Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

We spent a week in a condo on fabulous Tybee Island, Georgia not long ago. I wanted to maximize our time on the beach, which meant that I wanted meals that I could prepare with minimal effort and time. Slow cooker spaghetti and meatballs was the perfect choice. And it was mighty tasty too. Yummy meatballs in a flavorful sauce, with the pasta already mixed in. It really doesn’t get any easier.
Slow Cooker Spaghetti and MeatballsI always like a little kick in my pasta dishes, whether they’re from the slow cooker or not, so I added a bit of red pepper flakes. You can leave them out if you like.

The perfect side dish for this dish? My gotta-have-it garlic bread. And ya gotta also try my slow cooker ravioli lasagna¬†and my baked spaghetti and meatballs. My stuffed pasta shells ain’t nothin’ to shake a stick at either!

Slow Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 25 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 24 ounce package frozen meatballs
  • 1 24 ounce jar your favorite spaghetti sauce
  • 1 48 ounce container beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried red pepper flake
  • 1/4 cup plus more for serving, freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces angel hair pasta broken into 1 1/2" pieces

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients except for the pasta into a slow cooker.
  • Cook on high for 8 hours, stirring every hour or so.
  • Add the broken pasta, stir, and cook another 20 minutes.
  • Serve with additional Parmesan cheese for topping.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

I was going to change the name of this dish to just ‘spaghetti casserole’ because (before I made it) I thought that calling it Million Dollar Spaghetti was a bit pretentious. Well, as you can tell, I didn’t change the name. That’s because, yeah, Million Dollar Spaghetti is the perfect name for it.

If you close your eyes and take a bite of this spaghetti you’ll almost think you are eating lasagna. Actually, it’s very close in flavor to my mom’s easy lasagna, a recipe I make and devour regularly. Spaghetti sauce, Italian sausage, pasta, a little Italian seasoning and plenty of cheese. What’s not to love?

Million Dollar SpaghettiMillion Dollar Spaghetti was a huge hit in our house. We were sad when the last piece disappeared. But not super sad since we knew it won’t be long until we make this again. And again.

You can easily change this recipe up to meet your own tastes. Maybe add some fresh mushrooms in when you cook the sausage. Or a few bell peppers. For me, a pinch or two of red pepper flake is always a good idea too. You don’t have to use an expensive jarred spaghetti sauce, either. Good ole Prego (I used Italian Sausage and Garlic) works just great!

To really amp up this dish, use my smoked spaghetti sauce instead of jarred.

Million Dollar Spaghetti

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 24 ounce jars your favorite spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion chopped
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage if using links remove the casings
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 8 ounce stick cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
  • 3 cups Mozzarella cheese shredded, divided
  • 1 stick butter cut into 16 thin pats, divided

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and return the spaghetti to the pot you cooked it in and stir in one bottle of the spaghetti sauce. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Crumble in the raw sausage and stir, cooking until the sausage is cooked through. I used a wooden spoon to help break up the sausage while it cooked.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the remaining jar of spaghetti sauce.
  • In a bowl, combine the Ricotta, cream cheese, sour cream, Italian seasoning and 1 cup of the Mozzarella.
  • Place 8 of the pieces of butter in the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.
  • Place half of the spaghetti mix into the bottom of the dish. Use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
  • Add the cheese mixture and spread out evenly.
  • Add the remaining butter and then add the rest of the of the spaghetti mixture. Spread out evenly.
  • Add all of the tomato sauce mixture and spread out evenly.
  • Add the remaining mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes until hot.
  • Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Shortcut Spaghetti

Yes, sometimes I just grab a big ole jar or two of spaghetti sauce at the grocery store instead of making a big batch of homemade. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I don’t just heat it up and toss it over cooked pasta. Nope, I gotta make my shortcut spaghetti. It’s a dish I started making in my bachelor years, and have perfected over time.
Shortcut Spaghetti
You can use ground beef instead of Italian sausage, but I wouldn’t. The first years I made shortcut spaghetti I used beef. Sausage is better. Much better. And my homemade Italian sausage is fantastic. I make a batch and freeze it in one pound packages. Perfect for a shortcut dish.

Oh, and I almost forgot! Instead of pasta, serve the meat sauce mixture on a hoagie or sub roll as a sandwich and top with tons of shredded mozzarella. It’s the perfect messy Sloppy Italian Joe sandwich. Or substitute meatballs for the sausage.

Shortcut Spaghetti

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Servings 10 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 2 14 ounce packages Jacksonville Italian sausage links, casings removed or ground sausage OR my homemade Italian sausage
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion chopped
  • 2 24 ounce jars your favorite spaghetti sauce (I used Prego Fresh Mushroom)
  • Pasta cooked per package instructions
  • Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

  • Crumble the sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • When the sausage is almost browned add the mushrooms and onion and continue sauteeing until the onion starts to soften. Remove from heat and drain.
  • Add sauce to a large pot over low heat.
  • Add in the meat mixture.
  • Cover and let simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over cooked pasta (or mix the pasta in with the sauce first) garnished with parsley and Parmesan.