Over the years, I have made several variations of pasta sauce, but I love this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce the most.

Slow simmering caramelizes the tomato sugars and adds a depth of flavor that cannot be matched.

And what could be better than throwing some ingredients in a pot, forgetting about it for 8 hours, and then coming back to a delicious homemade sauce?

You can then divide the sauce into portions, freeze it, and have delicious, homemade pasta sauce on hand for busy weeknights.

Why Should You Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

Premade pasta sauces are often inexpensive, so it may make sense in some instances to buy one and use it.

However, if you want more control over the quality and ingredients of your pasta sauce while still keeping costs down, we recommend this Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce.

What size slow cooker should I use?

This recipe will make about 2 quarts of sauce, so you will need a slow cooker that can hold 3 quarts or larger.

There’s no need for anything fancy, just a very basic slow cooker with options like warm, low, and high.

In my experience, slow cookers with thick ceramic inserts (or crocks) cook much more evenly than those with metal inserts, such as Instant Pots with slow cooker functions.

Why Add Balsamic Vinegar to the Dish?

In this recipe, balsamic vinegar gives the sauce its subtle depth and brightness. At first, it seems powerful, but it mellows out with time.

Even if you don’t like balsamic vinegar or don’t have any on hand, this recipe will still make an amazing sauce without it.

Meat can be added?

My experience with this sauce with ground beef was that the cook time was far too long, so if you do want to add meat, brown it separately and then stir it into the sauce after cooking.

If you want an easy and flavorful meat sauce, check out my quick Weeknight Pasta Sauce.

How to Freeze Spaghetti Sauce

This recipe makes about 7 cups of sauce. I recommend freezing it in portions of two or three cups so you can remove only enough sauce for a particular recipe at a time to thaw.

Let the spaghetti sauce cool completely in the fridge and then freeze it in freezer-safe containers. The sauce will keep in the freezer for three months, but it may last longer depending on the conditions.

If you use quart-sized freezer bags and lay them flat in the freezer, they stack neatly without taking up much space.

The sauce can be thawed in the refrigerator overnight, or just cut the bag off, place it in a sauce pot, and heat over medium-low until it is hot (stir occasionally).

This sauce goes perfectly with homemade meatballs (which are also freezer-friendly)!

A plate of pasta covered in sauce with bread on the side

Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Making this freezer-friendly spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker takes no time at all.

Author: Beth

Total Time: 4 hrs 10 mins

Servings: 7 cups


  • 1 yellow onion ($0.32)
  • 4 cloves garlic ($0.32)
  • 2 28oz. cans crushed tomatoes ($2.00)
  • 1 6oz. can tomato paste ($0.69)
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil ($0.30)
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano ($0.15)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.03)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar ($0.14)
  • 4 Tbsp butter ($0.40)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste) ($0.05)


  • Place the diced onion and minced garlic in a slow cooker of at least 3 quarts.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, oregano, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, butter, and balsamic vinegar to the slow cooker and stir well.
  • Put a lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for eight hours or high for four hours.
  • Once the sauce is cooked, give it a good stir, then season with salt to taste. Start by adding about 1/2 tsp of salt and adding more as needed. Use the sauce immediately, refrigerate, or freeze once it is cool.


Serving: 1 cup ・ Calories: 77 kcal ・ Carbohydrates: 5 g ・ Protein: 1 g ・ Fat: 7 g ・ Sodium: 393 mg ・ Fiber: 1 g

The nutritional values shown here are only estimates. Please see our nutrition disclaimer.


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Homemade pasta sauce being spooned over a plate of spaghetti

How to make spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker

Onion and garlic in slow cooker
Add the diced onion and minced garlic to a slow cooker that can hold 3 quarts or more.

Tomatoes added to slow cooker
Pour 2 28oz. cans of crushed tomatoes and one 6oz. can of tomato paste into the slow cooker.

Seasonings added to the slow cooker
Add 4 Tbsp butter, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 1.5 tsp dried basil to the slow cooker.

Sauce ingredients being stirred together before cooking
Once the ingredients have been combined, give them a stir until they have been incorporated evenly.

Simmered pasta sauce in the slow cooker
Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours or on low for eight hours. It will look a little like the photo above (the white is just the fat from the butter). Stir it well after it has cooked.

Finished pasta sauce in the slow cooker garnished with parsley
You can add salt to taste. Try starting with 1/2 tsp and adding more until the flavors pop. I used 1 tsp in total.

Side view of pasta sauce in the slow cooker
You may use the slow cooker spaghetti sauce immediately or refrigerate and freeze it for long-term storage.