The creamy, sauce-y cheese ziti that you love, made in your slow cooker!

Cheesy slow cooker ziti in a crock pot with a spoon scooping some out of the pot.

I’ve got another one pot wonder for you guys today: Slow Cooker Three Cheese Ziti. Complete comfort food bliss!

Baked ziti has always been high on my list of favorite cheesy pastas. It’s usually my go-to if we’re ever eating at olive garden. It’s simple amazing, especially paired with their awesome breadsticks (here’s my homemade olive garden breadsticks, in case you want to make them yourself!).

A Slow Cooker with red sauce at the bottom and raw ziti noodles.

I have a one pan baked ziti recipe on my blog that I shared a little while ago. It’s one of my family’s favorites and it contains a yummy meat sauce. This slow cooker three cheese ziti recipe is a little different. First, it’s easier than the other (although both are made in just one pan, so you can’t go wrong!).

 

A Slow Cooker with sauce and ziti noodles topped with cheese.

This one has even more cheesy-ness going on than the other.  It’s reminds me of my favorite slow cooker lasagna recipe in the way that everything is layered in the crock pot. I love how the noodles are added, uncooked, straight from the box. You don’t have to cook or pre-prep anything before making this.

A Slow Cooker filled with Three Cheese Ziti pasta

This meal is a total winner in the “fix it and forget it” category and the end result is tender noodles sandwiched between layers of cheesy deliciousness.

A spoon lifting Three Cheese Ziti out of a crock pot.

 

Consider trying these popular slow cooker recipes:

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Slow Cooker Ribs

Hawaiian BBQ Meatballs

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Chipotle Chicken Fajita Soup

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Recipe

The creamy, sauce-y cheese ziti that you love, made in your slow cooker! | tastesbetterfromscratch.com
Prep 10 mins
Cook 2 hrs
Total 2 hrs 10 mins
Add to Meal Plan

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 pastas (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

Instructions
 

  • Add cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta to a mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixers until smooth. Stir in garlic and basil.
  • In a large bowl, combine both jars of pasta sauce, tomato sauce and water.
  • 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.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 - 2 ½ hours, or LOW for 3 ⅓ -4 hours or until pasta is tender.
  • During the last few minutes, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese to the top, and return the lid of the machine to allow it to melt. After mine melted I stuck it under the broiler of my oven for 2 minutes to make the cheese golden and bubbly, but you don’t have to!

Notes

Be sure the ziti noodles are covered by the sauce so they cook appropriately.
I use a 6 qt. slow cooker!  Anything that size or larger will work perfectly!

Nutrition

Calories: 478kcalCarbohydrates: 57gProtein: 23gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 54mgSodium: 1632mgPotassium: 961mgFiber: 5gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 1620IUVitamin C: 16.4mgCalcium: 378mgIron: 3.4mg

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Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Pasta (Three Cheese Ziti)
Amount per Serving
Calories
478
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
18
g
28
%
Saturated Fat
 
10
g
50
%
Cholesterol
 
54
mg
18
%
Sodium
 
1632
mg
68
%
Potassium
 
961
mg
27
%
Carbohydrates
 
57
g
19
%
Fiber
 
5
g
20
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Protein
 
23
g
46
%
Vitamin A
 
1620
IU
32
%
Vitamin C
 
16.4
mg
20
%
Calcium
 
378
mg
38
%
Iron
 
3.4
mg
19
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Have you tried this recipe?!

RATE and COMMENT below! I would love to hear your experience.

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About The Author

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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

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

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

  15. 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!

  16. 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!