Super easy and extra tasty, this cheesy crock pot chicken pasta recipe uses raw chicken, dry pasta, and homemade marinara sauce. Dump it all in your crock pot, and it will all cook at the same time for a great family dinner.
I love great Italian: lasagna, spaghetti, chicken parmesan, and baked ziti. I think of this crock pot chicken pasta recipe as baked chicken ziti. I have simplified the recipe by using raw chicken, uncooked pasta, homemade marinara, and a crock pot.
But what I love most about that recipe is the sauce. So easy and makes the dish outstanding. Here I'm using the same sauce, changing to chicken, using uncooked pasta like my crock pot ziti recipe, and just making it more straightforward.
A solid higher four or a lower 5.
Ingredients for Crock Pot Chicken Pasta
Raw skinless boneless chicken breasts work great, but skinless chicken thighs will also work. You need about 1 ½ pounds of chicken.
Trim the chicken of any fat and then chop into cubes of about ¾ inch.
Yes, but you should not cook already cooked chicken for this long. Instructions are in the alternative cooking methods below.
Two raw chicken breasts will be 3-4 cups of shredded pre-cooked chicken.
I like to use penne pasta but use the shape you want, but a bite-size pasta will work best.
To cook raw pasta in the crock pot use standard commercial pasta is best. There are many types of pasta, and if you are unsure, you can use the alternative cooking method covered below.
I suggest adding standard marinara sauce ingredients. You can use dry Italian seasoning, but the seasoning I suggest is better.
You can use a jarred sauce if you are happy with one of them, but you will find my sauce cheaper, easy to mix, and has superior taste.
Traditional shredded mozzarella is recommended, but an Italian blend will be fine.
If you want the flavor of Chicken Parmesan, add about ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese into the casserole and on the top in addition to the mozzarella.
How to Make Crock Pot Chicken Pasta with Marinara
Alternatives to some steps are discussed in the next section.
This recipe fits in a 3 to 4 quart or larger crock pot. If you use a full-size cooker with this recipe, it may cook a bit faster.
A double-size recipe fits in a 6 quart or larger crock pot.
Raw chicken breasts can be cooked in a crock pot. They should be trimmed before cooking and cooked to a safe final internal temperature of 165° or more.
For this recipe, cut the chicken into cubes of about ¾ inch. This will allow the chicken to cook at about the same time as dry pasta.
Cook about 4 hours o low in most crock pots. I don't suggest cooking on high if you are using dry pasta.
You can cook on high for about 2 hours if you use the alternate cooking method of cooking the pasta before adding to the casserole late in the cooking.
The pasta should be tender, and the chicken should be at 165° or above. The edges of the cheese will usually be browning.
Altenative Cooking Methods
Cooking the dry pasta in a crock pot works well for most people and me, but there is variability in both pasta and crock pots.
If you feel your slow cooker may have temperature issues or are not using standard pasta, you should pre-cook your pasta to al dente according to the package instructions.
The pre-cooked pasta can be stirred into the casserole for the last hour. Don't top the casserole with cheese until you mix in the pasta.
Only do the chicken, pasta, and cheese. Leave out the other ingredients.
If you use pre-cooked chicken, stir the chicken into the casserole for the last hour. Don't top the casserole with cheese until you mix in the chicken.
No, you can substitute garlic powder and onion powder
You can add some cream cheese or heavy cream to the sauce.
Leftovers can be stored airtight in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for 3-4 months.
Thaw frozen pasta overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Trim and pat dry two skinless boneless chicken breasts, about 1 to 1 ½ pounds.
Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces of about ¾ inch each.
Chop 1 small onion or ½ medium, and crush or mince 2 cloves of garlic.
To a smaller (3-4 quart) crock pot, add 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 ½ teaspoons basil, ½ teaspoon parsley, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional), and 2 cloves crushed garlic. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella, the prepared onion, and chicken—mix well.
Mix in 2 cups uncooked pasta of your choice. I use penne pasta. 2 cups is half of a one-pound box of dry pasta.
Smooth the top then sprinkle with ½ cup shredded mozzarella.
Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. The endpoint of cooking is tender pasta, chicken at 165° or more. Usually, the edge of the cheese topping will be browning.
Crock Pot Chicken Pasta with Marinara
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts - 1 to 1 ½ pounds
- 2 cups ziti or penne pasta - ½ of a one pound box
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella shredded
- 1 small onion chopped - or ½ medium
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed or minced
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper - optional
- Trim and pat dry two skinless boneless chicken breasts, about 1 to 1 ½ pounds.
- Cut the chicken into small bite-size pieces of about ¾ inch each.
- Chop 1 small onion or ½ medium, and crush or mince 2 cloves of garlic.
- To a smaller (3-4 quart) crock pot, add 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 ½ teaspoons basil, ½ teaspoon parsley, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ - ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional), and 2 cloves crushed garlic. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella, the prepared onion, and chicken—mix well.
- Mix in 2 cups uncooked pasta of your choice. I use penne pasta. 2 cups is half of a one-pound box of dry pasta.
- Smooth the top, then sprinkle with ½ cup shredded mozzarella.
- Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.
- The endpoint of cooking is tender pasta, chicken at 165° or more. Usually, the edge of the cheese topping will be browning.
My Private Notes
- You need about 1 to 1 ½ pounds of chicken. I use skinless boneless chicken breast, but skinless boneless thighs would work well.
- This recipe uses a smaller 3-4 qt crock pot. You can double the rsecipe and use a larger 6-8 qt crock pot.
- If you use a larger crock pot without doubling, it may cook a bit fast. See #5 below.
- You may use jarred sauce, but then you only use the chicken, cheese, pasta, and your sauce. But you should use mine. So much better.
- If you want the flavor of Chicken Parmesan, add about ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese into the casserole and on the top in addition to the mozzarella.
- This recipe may cook a bit faster if your crock pot runs hotter. So if it does, check at 3 hours for temperature over 165° and tender pasta.
- Options for rotisserie chicken, precooking the pasta, and more are covered in the post.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally published October 7, 2018.