Recipe: Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce (that will feed a crowd!)

This Sunday Sauce is a hearty, delicious crowd pleaser. There is just no other way to describe it! I was first introduced to this style of spaghetti sauce by our old babysitter, Kim, long ago when we lived in Florida and I was working full time for corporate America. While the baby (who is now 8 going on 9!) was napping and I was working, Kim would start or sometimes even make our dinner for us. And with our work schedules back then, her extra help with dinner was such a life saver at times. Granted, at that time in our lives, the meat wasn’t local and the tomatoes weren’t organic and the pasta definitely wasn’t whole-grain, BUT it was still a somewhat wholesome meal I very much enjoyed and remember to this day.

And thanks to a similar dish made by my friend Trang and a “Super Sunday Sauce” recipe I found in Rachael Ray Magazine, I was able to piece together how Kim made this for us, plus – added bonus – turn it into a dish that can simmer all day long in the slow cooker!

Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce from 100 Days of Real Food #realfood #slowcooker


5.0 from 5 reviews
Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce
Serves: 10-12
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound country style pork ribs, preferably pasture raised
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage (either links that have been cut into 1 inch pieces or ground sausage), preferably pasture raised
  • 1 pound homemade beef meatballs (we have a tried and true recipe you can follow), preferably grass-fed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Necessary equipment: Slow cooker
  • Serving suggestion: Serve over whole-grain noodles and for a garnish top with fresh basil leaves or freshly grated Parmesan cheese (or both!)
  • Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce (Close Up) from 100 Days of Real Food #sundaysauce #slowcooker
  1. In your largest skillet over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook the ribs on one side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the prepared meatballs and sausage pieces to the pan (depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the meat in batches) then flip the ribs over to the other side. After 2 to 3 minutes flip over the meatballs and sausage link pieces (or break up the sausage with a spatula if using ground). Keep cooking until all of the meat is done all the way through and no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Transfer the meat from the pan to the slow cooker. In the same pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. After 3 or 4 minutes add the minced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Scrape the onion and garlic on top of the meat in the slow cooker.
  3. Add both cans of tomatoes, salt, and pepper into the slow cooker on top of the meat mixture.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for 5 to 6 hours or until the rib meat is falling off the bone. Serve with whole-grain noodles and a side salad and enjoy!
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.


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  • Comments

    1. Teresa |

      I know meat shreds in the crock pot which is great for the pork but does the meatballs stay whole or do the break apart also thank you

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Teresa. They stay mostly in tact. ~Amy

    2. Katyana |

      Hi – is there a brand and size of slow cooker you recommend? The slow cooker recipes sound amazing!

    3. |

      Lisa, your slow cook Sunday sauce is amazing, made your tried and true meatballs too! Can you please provide nutrition information for it? I had it over spaghetti squash and had to go back for seconds. :)

    4. Sarah |

      Would beef stew meat work in place of the meatballs? I’m making this for someone who doesn’t like the texture of ground beef.

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Sarah. I think it would. :)

    5. YOLANDA |

      Just curious, do I have to step #1? Because if it sits in the crockpot all day, doesn’t it get cooked through? Sorry, I’m super lazy. :D

      • Amy Taylor (comment moderator) |

        Hi Yolanda. The meatballs might fall apart if you skip the first step.

    6. YOLANDA |

      whoops sorry, didn’t see the previous 4 pages of comments, haha

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