Slow Cooker Lasagna: How to Make Crazy-Good Cheesy Meat Lasagna in a Crockpot Slow Cooker

This Crockpot Slow Cooker Lasagna is super cheesy and delicious. I love that the slow cooker does double duty: it creates a rich, meat sauce with the deep flavour of being simmered all day and also “bakes” the lasagna all in one step. Also, no need to boil the noodles, saving an extra step and dirty pot. Winning.

Why You’re going to love this Crockpot Slow Cooker Lasagna Recipe:

Making lasagna in the slow cooker is honestly one of my new favourite dinner hacks. It’s so easy, but set-it-and-forget-it convenience isn’t even the main draw. Here’s what this decadent recipe offers:

  • The flavour is incredible. I love how the slow cooker slowly simmers rich umami flavour into the sauce just like Nonna’s.
  • The noodles cook to perfect al-dente with the super low heat. It’s (surprisingly) difficult to overcook them in 3 1/2 – 4 hours of cook time plus significant warming time.
  • The mozzarella cheese melts to stretchy deliciousness. I don’t miss the browning of the oven at all.
  • Portability. This didn’t even occur to me until I was testing a batch on a day I was visiting a friend. Grabbed the whole appliance and took it with me to her house. Great for potlucks using the warming setting.

I made this recipe in partnership with Crockpot™ using my 4-Quart Digital Countdown Slow Cooker. With a family-sized 4-quart capacity, programmed cooking times up to 20 hours, HIGH or LOW cook settings, and a WARM function, this convenient appliance does all the work while you’re out.

Crockpot Slow Cooker Lasagna Ingredients

What’s This Lasagna Made Of?

  • Ground beef
  • Lasagna noodles (more on this in a bit)
  • Tomato sauce (see options below)
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Mozzarella
  • Fresh parsley

For a super-simple ingredient list, this recipe delivers a ton of classic, delicious lasagna flavour.

How to Make Lasagna in the Slow Cooker:

  • Prep the meat sauce
  • Prep the ricotta cheese mixture
  • Layer the ingredients in your Crockpot Slow Cooker
  • Set the cook time and walk away

What is the order of layering for lasagna?

There is no specific rule for layering lasagna except that the bottom layer should be sauce, and in the slow-cooker version, every noodle layer should touch a sauce layer to ensure it cooks through in the liquid. Here’s what I do:

  • Sauce
  • Noodle
  • Sauce and ricotta filling and mozzarella
  • Noodle
  • Sauce and ricotta filling and mozzarella
  • Noodle
  • Repeat. When you run out of ricotta filling (this recipe has enough for 2 layers of it), repeat with just the sauce and mozzarella.

Finish with a layer of sauce and a generous layer of mozzarella cheese.

The Right Lasagna Noodles to Make Lasagna in the Slow Cooker:

The perfect pasta to use in this recipe are uncooked lasagna noodles. And I mean the standard, boxed noodles. Note:

  • Do not use no-boil noodles.
  • Do not use lasagna sheets.
  • You read correctly: you do not need to pre-cook them first (woohoo!)
  • You don’t need to add any extra water

Because the slow cooker loses very little moisture, there is more than enough liquid to “bake” up a saucy lasagna with perfectly-tender noodles without adding extra water to the recipe.

Wanna simplify this? Shh. I’ve got you.

In testing for this post, I started with my lasagna sauce recipe from scratch, which uses:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Toasted tomato paste
  • and canned whole tomatoes

However as I continued the testing process to really get specific on cooking time, I did a version using storebought marinara sauce. And guess what?

With the low-and-slow simmer of the slow cooker, the flavour comes out really amazing even if you start with a commercial jar. Great shortcut. If you want to do it this way, use 2 x 645 mL/22 fl oz) jars of your favourite storebought marinara sauce. See details in recipe notes.

FAQs:

How do you know when slow cooker lasagna is done?

To know for sure if it’s cooked, insert a paring knife through the middle. The noodles should be tender. The internal temperature should reach at least 165ºF.

How long does it take?

I found it perfect at the 3 1/2 hour mark on low setting in my Crockpot™ 4-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. A larger slow cooker has more heated surface area and will cook faster, and a smaller one is deeper and may take longer.
Fortunately, this recipe has wiggle room with the doneness window so you don’t have to stress. I kept mine on the WARM setting for three hours to serve it at the perfect temperature later in the day.

Don’t you need to add egg to the ricotta in lasagna?

Egg is often used in a lasagna ricotta filling to make it set firmer for tidy slices.
I personally love the texture of ricotta and don’t mind the filling a little looser. Plus, always happy to save myself an unnecessary ingredient. But feel free to whisk one egg into the ricotta mixture if you like a super-solid slice.

How many layers of lasagna should you have?

For a really great sauce-to-filling ratio, I love to have 4-5 layers of noodles. This makes a lush lasagna that’s satisfying and saucy, never dry or too pasta-dense.

What to Serve This With:

Need a side dish? Here are some great options:

The best crockpot slow cooker lasagna recipe

Crockpot Slow Cooker Lasagna

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 6
Dinner
Italian
Keyword slow cooker lasagna

Ingredients
  

For Lasagna Meat Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp kosher salt divided use
  • ½ tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz can whole or diced tomatoes (not unsalted or low sodium)

For Ricotta Filling

  • 1 lb ricotta
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 ½ tbsp minced fresh parsley plus more for topping

To Assemble Lasagna

  • 10 uncooked regular lasagna noodles (not "no boil" or fresh)
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella cheese (3 cups packed)

Instructions
 

Start the meat sauce

  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 tsp of the salt and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook a minute more.
  • Add ground beef and sprinkle with 1 tsp more salt plus the chili flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until no longer pink.

Make ricotta filling

  • While beef cooks, stir together ricotta, parmesan and parsley in a large bowl. Set aside.

Finish meat sauce

  • Add the tomato paste to the cooked beef mixture and cook until it turns a shade darker and the oil shimmers on top (this toasting step creates a ton of rich flavour!). Stir in whole/diced tomatoes and 1/4 tsp more salt. Turn off heat.

Assemble lasagna in the slow cooker

  • Add one cupful of the sauce to Crockpot™ 4-Quart Slow Cooker. Top with 2 lasagna noodles (you will have to break them to fit) and another layer of sauce. Add a layer of ricotta filling, a handful of mozzarella, and repeat until you run out of ingredients. The top layer should be sauce with a generous handful of mozzarella.
  • Set the slow cooker to cook for 3 1/2 hours on low. Top with more parsley and serve.

Notes

Tips

  • See more details in post for how to layer lasagna.

Substitutions: 

  • I don’t recommend substituting cottage cheese for the ricotta. It has a slimy texture not authentic to classic lasagna. 
  • You may substitute fresh basil for the parsley to top the finished lasagna, however I really recommend parsley in the ricotta filling. 
  • You may substitute italian sausage (casings removed) for 1/2 of the ground beef if you like. 
  • I don’t recommend substituting ground turkey for the beef as it tends to dry out with a long cook time. 
  • To simplify this recipe, swap in 2 x 22-oz jars of storebought marinara sauce. Skip the onions, garlic, tomato paste, and tomatoes. Cook the beef in the oil, then add the marinara sauce and proceed. 
Keyword slow cooker lasagna
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