Let me tell you about my new favorite easy weeknight meal – crockpot lasagna! I know what you’re thinking…lasagna takes hours of work between the sauce, and the noodles, layering it all up, and waiting for it to bake. Well, this version literally takes minutes of prep time and the crockpot does all the work!
The other day, I was craving lasagna but didn’t have the time or energy for the whole production. So I threw a little spin on the classic recipe by essentially “deconstructing” it. All the flavors you love in a meaty sauce with noodles – but way simpler.
How Do You Make Crock Pot Lasagna
I started by browning some ground beef. I did this the day before and then put it in the fridge but you can just cook and drain at the time of cooking. For me, it was the last day I felt comfortable keeping uncooked beef in the fridge so it was either frozen or cooked.
Then I added jarred marinara sauce, a jar full of water (using the same marinara sauce jar), and a can of diced tomatoes to the crockpot. Feel free to add seasoning as well if you like. I kept it a bit more simple and waited until the end.
While that simmered, I added in the beef and spinach. I then broke up uncooked lasagna noodles into the crockpot. I tried to keep them in bigger pieces rather than super short.
Once the meat sauce was headed through and the spinach was wilted, I added in the noodles, gave it a quick stir, put the lid on and let the crockpot work its magic. You may have to add a bit more water depending on how much pasta you want tp fit in. About 25 minutes later, the meal was ready!
The noodles soften up perfectly as they all simmer together. I topped mine with a little ricotta cheese and grated parmesan. So, so good.
This has become my new go-to when I want something hearty and comforting but don’t have much time. Lasagna flavor made easy, thanks to the crockpot. You’ve got to give this shortcut version a try – I guarantee your family will love it!
Can I make Crockpot Lasagna Gluten Free?
Yes, you can easily adapt this crockpot lasagna recipe to be gluten-free recipe.
- Use gluten-free lasagna noodles instead of regular wheat noodles. Barilla and Ronzoni both make good gluten-free lasagna noodles.
- Check that the marinara sauce and diced tomatoes are certified gluten-free. Choose sauces marked “gluten-free” on the label.
- Use gluten-free breadcrumbs or panko instead of regular breadcrumbs when cooking the ground beef.
- Look for gluten-free cheese options for the ricotta and parmesan layers. Many major brands now offer gluten-free shredded mozzarella, ricotta and Parmesan.
- If including spinach, make sure it’s fresh spinach rather than frozen with sauce. The sauce may contain gluten.
- Use a gluten-free tamari or soy sauce when seasoning the ground beef. Or season just with salt and pepper.
- Make sure to cook the lasagna noodles separately rather than breaking up raw noodles. They may not soften properly if gluten-free.
With these simple swaps for gluten-free ingredients, you’ll end up with a lasagna that’s just as comforting without the gluten! Let me know if you need any other tips for making this recipe gluten-free.
What is the Best Crockpot for Crockpot Lasagna?
When it comes to the perfect crockpot for bubbling, saucy lasagna, I always reach for my tried and true 8-quart Crock-Pot manual slow cooker. That oval shape provides tons of room for all the layers to cook up evenly without drying out. Plus the size prevents boil-overs or any mushy noodle mishaps. Adjustable heat settings let me start it on high, then down to low, or keep warm for when it’s ready to eat. This Crock-Pot may be manual and simple, but it’s durably built and ideal for keeping lasagna evenly saucy, and never dried out. To me, that’s essential for any lasagna – crockpot or otherwise!
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of ground beef should I use?
An 80/20 or 85/15 lean ground beef works best. The higher fat content keeps the meat moist and tender. Avoid super lean ground beef.
Can I prep this lasagna ahead of time?
Yes! Assemble the raw ingredients in the crockpot up to 24 hours before cooking. Refrigerate, then add 30-60 mins to the cooking time when ready to heat through.
What if my lasagna noodles get mushy?
To help keep the noodles intact, try breaking them into 2-3-inch pieces before adding to the crockpot. Stir gently when checking doneness.
Can I substitute different noodles?
Lasagna, ziti, or mafalda noodles all work. Just break it into larger pieces and reduce the cooking time by 5-10 minutes for quicker cooking pasta.
How can I make this recipe dairy free?
Omit the ricotta and parmesan cheese. Use dairy-free mozzarella or veggie cheese instead. Swap dairy milk for plant milk in the sauce.
What sides go well with crockpot lasagna?
Try pairing it with salad, garlic bread or knots, sautéed broccoli, or roasted asparagus. Caesar salad and cheesy garlic bread make perfect complements.
- 1 Crockpot
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh spinach chopped
- 8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles broken into pieces
- 1 lb ground beef cooked and drained
- 15 oz ricotta cheese
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Start by browning the ground beef. You can do this the day before and then put it in the fridge but you can just cook and drain at the time of cooking.
- Next, add jarred marinara sauce, a jar full of water (using the same marinara sauce jar), and a can of diced tomatoes to the crockpot. Feel free to add seasoning as well if you like salt, pepper, oregano and Italian seasoning
- While that simmers, add in the beef and spinach. Allow that to simmer for bit, a minimum of 10 minutes.
- Next, break up the uncooked lasagna noodles into the crockpot. I tried to keep them in bigger pieces rather than super short (about 3 pieces per lasagna sheet)
- Once the meat sauce is heated through and the spinach has wilted, add in the noodles, give it a quick stir, put the lid on, and let the crockpot work its magic.
- Cook for 25 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through and soft.
- You can now add in ricotta cheese and mix through, or just plate the lasagna and add a scoop of ricotta on top.
- Once you plate the lasagna and before you dig in, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!