Slow Cooker Bolognese with Meatballs

Thick bucatini pasta is topped with a slow cooker bolognese including meatballs and a ball of burrata. What more could you ask for?

Slow Cooker Bolognese with Meatballs 1

This recipe should sound familiar, because I made a baked penne with this same slow cooker bolognese and it was amazing! Since the recipe for the bolognese made a large amount, I had plenty leftover for another meal. In truth I made today’s recipe first and then made the baked penne later but I digress.

Slow Cooker Bolognese with Meatballs 2

My inspiration for this dish came from a meal I had at a restaurant in town – Cooper’s Hawk. It was my first experience with bucatini and I think I had only had burrata once but I’m totally obsessed with burrata now. How can you beat a ball of cheese oozing on top of your pasta? If it’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Slow Cooker Bolognese with Meatballs 3

One year ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Gingerbread Tart

Two years ago: Gingerbread Cinnamon Rolls with Speculoos Icing

Three years ago: DOVE® Christmas Chocolate Drops

Four years ago: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

Five years ago: Butter Pecan with Brandy Ice Cream


Serves 8-12, with sauce leftover



1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. Italian sausage

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp minced garlic

1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Salt and pepper, to taste


3 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

2 stalks celery, finely diced

2 medium carrots, finely diced

4 Tbsp minced garlic

1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste

1 lb. ground beef, crumbled

1 lb. Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled

4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, finely diced

1/2 cup dry red wine

2 (28 oz.) cans peeled whole tomatoes

1-14 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Parmesan rinds

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped (plus more for serving)

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup heavy cream


2 lb. bucatini pasta, cooked according to package

16 oz. burrata


  1. In a large bowl, stir together all the meatball ingredients. Gently roll into 24 small meatballs (if you squeeze them too much they will be tough). Place on a plate/tray and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add meatballs and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate, and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté until soft and onions are transluscent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and let cook for 30 seconds. Add beef, sausage, and pancetta and sauté until browned, about 15 minutes. Add wine and scrape up the browned bits.
  4. Add the meat mixture to the slow cooker along with the peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes, parmesan rinds, bay leaves, parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Add browned meatballs and submerge. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Remove the bay leaves, add half and half and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve sauce over bucatini pasta, and top with burrata, Parmesan cheese, and parsley.

Source: Inspired by a dish I had at Cooper’s Hawk. Adapted from Grandma’s meatballs, Bon Appetit, and Little Spice Jar.


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