CrockPot Baked Ziti Recipe

Day 84.

I was hungry for a big bowl of pasta over the weekend. I haven't experimented with making pasta in the crockpot too much. I did make a lasagna earlier in the year that came out perfectly, and was interested in trying other noodles.

Although this could use some tweaking, the end result was what I was after.

The Ingredients.
--1 bag of your favorite pasta --I used Trader Joe's Brown Rice penne
--1 jar of marinara sauce
--any vegetables you might want to throw in. We only had a few leftover sliced mushrooms.
--cheese odds and ends. I used some shredded Mexican blend, some shredded parmesan and two string cheeses.

The Directions.

--rinse pasta in a colander (just so there's some added moisture)
--add a handful of pasta and a bit of sauce to your crockpot stoneware insert
--put in a bit of cheese
--keep layering ingredients in until you run out
--cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours. This took 4 hours in my Rival Smart Pot.
The Verdict.
I was pleased that the pasta was tender in the middle. The pasta that hit the sides and the stuff on top was pretty crunchy. Adam suggested (a bit too late) that maybe I should have sprayed some cooking spray on the inside of the stoneware before layering in the ingredients. I think that would have helped. I think next time I might add 2 T of water to the very top noodles to keep them a bit more tender.
I'm also thinking some meat added to the mix would help with a touch more moisture.
Even though we didn't eat the crunchy noodles, there was plenty of food for the four of us, with leftovers to spare.
I need to try some macaroni and cheese!

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at March 24, 2008

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What they say about this article

  1. Anonymous3/24/2008

    Here's mine:
    1/2 pound macaroni
    4 cups milk
    2 eggs
    4 cups cheese of your choice (cheddar being the obvious choice)
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. pepper
    1 tsp. mustard

    Spray the inside of the crock with cooking spray. Beat eggs with milk. Stir in the cheese, macaroni, and seasonings. Dump into the crock and cook on low for 5 hours.

    Yummy! I miss my crockpot.

  2. alison, thank you! I'm totally going to try this.


  3. I love any recipe that uses up leftover bits of cheese =)

  4. ooh, alison! thanks!

    i was looking for a mac and cheese recipe.....steph, have you tried mac and cheese in the crock yet?

    (ps. i love your blog so much it inspired me to start my own!

  5. I am going to have a nervous breakdown of happiness and glory - my daughter just sent me the link to your blog with only a subject line "your dream come true".

    You are my IDOL. I love my crockpot. I love one pot cooking. I love fix and forget. I love the house smelling like good cooking. I LOVE this blog.

    THANK YOU for existing!

  6. holy yum that looks delicious!

  7. PASTA IN A CROCKPOT! Who'da thunk? I am almost looking forward to school starting back, so that I can spend all day working and come home to a ... Okay, not. But I do so love my crockpot!

  8. I had the EXACT same problem, except with lasagna. All the noodle on the edges were crunchy. I even added a couple of extra cups of water! Your ziti looks really good though, and I will most assuredly be trying it some time soon.

  9. oh i can't wait to try this one! we love baked ziti and doing it in the crockpot is sooo much easier!! thanks!

  10. yes!! pasta in the crock. i've done a veggie lasagna and it comes out great. i add about 1/4 cup extra water to it and it keeps things moist.

    your recipe sounds yummy. i think i'll try it next. thanks for helping feed my family!! LOL

  11. Macaroni and cheese in the crockpot is to die for! I got on the kick of making it this way after having my husband's Grandmothers that way. This is the only way she'll make it. It is delicious and so easy!

    Thanks for sharing all of the wonderful crockpot recipes!

  12. I don't know what is wrong with me and/or my crockpot. I have made 3 recipes from your website and none of them have turned out for me! I tried this one tonight. Very crunchy pasta in spite of the fact that I put in the 2 tbsp of water and I also put in ground beef. I think I just need a bunch of water for this. I may try it again. I plan on trying the Spanish rice recipe this week too. I'll let you know how it turns out. One thing I noticed is my crockpot cooks very quickly so the chicken tacos I made were overcooked. I have a Rival crock pot with the timer (Is that a smart pot?.

  13. Hi Nikki, I'm so sorry that you are having a hard time---I hate it when things don't work out.

    If your pot consistently cooks hot, give Rival a call or email. Something might be a bit off.

    The crockpot I havehas 4 buttons: two for high, and two for low. Then it clicks automatically to warm. If I'm out of the house at all, I cook on low. If I'm home to monitor what's happening, I'll cook on high. Different altitudes, humidity, etc. all will effect the cooking times. This ziti is actually a pretty "adventurous" recipe--the meat and potato type dishes are much easier to wiggle around with.

    if you are still having trouble, please email me, and I'll see if I can talk you through better.


  14. Do you think this would still work without cheese (possibly adding some meat) for non-dairy folks? I have 9+ of marinara sauce, a bunch of Tinkyada pasta, and a farmer's market for vegetables nearby. In the winter, I'd bet this would be great with some caramelized (pre-roasted) vegetables :)

  15. Hi ~m! I don't think the cheese adds much to this pasta dish. After making the mac and cheese, I'm tempted to suggest adding a bit more moisture in the form of water, milk, or possibly V8---this pasta was much more crunchy than the mac and cheese.

    Or, don't use the full bag of pasta. or both!
    ack! Keep me posted on what you end up doing---this recipe could definitely use some tweaking.


  16. this sounds so totally yummy and i am going to attempt it tonight, even if it means we eat way late!! :)

  17. I'm going to try this for a early dinner tonight! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. Did you use cooked or uncooked pasta for this one? Does it matter??

  19. Hi AJnMJ's mom---I used raw pasta. I was interested in seeing if it cooked well. it didn't

    It would probably do much better with already-cooked, al dente noodles.


  20. We followed this using dry penne pasta and added a bit more water plus one can of fire roasted tomatoes (since there seemed a bit too little sauce). We layered it with some mozzarella slices and parmesan shreds, added some dried wild mushrooms (which was the reason for the extra water) and let it go. I stirred it up once towards the end to get the dry outside bits mixed in so it ended up less "layered" and more mixed, but it was delicious! Another keeper recipe.

  21. Looks great. Have you found a good crock pot macaroni and cheese? I need one for my kids!!! ha ha!

  22. Anonymous11/13/2008

    I made the baked ziti recipe in the crockpot. I sprayed the crock with cooking spray first. We used mini farfalle instead of ziti. I added about 1/4 water to the bottom of the jar of sauce and swished it around to get the last of the sauce out. I added some frozen spinach and chopped zucchini. I stirred it all around once an hour so nothing would get stuck to the sides. I took about 3.5 hours on low to cook all the way through. Pretty good!

  23. Anonymous1/14/2009

    Would it help if your final layer was the sauce? I sometimes have this problem with regular baked lasagna too -- especially when using the no-bake noodles -- and I find that loading it up with sauce on the top helps.

  24. Perhaps some ricotta cheese would keep things moist too?

  25. I've been so inspired by your blog! I made your chick'n'dumplings and it was great! Not at all like my mom's but I loved it!

    Tonight I was inspired by this Baked Ziti recipe but I riffed on it and it's perfect!

    I put 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts, a bag of sliced fresh mushrooms, a bag of pasta (it's this funny shape I get at Costco that looks like mini lasagna noodles), a large can of Trader Joe's marinara sauce, a half cup of red wine and what was left of a box of chicken broth (maybe 2 C.) and some shredded mozzarella.

    OMG - it's moist but not too soupy. It smells fantastic (the wine?). I am so glad I read all the comments from your loyal readers. All that moisture made all the difference I think.

    Thank you thank you thank you!

  26. Here's one I've tried a couple of times and it's amazing. I made it in my 6-quart

    2 16 oz. packages of ziti
    1 - 2 jars of pasta sauce (I'll explain later)
    48 oz. of ricotta
    16 ounces of mozzarella, shredded
    about 1 cup of fresh mozzarella, cubed
    about 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, shreeded

    Spray inside of crock with cooking spray - or don't. I've done it both ways and it doesn't make a heck of a lot of difference. Dump ziti into crock. Add pasta sauce and mix with ziti. I used one jar because I like it light on the tomato sauce. Use more if you like it heavier. Save jar and lid. Mix in ricotta, fresh mozzarella cubes, and about 3/4 or the shredded mozzarella. Combine well. Top with remaining shredded mozzarella and Parmesan. Add about 1/4 of a cup of water to jar, screw lid on, and shake. Pour over the ziti mixture. Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours or until it starts to brown on top. I push the noodles down 2 to 3 times while cooking with the back of a large, cooking spray-covered spoon, but I'm not sure this is even necessary. None of the noodles are crispy, ever. I've also halved this recipe and it works out fine.


  27. I am addicted to your blog!! I love my crock pot and can't wait to use it more!!

  28. Anonymous11/24/2009

    Hey there! I needed a side dish for dinner tonight and when I found your blog I had to try this. I had a little extra time before starting the crock pot, so I boiled the pasta for around 6 minutes (it was whole grain, so that made it a bit firmer than al dente) before assembling it. It turned out perfect with the additional cooking. I never thought about using non-stick spray on the inside of the stoneware, but it made everything really easy to clean and serve. Great blog; keep up the good work!

  29. I tried this recipe yesterday and it came out great!! It was my first time cooking with my crockpot, and I was a little worried, because I don't really cook...

    I added a pound of browned ground beef and a zucchini I had sliced and pan fried. I also added about 1/4 cup of water and cooked it for about 3 1/2 hours.

    It turned out delicious and plenty of leftovers for my husband and I!

    Thanks for the recipe, I'll be sure to look around your site for a few more! :)

  30. I can't eat mushrooms so instead I used one bell pepper and it was great! It added a little bit of a sweet taste to the dish

  31. I made a version of baked ziti for dinner tonight and it turned out good but a bit mushy and we longed for the crunch of burned noodles. The taste was OK. I used penne (can't get ziti in brazil) with tomato sauce, garlic, fresh basil, cottage cheese mixed with 1 small egg, parmesean cheese, 2 tomatoes, 1 slice of mozzarella shredded into strips, and one onion. I added about 1/8th cup extra water, but it was unnecessary. I cooked it on high for about 1.5 hours and it was more than slightly overdone. I am a new crock pot owner and it's a dysfunctional love affair: I love the idea of a crock pot more than the crock pot itself. I'm not going to break up with this machine yet, but our relationship is on the rocks.

  32. Anonymous4/10/2010

    For the dry and crunchy pasta what if you boiled the past first then put it in the dish. Thats what I do with myh mac and cheese crockpot which I absolutely love.

    P.S. Afriad turned me onto this site and I just love it. I've tried several already and so far have had no problem getting the hubby to eat them. LOL.

  33. I poured about two and a half cups of water over the top of everything, then cooked it for four hours and it came out fantastic! What a quick, easy dinner for those days when it's just too hot to cook! Thank you so much!

  34. Anonymous4/05/2011

    Ina Garten soaks in hot tap water, not cooks, her lasagna noodles for 20 minutes before assembling and baking her turkey lasagna.

    Would soaking the ziti before putting into the crock pot add the moisture where it is needed?

  35. I used this idea, but substituted the ingredients for Rachel Ray's spinach and artichoke baked pasta (Week in a Day show). I made my own white sauce, but a jar of alfredo sauce would do as well. I added 1/2 cup of water. It turned out fine. I put it on high for two hours. Next time I'll cut back the time so the pasta will be al dente.

  36. I managed to volunteer myself to bring a baked ziti dish to our holiday luncheon at work. I thought I'd try it in the crockpot so it'd stay hot, and when I searched online for a crockpot baked ziti recipe I found your site. You are a true adventurer! Anyway, I wondered if you might be able to answer this question - when should I cook the casserole? If I take it to the office uncooked and plug it in first thing, it might not be done by lunch. If I cook it the night before and reheat the next day, will the noodles get mushy? Thanks for any help! --- Debbie

  37. Hi Debbie,
    what a fun office! I do think the pasta would get squishy overnight in the sauce. If you aren't at work super early (7 or 8), then I'd probably make the pasta at home in salted water the night before, and take it out early, when it's still pretty al dente. Then cool and store in a ziplock bag overnight in the fridge.

    In the morning, layer in the pasta, sauce, and cheese in the slow cooker and keep on low until the cheese is bubbly and the noodles are hot; then flip to warm until lunch time.

    I hope this helps a bit!

  38. Hi Steph,

    Thanks very much for the reply! That's a great idea, I never would have thought of doing it that way. I'm tossing in some of those little bite-sized meatballs as well, but they're already thawed so should heat up pretty quickly. I usually don't bring hot dishes to these things so I'm a little nervous. Wish me luck! :) --- Debbie

  39. Wanted to let you know it came out great! I have a large crockpot so I used about one and a half times the ingredients of the basic recipe to fill the crockpot. About 3/4 disappeared at the luncheon and hubby devoured the rest for dinner that evening. I'll definitely have to make this again.

  40. So let me start by saying I've lurked here for a while. Tonight I was planning on doing either your Chicken Parm recipe, or your Orange Chicken recipe, but as pregnancy brain prevented me from defrosting any chicken- neither happened. By some act of fate I stumbled across this.

    I sprayed the crock pot with some Pam. Used Bow-Tie pasta rinsed in hot tap water, and 5/6th of a jar of pasta sauce (its all I had- don't ask) and about half a bag of mozzarella and a 1/4 bag of mexican shredded cheese. I added maybe 1/4 cup of water and thats it. Turned it on and came back about 3.5 hours later to stir, gave it another 15 minutes and it is DELICIOUS. I was afraid it'd come out a little to mushy- and it almost did- but it's wonderful and the very best part is I got to use up several things that had been in my cupboard/fridge for an almost questionable amount of time. This one is going down in the books.

    I don't even have books. I'll make books for this recipe. Even my snobby 15 month old likes it!

  41. Making this now...again! Here's my take: 1.5 jars of sauce to every box of pasta...cheeses, veggies, meats (we're having pizza-themed tonight!)...finish with sauce on top, added 1/2-1 cup water too, since hubby likes well done noodles and messy sauce. And I will stir at least once to avoid crunchy edges, since that worked for us last time! :) The sauce ratio is what I worked out a long time ago for baked pasta in the oven...seems to work in the crock as well!

  42. I made this last night and I was SO excited for it!
    I made sure to spray with PAM, then I added in all the ingredients, and I used more than 2 tablespoons of water. I put it on low before I went to work and set the timer to 4 1/2 hours.
    I knew to expect some possibly crunchy noodles, but was quite disappointed that almost half of the pot was un-edibly (made-up word) hard! The parts that weren't hard were DELICIOUS, so I really wished it had worked out.
    The reason I loved the idea was so that I could have the meal ready by the time I got back from work, but I think this probably would've worked out better if I had been able to stir it every so often!

  43. Oh, I am so glad that I have found this Blog!!! Especially now where the temp here is reaching 100F (before the HX), so now I don't have to heat up my whole house! I can't wait to read the rest of the recipes!

  44. You mentioned precooking the noodles for an office party. I do something similar to that with my baked manicotti.

    I actually stuff the manicotti shells, cut them in half and then stand them up in the pot. I can get almost all of a 9x13 pan in the crockpot. I add about 1/3 of the sauce first, add the stuffed noodles and then poor the rest of the sauce on top. Then I top it with the mozzarella cheese.

    I think the reason this works is because everything is precooked, the stuffing, the noodles, put it in the pot and keep it at low - they WONT make it to lunch. I've been taking 2-3 out and keeping them for myself at home or I don't get any.

  45. I just made this, and in addition to following your directions I threw some water in the tomato sauce jar and tossed it in, like in your lasagna recipe. Worked well!

  46. Found your recipe on pinterest--tried it tonight and it was amazing and so easy. Thank you! :)

  47. This recipe saved my family while we transitioned to baby #3. I am about to credit you at Thank you!

  48. I make the crockpot lasagna and ziti all the time and I always use more sauce than the recipe calls for, use regular pasta and never precook it. I also use the slow cooker plastic liner bags for easy cleanup, works great every time!