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Slow Cooker Baked Ziti Recipe

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Servings 8 servings

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This Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is made completely in the crockpot — even the pasta! It is so much easier than the traditional version but packs all of the same flavor! Includes step by step recipe video.

slow cooker baked ziti in crock pot with metal spoon stuck into pasta

I know.

I’m not even 50 words in and I’ve cheated already.

This Crock Pot Baked Ziti is obviously NOT baked. Though I suppose if you were really set on it you could stir in an egg and some ricotta (although Serious Eats isn’t upset my recipe’s lack of it), spread it into a baking dish and bake it.

I, however, am not.

Because this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is all about finding easy, crockpot meals that my family loves, don’t use a whole pile of dishes and are relatively healthy and hearty.

And the best part about slow cooker dinners?

That moment, often around 5:00, when you would normally be all like, “Riiiiiiiight…… dinner…..”, but instead you’ve got things totally under control.

How much do you feel like a rockstar in that moment?

crock pot baked ziti in white slow cooker on white background with spoon scooping some

Tips for cooking Crock Pot Pasta:

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know that figuring out how to cook pasta in the slow cooker was pretty life changing for me.

Take this Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Chili Mac for instance, or this Slow Cooker Healthier Hamburger Helper. We can’t get enough!

But there are a few tricks to getting it just right!

  1. Small pasta is best, but long is doable. Short pasta like macaroni, penne, rotini, and others work best in this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti because they’re less likely to clump and stick together. Long pasta cuts like spaghetti and fettucini are doable, but you may have to stir a couple more times in between.
  2. Turn your slow cooker to high when you add your pasta. It’s going to take longer to cook than if you were boiling it, but we don’t want it to take forever, so crank it up and let it go for 15 minutes or so, until it reaches your desired tenderness.
  3. Spread your pasta down into the sauce — try to make sure you don’t have too many sticking out or they may be dry.
  4. Don’t overcook — cooking pasta in the slow cooker takes longer than in boiling water, but it’s not going to take more than 20-25 minutes, so check at the 15 minute mark, and then try to gauge how much longer it needs at that point.
slow cooker baked ziti on plate overhead on white marble background

Variations on this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti:

I have one other confession: my Ziti is not Ziti. It’s Penne.

But you know what?

Ziti is not that easy to find around here, and since my “Baked” Ziti isn’t all that traditional in the first place, why cause a big fuss about it? (If you’re looking for another untraditional “Baked Ziti” recipe that doesn’t cook all day, try this One Pot Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage!)

If you insist, you can easily swap the penne for ziti noodles, and nothing will change.

Here are a few more ways to mix things up if you want:

  • Try swapping ground beef for loose Italian sausage for a slightly spicy, extra flavorful kick.
  • Try swapping 1/2 cup of the broth for 1/2 cup of cream for a creamy, tomato-based pasta
  • You can easily swap the penne or ziti noodles for spaghetti and end up with spaghetti and meat sauce — just cut down the cook time on the noodles and stir every 5 minutes until cooked.
  • You can easily bump up the veggie content by adding shredded carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, finely chopped kale or spinach — and no one will know!
crock pot baked ziti on grey plate with fork stuck into pasta on white marble background

More Crock Pot Pasta recipes:

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Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

4.91 from 20 votes
This Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is actually made completely in the crockpot — even the pasta! It is so much easier than the traditional version but packs all of the same flavor!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 15 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 8 servings
Calories 385cal


  • 1 lb ground beef (or turkey or Italian sausage)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 650 ml jar pasta sauce about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
  • 375 gram box Penne or Ziti or other short pasta (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  • In a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion until browned. Stir in garlic and salt and cook 1 minute. (OPTIONAL: you can also add the raw onion and spices right into the slow cooker to save on time)
  • Add beef mixture, basil, parsley, tomatoes, pasta sauce and water to a 4qt (or larger) slow cooker. Stir.
  • Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
  • Turn slow cooker to high. Add pasta and stir until combined. Cover and continue cooking for 15-30 minutes (depending on how hot your slow cooker is) — check and stir at the 15 minute mark.
  • Sprinkle with cheese and cover for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 385cal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 988mg | Potassium: 639mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 16.1mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 3.1mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Angie says

    Made this tonight…. Wow! #fantastic

    I used chicken broth for more flavor, and left the pasta in for 45 min on high, as another person mentioned. Voila, new family favorite!! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  2. Maureen says

    Is the pasta cooked prior to putting it in the crock pot? I assume it is not, but I’ve learned never to assume.

  3. babs says

    I made this for supper tonight, exactly as stated and oh my, it was FAN-TAS-TIC! I picked a bad time to start dieting. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to have some leftovers. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Nancy says

    Made the crock pot baked ziti today , exactly like the recipe and I have to tell you, I give it an A plus, plus, plus…..

    We both ate till we were about to burst and still have plenty for leftovers tomorrow, so I can enjoy it tomorrow too !

    Never dreamed it would be so good done in the crock pot ! This will be a regular in my menu planning !

  5. Meka says

    Any body else’s initially look like a lot of liquid ? I’m hoping this cooks down and there isn’t as much liquid or this is going to be runny

  6. Everlinda says

    I am cooking this now. Going to cook on hi for 3 hrs. And then it says to add uncooked pasta and cook for 45 mins while mixing every 20 mins. Will the pasta cook, even though the slow cooker after 3 hrs is starting to cool down?

  7. ColleenB.~Texas says

    I cut back on the water/broth and used some V-8 juice and used Veggie broth in place of the water / chicken broth.
    (sorry, I’m a dumper and not a measurer, so have no idea how much liquid of each that I used)

  8. Charlotte Benson says

    I love this recipe! I followed it exactly and it made WAY more pasta than I expected. If I half the recipe, do you know how long I will have to cook it?

      • Stephanny iglesias says

        Hello, if my slow cooker only has the options to cook for 4 or 6 hours on high and 8 or 10 hours on low, where can I put this to cook. Just put all the ingredients in

        • Ashley Fehr says

          Since the ground beef is already cooked, the time is really flexible. You could do 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, or you set it to low and just add the pasta after 4-5 hours.

  9. Adrian says

    I’m a little nervous guys! This is my first recipe in the crockpot other than a ham! I’ve had it on low for about 3 and 1/2 hours, so eager to see how it turns out! I’ll let everyone know soon!

  10. Eleni says

    Any specific jar sauce you use for this ? I am not a big fan of pre-made pasta sauces so I defer to what you love to use in this dish. The minute my son saw it on my computer he wants me to make it for dinner tomorrow.. lol ! Thank you !

  11. Karen says

    Hi….I’m a little confused on the amount of time to cook this dish. In the instructions it says 4 hours but down further it says 6 hours on low or 3 on high…..can you please clarify? Thank you!

  12. Katherine says

    I did it! Came out great. I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned and it still tastes great. I was hoping to find nutritional info really available on this site. Is it around here somewhere?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Katherine! I’m glad you liked it! I don’t normally offer nutritional values because it can depend hugely on which brands and specific products you use, and not all calculators are reliable. I will be adding some in the new year though!

  13. Debbie Dzurilla says

    The crockpot baked ziti is awesome! The first time to make something like that in the crockpot. Oh my so tasty! My ground chuck is always precooked and frozen so this recipe was super fast and easy. We had salad and garlic bread with it. Just a great meal. We’ll enjoy the leftovers on another day! I LOVE crockpot cooking!

  14. Cathy J. says

    Just finished up the slow cooker ziti. Finished it before dinner time, so I haven’t tried it yet. Leaving the crock on warm, hoping the pasta doesn’t over cook. I’ll come back with my review after dinner-keeping my fingers crossed for a good outcome!

  15. Alyssa says

    I am wondering if I could make this with chicken? Could I throw a couple breasts in the crockpot with everything else and let it all cook together?

  16. Pamela says

    I just need to know is the pasta cooked before mixing into the sauce . I would like to make it as the recipe states. Thank-you

  17. Alyssa @ My Sequined Life says

    What’s the deal with ziti not being easily available? We had ziti all the time where I grew up, but I have a tough time finding it now that I’ve moved. Slow Cooker Baked Penne 😉 might be happening here very soon – LOVE!

  18. Sarah @Whole and Heavenly Oven says

    Oh my gosh, ziti in the crockpot??! I’m pretty sure you just became my dinner hero, Ashley. My family loooooves ziti but I don’t love all the time it takes to make it, so you can bet I’ll be pulling out this recipe the next time it’s ziti night!!

  19. Medha says

    This baked ziti looks delicious! Baked ziti is a nostalgic dish for me, because my mom and I would always make it together with the recipe on the back of the pasta box 🙂

  20. Rachel @ Bakerita says

    Okay I need to make this like, yesterday because I LOVE baked ziti and haven’t had it in sooo long and yours looks soooo good. And it’s made in the slow cooker! Such a dinner win, Ashley!

  21. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Ashley! This is definitely comfort food! I have all of the ingredients on hand, so no need to go to the store!

  22. Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says

    Mmm baked ziti is one of the best comfort foods, and you just took it to a whole new level with making it in the slow cooker! Such a brilliant idea, Ashley! And I love how easy this is to make, too. Just what I need on this Monday morning!

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