Crock Pot Baked Ziti with Three Cheeses

Let’s address the elephant in the room right up front. The title says “baked.” But, there is no baking involved in this recipe. Crock pot baked ziti is cooked 100% in a slow cooker. That’s right, you don’t even have to boil the noodles on a stove top first.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti

I had no intention of deceiving anyone. There just isn’t a better way to describe this recipe…it tastes just like the baked version and it looks like it came out of the oven too. It’s just a whole lot easier to make this three cheese pasta favorite in a slower cooker. I still love baked pasta dishes, such as Roasted Vegetable Lasagna. But, it’s hard to resist the appeal of a meal that requires so little work.

Here’s an old family recipe:

Crock Pot Baked Ziti Step-by-Step

1. Coat the inside of the crock with cooking spray. (There is very little mess if you do this…really!)

2 Rinse the noodles in a colander and set them aside. (This step seems to get the process of softening the noodles started.)

3. The cheese mixture is made with ricotta cheese, egg whites, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper. (A little minced garlic would be nice too.)

4. Layer the ingredients in the crock pot as follows:

  • Place half the noodles (about 2-1/2 cups) in the bottom of the crock.
  • Pour 2 cups of pasta sauce over the noodles. (FYI – A 24 ounce jar has 2 1/2 cups of sauce.) I stirred the pasta and sauce together to coat the noodles and then used a spoon to make sure the noodles were in an even layer.
  • If you want some meat or vegetables in your baked ziti, add them here. Sprinkle cooked ground beef or sliced vegetables, like mushroom and spinach, to make the next layer. (Or, as we do at our house, make the layer half meat and half veges.)
  • Divide the cheese mixture in half. (I just take a spoon, eyeball it and draw a line down the middle of the bowl.) Drop small spoonfuls of the cheese mixture all over the top of the previous layer and then use the back of a spoon (or your fingers) to gently press the mixture into an even layer.
  • Repeat the layers.
  • Pour the remaining cup of pasta sauce over the top and use a spoon to evenly spread it.

Slow cooker baked ziti

5. Cook the ziti on low for 4-5 hours. (To test if it is done, use a fork to dig out a few noodles to taste.)

6. Remove the lid and sprinkle additional mozzarella and Parmesan cheese over the top and garnish with basil. Turn off the slow cooker.  Put the lid back on and allow cheeses to melt. It takes about 10 minutes.

7. Serve crock pot baked ziti right out of the crockery.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti

This recipe was a bit of a reminder for me that the slow cooker can be used for many, many things…things you may have read about, but not tried before. If your slow cooker is collecting dust from limited use (as mine was,) I suggest you drag it out and try this crock pot baked ziti recipe right away. As for my crew, they can look forward to a a lot more “baked” pasta in our dinner rotation. :)

Crock Pot Baked Ziti

51

Yield: 8 servings

Crock Pot Baked Ziti

You won't believe how easy it is to make this crock pot baked ziti with three cheeses. Tips to add meat or veges too. Great for entertaining!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. box of ziti noodles, uncooked
  • 15 ounce container low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup divided
  • 1/2 cup + 1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 24-ounce jars pasta sauce
  • 7-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced thin or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Instructions

  1. Coat the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray.
  2. Rinse noodles in a colander and set aside.
  3. Combine ricotta, egg whites, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Place half of the noodles (about 2 1/2 cups) in the crock pot.
  5. Pour 2 cups of pasta sauce over the noodles and use a spoon to make sure the noodles and pasta sauce are evenly layered in the bottom of the crock pot.
  6. Layer half of the ricotta mixture in the crock pot by dropping small spoonfuls and then using the back of a spoon or fingers to create an even layer of cheese.
  7. Repeat the noodle, pasta sauce and cheese layers.
  8. Evenly pour the remaining pasta sauce (about 1 cup) over the top.
  9. Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
  10. Remove lid and sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese over the top. Replace lid and allow to sit for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  11. Garnish with basil.
  12. Serve from crock pot.

Notes

Add a layer of cooked ground beef, sausage or vegetables, such as mushroom and spinach after the sauce layer and before the cheese layer. Leftovers are freezer friendly.

http://www.dinner-mom.com/crock-pot-baked-ziti/

Enjoy!

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Comments

  1. Love this, such a perfect winter meal. And so easy.
    Cathy Pollak ~ Noble Pig recently posted…Slow Cooker-Braised Chicken, Onion and Cheese SandwichesMy Profile

  2. Hi there,

    What size crock pot did you use to make this? Mine is 3 1/2 quarts. Looks yummy!

  3. I was wondering about cooking time… If I cooked it low for longer than your suggested 4-5 hours, will the pasta suck up all the moisture and make a dry ziti?

    • Hi there! I haven’t tried it for a longer period of time. But, I’m afraid that would happen and the edges would get very hard and crusty.

    • Kris Cannon says:

      I was looking at this recipe and saw your comment. I do a crockpot lasagna and it will definitely dry out of cooked too long. Check it at 4 hours.

  4. This looks amazing. But I’m going to have to try it to believe it. I don’t know why but I am forever skeptical of the slow cooker. I’m putting it on my meal plan for next week (and am going to feature this as one of my Easy Dinners to the Rescue that I do everyday at 1pm, next week too). I can’t wait to find out if it works for me. I would love a meal as easy and delicious as this!
    Christine (Cook the Story) recently posted…A Chicken Cordon Bleu Recipe As Sexy As A Man In The KitchenMy Profile

  5. Are the noodles cooked and then rinsed or are the just rinsed?

  6. I had no idea that this could be done! What a great way to serve pasta for a party.
    Barb S recently posted…Say “Uncle”My Profile

  7. This might seem like a dumb question, but do you use shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan?

  8. lashawnda says:

    Hi!!! Can I substitute shredded chicken for the ground beef..

  9. Any chance this could be sort of half-cooked , refrigerated overnight, and then finished off on high for 3 hours the next day? I need a dish for a potluck lunch at work, won’t have time to assemble un the a.m.and won’t have more than 3 hours to let it cook once I get it to work.

    • Hi and thanks for your question! I haven’t tried cooking this on high…but, I’m afraid it would burn. It might be better to just make it in advance. I’d love to know how it turns out. :)

  10. julie foster says:

    We are going to canada and have to feed 60 family and playes…Could you possibly change the serving size for 50-60 people!! I would really appreciate it! Thank you

  11. Hi just wondering if you use ground beef should I cook it first before adding it to the crock pot?

  12. Thank you so much for the wonderfully easy and tasty recipe Marjory! It was so delightful that I had to post about my experience making it with my own not so well taken pictures. :) I linked back to you about a bazillion times, okay at least 3 times in my post because you deserve the kudos. Thanks again! Cheers!
    Jeff recently posted…Food: Slow Cooker Baked ZitiMy Profile

  13. I am working on a cooking demo for Senior Citizens and the theme is Crock pot meals and I cant wait to try this idea and possibly show it to them! Great idea….

  14. I tried this recipe for Sunday’s dinner today….and it was wonderful!!!!…Loved it!

  15. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoyed it! For a recommendation to others, be sure to check it at 4 hours, as suggested. I ended up cooking it for 5 hours and that was too long. It wasn’t overly dry, but the noodles were far overcooked. I might even skip the noodle rinse next time, saving even more dishes :) I added a little garlic to the ricotta mixture and it was good. Thanks again!

  16. Could you do this in a roaster pan and double recipe ?

    • I have never tried it in a roaster pan so I really can’t say for sure. You should be able to double the recipe with a larger crock pot though. I’d love to hear about your experience with different cooking methods. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. I didn’t have any ricota, so I substituted with feta…absolutely amazing. I’m currently sharing your recipe with everyone at work.

  18. I used this as a base for my dinner last night. I added Trader Joe’s frozen turkey meatballs, some slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, and sliced olives. I halved the recipe and everything came together beautifully in less than 4 hours!

  19. Can you cook it on high for 2 hours?

    • Hi! I’ve never tried it…but, I’m afraid the noodles might get a bit mushy. If you give it a try, I’d love to know how it turns out.

  20. Good taste, but pasta was a bit mushy for me…kids loved it though.

  21. This looks great! My hubby doesn’t eat eggs… do you think the recipe would work without the egg whites? Or do you have any alternative ideas? Thank you Marjory!

    • I made this just a few weeks ago without egg (my daughter is allergic to eggs) and it was fine. :) It was a tad less firm, but still held together nicely because of all the cheese and was delish!

  22. Amy Greenberg says:

    I’d like to make this for the 4th of July for 16 people. I have a big oval crockpot, I think about a 6 quart. Could I double this and still have it fit and cook okay in the same amount of time as if it were a single recipe? I don’t do a lot of crockpot cooking so I’m not sure about the whole doubling thing. Any help and/or tips are much appreciated!

    • Hi! You should be able to double the recipe in a bigger crock pot. Mine was round, but it was 5 quarts. Try to leave at least an inch of room at the top. Thanks for your question and good luck!

  23. Do you think spaghetti noodles would work just the same? or would it take less time? It’s the thin spaghetti….whole wheat…..would love to try this tonight!

    • Hi! Spaghetti definitely works in the crock pot the same way. Because you are using thin noodles, it will take less time…I’m just not sure how long. I would check it after two hours. I’d love to know how it turns out! Thanks for reading.

  24. Smcbride says:

    I’ve never tried pasta in a crock pot before but now I’m a believer. I followed everything except had to use cottage cheese instead if ricotta and it turned out great. Everyone loved it. Oh, I should note, mine cooked in 3.5 hours on low (set at 4 hours). Thanks for the new idea!

  25. mary ann parsley says:

    How many calories

    • Hi! Unfortunately I do not have the calorie count for recipes at this time. You should be ale to get an estimate by entering the data into an app like My Fitness Pal though.

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