This Crockpot Lasagna is so quick and easy to prep, you can even make it on a busy day! The layers of meat sauce, cheese and lasagna noodles cook in the slow cooker for several hours, totally hands-off!
I love lasagna as much as the next person, but I really do not care for the endless work involved…. and especially not on a busy weekday. Sorry, not sorry 😅
I figured I would have to find a way to make it for my lasagna-loving kids though, and I’ve been whipping up this crockpot version for a few years now. It’s quite budget-friendly as well if you use store brand ingredients or buy on sale.
Ingredients you’ll need
This is just an overview of the ingredients needed – scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for exact quantities and instructions.
- Lasagna noodles: No need to use oven-ready, there is enough sauce in this recipe and cooking time is long enough to use regular. (Side note: The noodles in the photo above were given to me by a friend who recently visited her family in Europe. The box was just in Italian and… French? lol and I have no idea if these were oven-ready or not. But regular work just fine without pre-cooking in this recipe.)
- Sauce: I had two jars from the same friend and she said they’d make about 26 ounces. It was actually quite a delicious combination of two sauces, but the recipe is perfectly fine with just a single variety. I like Tomato Basil or Marinara best.
- Ground beef: If yours is very greasy, you’ll want to drain off any extra grease after browning the meat. I often get beef from hubby’s buddy who butchers his own and I never have to drain this, but do find I always have to drain grocery store ground beef quite a but. It’s important not to skip the draining if it’s necessary, else the lasagna will come out too greasy and soggy.
- Cottage cheese or ricotta: Which one you choose really comes down to preference and budget here. Personally I really enjoy the cottage cheese, but my husband loves ricotta, so I do try to use a mix.
- Onion: There’s not much I dislike more in the kitchen than peeling, chopping and cooking onions. There, I said it. I will sometimes do it when I find it’s worth the effort, but most of the time I rely on dehydrated minced onion or on dried onion flakes for super convenience without the awful eye burns and smells. You can very much use 1/2 cup of freshly minced onion if you prefer, or you can skip the onion entirely. Your lasagna, your call!
How to make lasagna in the slow cooker
There’s really only two things you need to prep before assembling the layers in your crock:
1. The meat sauce (which is just seasoned and browned ground beef + jarred sauce – reserve 3/4 cup sauce in jar for later) and
2. the cheese sauce (which is just a bunch of cheeses and egg combined with seasoning).
These take no more than 10 minutes to prep, which is basically my favorite part of this recipe. And then you get to…
3. The layering!
I prefer to use about 3/4 cup of pasta sauce straight from the jar on the bottom of the crock, to keep bits of meat burning there. If you forget, don’t worry too much and just spray the crock extra-well with nonstick spray, then use 3/4 cup of meat sauce on the bottom.
And then you just repeat the layers three times, in this order:
- Meat sauce
- Ricotta mix
- Mozzarella cheese
Before the last layer of mozzarella cheese, sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese. Then you’re ready to cook your lasagna!
4. Close the lid and cook the lasagna on LOW for 3-4 hours. I do not recommend cooking for longer than 4 hours, because then it can start to get soggy.
- You need to break up the lasagna noodles to fit the crock, but make sure you overlap them slightly, else you will have trouble with the lasagna falling apart when you’re trying to serve it. Try to get the noodles to cover the layers as well as possible.
- Some people like pouring alfredo sauce on top of each ricotta layer, and I can’t fault them for it. It’s very yummy, but also extra-rich and a little more messy when serving.
- Careful when spreading the ricotta sauce over the meat sauce, you don’t want to mix them up too much. I like to plop a few spoonfuls of the ricotta mix over the meat sauce and then just gently spread with the back of a tablespoon. You can see it in the layering photos further up, in the last row.
- You can use as much or as little mozzarella cheese as you prefer. For a leaner, less cheesy lasagna just use a little sprinkle on each ricotta layer, then thinly cover the top for your final layer. Or go all out on as much cheese as you like.
- The recipe works best in a 4 quart, oval slow cooker. You can do 5 quart, but the layers will be thinner. Don’t use a round crock, only an oval one will yield the right results.
- If you like your lasagna hot and sloppy, serve it right away. For cleaner slicing, you can leave it to stand for 15-30 minutes with the lid removed once it’s done cooking. It will get firmer as it cools, and it’s easier to slice and serve (as you can see in the photo below, we are hot and sloppy lasagna people – you try to cool down a lasagna for something as silly as BLOG PICTURES while your family is waiting to get fed, lol).
My oldest child must have either garlic bread, garlic knots or breadsticks with lasagna, which means a small portion of actual lasagna and seventy pieces of garlic bread get eaten, ha!
A tossed salad with bottled OG dressing or balsamic dressing is a great side for a restaurant-style night at home.
Other than that, we don’t really need much more with lasagna! If you have any great sides, please share in the comments.
I keep leftovers in a container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave until piping hot all the way through, and you’ll have yourself a great lunch without any extra work.
More easy dinners
If you tried this recipe, don’t forget to add a review by tapping the stars in the recipe card below!
- 1 (26-oz) jar spaghetti sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
- 2 cups small curd cottage cheese OR ricotta cheese OR a mix of both
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6-8 uncooked lasagna noodles
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Prep: Spray 4 quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup of spaghetti sauce over bottom of crock.
- Make meat sauce: Place ground beef in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add dehydrated minced onion, then cook until beef is browned, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Take off the heat (drain if desired) and stir through remaining spaghetti sauce.
- Make cheese sauce: Combine cottage cheese (or ricotta), 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, egg, garlic powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
- Layer lasagna: Using 2 lasagna noodles, cover sauce in bottom of crock (break noodles up to make them fit, overlapping them slightly). Cover with 1/3 of meat sauce. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture on top of meat sauce. Sprinkle with 1/3 of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers two more times (lasagna noodles - meat sauce - cottage cheese sauce - mozzarella). Before final layer of mozzarella cheese, sprinkle remaining parmesan cheese.
- Cook: Secure lid on crock, then cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Either serve right away for hot and sloppy lasagna, or let sit with lid removed for 20-30 minutes before serving, for less messy slices.