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Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta

A 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 to together that’s pretty kid friendly too. It has ground beef, pasta, tons of flavor, cheese and spinach.

I felt like having some meaty pasta and decided to try it out in the slow cooker. Usually I’ll make the meat sauce and let the flavors marry once it sits in the fridge. The longer it sits, the better it gets so I figured this process could also be done in the slow cooker.

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

As for the pasta, I cooked it  al dente and tossed it in towards the end. Putting in cooked or uncooked pasta in the beginning will make for one soggy mess. I have not tried using uncooked pasta but it’s entirely possible, I just have not tested it yet. I read somewhere that you should add it in 30 minutes towards the end though with enough liquid to fully coat the pasta.

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. It’s more than a bland marinara and pasta sauce with some beef dumped in. The seasonings bring it a depth of flavor.

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

The ground beef should be pre-cooked to get rid of any fat. While you can technically make this pasta in the oven as a pasta bake or on the stove top, a long cooking time that comes with slow cooking allows the flavors to marry. Richer, deeper flavors.

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!

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

It’s pretty important to do the taste test before slow cooking the sauce so you have it just the way you like it. It’ll be a little tougher to do once you’ve mixed everything together.

And if you like mushrooms, you can toss it in with the onions and let them cook down awhile. Mushrooms always release a lot of liquid once they’re fully cooked so this has to be done in the skillet. Cook them until their liquid boils down so you don’t thin out the pasta sauce.

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 some meaty pasta and happen to like cheese!

PS: If you liked the flavor of this and wanna do a baked pasta version, try out my baked ziti. And if you’re wanting an appetizer, these Parmesan garlic knots pair really well!

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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: 7 hours
  • Total Time: 7 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x


A 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 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. marinara sauce
  • 15 oz. stewed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons 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 until cooked. Drain any fat
  2. Remove beef and saute onions and garlic until onions are translucent
  3. Transfer onions and beef to a 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 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 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!



  • 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.

  • 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
    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 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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    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
    September 16, 2015 at 1:37 PM

    I bought ground beef & ground turkey (50% each) & will also use Whole Wheat pasta. That should cut some of the calories. I’ve found that ground turkey can be substituted in many Italian dishes (added with ground beef) and not even noticed. Like in lasagna.
    I’ll be making this soon soon & I will let you know Farah. It looks really delicious! Thanks.

    • Reply
      The Cooking Jar
      September 16, 2015 at 9:30 PM

      Thank you for saying that! 🙂 I’ve been pairing ground beef with Italian turkey sausage lately and loved the combo in the lasagna roll ups. It was plenty beefy still so it will work, especially when you use beef bouillon cubes to heighten the beef flavor in this recipe. Good luck with the cooking, Rich!

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