Cooktop Cove: How to make pasta sauce in a slow cooker (video)
By Cate Misczuk
The days of standing over a hot stove stirring a bubbling pot of sauce are long gone, thanks to this slow cooker recipe. With just 20 minutes of preparation, you can come home to a pot steaming with saucy Italian goodness ready to pour over your favorite pasta. This is a great dish to prepare the night before and then plop on top of the cooker in the morning and let it do its magic while you work or run errands all day.
This sauce is rich thanks to the sausage and ground beef, yet acidic and fresh thanks to all those plump tomatoes and Italian seasonings. But if you're a vegetarian, we've got a few adjustments you can make, too. 
Slow cooker pasta sauce
30 minutes
4 hours
4 hours, 30 minutes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casing
7 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, small-diced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup water
3 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 bunch basil, roughly chopped
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat. Add sausage and saute until cooked through. Drain oil, and pour sausage into a 6-quart slow cooker.
Return the same pan to medium-high heat, and heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Saute garlic and onion for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender.
Add thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper to the onion mix. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the herbs become fragrant.
Add the water and deglaze, stirring until all the little bits at the bottom of the pan have lifted. Add the onion/herb mix to the slow cooker.
Pour tomato sauce into the slow cooker. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Cook on low for 7 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
Stir in fresh chopped basil. Serve with your favorite pasta, or cool and jar to be kept in fridge for up to a week.
For the vegetarians out there, you can either omit the meat altogether for a light tomato sauce or substitute some veggies. We suggest 1/2 pound of mushrooms and 1/4 pound of zucchini because they're thick and meaty, and they'll absorb all those amazing spices while simmering all day. 
Note: All slow cookers are a little bit different in temperature and calibration. This recipe was tested in Cooktop Cove's Test Kitchen using this slow cooker, which is available for purchase here.
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