slow cooker baked ziti

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

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Okay, just to start off, I have to admit something. This recipe is kind of a lie. Let me explain. This recipe is made in the slow cooker, but it is never baked. So, it really should just be called Slow Cooker Ziti. But, I don’t think that “ziti” evokes the same kind of warm and delicious thoughts as “baked ziti.” Am I wrong on that? Baked ziti is saucy and cheesy and thick and hearty and yummy. And that’s exactly what this pasta is, but it’s not baked. So I’m lying a little bit!

Anyway, enough on nomenclature. This pasta is easy and cheesy and perfect for a cool night in. It cooks in your slow cooker (not the oven) all day and smells amazing.

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti Ingredients

This slow cooker baked ziti takes a lot of pantry staples. I love all the zesty Italian flavor in this dish that I achieve by taking a few shortcuts. I like using store-bought marinara sauce and Italian-style diced tomatoes for an extra flavor boost.

  • Italian sausage
  • onion
  • minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • dried basil
  • Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • marinara sauce
  • water or chicken broth
  • ziti pasta
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

Can You Cook Pasta in a Slow Cooker?

So the answer to this is sort of. Can you throw uncooked pasta in a slow cooker and leave it in for 6 hours with the rest of your ingredients? Sure, you could, but you’d end up with a bunch of shapeless soggy noodles that don’t resemble pasta at all.

You can, however, cook your meat and sauce in the slow cooker all day, letting all the flavors develop and simmer away, and add your uncooked pasta at the very end of your 6 hours. This gives your sauce and meat time to get delicious and tender and flavorful, and then lets your pasta cook in all that tasty goodness until perfectly tender.

You’ll want to turn your slow cooker back up to high, add your uncooked pasta, and watch it, because every slow cooker cooks things a little bit differently. Yours could cook the pasta to al dente perfection in as little as 10 minutes, but it could take upwards of 30 minutes. My recommendation is to set a timer and check every 3-5 minutes to check on your pasta’s progress. Once you figure out how long it takes, you can always know exactly how long to set your timer.

Slow Cooker Pasta Recipes

If you’re craving more slow cooker pasta recipes, here are a few of my very favorites!

Stuffed Shells – Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Creamy Mac and Cheese

Slow Cooker Buffalo Wild Wings Garlic Parmesan Chicken Pasta

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

Recipe by Julia Pacheco Course: DinnerCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Slow Cooker Baked Ziti is easy, cheesy and perfect for a cool night in. It cooks in your slow cooker (not the oven) all day and tastes great.


  • 1 lb 1 Italian sausage

  • 1 1 onion, diced

  • 2 tbsp 2 minced garlic

  • 1 tsp 1 salt

  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 dried basil

  • 28 oz 28 can Italian-style diced tomatoes

  • 24 oz 24 marinara sauce

  • 2 1/2 cups 2 1/2 water or chicken broth

  • 13 oz 13 ziti pasta

  • 1 cup 1 shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Add the sausage to a large skillet over medium heat and brown. Once cooked through, remove any grease from the pan.
  • Add the sausage to a large slow cooker along with the diced onion, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, seasonings, marinara sauce, and water. Stir well.
  • Cook on LOW for 7 hours or HIGH for 4 hours.
  • Turn slow cooker to high and stir in the uncooked pasta. Let cook for an additional 16-35 minutes or until the pasta is cooked. This may vary depending on your slow cooker. Sprinkle the cheese on top and stir in once melted. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Video


  1. Wow this was delicious! Followed recipe exactly and my husband and I both could not believe how good this was. So flavorful, cheesy, and ziti was perfect consistency, not soggy at all.

  2. So yummy! Julia your recipes are amazing! Thank you!

  3. My husband loved this! It’s definitely going in our regular meal rotation.

  4. I have only a 3quart slow cooker. Is this recipe for a larger cooker?

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