This recipe for Crock Pot Pasta features a homemade sauce, tons of cheese, and noodles that are cooked to perfection right in the slow cooker. This is one easy hands-off meal that is PERFECT for busy days!
Serve this Crock Pot Baked Ziti with Homemade Garlic Toast and a side Greek Salad for a complete family meal that is satisfying, comforting, and super easy to prepare.
Crock Pot Pasta
I turned one of my favorite recipes, baked rotini, into a one-pot, easy, slow-cooker meal!
YES, you heard me right! You can cook your pasta in the slow cooker! And the results are spectacular.
The spaghetti sauce simmers to develop a rich, deep sauce and then pasta and cheese are added and cooked to perfection right in the sauce. The pasta is fork-tender, the pasta is cheesy, and the the meal comes together with minimal effort.
Crock Pot Pasta is beyond simple, only dirties up one dish, and flavors are spot-on. It is a must-make dinner.
- Tomato Sauce: I start his dish out with a version of my homemade tomato sauce. You can use any jarred spaghetti sauce your family likes, just be sure to follow the recipe modifications if using jarred sauce. add in an additional 1 cup water for pasta to have something to absorb while cooking. And you still need to let the sauce heat up before adding the pasta. I would cook on low for at least 1 hour.
- Pasta: Shape and size of pasta matter for this recipe. I have tried this Crock-Pot Pasta with ziti, rotini, rigatoni, and elbow noodles with success. Spaghetti, linguine, and bow-tie pasta is not recommended.
- Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese adds the perfect creaminess and texture to the pasta dish, but you can use ricotta instead.
- Cheese: Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese add the perfect cheesy touch.
- Meat (optional): This crock-pot pasta makes a hearty meatless dish, however, feel free to brown sausage or ground beef and add to when you add the pasta to the slow cooker.
How to Make Slow Cooker Pasta
- Mix together all the ingredients for the homemade tomato sauce.
- Slow cook for several hours on low, allowing the sauce to develop its flavor and the tomatoes to mellow out.
- Once the sauce has cooked, turn the heat to high. Stir in the pasta, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese.
- Cook for 30-45 minutes for whole grain pasta and 15-20 minutes for white pasta, or until the pasta is tender.
- Top with Parmesan cheese, and let warm through before serving.
Absolutely. In place of the homemade tomato sauce, use 28 ounces of your favorite jarred sauce and add in an additional 1 cup water. Cook on low heat for 1 hour before adding the pasta, cottage cheese, and cheese.
Yes! Simply brown up one pound of lean ground beef or ground Italian sausage on the stove and then add to the slow cooker when you add the pasta.
Unfortunately, I don't recommend using gluten-free noodles for this recipe for slow cooker pasta. The gluten-free noodles release too much starch as they cook, giving the sauce a weird flavor.
The cheese makes this dish spectacular, but if you are dairy-free, feel free to omit the cottage cheese and shredded mozzarella and parmesan.
Allow the pasta to cool and then store in the airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days in the refrigerator. Reheat individual servings in the microwave as desired.
More Comforting Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Casserole
- Pasta Bolognese
- Homemade Lasagna
- Easy Taco Pasta
- Instant Pot Creamy Italian Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti
Make this Slow Cooker "Baked" Ziti and get dinner done without the hassle! And I would love for you to leave a comment and review below if you give this recipe a try.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 28 ounce can tomato puree
- 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 3 cups water, divided
- 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
For the Crock-Pot Ziti
- prepared sauce OR 28 oz jarred sauce + additional 1 cup of water
- 1 cup water
- 16 ounces rotini or ziti noodles
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese freshly grated
- Mix together tomato puree, tomato paste, 2 cups water, oil, honey, and spices together in the base of a large slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
- After 4-5 hours, remove the lid and add 1 cup of water, noodles, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine. Cover, turn the slow cooker to high, and cook for about 45 minutes for whole grain pasta and 25 minutes for white pasta, or until pasta is tender, stirring halfway through the cooking time.
- Once the pasta is tender, finish with Parmesan cheese and serve.
This post was originally published in 2015 but was updated in 2020 with new pictures and a video.
The pasta took forever to cook and came out mushy. If I ever make it again I'll cook the pasta first then add it too the sauce. It was to soft and to starchy this way.
Hey there! I am sorry this didn't turn out as you had hoped. It sounds like you actually overcooked the pasta--that would be why it was so soft, mushy, and starchy.
I'm making this but going to add bell peppers and mushrooms for more depth and frozen Italian meat balls.
That sounds delicious, Sherri! I would suggest sauteeing your mushrooms and bell peppers first if you have the time. That will help them to not give off excess liquid and the flavor to be better.
Do the noodles get soggy if you leave them in the crock pot too long?
I haven't had this issue--but I wouldn't suggest cooking longer than the recipe suggests.
Roberto De Leon-Gonzalez
I have yet to make this recipe, but it looks promising. However, as someone who is lactose intolerant, could I substitute Mozzarella cheese with Gouda? The other cheeses I can get reasonably free from lactose, but Mozzarella is a holdout.
Hi Roberto. I do love Gouda cheese and it will more than likely be delicious in this ziti. However, it is a strongly flavored cheese. Maybe try a Parmesan that is lactose-free? I love Grana Padano that is lactose free--I would just use half the amount. I hope you enjoy!