Healthier Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6

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This Healthier Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meat Sauce is loaded with veggies and protein but tastes just like your old favorite! It cooks completely in the slow cooker — even the pasta! Includes step by step recipe video.


black slow cooker with healthy spaghetti and meat sauce and tongs pulling up spaghetti


I am seriously so excited about today’s recipe. It just doesn’t get any better than an entire, healthy meal with real ingredients made completely in the slow cooker. That bowl you use to microwave your ground beef? Yeah it doesn’t count on our tally.

You heard me — read me?? — correctly. We are skipping the extra pan and microwaving our ground beef for this spaghetti sauce, and no one will ever know the difference, I promise.

This is also a great shortcut for those days, say, you forget to thaw the meat and you just zap it for a few extra minutes. Not that I ever have any days like that, but, you know — if I did 😉

With our oldest in kindergarten this year it’s become even more important that I can manage to get healthy, hearty meals on the table on a regular basis. She is one of those rare, beautiful species of 5-year-olds that still naps regularly, so she needs a little extra something to keep her energy high on school days when she doesn’t get to bed!

overhead image of white plate of spaghetti and meat sauce with catelli smart veggie spaghetti

Maybe you have heard by now that I struggle to get my veggies in most days. Usually, I’m sneaking them in something delicious like this spaghetti sauce — they cook down and all the flavors work together so that you don’t feel like you’re just eating carrots or peppers or spinach (or whatever else you throw in it!).

It’s also perfect for using up whatever you have left in your garden — almost anything goes here, including the last of those herbs! Mushrooms, zucchini, fresh tomatoes — those are all great additions as well.

And because more is more when it comes to our veggie intake, I used Catelli Smart Veggie Spaghetti (and since Catelli has been bringing us quality our family loves for 150 years this year, it’s definitely a year to celebrate!). The Smart Veggie pasta packs in an extra half serving of vegetables right in your pasta, and is high in fiber and protein, making this just about the most perfect and well-rounded meal in your repertoire — just don’t forget a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan to round things out 😉

overhead close up image of healthier spaghetti and meat sauce on white plate

*This post is generously sponsored by Catelli — thank you for supporting the brands that make The Recipe Rebel possible!

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Healthier Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meat Sauce + VIDEO

4.67 from 6 votes
This Healthier Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meat Sauce is loaded with veggies and protein but tastes just like your old favorite! It cooks completely in the slow cooker — even the pasta! Includes step by step recipe video.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6
Calories 425cal


  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 1 large carrot shredded
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth or use water
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 340 g box Catelli Smart Veggie Spaghetti
  • freshly grated Parmesan optional


  • In a medium bowl, microwave ground beef on high until cooked, about 6-8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Drain any juices and add to 4-6 quart slow cooker.
  • Add onion, pepper, carrot, spinach, broth, tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, parsley, and pepper. Stir well.
  • Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours or high for 2-3 hours. Break spaghetti in half and stir into sauce in slow cooker.
  • Cover and cook on high for 5 minutes, stir to break up the pasta — you don’t want clumps! Cover and cook another 5 minutes. Stir. If pasta is cooked to al dente, serve, or cover and cook on high for a few more minutes if necessary.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 425cal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 49mg | Sodium: 732mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


    • Ashley Fehr says

      It should, but I haven’t tried it myself. I would just start with the low end of the cook time, and make sure it doesn’t get overcooked as I think that’s more easily done with gluten free pasta.

  1. Michelle Todd says

    I loved the idea but it didn’t quite work for picky kids. Looking forward to trying some of the other yummy looking recipes though.

  2. Heather Sher says

    I have made this previously, I am craving this for dinner tonight but do not have the time to wait for it in the crock pot. Does anyone have the conversions for the Instant pot?

    Appreciate the help!

  3. Danielle says

    LOL I love that you microwave the beef here! I’m all about saving that extra dish. I don’t know how many times I go to make a meal and realize that the meat is still in the freezer – it’s so disappointing!

    I absolutely love the fresh vegetables in this. I’m not necessarily a healthy cook by any means, but I do eat healthy during the week (weekends are a free for all in my house!) and this is the perfect kind a recipe for someone who works all day! I might replace the ground beef with ground turkey (even though it’s not as good) because, well, somehow these years of unhealthy cooking have given me high cholesterol. Go figure.

  4. Heather says

    Made this for dinner tonight, husband approved and the three year old gobbled it all up. He didn’t even notice the hidden veggies! ??‍???

    • Ashley Fehr says

      About that, or longer if needed as specified. The cook time will depend on a lot of things since you are adding it right to the slow cooker — how hot is your slow cooker, how full it is, etc. I would check every 5 minutes until cooked.

    • Marc Robertson says

      I love my pasta. I love my slow cooker. So this is perfect. Just figured I’d throw a little tip out there for slow cooker pasta… if your slow cooker has a “keep warm” setting, set it to that and check every 5 mins until your pasta is just under your desired consistency then turn off the heat and let it stand for another 5 mins.

  5. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    I’ve never thought to microwave ground beef before, but that definitely saves an extra step, and an extra dish, too! Love that this sneaks in some veggies and is on the healthier side. I wish I could dive right into this for breakfast…looks perfect!

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