Crock Pot Baked Ziti Recipe
The easiest pasta recipe you’ll ever make, Crock Pot Baked Ziti is a simple way to get a hearty and comforting dinner on the table without breaking a sweat. Ziti noodles, pasta sauce and cheese are baked in the slow cooker into a cheesy, amazing meal the whole family will love.
Raise your hand if you dusted off your slow cooker already. I don’t know about you but I love to use my Crock Pot all year long because it keeps me from hovering over a steaming pot of water in the summer and let’s me hunker down under a fluffy faux fur blanket in the winter. It’s a total lifesaver when life gets busy, too, and I don’t have spare time to whip up dinner.
Enter the Crock Pot Baked Ziti recipe….seriously, one of the easiest ziti recipes I ever made. You don’t even have to cook the pasta in advance, it’s that simple to prepare. And we totally LOVE a great pasta bake recipe here. There’s just something so comforting about digging a fork into a baked pasta dish with melty cheese that makes you not really care that it’s a gray, dreary 15 degree day outside. (I’m clearly not looking forward to winter, at all.)
I love making Cheesy Baked Ziti recipes from scratch but sometimes they can seem a little labor intensive….even if they are really easy. Sometimes all you want to do it dump a bunch of ingredients into a slow cooker, lid it up and turn it on. That is this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti recipe. So simple but so hearty and delicious.
This is totally a weeknight dinner Baked Ziti because you can prep it right before you leave for work in the morning and it will be ready for you when you get home. No additions needed….you can cook the ziti noodles right in the sauce and they’ll be perfectly al dente when you’re ready for dinner.
CROCK POT BAKED ZITI
This easy slow cooker cheesy Baked Ziti requires no cooking ingredients ahead of time so this is perfect for those mornings when you want to cook something in the crock pot but want to put in much effort.
The dry pasta is cooked right in the slow cooker and it’s perfectly al dente when it’s done baking. I like to mix in ricotta cheese for some light creaminess and mozzarella cheese for rich cheesiness!
This Baked Ziti is a hit with the whole family, even the kids devoured it and demanded seconds. (Good thing it makes a lot!)
INGREDIENTS FOR CROCK POT BAKED ZITI
All the ingredients for this slow cooker baked ziti are easy to find and are probably already in your kitchen.
Here’s what you need:
- Ziti Noodles
- Marinara Sauce (or other pasta sauce)
- Ricotta Cheese
- Italian Seasoning, optional
HOW TO MAKE SLOW COOKER BAKED ZITI
This recipe is so simple to make and requires only about 5 minutes of prep time.
- Add uncooked ziti noodles to the slow cooker.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles and add the ricotta cheese.
- Stir the noodles with the sauce and cheese to combine.
- Sprinkle with the mozzarella and top with the remaining ricotta cheese.
- Season with italian seasoning and cover.
- Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 5-6 hours.
- Serve with parmesan, if desired.
For a variation on baked ziti, you can stir in a bit of Basil Pesto or a spoonful of roasted garlic cloves. This ziti recipe is made without meat but you can add your favorite meatballs or cooked italian sausage.
And I hear that ziti pasta noodles may be tough to find in some locations so you can totally substitute the ziti with any short cut pasta like penne or rotini noodles.
I want to stress the importance of not cooking your ziti pasta in advance or you’ll end up with gummy, fall apart pasta that’s not good eats at all. Plus, why dirty another pot when it’s not even necessary.
TIPS FOR CROCK POT PASTA
I’ve been making a variety of baked pasta dishes in the slow cooker now and I’m about to unleash them all on you. So, save these tips for the next few times you’re about to make your pasta in the Crock Pot.
- Pasta – Small cut pasta works best but you can try long spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine noodles. Small cut pasta like macaroni, penne, ziti and rotini work well because they tend to not stick together and clump into one long strand. Long cuts of pasta will need a stir every so often to keep them from sticking.
- Cook Temperature – Cook on high and add your pasta at the beginning for perfectly al dente pasta in a couple hours. If you will be gone for a long period of time, cook on low for 4 hours….your pasta will continue to cook in the sauce for another hour leaving you with perfect pasta.
- Cover the Pasta – Be sure all the pasta is submerged in the sauce and no noodles are sticking out because they will dry out and not cook leaving you with crunchy pasta pieces. The pasta needs the moisture from the sauce to cook properly.
- Do Not Add Water – Resist the urge to add water as many Crock Pot Pasta recipes suggest. The sauce is all you need to cook your ziti noodles, that’s why you need to jars of sauce. If you add water, the pasta will overcook and turn into a gummy, goopy mess.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED ZITI
I like to think of this Crock Pot Baked Ziti as a one pot meal but since there are no vegetables in it, it’s good to round out with an easy side dish.
Here are our favorite sides for ziti:
- Loaded Wedge Salad Recipe
- A light green salad with Greek Vinaigrette
- Baked Asparagus with Parmesan
- Easy Green Beans with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
MORE EASY CROCK POT RECIPES
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Easy Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwich
- Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs
- Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Recipe
Crock Pot Baked Ziti Recipe
No pre-cooking required, this easy Crock Pot Baked Ziti takes just minutes of prep time for a simple, extra cheesy, hearty family dinner.
- 1 lb dried ziti pasta
- 48 ounces marinara sauce
- 1 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella
- 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
Coat a 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
Add the ziti, marinara, 3/4 of the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Stir to combine.
Sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and dot with the remaining ricotta. Season with the italian seasoning and cover with the lid.
Cook the ziti on high for 2 hours or low for 4-5 hours.
Best if served when ready. Leftover baked ziti can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave adding extra sauce, if necessary.