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Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta

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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!

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
Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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!
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144 Comments

  • 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 🙂

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

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

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