Crock Pot Baked Ziti with Three Cheeses

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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. We use the same process to make Crock Pot Vegetable Lasagna and it’s delicious too!

It’s just a whole lot easier to make this three cheese pasta favorite in a slower cooker. I still love traditional pasta dishes like 30 Minute Pasta with Olive Oil, Garlic and Mushrooms. But, it’s hard to resist the appeal of a meal that requires so little work and tastes so good!

Crock Pot Baked Ziti Step-by-Step

Here’s the makeover of an old family recipe with tips along the way:

1. Coat the inside of the crock with cooking spray. (There is very little mess if you do this…really!) A liner does not work well in this recipe.

2. Rinse the noodles in a colander and set them aside. (This step seems to get the process of softening the noodles started.) Do not cook the noodles first.

3. The cheese mixture is made with ricotta cheese, egg, Parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper. (A little minced garlic would be nice too.) Use full or low-fat depending upon your preference.

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 veggies.)
  • 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 Recipe

5. Cook the ziti on low for 4-6 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 slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti Recipe

This recipe was a bit of a reminder for me that a slow cooker can be used for many, many things…things you may have read about, but not tried before. Check out all of our crock pot recipes here.

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! You won’t be disappointed.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti Recipe with Three Cheeses

As for my crew, they can look forward to a lot more “baked” pasta in our dinner rotation. 🙂

Video: Crock-Pot Baked Ziti

Watch the easy process:

Crock Pot Baked Ziti
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4.78 from 9 votes

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 vegetables too. Great for entertaining!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 423kcal


  • 1 pound ziti noodles uncooked
  • 15 ounce low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese divided
  • 1 ½ cup low-fat mozzarella cheese divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 48 ounces pasta sauce two 24 ounce jars
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves 7-8 leaves sliced thin or ½ teaspoon dried basil


  • Coat the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray. 
  • Rinse noodles in a colander and set aside.
  • Combine ricotta, egg, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, ½ cup mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  • Place half of the noodles (about 2½ cups) in the crock pot.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Repeat the noodle, pasta sauce and cheese layers.
  • Evenly pour the remaining pasta sauce (about 1 cup) over the top.
  • Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
  • Remove lid and sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese over the top. Replace lid and allow to sit for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  • Garnish with basil and serve from crock pot.


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!
We used a 5 quart slow cooker like this one


Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 1395mg | Potassium: 789mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1170IU | Vitamin C: 11.9mg | Calcium: 458mg | Iron: 2.9mg
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  1. Love this, such a perfect winter meal. And so easy.

  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!

  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.

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

  8. 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!

  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!

    • Hi, I have the ingredients but you show 1 egg and then to us egg whites. So more than 1 egg to get the plural of egg whites? Or just one egg? I was making this for today too…..

  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. 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.

  26. Quick question – a regular ziti recipe calls for whole eggs, any reason other than calorie concerns for only using egg whites? I apologize if someone has already asked this, I scanned the comments and didn’t see anything mentioning it. Thanks!

    • Hi! You can use a whole egg in place of the egg whites. I’ve actually done it fairly successfully with no egg for someone who was allergic to egg. I hope you enjoy it!

  27. could you please tell me how many would this feed about? Thank you.

  28. where can I purchase a smaller crock pot for one person

    • You should be able to find them with the larger-sized crock pots and your best bet will be places that sell locks of small appliances and cookware. Also, they seem to be eaiser to find at the holidays. Good luck!

    • I just purchased a 2 quart Crock Pot at Target for $10. And now you can order online and pick up in store if you want!

  29. I came across this recipe yesterday when I forgot to pull the pork out to defrost and I am so glad I did. I always baked my ziti before and didn’t think it could work in the crock pot and I was wrong. It was firm and cooked just right and in my opinion even better than baked ziti! I followed the recipe ingredient by ingredient and it was absolutely delicious. I might add ground beef next time but I’ll definitely be making this again!

  30. I made this for the first time today – DELICIOUS. It was for a work luncheon pot-luck, so I risked it and cooked it for 3 hours on high – and it was perfectly done. I plugged it in at 8 a.m. , added the cheese on top at 10:50 and was ready for the lunch at 11:00. Many compliments, and a nearly empty crockpot!

  31. Do you think this would work the same with gluten free pasta? I am going to try it!

  32. I just love recipes like this. I particularly love that you made it in the crock pot. Easy peasy and delicious.

  33. just ate this for dinner and it is now in a dead tie for first place in the family crockpot recipe rotation. my toddlers love it! which is not easy to do. thank you so much!

  34. Angela Clouse says

    Will this work if baked in the oven, ?? And for how long…

    • You can make this recipe in the oven. I cook the noodles first. (But, if they are covered with plenty of sauce, they should cook in the oven.) Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 30-40 minutes.

  35. I made this it was good except my noodles turned mushy what can I do to change this?

    • Hi! Thanks for your commment! It’s hard to diagnose what might have happened with limited information. But, be sure to use regular noodles in the recipe (not the ones designed to be no-cook.) Also, you may want to adjust the time cooked down a bit. I hope that helps!

  36. Do you cook the noodles before they go in the crock pot.

  37. LOVE the ease of this recipe. I can understand why you kept the word, ‘Baked’ in the title!!

  38. I’d love to bring this to a potluck luncheon at work. Can I cook it the night before and reheat in the crockpot. If so, what would be your recommended times for cooking and reheating? Thanks

    • I’m wondering if you might want to assemble the night before and then take to work and cook. I’m really not sure what the correct timing would be for reheating or if that might end up overcooking the dish.

      • I took your advice and assembled it the night before. I saw that someone else on this thread cooked it at work on high for 3 hours so I followed that considering my arrival time. It turned out great!!!. I had to send it along while I attended another meeting. When I made it to the luncheon, there were only two servings left with several inquiring about your recipe. Thanks so much for sharing this. This will come in handy for other potlucks and family gatherings.

  39. I’m THRILLED to have found this- thank you! Making it tonight and then will put in fridge for tmw night’s dinner (I’m gone too long during the day), so tmw. morning, my dinner is DONE!
    It looks amazing and i can’t wait for the fam to wake up to the incredible smell!! thanks again!

  40. Thanks so much! I planned on making Baked Ziti this Sunday for my grandchildren’s Baptism celebration. I kept thinking how am I going to bake it while we are all at church. Now my worries are over. I will have to double the recipe. Will the same 3-4 hours cooking time on low still apply? I can’t wait to try this!

  41. ccchristie says

    Do you use the cut ziti or long ziti. I noticed you use the word “noodles” which implies the long ziti, not the short pasta.

  42. Will defintely be trying this out. I work a lot of nights and so does hubby, so that usually means our teenaged kids are fending for themselves which I hate. I will definitely be following you for more great recipes. I have two large crock pots, time to break them in! Thank you so much, look forward to more recipes ????????

  43. Color me surprised. No one really eats ziti in my family but I just had to try this to see if it can be done and because it looked so good. As I was preparing it I thought, “there’s no way this isn’t going to be ziti soup”. Not only was it not, it soaked up so much of the sauce I had to use more for when I served it. Overall I’d say it was quite good.

  44. I accidently used marinara sauce in mine will it still taste the same

  45. Shari Peace says

    I know you said spaghetti noodles would work but in less time. I want to use what I have in the cupboard and that is penne rigate noodles. Would you cook them for 4 hrs? Thanks and I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow:)

  46. I made this last night for a family event and it turned out perfectly! Thank you!

  47. Easy and delicious. We serve e salad and garlic knots! A meal everyone enjoys.

  48. Sorry but the sauce was absorbed, therefore not enough sauce and the noodles were mushy at 6 hours on low. The taste was great and we will still finish it off. I would suggest testing it at 4 hours and also having extra sauce set aside. Also, unsure about rinsing noodles, i think maybe just mixing the sauce into the noodles is enough.

  49. Can this be assembled ahead of time like the night before? My only concern is the noodles would get mushy.

    • Hi! I have not tried assembling this the night before with uncooked noodles. However, I have assembled it ahead of time with cooked noodles to make in the oven and this works fine. I have a feeling it *might* work. If you do try it, please let us know how it went! Thanks!

  50. Great recipe, tasted great. I used 2.5 jars of tomato sauce & Gardein veggie crumbles (my co-workers are vegetarian).

    At the 4 hour mark, the pasta was still not quite cooked (very al dente). I added the cheese topping & left it to cook for additional 30 mins, which resulted in the pasta being rather gummy/ a touch overcooked.

    NOTE to self: STOP the cooking after 4 hours on low & the pasta should be perfect!

  51. Melanie Johnson says

    Hi! This came out really good but we think it needed more noodles! I will add more next time! Thank you!

  52. Could I use cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese? Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe! I can’t wait to make it!!

  53. Making this for a work potluck tomorrow. I doubled the recipe with no egg in a large crock pot. set for 6 hours while I sleep, then a reheat tomorrow at work. Hope it comes out good. Didn’t have time for a boil & bake with kids, homework, etc. Wish me luck!!!

  54. I would love to try this but I have one of the larger slow cookers…do you think I would need to change any of the amounts or cooking time? Thanks!

    • Hi! Depending upon the size of your slow cooker, you could double the recipe and I don’t think the cook times would need to change. If the amounts in the recipe are used and the layers are very thin, then it will cook faster…I would suggest checking after about 2 hours. I’ve never cooked it in a larger slow cooker…but would love to know how it turns out!

  55. Jules MacDonald says

    So pleasantly surprised! I’d never heard of a good crockpot pasta recipe but put my faith in the reviews and it came out perfectly! I doubled the recipe in my 7 quart crockpot for a team dinner last night and added a little water to my sauce because I didn’t want the pasta to absorb all the liquid and leave me with tomato paste. I was looking forward to some of those freezer friendly left overs but there were no left overs!! Thank you so much for this!!

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