This easy Crock Pot Baked Ziti recipe only takes 10 minutes to prep using uncooked noodles layered in cheese and marinara sauce. Delicious comfort food for any busy night!

Looking for more crock pot recipes? Try Chicken Tikka Masala, French Dip Sandwiches, or Creamy Ranch Pork Chops!

Crock Pot Baked Ziti in a slow cooker with a spoon in it for serving.

Why I love this recipe:

  • Quick Prep – All you need is 10 minutes to place the ingredients in the slow cooker and dinner will be done on time!
  • One Pot – A true dump and forget meal. It’s completely hands off cooking, and no mess!
  • Delicious – This three cheese ziti is a crowd pleaser, and my kids are always asking for more!

How to make Crock Pot Baked Ziti:

Make Cheese Layer: Add cream cheese, sour cream, and ricotta to a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixers until smooth. Stir in garlic and basil.

A bowl with cream cheese, ricotta, sour cream, basil and garlic in a mixing bowl.

Make Sauce: In a large bowl, combine both jars of pasta sauce, tomato sauce, and water.

Assemble: Add 2 cups of sauce to the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with ⅓ of the uncooked penne, then dot half of the ricotta mixture and spread with a spoon. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

Three process photos for making baked ziti in the crock pot.

Repeat Layers, then pour remaining uncooked penne on top followed by the remaining sauce.

Cook: Cover and cook on HIGH for 2-2 ½ hours or LOW for 3-4 hours or until pasta is tender.

Top with Cheese: During the last few minutes, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and return the lid to allow it to melt. You can place it under the broiler in the oven for 2 minutes to make the cheese golden and bubbly if you’d like.

Crock Pot Baked Ziti cooked in a slow cooker, with mozzarella cheese melted on top.

Serve this crock pot pasta with easy homemade breadsticks and a green salad!

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: The riccotta cheese mixture and the pasta sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge in separate airtight containers until ready to assemble and cook.

To Freeze: Leftovers from this crock pot ziti can be frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Let thaw in the fridge completely before reheating. The pasta may be a little softer than when it was freshly made.

Recipe Variations:

  • Oven Baked Ziti
  • Add Meat: Add 1 pound cooked ground beef or ground sausage to the red sauce before layering.
  • Add veggies: sautéed veggies, chopped small and layered over the red sauce would make a delicious addition. Try adding zucchini, spinach, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms.
  • Pasta: Penne pasta could also be substituted.

Serve Baked Ziti with:

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Recipe

Crock Pot Baked Ziti in a slow cooker with a spoon in it for serving.
Prep 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 10 mins
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Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 24 ounce jars marinara pasta sauce or two batches of homemade marinara
  • 16 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 ounces UNCOOKED ziti pasta (or penne)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese , softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves , chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh basil, for topping optional

Instructions
 

  • Make Cheese Layer: Add cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta to a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixers until smooth. Stir in garlic and basil.
  • Make Red Sauce: In a large bowl, combine both jars of pasta sauce, tomato sauce and water.
  • Assemble: Add 2 cups of sauce to the bottom of the slow cooker. Top with about ⅓ of the uncooked penne. Dot on half of the ricotta mixture and use a spoon to gently spread it out evenly. Top with ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese.
  • Add another 2 cups of sauce. Top with ⅓ of the uncooked penne. Add remaining ricotta mixture and spread. Sprinkle on the remaining ¾ cup parmesan cheese. Add the remaining uncooked penne. Top with the remaining sauce. Make sure the ziti noodles are covered by the sauce so they cook appropriately. Top with mozzarella cheese.
  • Cook: Cover with lid and cook on HIGH for 2 – 2 ½ hours, or LOW for 3 ⅓ -4 hours, or until pasta is tender. Serve garnished with fresh basil, if desired.

Notes

Pasta: Penne pasta could also be substituted.
To Add Meat: Add 1 pound cooked ground beef or ground sausage to the red sauce before layering.
To Add Veggies: sautéed veggies, chopped small and layered over the red sauce would make a delicious addition. Try adding zucchini, spinach, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms.
Make Ahead Instructions: The ricotta cheese mixture and the pasta sauce can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge in separate airtight containers until ready to assemble and cook.
Freezing Instructions: Leftovers can be frozen in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Let thaw in the fridge completely before reheating. The pasta may be a little softer than when it was freshly made.
For Oven Baked Ziti: find my recipe here.

Nutrition

Calories: 427kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 20gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 751mgPotassium: 392mgFiber: 3gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 842IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 314mgIron: 2mg

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I originally shared this recipe September 2017. Updated May 2022.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I had to give this a 5-star rating as my kids asked for seconds! I typically follow recipes as they are written; however, for some reason I did not have sour cream and ended up using regular vanilla yogurt instead. This recipe was quick and easy to make after coming home tired on a Friday from work.

  2. 5 stars
    I doubled the recipe to feed my crew of 10 tonight. Everyone loved it from the 2 year old to the 80 year old. I will be making it again soon but might try adding ground turkey to the red sauce.

  3. 2 stars
    Wasn’t my favorite! It was okay, just not the usual 5 stars of TBFS! The consistency was a little off; made recipe exactly as is.

    1. 2 stars
      I agree not our favorite either, I even followed some tips others suggested like check after an hr and a half, make more cheese mixture. And it just made so much sauce and some of the noodles throughout were different texture, so I put in oven in a 9 ×13 dish.. just a disaster. Maybe my fault for making changes. (More than likely ) I love almost all of Lauren’s recipes! But won’t be trying this for a while. Traumatized lol. I’m sure it’s some people’s cup of tea.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this for a group of 8 today. Everyone loved it. It was enough that some had seconds. Next time I make it I’m going to add veggie beef crumbles for even more protein (I’m a vegetarian). I made just a couple of changes by adding rosemary and thyme to the sauce so that it infused into pasta.

  5. 4 stars
    Made tonight and liked it. Felt there was not enough ricotta mixture. There is no way I can spread it out and have anything but a see-through layer, so put most in the middle of the crock. Would double to ricotta mixture next time. For my family (3 at the meal tonight) this gave us tons of leftovers.

  6. Hi!

    Can I substitute the sour cream with something else.
    Also, i would like to try it with italian sausage ground beef should i pre cook the meat or should i add it j. The pot un cooked?

    Thanks

    1. Yes, precook the meat. You can leave the sour cream out and just add a little more cream cheese and/or ricotta with a splash of milk.

  7. If you substituted with gluten free noodles, would you still put the noodles in uncooked or do you recommend cooking them prior?

    1. Hi Lisa, I’ve never tried gluten-free noodles so I can’t say, but I would probably add them like the recipe calls for, and you may not need to cook it as long.

  8. 4 stars
    I made this for my grandfather’s wake. My family loved it, said it was the best dish up there (in competition with several lasagnas). I took away 1 star because the timing for cooking. After 2 hours of cooking in high the noodles were pretty mushy. Definitely check after 1 1/2 hours.

  9. Hi! I love this recipe. I am wondering where you get the straight cut macaroni from. Velveeta used to have one called pre-cut spaghetti and it was the same as a straight macaroni noodle. Fideo is too small but it is the type of pasta in Kraft macaroni and cheese it’s not made into a c shape. I’m looking for what you show in your original picture. Thanks!

  10. I want to make this with some chicken so it’s like a super easy chicken parm. Can I use raw chicken bits or precooked? I’m trying to not fry and to make it easy!

    1. Hi Leah, I haven’t tried it but I think raw chicken would work fine, as long as it was cut into very small pieces so that it has enough time to cook all the way through.

  11. 5 stars
    I made this and now my boyfriend, his dad, my son, and my aunt won’t stop hounding me to make it again. Lol. I added a pound of hamburger last time, but I’m going to add some Italian sausage as well when I make it again tonight. It’s the bomb!

    1. hello my names Danielle Im going to try to make this meal was just wondering if with the hamburger meat do I cook it first also the sausage would I cook first

      1. If you want to add ground beef or sausage you will need to cook them first. Sounds delicious!

    1. Hi Jean,
      If your adding already cooked meat, I would just stir it in near the end of cooking and allow the meat time to reheat in the mixture.

  12. 5 stars
    I made this to take into work for black friday, we had a skeleton crew so it was just 3 of us. I halved the recipe since it was just 3 of us. Also, I layered all the incredients in the crock overnight (with the exception of the mozz for the top, I saved that for the last 15 mins), and put the crock in the fridge with plastic wrap over the top to seal it.

    Once I got into the office, sripped off the plastic wrap, put the lid on it, and plugged it in on low for 3 hours and 20 minutes. Threw the mozz on top, left it on low for another 15 mins, and we all dug in.

    This came out great. I’d say halving it there was enough in there for 5 or 6 people. One of the women I work with took the leftovers home for her husband, so it was definitely a hit. We’re having a food day for something else next week, I’ll be setting it up again, except doing the full recipe then, and tossing in a pound of grass fed beef browned with the sauce. Should be pretty awesome.

    I was a little bit concerned with setting it up the night before, I was worried the noodles would get too soft. There was no issue. This recipe is pretty awesome and very simple. Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience–especially the tips for making it the night before. I’m so happy it turned out so well! Thanks for commenting.

  13. Looks delicious! Do you just put the crockpot insert in your oven or do you transfer the ziti to another pan when you broil it?

  14. I’m going to try this tonight. With only 3 people eating should I half the ingredients and half the time as well?

  15. Thanks for the recipe. Showed my husband recipe. He is shopping list tomorrow. He is Italian. So this is right up our alley. Especially since I can put it in my crockpot and forget it. Thanks again

  16. This sounds like it would be great to make on vacation in the hotel room, and convienient. It will just be my husband and I though, so how would I reduce this recipe to feed 2? I have a 6 (or 8) qt programmable crockpot.

    1. Hi Heather,
      This recipe feeds about 6-8 people. I would divide each ingredient by 3 to feed you and your husband! You will also need to reduce the cooking time! I hope you enjoy it!

  17. Hello! This looks delicious and I’d love to make it for a crockpot party. If I doubled up on ingredients, would I also double up the cooking time?

    1. Hi Michelle, you must have a really big crock pot! If you double all the ingredients, I think it will still be done by 4 hours on LOW.

    1. Hi Makayla. I use a 6 quart crock-pot! You could use a 4 qt., just cut back on the amount of ingredients a little bit!

  18. This looks so delicious, I’m going to make this tomorrow, if I wanted to add chop meat, how much should I add and should I fully cook the chop meat before hand?

    1. Hi Jennifer, That sounds delicious! I would add one pound (if it’s something like ground beef or sausage), and cook it before adding it. You could also add meatballs!

  19. 3 stars
    Just made this and the taste was great, but a bunch of the ziti towards the top of the crockpot did not cook hardly at all after 3 hrs. on high 🙁 What should I have done differently? I followed the directions 100%. Maybe I didn’t have enough sauce covering the noodles? Any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hi Liz, I am sorry that you had crispy noodles. I try make sure to push all of the noodles underneath the sauce to they can cook in the liquid. I have updated the recipe to add that note. I hope you have a chance to retry it!

    1. I would set it to cook on LOW for 4 hours, but if you can, I would check it around 3 1/2 hours. I feel like the “low” setting is still pretty warm and I don’t want your noodles to be overcooked. Hope that helps!