Slow cooker baked pasta is such an easy family friendly dinner idea. You don’t even have to boil the boil the pasta first, just layer it in and let it cook to cheesy perfection.
Layers of penne, cheese, sauce and pasta come together in this easy meal. The prep only takes a few minutes and the slow cooker takes it from there.
You have a hearty hot meal waiting for your family when you are ready. They will think you went above and beyond, but really it will take you very little effort.
During the winter, we like hearty filling meals. There is just something about a good casserole or baked pasta that helps take the edge off a cold day.
I have been gravitating toward no boil pasta recipes lately. Chucking raw pasta in the pan means fewer dirty dishes and quicker prep.
So I thought it would be fun to do a crock pot twist on that theme. Slow cookers already have a moist cooking environment, so it is perfect for making sure the pasta softens nicely.
Making the pasta
Start by spraying your slow cooker insert with cooking spray. I used my casserole style crockpot, but any shape will work.
Add a little bit of marinara (or other tomato based pasta sauce) to the bottom of the insert. Then toss in about half of the raw pasta, making an even layer.
I used whole wheat penne for this batch and it worked well. Any pasta with holes or curly shapes should work.
If you want to try to use straight shapes, be careful to spread it out. There is less room for the liquid to surround shapes like spaghetti or fettuccine, so it increases the chance the pasta will stick together and you will have crunchy undercooked pieces.
Now it’s time to make the filling. Combine a tub of cottage cheese with eggs and garlic salt. Distribute the cheese layer over the pasta.
Now add some browned meat if desired. We used Italian sausage, but hamburger, turkey or even ground venison would work.
You can also leave the meat out and make a vegetarian pasta. It will still be filling and delicious.
Now add the remaining pasta and sauce to the pot. Put a half cup of water into a jar and shake to get any remaining sauce.
Then pour it into the other jar and do the same. Add that saucy water to the insert and top with cheese.
Now all that is left to do is to cook it. Put the lid on and set your slow cooker on high for about 3 hours.
The sauce should be bubbly, the cheese should be melted, and the pasta should be cooked. Try pulling a noodle out to test to be sure.
If you can wait, let the pasta rest for ten minutes after it cooks to allow it to soak up any extra liquid. Then serve on its own or with garlic bread and a salad.
More easy slow cooker recipes
If rich creamy alfredo is a favorite at your house, you are going to love slow cooker chicken alfredo with pasta and broccoli. The prep work is almost non-existent and dinner cooks while you go about your life.
Slow cooker chicken cacciatore soup is easy, delicious and healthy. Plus it’s all made in a slow cooker while you do something else. Top with cheese for a perfect dinner on a cold night.
Make macaroni and cheese right in the slow cooker, there is no boiling the noodles first. Plus there is some corn mixed in for an all in one side dish!
Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!
Slow Cooker Baked Pasta
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- 24 oz. cottage cheese
- 2 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 48 oz. marinara sauce
- ½ cup water
- 16 oz. pasta
- 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
- Brown Italian sausage and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, garlic salt, pepper and Parmesan.
- Grease crockpot insert then layer a little marinara sauce in the bottom.
- Scatter half of the pasta over the sauce.
- Top with cottage cheese mixture and sausage. Then add remaining pasta.
- Top with remaining sauce. Then shake 1/2 cup of water in the jars to get the remaining sauce out of the jars. Add to the slow cooker.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over the top.
- Cover slow cooker and cook on high for about 3 hours or until the pasta is cooked to your liking.
- Let rest for 10 minutes and then enjoy.