Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

This Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is an easy crockpot recipe that packs all the flavour! With tender noodles coated in a ground beef marinara and mixed with a melty cheese goodness, it’s the ideal weeknight meal.

baked ziti in the slowcooker

We are a family of pasta lovers through and through. Yet I always like to find different variations on the usual delicious dinner. Just like my Baked Chicken Spaghetti.

This is a fine example that pasta doesn’t have to be boiled, and when not, it most definitely doesn’t have to be soggy mush.

I love breaking out my slow cooker, and especially this time of year when school and activities start again. Using the crockpot for weeknight dinners is an easy way to have a meal ready when you are.

slow cooker ziti

Needless to say, I’ll be making my Slow Cooker Easy Lasagne, another winner in our collection of slow cooker pasta recipes. The whole family loves pasta dishes, so it’s nice to have a lasagne recipe in the crockpot recipes collection!

While I love this Slow Cooker Chicken Bolognese recipe, it requires cooking the pasta separately. Which is fine, of course. Yet this with this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti, even the pasta is made in the crockpot!

ziti on a serving spoon

How to Make Slow Cooker Baked Ziti:

Here’s one thing to note, this slow cooker baked ziti recipe of mine isn’t actually ziti, it’s very hard to find where I am. Plus when I have spotted it, I’ve thought it was too high of a price. So using penne noodles is pretty much the same result.

This isn’t a traditional recipe, so why not alter to suit availability and convenience? Glad we agree on that.

Another thing to note is that this crock pot ziti isn’t typically ‘baked’ as you would an oven. It’s so similar that I thought I needed to add that, the only difference is that you don’t get the really crispy crust as you would if baked in the oven. Yet know what? The taste is all there, so again a sacrifice for convenience.

If you really wanted the crispy crust, and you have a crockpot insert that is oven-safe {please make sure it is before doing so or it might explode}, feel free to add a final step of broiling a bit before serving.

baked ziti on a plate

Ingredients to make Slow Cooker Ziti

  • ground beef or ground turkey
  • onion
  • cloves garlic
  • salt
  • fresh basil or dried basil
  • oregano
  • diced tomatoes
  • pasta sauce or tomato sauce
  • water
  • ziti noodles or penne pasta noodles
  • mozzarella cheese or ricotta cheese
  • fresh parsley for garnish

To Make: In a large skillet on the stove, brown the ground beef and chopped onion until cooked. Add in the minced garlic, salt, basil and oregano and stir. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the beef mixture to the bottom of the slow cooker and then add the diced tomatoes, pasta sauce and water. Stir until combined. Cook on low setting for 6 hours or high heat for 3 hours.

Turn your slow cooker on high and add uncooked pasta (uncooked ziti pasta or dry pasta), and stir. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until noodles are of desired consistency.

Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top (and parsley if desired), cover and cook until cheese is melted. This will take about 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

Side dish options for this baked ziti recipe include a green salad and garlic bread.

baked ziti on a fork

crock pot baked ziti recipe tips:

I like to also top this dish with fresh parmesan cheese. You can also use italian seasoning in place of the basil and oregano.

This slow cooker pasta bake recipe produces tender noodles coated in a ground beef marinara and mixed with a melty cheese goodness.

While I do pre-cook the ground beef before adding into the crockpot, you could set it to high and cook directly in the slow cooker as well. Though it will take longer to cook this way.

Cooking pasta in the slow cooker, when not careful could produce soggy overcooked noodles. The secret to this recipe is that it’s not added until the final hour, and the penne cooks in the marinara sauce and not a bunch of water that would soak in, and produce that sogginess. I love that this recipe results in the most perfectly cooked noodle.

baked ziti recipe

Can you Freeze Slow Cooker Baked Ziti?

You most definitely could, as this recipe produces a lot that you’ll want the leftovers. If you are going to freeze this, I would suggest making sure the noodles are al dente.

Also, when defrosting, allow it to naturally thaw. I’d avoid using a microwave defrost or trying to reheat when it’s still frozen, as the noodles have a greater chance to get mushy. And you don’t want mushy noodles!

When reheating leftovers of this recipe the next day, you might need to add more pasta sauce as reheating can cause some dryness. Again, it’s important that originally the pasta is cooked el dente.

This easy slow cooker dinner is a total winner in our books, and a dump and not worry about it until later meal. Our recipe is a slow cooker baked ziti without ricotta, yet you can add some ricotta cheese in if you wish.

This easy baked ziti is easy dinner for those busy weeknights, and a fall comfort food dish. Another great variation of ours is this Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti.

For more crock pot recipes, try this Slow Cooker Mississippi Chicken and Potatoes recipe or this ever-popular Slow Cooker Lazy Cabbage Rolls recipe.

slow cooker ziti recipe
ziti on a serving spoon

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

Yield: 8 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

This Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is an easy crockpot recipe that packs all the flavour! With tender noodles coated in a ground beef marinara and mixed with a melty cheese goodness, it's the ideal weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 4 cups ziti or penne noodles, uncooked
  • 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • fresh parsley for garnish, if desired

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and chopped onion until cooked. Add in the minced garlic, salt, basil and oregano and stir. Cook for 1 minute
  2. Add the beef mixture, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce and water into the slow cooker. Stir until combined. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  3. Turn your slow cooker on high and add ziti or penne noodles, and stir. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, or until noodles are of desired consistency.
  4. Sprinkle shredded mozza on top {and parsley if desired}, cover and cook until cheese is melted. This will take about 15 minutes.
  5. Serve warm and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 8 people
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 429Saturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 845mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 22g

Did you make this recipe?

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17 Comments

  1. We’ve already been feeling that fall chill in the air, it’s near time to put the furnace on again! What better time to start preparing comfort foods like this!

  2. Oh boy, this sounds like my kind of food. I must admit that I had to look up what one earth Ziti was, that’s new form of pasta for me. 🙂

  3. This looks beyond yummy. Something my entire family will enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

  4. can I also do this in my oven, I don’t have a slow cooker, and for how long and what temperature Celsius?

  5. This looks delicious and I have been looking for some new recipes for the slow cooker!

  6. I’ve been making this recipe for quite sometime but I always come in to check to see if I have the right ingredients! (Age ha). I noticed you have omitted the chicken broth? I’d rather make it with the broth then the water. More flavor. Just might be in my head but I’m sticking with it!

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