Copycat Olive Garden 3 Meat Sauce (Made in the Crockpot)

This recipe for a flavorful, triple meat sauce is similar to Olive Garden’s homemade meat sauce and has a rich and buttery flavor. This triple meat sauce contains diced pepperoni, ground beef and ground Italian sausage, making it so delicious for any pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles), fried eggplant or spaghetti squash. This sauce can be prepped ahead and left to simmer for 5-6 hours to develop its full, rich flavor. See below the recipe for more photos and notes.

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Copycat Olive Garden Meat sauce

Copycat Olive Garden meat sauce

marilynpeight
This delicious three meat sauce with fresh ingredients is cooked in a slow cooker for maximum flavor. The result of this meaty sauce is a smooth and buttery flavor, perfect for topping any pasta or rice dishes!
3.67 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage mild or hot
  • 1 cup pepperoni finely diced
  • 1/3 cup diced carrots
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cup onion white or yellow
  • 1/4 cup diced celery (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup diced tomato (see note below)
  • 1 1/2-2 tablespoons finely diced fresh herbs or Italian seasoning (see note below)
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Brown the sausage and ground beef together. Once the meat is cooked through, remove it from the heat and drain the excess grease. Place the browned beef and sausage mixture into a 3-4 quart crockpot along with minced pepperoni.
  • Add carrots, celery, onion, tomato, minced garlic and freshly diced herbs to the meat mixture in the crockpot.
  • Combine the tomato paste and water along with salt (or you can add salt to taste later, once the sauce has cooked). Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meat, veggies and herbs in the crockpot. Stir all together to combine and then cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. *See notes below.

Notes

Use well ripened tomatoes in this recipe so that the sauce has enough juice to get to the perfect consistency. If the sauce is too thick after being cooked in the crockpot, you can also add a little water or tomato juice to get the preferred consistency. 
I prefer to use a blend of diced, fresh basil, oregano, parsley and thyme for the herb mixture. You can also add sage or subtract from the list if you wish. Italian seasoning is a great substitute if you do not have fresh herbs on hand, but should be added to taste. 
Additional notes and step by step photos below. 
Keyword copycat recipe, Olive Garden, Meat sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Try serving this sauce over cooked spaghetti noodles (or any pasta of your choice), stuffed shells spaghetti squash or zoodles!

Step 1: Brown the sausage and ground beef together. Once the meat is cooked through, remove it from the heat and drain the excess grease. Place the browned beef and sausage mixture into a 3-4 quart crockpot along with minced pepperoni

Pepperoni, Ground beef and ground Italian sausage: If you wish, you can dice the pepperoni even more finely, or you can chunk it if you prefer a chunkier sauce.

I like to brown a full pound each of beef and sausage together, then freeze the extra pound of meat for sauces or other dishes later!

Step 2: Add carrots, celery, onion, tomato, minced garlic and freshly diced herbs to the meat mixture in the crockpot.

Once again feel free to dice the vegetables or mince the garlic to preference. I prefer to chop the ingredients for this triple meat sauce pretty finely, so that the sauce is smoother in the end.

Note on tomatoes:

Some tomatoes will be juicier than others, I prefer to use a well ripened tomato in this recipe so that the sauce has plenty of juice.

Substitution for fresh herbs:

You can also use a mixture of dried herbs in this recipe or Italian seasoning. You can add your favorite herbs to the sauce, or subtract the ones you don’t enjoy or simply don’t have on hand.

Step 3: Combine the tomato paste and water along with salt (or you can add salt to taste later, once the sauce has cooked). Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meat, veggies and herbs in the crockpot.

Step 3 continued: Stir everything up and then it is ready to cook, low and slow!

Why does the sauce seem dry after it is stirred?

The sauce will seem dry after it is stirred together, but as it cooks and the vegetables soften and release their juices, the mixture will gradually become saucier. If needed you can add more water and/or paste if you see that the sauce is not to your preferred consistency after 4-5 hours.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours, then cool slightly and serve over your favorite pasta dishes and more!

The sauce after 5 hours. My preference is 5 hours in my 2.5 quart crockpot but cooking times may vary due to crockpot size and strength.

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7 thoughts on “Copycat Olive Garden 3 Meat Sauce (Made in the Crockpot)”

  1. Pingback: Copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits – This Mom Cooks

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