slow cooker and the technical aspects of it since some ingredients just do not play nice.

    That being said, you could theoretically throw everything in the slow cooker in the beginning, it just won’t taste great because of the limitations of the ingredients. Unless you use lean ground beef, the fat will render in the slow cooker and dilute the sauce. The pasta will be soggy, the spinach leathery and the cheese will curdle from cooking for so long. You could do this entirely over the stove but I chose to do it in the slow cooker for the ‘tastes even better the next day’ flavor.

  • Reply
    August 26, 2015 at 8:15 PM

    Hello! So this is my third time to make this and finally I gave it a try cooking the pasta in the crock pot! I had seen a pin on Pinterest with directions for how to cook rice or pasta in your dish. Just by way of full disclosure I only had 1 lb of ground beef in mine as I’m sure that makes some difference. At 5 1/2 hours I added a pound of penne and 3/4 cup of water. It was straight from the tap, I forgot the pin said to do hot. I cooked for 30 minutes on low and then came back and added the cheese and my thawed spinach and bumped to high (I decided against cooking it and used a whole pound of frozen spinach simply thawed and drained). After I’m not totally sure how long but close to 30 minutes I came to stir and check and the noodles were still chewy. I added another 3/4 cup of water and made sure I used the hottest tap water I had this time and let it go for another 20 minutes or so and it turned out great. I think next time I’ll try 1 cup of hot water at the 5 1/2 hour mark and check the pasta when I go to add the cheese and see if it’s done. This is one of our favorite recipes, thanks for sharing!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      August 27, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      Thanks for sharing your tips, Megan! I’m sure it will help the folks that wanna try cooking the pasta in the slow cooker as well 🙂 Hot water would be the way to go, so there’s no time spent on heating it up in the slow cooker. And maybe for more beefy goodness, try subbing the hot water with some hot beef stock?

  • Reply
    Diane Zueck
    July 23, 2015 at 6:51 PM

    I made this recipe because it sounded beefy, cheesy, and pasta-y. It met all the requirements. Using the slow cooker was amazing. I had 3 painters at my house the day I made it and they were all drooling from the aroma. I, of course, dished up some of this for them. They loved it and so did I. I didn’t change anything. Perfect!!!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 24, 2015 at 1:30 PM

      Haha, that’s awesome. I got a hilarious mental image going on for awhile. Good thing you shared it! But that’s the great thing about a slow cooker. At first you don’t smell anything and then it suddenly hits you and tortures you for hours. But all the better to work up an appetite for when it’s ready! I’m always in a good mood while things are braising in the slow cooker. How can you not be with the aroma?

  • Reply
    July 19, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    what quart crockpot do you recommend using? Can’t wait to try this!!!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 20, 2015 at 1:26 PM

      Heya Lauren. Hope you had a good weekend! I used my 6 quart slow cooker for this one. Anything less than 5 quarts might be too small!

  • Reply
    July 5, 2015 at 12:47 AM

    This recipe looks delish and I’m interested in trying it but work during the day so would need longer than 6 hours. Do you know if I can cook this on low for 7-8 hours? TIA

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      July 7, 2015 at 8:12 PM

      Hi Emily! It will be okay at 8 hours too as long as it’s on low. Just make sure to add in the pasta, cheeses and spinach at the tail end of it so the pasta isn’t soggy, and the cheeses and spinach aren’t leathery. If you’re still at work and can’t be there the last 30 minutes to do this, just reheat it either in the slow cooker or the stove top till the temperature is enough to melt the cheese.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2015 at 3:20 PM

    This is my third time making the Beef and Cheese Pasta, this is a family favorite at home. The slow cook method is the best, it really brings out the flavor. I literally can taste every season added. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      June 18, 2015 at 5:34 PM

      You’re welcome! Slow cooking is like simmering for hours on the stove top, only you’re cheating and get to twiddle your thumbs instead of babysitting it 😉 But I’m glad so many people like this recipe. I almost didn’t post it!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2015 at 6:01 PM

    This was amazing! So sweet and flavourful and really different than any pasta I’ve made before . I didn’t have enough ground beef so I added chopped mushrooms and red and green peppers.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      May 19, 2015 at 2:35 PM

      Love the addition of mushrooms and peppers! I tend to add those to my sauce now and then. And I’ve always loved a savory sweet marinara sauce. It deviates a little from the standard marinara sauce so I was unsure how people would take it. Glad you liked it, Sarah! 🙂

  • Reply
    May 9, 2015 at 12:24 AM

    I am wondering what I could substitute for the beef bouillon. I am on a low sodium diet and can’t use bouillon.
    Thanks! I think my family would really enjoy this dish!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      May 9, 2015 at 3:24 PM

      Hmm, well I’ve been thinking and Googling it but the only sub I can think of is beef stock or consomme, since the bouillon is just a concentrate of it. But since it’s done in the slow cooker, the liquid will not reduce and the pasta sauce will be slightly more watery. Are you okay using beef stock? You could simmer it over the stove with stock to reduce it. Since the bouillon cubes are just to make the sauce ‘beefier’, you could also opt out of using the cubes, find a low sodium version or put in more Worcestershire sauce?

      • Reply
        August 21, 2016 at 10:02 AM

        Low sodium and no sodium bouillon cubes are available

        • Reply
          The Cooking Jar
          August 21, 2016 at 5:38 PM

          Good to know, Connie! I tend to default to my regular cubes so I haven’t really kept an eye out for other varieties they have available.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2015 at 12:54 PM

    added the cooked Spanish right away..Will that be ok? I read the receipe wrong

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 22, 2015 at 12:18 PM

      The spinach might be a little tough if cooked too long, that’s all. Did it work out okay?

  • Reply
    April 15, 2015 at 8:06 PM

    Tastes amazing and so easy to make. Thanks Farah!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 17, 2015 at 2:21 AM

      You are most welcome, Mabel! Thanks for trying it out 🙂

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 7:09 PM

    This looked so yummy I just had to try it immediately. I was short on time so I made it on the stove top with modifications. I wanted to let everyone know that I used a mix of ground turkey and turkey sausage instead of beef and I added dry brown rice pasta with extra water. It came out amazing. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      April 5, 2015 at 1:22 PM

      I love how people are making slight modifications to taste! And how the recipe went from slow cooker to adaptable on the stove top 🙂 You are very welcome, Quincey!

  • Reply
    March 22, 2015 at 5:39 PM

    Hey! I’m cooking this meal right now, I couldn’t resist lol all the ingredients just sounded so good plus the pictures completed it for me! I do have one question though. Can I cook it on high in the slow cooker and if so, how long do I cook it for?

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 22, 2015 at 5:58 PM

      Sure you can cook it on high. The time is just for slow cooking it till the meat sauce marries well but if you want it sooner rather than later, you can cook it over the stove top in 30 minutes. Using a slow cooker can range anywhere between 30 minutes to maybe 2 or so hours? Usually high is half the number of the time cooked on low for slow cookers, but play it by ear. Some slow cookers run hot on high. Just make sure to follow the instructions for adding in the pasta, cheese and spinach towards the end. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    March 19, 2015 at 2:11 PM

    Hi, I was wondering if anyone has any idea about how many servings in cups the 370 grams is (approx. 1 cup, etc.)… Just trying to track what I’m eating and don’t have a kitchen scale yet and have no idea what 370 grams is as far as quantity. Can’t wait to try this later! Looks delicious! (It’s cooking right now) 🙂

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 22, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      Hi Christine! The best way to find out your servings is to divide the pasta into 8 servings. I’ve listed it as roughly 8 servings and used this number to generate the nutritional label for caloric values. Hope this helps!

  • Reply
    Julia Rinella
    March 19, 2015 at 10:51 AM

    Someone has to say it: those pictures made me drool. Beautiful, and a very simple yet delicious recipe I bet!
    This is definitely a recipe that I will be devou-.. eating this weekend!

    Kind regards,


    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      March 22, 2015 at 3:10 PM

      Devouring is good! Thanks so much, Julia 🙂 I hope you enjoy it.

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