Inside: Get a recipe for Crockpot Lasagna that’s layered with beef, spinach, and cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food and perfect for busy nights.
Thanks to the Ohio Beef Council for sponsoring this post!
Wow, this was absolutely delicious. And easy.
You love that your kids are involved in activities and busy at school.
But hate the dinner wrench it throws into your evening.
You don’t have enough time to prep and eat dinner before the evening activities. And you’re way too tired and hungry after a busy night to prep dinner after evening activities.
(If you’re like me, you’re also way too frugal to be constantly grabbing take-out or ordering pizza.)
This easy Crockpot Lasagna recipe is made for those kind of nights.
Pull it together, push the button on your slow cooker, and leave for soccer practice carpool duty or third grade curriculum night. Swing back home two hours later to an amazing-smelling house and dinner that’s ready for the whole family to eat.
Ingredients you need for Crockpot Lasagna
- Olive oil
- Small onion, diced
- Ground beef: I use 90 percent lean.
- Favorite spaghetti sauce: Use the kind you like, whether it’s marinara sauce or another kind of red sauce. You don’t need meat sauce since you’ll be adding ground beef to this recipe.
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic powder
- Lasagna noodles: You don’t need special oven-ready lasagna noodles. Regular lasagna noodles work here too.
- Ricotta cheese: You’ll need half of a 15-ounce container.
- Parmesan cheese: Use grated or shredded.
- Fresh baby spinach, chopped
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
This is a super-saucy, meaty lasagna. That’s how my family likes it. It’s not dripping with cheese and doesn’t have thick layers of ricotta between the noodles. But if your gang likes a lot of cheese, simply use more (see the Tips for Making Crockpot Lasagna below).
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How to make slow cooker lasagna
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and beef and cook until beef is browned. Drain excess fat if desired. Reduce heat to low. Add your favorite pasta sauce, plus water, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and simmer while you prepare other ingredients.
Mix the ricotta and Parmesan cheese together in a small to medium bowl and set aside.
Coat the slow cooker insert with cooking spray, spread sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Then place three uncooked noodles on top of the sauce, breaking noodles to fit.
Spoon half of the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles and spread gently with a spatula (this works best if you lightly hold the noodles while spreading the cheese).
Sprinkle on half of the chopped spinach and one cup of mozzarella cheese.
Top with 1 ½ cups of sauce mixture and repeat the layering. End with the final three noodles, sauce, and cheese. Bake for about two hours, or until done. Allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving so it doesn’t fall apart.
Tips for making Crockpot Lasagna
- If you like a lot of cheese, use the entire container of ricotta and increase mozzarella to 1.5 cups in each layer.
- This is a very saucy lasagna (that’s how we like it). If you prefer less sauce, cut back to 3-3.5 cups of sauce. Just be sure that the entire lasagna is covered before cooking so the noodles don’t dry out.
- Be sure to let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving so the pieces hold their shape during serving.
- Pair this with pre-washed salad greens to save time (plus some crusty bread or garlic bread to scoop up all the saucy goodness left on the plate!).
Questions about Crockpot Lasagna
Don’t you have to boil lasagna noodles?
Not with this recipe. Put them in uncooked, and the liquid (water plus pasta sauce) helps cook the noodles right in the slow cooker.
How long do you cook crockpot lasagna?
I tested this recipe using two different slow cookers, and both produced just-right results in two hours or less. Because slow cookers vary so much, I suggest checking it starting at 90 minutes to avoid overcooking it (and not hating me if it takes longer than two hours in yours!). If a fork slides pretty easily through the pasta with just a little give, it’s good to go.
What kind of meat should you use in slow cook lasagna?
I used lean ground beef in this recipe. Beef contains a lot of nutrients that kids need, like protein, highly-absorbable iron, and minerals like iron and zinc that are key in growth and brain development.
We buy most of our beef from a local farm I visited during a tour with the Ohio Beef Council two years ago. I was so impressed with the family, their operation, and the obvious love and care they gave to their animals that I’ve been buying beef in bulk from their farm ever since.
If you’re buying from a grocery store, be sure to choose ground beef with a bright cherry-red color. It should be firm to the touch and not have excess liquid in the package. It will keep in your refrigerator for 1-2 days or in the freezer for up to four months (though, truth be told, we keep our bulk beef longer and it tastes just fine).
And keep in mind that although there’s a perception that beef in the grocery store comes from industrial “factory farms”, the truth is that 98 percent of beef farms are family-owned and operated. Case in point: The small farm where I buy my bulk beef supplies beef to our local grocery store too.
Isn’t crockpot lasagna mushy?
If you’ve tried slow cooker lasagna recipes in the past with mushy results, trust me: This one isn’t! Though there are plenty of recipes online that called for a cooking time of up to six hours (which results in mushy noodles and scorched cheese!), this recipe calls for cooking on LOW for just two.
What can I serve with crockpot lasagna?
We like having a crisp side salad with any pasta dish, and my boys always love when I serve pasta (or anything, for that matter) with garlic bread.
How do I store leftover lasagna?
Lasagna makes a delicious meal the next day as the flavors meld together. Using a spatula, transfer any leftovers into an airtight container and refrigerate. Eat within 3-5 days.
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 4 cups favorite pasta sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 lasagna noodles (whole wheat if possible)
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese, roughly half of a 15-ounce container
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 2 cups tightly packed fresh baby spinach, chopped
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and beef and cook until beef is browned. Drain excess moisture if desired.
- Reduce heat to low. Add four cups of your favorite pasta sauce, 1 cup of water, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt and simmer while you prepare other ingredients.
- Mix ricotta and Parmesan cheeses together and set aside.
- Coat the slow cooker insert with cooking spray. Spread one cup of sauce mixture in the bottom. Place three noodles on top of the sauce, breaking noodles to fit. Spoon half of the ricotta mixture over noodles and spread gently with a spatula (this works best if you lightly hold the noodles while spreading the cheese). Sprinkle on half of the chopped spinach and one cup of mozzarella cheese, and top with 1 ½ cups of sauce mixture.
- Repeat layering (three noodles, rest of ricotta, rest of spinach, one cup mozzarella, and 1 ½ cups sauce). Layer remaining three noodles on top of sauce. Pour rest of sauce mixture over top and sprinkle on remaining cup of mozzarella cheese (feel free to use more if you want a very cheesy top).
- Place insert into slow cooker, cover with lid, and cook on LOW for two hours (in case you’ve got a hot slow cooker, check it at 90 minutes—if you can easily push a fork through the noodles, it’s done). Let lasagna rest for 15 minutes, then slice and serve.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 462Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 1127mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 34g