Make this kid friendly Crock-Pot Pizza Pasta Casserole for dinner and watch the smiles across your kids faces as they dig into this pasta casserole that has all their favorite pizza toppings inside! Pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, olives…whatever you like this recipe is easily customized to suit your tastes!
Slow Cooker Pizza Pasta Casserole
I like to make this recipe in the late afternoon….right before the kids get home from school. On those days that we have afternoon appointments or practice this works well as it only needs to cook about 2 to 3 hours.
By the time we are done with where we need to be we can come home to dinner all ready to eat. I just pop open a bag of salad mix, toss it with some croutons and salad dressing, slice up a loaf of crusty Italian bread and I have dinner ready to go.
If I have some spare time earlier in the day I may go ahead and brown the Italian sausage, onions and garlic and get that taken care of so that I can wash the pan and cutting boards up and have one less mess to clean up later.
I tested this recipe twice, once in my 3.5 quart casserole crock-pot as well as in my 6 quart oval crock-pot. They both cooked the dish beautifully and because you rinse the pasta a little bit under hot tap water before adding to the slow cooker the pasta actually cooks up just great in the slow cooker and you don’t have to boil water for pasta.
I have been experimenting with this method recently and I am finding that is is becoming one of my favorite ways to add pasta to the slow cooker, not have to boil water and cook pasta on the stove top and prevent mushy overcooked pasta.
I did personally prefer to make this in the casserole crock-pot just because it gives this a more traditional casserole feel, just like if you had baked this in the oven. I will probably make this in the future again (my kids LOVED it) in the casserole slow cooker. But flavor wise it was the same as in my large oval slow cooker.
Feel free to mix up the pizza toppings to suit your needs. Besides the sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and olives you can add mushrooms, bell peppers, even pineapple chunks from a can. It all is good and this one recipe my kids will eat up.
Crock-Pot Pizza Pasta Casserole Recipe
- 1 pound Italian Sausage (bulk (not in casings))
- 24 ounces Jarred Pizza Sauce (or your favorite marinara sauce)
- 1 pound Short Pasta (I used Cavatappi but rotini, macaroni and other pastas work too)
- 1 small Onion (peeled and diced)
- 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
- 2 cups Mozzarella Cheese (shredded)
- 1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Dried Italian Seasoning
- 8 ounces Sliced Pepperoni
- 8 ounces Sliced Canadian Bacon
- 6 ounces Canned Sliced Black Olives (drained)
- In a large skillet on the stove top add the bulk Italian sausage, onion and minced garlic and brown and crumble the sausage until no longer pink and the onion has turned translucent. Drain off any excess cooking fat and set the meat aside.
- Pour the pasta in a colander in your kitchen sink and rinse the pasta with very hot tap water for about 8 to 10 minutes. This will rinse some of the starch off the pasta and begin to soften the pasta ever so slightly preventing your pasta from turning gummy in the slow cooker.
- In a large mixing bowl mix together the rinsed and drained pasta, the Italian sausage mixture, pizza sauce, fennel seeds and Italian seasoning until all the pasta is coated with pizza sauce.
- Place a layer of pasta in the bottom of either a 3.5 quart casserole slow cooker OR a 6 quart or larger round or oval slow cooker.
- Sprinkle the layer of pasta with some sliced pepperoni, sliced Canadian bacon, and black olives.
- Add a layer of shredded cheese.
- Create two additional layers of pasta, pizza toppings and cheese. Ending with cheese on the top layer.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2 to 3 hours.
- Serve with a nice side salad and crusty Italian bread for a dinner the whole family will love!
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