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To make an easy marinara sauce, you need this Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce recipe. It is a delicious, smooth, and fresh spaghetti sauce that cooks in your slow cooker. Perfect for any pasta dish and is freezer friendly so you can enjoy a homemade Italian dinner time and time again!

tomato sauce in the crockpot with a latel scooping some up.

Easy Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

Whenever I’m craving comfort food, I think about this slow cooker tomato sauce recipe. It reminds me of my childhood except this recipe is made in a crockpot so I don’t have to watch it; it cooks itself! 

If you are a regular here, then you know I love my slow cooker recipes. They are almost effortless and always come out delicious. This slow cooker spaghetti sauce recipe is no different. Gone are the days when you have to stick to your kitchen for hours to stir and taste: set this and forget it. Plus, when you come home after a day of work your house will smell incredible, like an Italian kitchen.

Ingredients Needed

  • Celery, Onion, Carrot: I use these as a vegetable base for my sauce.
  • Garlic: REQUIRED! I love tons of fresh garlic in spaghetti sauce.
  • Diced Tomatoes: I use fresh tomatoes but you can use canned tomatoes.
  • Honey: A little sweetness helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Chicken Stock: This makes the flavor taste so deep, but you can also use water or vegetable stock.
  • Spices: Gotta add tons of spice! I usually add salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flake.

How to make Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce

  1. Vegetables: I start my sauce with carrots, onions, celery, and garlic. I chop them small in a food processor so the sauce is fine and not chunky. Prepare the size of the vegetables as you wish, but a food processor or blender helps you chop them quickly.
  2. Dump: Once the vegetables are soft, add them to a crockpot along with diced tomatoes, chicken stock, tomato paste, and lots of herbs and spices. I also follow the advice of my dad and “add a little honey” for sweetness.
  3. Cook: Add to skillet over medium heat then just let it simmer away all day. You don’t need to watch it, the crockpot handles it all.
tomato sauce in a clear jar.

Expert tips

  • Use fire-roasted cans of tomato sauce for even more flavor! Regardless of what kind of diced tomatoes you use, be sure to use a GOOD brand. I buy store brands for lots of things, but not tomato sauce. I like Contadina, Hunt’s, or San Marzano for this recipe.
  • Likewise, be sure to buy good chicken stock, not broth. Use Trader Joe’s, O Organics, or Kitchen Basics (those are my favorites).
  • I use dried herbs in this spaghetti sauce; the long cooking time can be rough on fresh herbs.
  • Be sure to taste for salt/pepper towards the end of cooking. I don’t like adding a ton of salt so if you need to add some, go ahead.
  • Don’t have honey? Use agave or maple syrup instead, or even a few teaspoons of sugar.
tomato sauce on top of pasta on a white plate.


What’s the difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce?

Spaghetti sauce is generally made with meat whereas marinara is often smooth, without meat or chunks. 

Can I use brown sugar instead of honey?

You can but I prefer using syrup instead to keep the sauce smooth. So instead of brown sugar, you can use agave or maple syrup. 

Why use carrots in tomato sauce?

The tomatoes act as the secret ingredient to this sauce. It gives a fresh flavor and the perfect amount of sweetness. 

Can you freeze this recipe?

Yes! You can freeze this marinara sauce for up to 6 months. 

tomato sauce in the crockpot with a latel scooping some up.

The BEST Crockpot Tomato Marinara Sauce Recipe

4.18 from 68 votes
This is the BEST EVER Crockpot Tomato Sauce! It’s easy to make marinara sauce in your slow cooker, the perfect homemade spaghetti sauce recipe for any dinner.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
Yield 10 cups
Serving Size 1 /16th recipe


  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 medium yellow onion peeled
  • 1 medium carrot peeled
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
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  • Place celery, onion, carrot, and garlic in a food processor and chop until fine. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat and place in a 5-7 quart crockpot insert.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken stock or water, honey, and all spices to the crockpot insert. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low heat 8-10 hours.
  • Before serving, taste and add additional salt or pepper as desired.
  • Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for up to one month.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

  • You can freeze crockpot spaghetti sauce in plastic containers or jars for up to 3 months.
  • Brown sugar, granulated sugar, or agave can be substituted for the honey.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1/16th recipe | Calories: 53kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 3g | Sodium: 142mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Other Sauce Recipes

Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

4.18 from 68 votes (66 ratings without comment)

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  1. Hi Dorothy!
    I love your recipes & am subscribed to both notifications & emails.

    I was wondering whether you would consider adding a “Cook Mode” widget just above the actual recipe? That way we could actually assemble & measure etc ingredients without our device screens “blacking” out – which I sooo frustrating. Thanks!

    1. OOOH that’s a great idea! I’m having a whole site redesign done in 2022 so I’ll add that to my wishlist for the developer.

  2. Incredibly delicious marinara! It really is the best and better than any store-bought marinara I’ve ever had… and so easy to make! Huge thank you for such a kick ass recipe.