This slow cooker lasagna recipe is quick and easy to prep, and made with the classic ingredients we all love!
A few months ago, I attended my first ever “Lasagna Fest”. Or as the organizer called it, “Lasagnapocalypse”.
About 30 or so friends gathered in an enormous loft downtown, armed with bottles of wine, side salads, crusty bread, and tiramisu. And then we gathered around the longest dining table ever (read: 5 folding tables all squished together) and prepared to unleash our inner Garfields on some epic pans of lasagna. Because at a Lasagna Fest, rest assured — there was so much lasagna.
There was Mike’s famous homestyle lasagna. There was the meat-lovers lasagna piled high with every kind of Italian sausage imaginable. There was the vegetarian lasagna chocked full of enough spinach to make Popeye’s day. There was lasagna with extra sauce. There was lasagna with extra cheese. There was so much lasagna.
And as I watched people go back for seconds, and occasionally thirds, it became a very clear reminder to me that people love some good lasagna.
I’m guessing you are some of those people too. :)
So I made a batch of my own to share with you today. But since I’m guessing that everyone has headed back to work and school today, I thought I’d make it a wee bit easier to have this on the table by dinnertime without having to thaw and bake a batch when you get home from work. That’s right — we’re talking Slow Cooker Lasagna.
Crock pot lasagna recipes have definitely been making the rounds on Pinterest these past five or so years, which had always piqued my interest. (I’ve had a slow cooker lasagna recipe from Recipe Girl sitting in my bookmarked to-make list since 2011!) But it wasn’t until this past fall that I finally gave a few a try for myself. And I’ll admit — you don’t get quite the golden bubbly cheese topping and the crispy edges that I love with the oven-baked lasagna recipes. But getting to layer everything in the slow cooker and then fogetaboutit for hours until it’s ready is definitely a worthy tradeoff. Especially on busy weekdays, or nights when you’re entertaining and just don’t want to be stuck by the stove while your guests are arriving. Once again — slow cooker for the win. :)
I just went with my favorite traditional lasagna ingredients with this recipe, including some zesty Italian sausage, fresh spinach, creamy ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and fresh basil. But really, the sky’s the limit on whatever ingredients you’d like to include. You can make this vegetarian and nix the meat. You can go veggie-happy and toss in lots of (thinly-sliced) fresh veggies. You can layer it up with your favorite kinds of cheese. You can use whatever jarred or homemade pasta sauces you’d like.
Up. To. You.
This one is definitely more of a “method” than an actual recipe. But that’s the brilliance of it — the slow cooker method really does work with lasagna! It can either cook low and slow for 6-8 hours, or quickly on high for 3-4 hours. Again, up to you.
Then once it’s cooked, just dish it up and you’re good to go. Perfect for a winter weeknight, or hey, even a Lasagnapocalypse. ;)
This Slow Cooker Lasagna recipe is easy to make and customize with your favorite ingredients in the crock pot!
1 pound ground Italian sausage (I used spicy) or ground beef*
2 (24-ounce) jars of good-quality Italian pasta sauce**
16 uncooked no-boil lasagna noodles
32 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup finely-chopped fresh basil
Add the ground Italian sausage (or ground beef) to a large saute pan, and cook over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through, using a large spoon to stir and break up the meet into small crumbles as it cooks. Remove from heat and drain off any excess grease. Set aside.
Meanwhile, as the meat is cooking, go ahead and get ready to assemble the lasagna. Begin by spraying the insert of a large 6-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Then layer the ingredients in the following order:
Spread 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce evenly along the bottom of the slow cooker.
Layer about 4 lasagna noodles — breaking them into smaller pieces as needed to fit — evenly over the sauce to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.
Layer about 1/3 of the ricotta cheese (a little over 1 cup) evenly on top of the noodles. (I found it was easiest to do this in small spoonfuls, and then spread them out with a spatula. It’s totally ok if it’s messy and uneven!)
Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the shredded Mozzarella cheese and 2 Tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese in an even layer on top of the ricotta.
Layer about 1/3 of the cooked ground meat in an even layer on top of the cheeses.
Layer about 1/3 of the chopped spinach in an even layer on top of the ground meat.
Layer 1 cup of pasta sauce in an even layer on top of the spinach.
Repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, Mozzarella/Parmesan, ground meat, spinach, and sauce. Then repeat with another layer of noodles, ricotta, Mozzarella/Parmesan, ground meat, spinach, and sauce. Then add one more layer of noodles, sauce, and Mozzarella.
Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, or until the noodles are tender.
Turn off the heat, and sprinkle the top of the lasagna evenly with the remaining Parmesan and fresh basil. Serve immediately. (Or if you let the lasagna sit and rest for 30 minutes, it will cut into pieces much more easily.)
*Feel free to omit the meat if you would like to make this vegetarian. You’re also welcome to add in a layer of thinly-sliced vegetables if you’d like, such as bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini/squash, onions, etc.
**Also feel free to use your favorite kind of pasta sauce for this recipe. Just about any red sauce will work!
A “Lasagna Fest”?? What a fun idea! I will admit that I also love the crispy, cheesy topping on oven-baked lasagna, but this recipe really does look amazing and so simple for a weeknight meal. I am going to have to give it a try.
I’ve never made lasagna in the slow cooker but it sounds like a weeknight win to me. Looking forward to trying it. My kids love anything Italian.
Awesome Karen, we hope you and your kids enjoy! :)
What a great idea! I’ve never heard of lasagna in a crockpot before!
Thanks Kari, we hope you enjoy! :)
My first “slice” of lasagna from the slow cooker always comes out a total mash-up of all the ingredients and the later ones aren’t much better. Is there an easy way to get this stuff out of the pot? I’d sure appreciate some advice.
Maybe let it cool for a bit before you try removing it?
Sounds like your cooking it too long.
Hey I would suggest using the crockpot liners for easy removal could possible even try to pull the entire lasagna from the pot for cutting ease. Hope that’s helpful
Lasagne was the first ‘real’ dish I learned to make decades ago so your recipe/method felt warm and familiar to me and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve been using the ‘no boil’ lasagne sheets for years now with great success and what’could possibly be better than tasting a fresh, cool, tablespoon of ricotta when no one is looking?!?
Thanks for all you share w/us, Ali and I think your food photographs are exquisite and quite exceptional!
Best Regards, Barry
That’s awesome Barry, thanks for sharing with us! And we totally agree with you about the ricotta (so yummy)! We hope you enjoy the recipe! :D
Ali, I’m making this tonight! Your post came just in time! I was about to make the same ole’ tired pasta night meat sauce with noodles… this sounds so much better. I don’t have the exact ingredients so we’ll see how it turns out – I’m using seasoned ground turkey, skipping the ricotta… might grab some fresh basil from the corner market if they have it, would fix it right up I’m thinking. Thanks for sharing technique ?? I love my crock pot!! I there everything together in 15 minutes tops ?
Love this! Can you recommend an awesome slow cooker? Mine is about 12 years old and I’m due for an upgrade. I can’t make out the brand of the one you used for this post. Thanks so much! Your blog is such a fantastic resource. I can’t tell you how many successful dinners I’ve made due to you! :)
I have Paula deane and love it. I also have instant pot that has a slow cooker setting made by nuwave.
My slow cooker is more than 30 years old and going strong. Don’t count age a detriment. :D
Total yumness! I had no idea you could do lasagna in a slow cooker! Lookout world, this info is revolutionary!
Thanks Tori, we hope you enjoy the recipe! :)
I am very hyped about this! I love the lasagna version in a frying pan, so that’s another variation from the classic oven baking. I am certain it will taste like heaven.
I want to go to a lasagnafest! Sounds like my kind of gathering. I’m loving this. It looks just perfect!
Thanks Chelsia, we hope you enjoy the recipe! :)
I’m obsessed with using my slow cooker lately! This looks fabulous, but I’m been eating gluten free lately but haven’t been able to find any gluten free lasagna noodles..do you know of any that exists?
Thanks Heather! We know that these exist (we just haven’t tried them), but the shipping is free! :)
This s so good Lasagne is one of my all time favourite meals and we always have it at my house when we have family over because we all love it so much!
Thanks Alysha, we hope you enjoy this! :)
This came out fantastic! I prepared it exactly as the recipe called for, which is rare for me not to make any adjustments. Big hit with the family even though I cooked it for 8 hours on low which caused it to scorch around the edges a little, will set for 6 hours next time.
Thanks Rene, we’re so glad to hear that! :)
I made this last night for my family. Everyone loved it and I loved how simple it was to put together. Thank you for the recipe.
We’re so happy it was a hit September, thanks for sharing with us! :D
I made this last week and my husband and I loved it! I skipped the spinach part because I forgot to get some but still was great and easy! Thank you for the recipe it fed us for 3 days without getting bored!
Looks awesome! How does onenget invited to these awesome food events like a lasagnapocalyose?!! :)
This was an amazing dish. I don’t know how you came up with this, but this is something that I will continue to use throughout my college life. My only critique is to make sure to season the sauce and meat, because it came out a little bland. Thanks Ali for such a great, simple, and quick dinner idea. BTW, I can feed my whole dorm with all of your amazing food ideas.
Thank you so much Kaelyn, we’re happy you enjoyed it! Thanks for giving the recipe a try! :D
This recipe looks fantastic! Just one question; I have a casserole slow cooker. How would one modify this recipe to fit inside?
Thanks Lacey! Hmmm, this is tough to answer because we haven’t used a casserole slow cooker before, so we’re not familiar with how they work. :/ We’re not sure if you would have to adjust it? How many quarts does yours hold?
I made this last night. It came out perfect. I followed the directions word for word except I didn’t use fresh basil. Thanks So much.
Thanks for sharing with us Melissa — we’re glad you enjoyed it!
I tried to post a pic but it’s not letting me.
Hi Melissa! You can just use the hashtag gimmesomeoven on Twitter or Instagram and share a pic that way.
Hi there, I just found this recipe and an super excited to try it out! What size slow cooker do you use for this? Just looking to adapt (if I need to) for mine as it’s 6.5L eek
Is it necessary to use no boil lasagna noodles? Many recipes do not ask for them just uncooked lasagna noodles.
Yes, the no-boil lasagna noodles are designed to cook more quickly. That said, I haven’t tested the recipe with regular lasagna noodles — they might work too, but I’m not sure.
Do you have to pre-cook the hamburger/sausage?
You’ll cook it in step 1 of the recipe instructions. We hope you enjoy!
I have made Crock-pot Lasagna before and it turned out great. I was looking for another recipe to make again and came across yours. Great ideal with the spinach. My only change is making fresh Ricotta cheese https://www.seriouseats.com/2010/02/how-to-make-fresh-ricotta-fast-easy-homemade-cheese-the-food-lab.html (easy and makes a huge difference) and add frozen Italian meatballs. Thank you for the ideal.
Ooh yes, we bet the homemade ricotta is fantastic in this!
To answer the question on using regular noddles instead of no-boil noddles, I have used both and actually prefer the end results of the regular noodles. It had a better al dente texture in the end. I hope this helps.
A delicious substitute for the pasta is thinly sliced and oven toasted egg plant cut into diagonal or round slices,
include them in the layers Tastes great!
Yes, we agree! :)
Is it ok to not use nearly as much ricotta?
Sure, feel free to use as much or as little as you like — we hope you enjoy!
Should you cook the baby spinach first? I’m afraid it’s going to add too much liquid if I just put in fresh. Thanks! Hoping to make this for dinner tomorrow night with a mixture of half ground beef/half Italian sausage.
Your recipes are wonderful! I’m in love with Lasagne
a crock pot lasagna is an amazing idea, I made it the other day and it was absolutely perfect. I changed the recipe around a bit but it was defiantly a crowd winner with my boyfriend and we had leftovers for days. The first slice even cut out perfectly !!
Delicious and so easy
I have the ninja crockpot that cooks like an oven too. I’m wondering if I cook it low and slow then turn the oven mode on for the last hour if it will get crispy edges? What do you think? I’m trying this recipe tomorrow for the family.
Hey do you know if this would work with a slow cooker liner instead of spraying the inside of the pot? My sink is pretty shallow so it’s easier to use a liner than have to clean the slow cooker ?
Thank you for this great idea and recipe. I’m wondering if you had any advice for using regular pasta noodles rather than the “no boil” ones. I have a ton of regular noodles and did not want to buy others before I use the ones I have. Any help appreciated!
I always use regular noodles- just parboil them first.
I made this tonight for my boyfriend’s birthday and he loved it!! I used ground pork and seasoned it with Italian spices, and of course drained off the excess grease as it definitely isn’t necessary for lasagna.
Thank you for the recipe and making my first crock pot meal in a long while easy going.
This was so easy to make and it smells/looks amazing. I lined my crockpot with tin foil so I could transfer the finished product to the oven to broil for a few minutes and get that crunchy cheese layer on top that I absolutely love. I would advise using extreme caution when doing this because it will be extremely hot and steamy. I doubled the foil since lasagna is heavier. Thank you for this delicious and fun recipe!
This is the best crockpot recipe. I use one 24 oz. jar of prepared sauce and one 28 oz. of plum tomatoes in purée. (I do break up the tomatoes). I sauté my sliced onions (1 large) and garlic cloves (4) first, add the sausage and cook til sausage is not pink. Pour off the fat then add the sauces, red pepper flakes, & oregano. I let this simmer til my lasagna noodles are par boiled. ( I use regular lasagna noodles), then assemble. The plum tomatoes make the sauce a little chunky, which I love!
I forgot to say I don’t add the spinach! Lol!
Going to try this
It’s in the crockpot now…we shall see!
I made this Sunday the 27th as an early birthday meal for my oldest son. It was a hit. Everyone loved it. I loved it immensely – flavor wise and prep wise. I did make a couple of changes, I cooked the basil with the meat and added half a small onion, chopped, to the meat mixture. Since I doubled the recipe, I used 1lb ground beef and 1lb of spicy Italian sausage. I also added some garlic powder to my own personal serving.
Again, this is now a family favorite. Thank you so much for sharing.
Sounds amazing going to try this. Thank you
I love this recipe,and you can add your own style to it!
Everyone loved it. Forgot to put basil in?
I used a bit more sauce as the jars were larger.
This recipe is amazing! My husband absolutely loves it and he is so picky! I just had one question could you prepare this the night before and let it sit in the fridge overnight then put it on the next day or would that make the noodles more mushy? Thank you so much!
This recipe is incredibly easy and delicious! The top layer of noodles definitely didn’t get as thoroughly as I’d have liked but I’ll adjust some things the next time to hopefully fix that issue! Thank you for posting a yummy and working family friendly recipe!
Made this today. Extreme disappointment. Followed it to the letter. Always do the first time on a new recipe.
Very, very dry, no flavor to speak of. Ricotta was way too overpowering in texture and mouth feel.
Sides were charcoaled. No one liked it.
So, that being said, I will definitely make this again. More sauce, less ricotta, (about half the amount), double the sausage, and double the mozzerella.
I did like the end product appearance, with the exception of the charcoal sides. Very easy to serve and easy to remove from the slow cooker. I was rather concerned about that in the beginning, didn’t think pan spray would be enough, but it is!
Thank you for the recipe–I love trying new ways of making old favorites–and I have to say this was the least amount of effort and labor ever making lasagna!
Can I do in oven
Made this last night and it was awesome. Mine did come out with a little crispy edge so it was just like when I make it the “old-fashioned” way! Definitely a keeper. Thanks.