Enjoy the flavors of classic baked ziti with this hands-off recipe for Slow Cooker Pasta!
One of my all-time favorite cozy pasta dinners is Baked Rotini, which has inspired this recipe for Crockpot Pasta. And while it may sound sacrilegious to make pasta in a slow cooker, just like my recipes for Instant Pot Ziti and Instant Pot Spaghetti proves you can make pasta in the Instant Pot, you can also make perfectly cooked pasta in the crockpot!
Reasons to Love Crockpot Pasta
- Dinner Without the Hassle. This Crockpot Ziti recipe is the perfect hands-off meal for a busy day. It is as easy as dump and cook.
- Amazing Flavor. Made with a rich and flavorful homemade spaghetti sauce, tons of cheese, and noodles.
- Perfect Results. 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.
- Family-Favorite Meal. Everyone loves this simple, cheesy pasta recipe, especially when paired with Homemade Garlic Toast.
- Spaghetti Sauce: Instead of using jarred spaghetti sauce, I start this crockpot pasta recipe off with homemade spaghetti sauce. It is a super easy recipe that is insanely delicious and is made with crushed tomatoes, olive oil, honey, water, and seasonings.
- Pasta: The shape and size of pasta matter for this recipe. I have tried this Crockpot Pasta with ziti, rotini, rigatoni, and elbow noodles with success. Spaghetti, linguine, and bow-tie noodles are not recommended for slow-cooker pasta. Whole wheat or regular noodles work equally well.
- Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese adds the perfect creaminess and texture to the pasta dish, but you can use ricotta instead.
- Cheese: Shredded mozzarella and parmesan Cheese add the perfect cheesy touch.
- Use Jarred Spaghetti Sauce: In place of the homemade tomato sauce, use 28 ounces of your favorite jarred sauce, along with an additional 1 cup of water. Cook on low heat for 1 hour before adding the pasta, cottage cheese, and cheese.
- Add Meat. If you would like, add up to 1 pound of cooked and crumbled ground beef, Italian sausage, or ground turkey to the slow cooker when you add the pasta.
- Omit the Dairy. For a dairy-free version of crockpot pasta, simply omit cottage cheese, mozzarella, and parmesan from the recipe.
- No Gluten-Free Option: 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.
How to Make Crockpot Pasta
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step One: Prepare Homemade Sauce. To prepare the homemade spaghetti sauce, add the crushed tomatoes, water, oil, honey, and seasonings to the slow cooker insert and mix until combined. We want to cook this mixture on low heat for several hours, allowing the sauce to develop its flavor and the tomatoes to mellow out. If you are using jarred sauce, simply dump the jar of sauce along with 1 cup of water into the slow cooker and cook for 1 hour on low heat.
Step Two: Add Pasta. Once the sauce has been given time to heat, add in the pasta, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese, along with a bit more water. Turn the heat to high and cook until the noodles are tender.
Crockpot Pasta can be served as a hearty entree all on its own. However, I like to round out dinner with a salad, such as a Tossed Greek Salad or Caesar Salad, for a complete family meal that is satisfying, comforting, and super easy to prepare.
- Store: Allow the pasta to cool slightly, transfer it to an airtight container, and store the pasta in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Reheat: Reheat individual servings in a heat-safe bowl, covered with a damp paper towel, in 60-second intervals until warmed through.
More Easy Cozy Pasta Recipes
- Creamy Chicken Casserole
- Pasta Bolognese
- Easy Taco Pasta
- Pasta Puttanesca
- Easy Baked Ravioli
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
If you tried this recipe for Slow Cooker "Baked" Ziti I would love for you to leave a comment and review below if you give this recipe a try.
Crockpot "Baked" Ziti - Easy Slow Cooker Pasta Recipe
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 3 cups water divided
- 1 tablespoon honey or granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 16 ounces rotini or ziti noodles
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- ¼ cup Parmesan Cheese freshly grated
- Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 cups of water, oil, honey, oregano, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes 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 the remaining 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.