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.
I 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
Servings 8 servings
- 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
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.
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 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
Servings 10 servings
- 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
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.
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.
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.
Servings 10 servings
- 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
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.
I have a slow cooker (er, crockpot) for the same reasons everyone else does. I on occasion like a great, easy meal that I can toss into the pot and not have to fuss with. A Dutch oven over low heats works just as well, specially if you need to brown something first. For this spicy spaghetti and meatball soup it doesn’t matter whether you go low-and-slow in the crockpot or Dutch oven, the end result is great. It’s like having Campbell’s SpaghettiOs™ but with much better, richer flavor, and a nice kick. And really big meatballs. Who didn’t want more meatballs in their SpaghettiOs™ when they were a kid? Well, problem solved!
I used packaged frozen meatballs for this slow cooker spicy spaghetti meatball soup, but our homemade Italian meatballs (made on the stovetop or in the Char-Broil Big Easy) would be great too. Outstanding, even.
You can leave out the red pepper flake, but I think you’ll want to add at least a little. And don’t be shy with the basil either.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try out my homemade SpaghettiOs. They’re fun to make and even more fun to eat.
Slow Cooker Spicy Spaghetti and Meatball Soup
Servings 6 -8 servings
Place all ingredients except the pasta into a slow cooker. Add more basil or red pepper flake as desired.
Cook on high for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
Set slow cooker to high and add the pasta. Cook for another 20 minutes.
Serve with more Parmesan cheese as desired.
We’ve really been enjoying the big batch of Creole meatballs we made. As appetizers, on subs and over pasta, they are tasty and my favorite part, they have kick! This Creole meatballs and spaghetti came out quite tasty, and it definitely has some great spicy kick to it. Our Creole meatballs are so tender and tasty. Definitely not bland like plain old meatballs. Topped with a great spicy tomato sauce, this is a great dinner dish. Just add some of our Gotta-Have-It garlic bread and a little salad on the side, and you’ll be in heaven!I keep these meatballs and sauce on hand for a quick meal. Just heat them up and serve over pasta with some Parmesan and you’ve got dinner.
Creole Meatballs and Spaghetti
Cook the pasta per package instructions and drain well. Divide between two plates.
Top pasta with meatballs and sauce.
Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese.
Serve with warmed French bread.