Crock pot pizza casserole is a delicious and easy dinner recipe the whole family will love. Use your favorite pizza toppings with uncooked pasta and pantry ingredients to make crock pot pizza perfect for you.
You can't have enough great crock pot recipes, and this easy crock pot pizza casserole recipe will become a family favorite. It provides a delicious meal, usually with leftovers.
A crock pot pizza casserole is a natural for me. I have tried other recipes with all kinds of variations. There were lots of precooking of the pasta going on. Let's see, precooked and 4-5 hours in a slow cooker will make mush.
I ended up with a "pizza" variation of my Crock Pot Baked Ziti by cooking the pasta with the sauce. The perfect combination
♨️How to make this recipe
- Chop a small onion and half a green bell pepper.
- Brown ground meat with onion and some garlic.
- In a smaller crock pot, add all the ingredients except one cup of shredded cheese and some pepperoni. Mix well
- Top with 1 cup of cheese and the remaining pepperoni.
- Cook on low for approximately 4-5 hours until edges brown nicely. Test a piece of pasta at 4 hours into cooking and again before stopping cooking.
👨🍳Ingredients for this recipe
Most similar recipes call for jar pizza sauce (yuck). Other recipes suggest spaghetti sauce—just say no to that.
This recipe's sauce is "make it yourself" with crushed tomatoes, and a few spices is so much better. I have used this for 40-plus years.
Be careful about adding red pepper or other spices. The cooking gets the pepperoni spicing distributed, and some of it is already spicy.
Use a shorter standard pasta like ziti, rigatoni, or penne. We depend on the fluid in the dish to cook the pasta. So the behavior of a non-standard pasta is unpredictable.
Anytime you cook dry pasta in a crock pot, the results can vary—sometimes a lot. The type of pasta, the amount of free fluid, and the crock pot variables can cause problems.
Modern crock pots do reasonably well with temperature regulation. The sauce is the right amount of fluid for the suggested standard pasta.
Lower fat ground beef works well. You can also use something like ground turkey or chicken.
If you use Italian sausage, substitute it for only half of the needed ground meat due to the spices released in the crock pot.
All ground meat should be thoroughly cooked to 165° before adding to the crock pot.
Shredded mozzarella cheese is standard. Mixing some into the casserole helps keep it together.
You can use other cheeses if you wish. A good sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on the topping is a nice touch.
A pizza is not a pizza to me without pepperoni, so I mix some in and add it to the topping.
Be careful with spiced meats like the Italian sausage and pepperoni since the season will come out of the meat and may dominate the flavor.
This is very much a make-it-like-you-want recipe. If it is a pizza topping, you can use it: ham, bacon, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and many other things.
Delicate toppings, like pineapple, should be mixed in about 30 minutes before the end of cooking.
This recipe works well in a 3 to 4-quart crock pot.
A double recipe works well in a 6 to 8-quart crock pot.
Cooking a small recipe in a large crock pot can cook the pasta faster due to the lower mass being cooked. If you do this, please check the pasta early a few times. The pasta may be done before the cheese is browned.
Generally, no if using uncooked dry pasta. The cooking of the pasta becomes unpredictable. If you precook the pasta as described above, follow the instructions for precooked pasta.
No, precooking is not needed for this recipe. See the next question for an option to precook.
If you use non-standard pasta or are unsure about your crock pot temperature control, you should precook your pasta with the adjustments covered below.
Four to five hours will be just right on low for raw pasta to cook. Five hours will give you some nice cheese browning also. But remember, crock pots vary, so watch what you are doing.
Cook the pasta to al denta and skip the cup of water in the recipe to help the dry pasta.
Decrease the cooking time to about 2 hours on low. More if you have some additives that need to cook longer but much longer can make the precooked pasta mushy.
About 4 hours usually, but pasta and crock pots can vary. You want tender pasta.
If you use precooked pasta, then about half the time. Watch the pasta for overcooking since crock pots vary a lot on high.
❄️Storage of Leftover Pizza Casserole
Sealed airtight in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Leftovers can also be frozen for 2-3 months, but the texture will suffer.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Standard pizza stuff but with dry pasta to replace the crust. The crushed tomatoes didn't make it to the picture.
Start by chopping a small onion and half a green pepper.
Brown 1 pound of lower fat ground beef over medium-high heat. Add one small chopped medium onion after a couple of minutes. Cook for about 8 minutes until no pink is left. Add two cloves of crushed garlic at the last minute of browning — about 8 minutes total.
Add 1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 1 cup water, 4 oz of sliced pepperoni minus 12 slices for topping, oregano, salt, pepper, ½ chopped green pepper, 1 cup mozzarella cheese to a smaller 3 to 4 quart crock pot. Mix well. Add 2 cups of uncooked pasta. Mix well. Helpful hint: separate the pepperoni as it goes in.
Add the cooked ground beef after draining the fat.
Top with 1 cup mozzarella and 12 slices of pepperoni.
Cook on low for approximately 4-5 hours until edges brown nicely. Test a piece of pasta at 4 hours into cooking and again before stopping cooking.
Crock Pot Pizza Casserole
- 1 pound ground beef - lower fat
- 4 oz sliced pepperoni
- 1 onion - small
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 cups uncooked pasta
- ½ green pepper - chopped
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese - divided
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Start by chopping a small onion and half a green pepper.
- Brown 1 pound of lower fat ground beef over medium-high heat. Add one small chopped medium onion after a couple of minutes. Cook for about 8 minutes until no pink left. Add two cloves of crushed garlic the last minute of browning — about 8 minutes total.
- Add 1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 1 cup water, 4 oz of sliced pepperoni minus 12 slices for topping, oregano, salt, pepper, ½ chopped green pepper, 1 cup mozzarella cheese to a smaller 3 to 4 quart crock pot. Mix well. Add 2 cups of uncooked pasta. Mix well. Helpful hint: separate the pepperoni as it goes in.WARNING: Cooking a small recipe in a large crock pot can cook the pasta faster due to the lower mass being cooked. If you do this, please check the pasta early a few time. The pasta may be done before the cheese is browned.
- Add the cooked ground beef after draining fat. Mix well.
- Top with 1 cup mozzarella and 12 slices of pepperoni.
- Cook on low for approximately 4-5 hours until edges brown nicely. Test a piece of pasta at 3 hours into cooking and again before stopping cooking.
Your Own Private Notes
- This fits nicely in a 3-4 qt crock pot. If double, a 6-7 qt pot would be fine.
- WARNING: Cooking a small recipe in a large crock pot can cook the pasta faster due to the lower mass being cooked. If you do this, please check the pasta early a few times. The pasta may be done before the cheese is browned.
- Use a standard short pasta. Results with others may work, but the behavior of a non-standard pasta is unpredictable.
- 2 cups of dry pasta is 8 oz. generally—so half a 1-pound box.
- The precooked pasta option is discussed in the post.
- Do not cook on high. Cook on low for 4-5 hours and watch the results about 1 hour before the end of cooking since crock pots vary.
- My sauce is much better than can or jar sauce. You can use jarred sauce. You will need 36 oz of fluid to replace the 28 oz of crushed tomatoes and the water.
- You may vary the ingredients some, but you need a base of pasta, ground meat, sauce, and cheese.
- The pepperoni will release a lot of spice, so be careful with things like red pepper.
- Good in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and frozen for 2-3 months but the texture will suffer.
- Nutrition is calculated on ⅙ of the recipe which is about one cup.
- Many more options are discussed 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.
© 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.
Editor's Note: Originally Published December 26, 2013. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
I am alone and have been using a 2 quart crock pot for most of my crocpot cooking. Can this recipe be made in a 2 quart?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
The main issue is the inconsistency of temperature control in very small crock pot unpredictable effect on cooking raw pasta in this recipe or any recipe with uncooked pasta. So I would not recommend it.been
I have rewriting the blog and have been including instructions for 2 qt crock pots of appropriate. Here are 5 that I know will work and has discussion in the post. More will be coming.
I'm brand new to cooking with a crock pot and loving it! But so many questions! The one I have has a locking lid. Do I lock it with this recipe or not? Thanks.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
First, I want to say it is always ok to ask questions even if you think you should know. If you don't want to ask on the site, email me.
On to the lid locks on a few models of crock pots. It is made to prevent spills when transporting and (I believe) should never be used when cooking. If the pot is locked closed and then heated, it can build up pressure and could be dangerous.
Crock pots are just not made for pressure. Look at InstaPots and other pressure cookers to see the type of construction that is needed for containing pressure safely.
So DO NOT lock the led other than to transport. Somewhere buried in the manual, it should say this but probably in a size 4 font.
Please check the ingredients..I see 1/2 cup chopped green pepper listed twice. And in the written instructions, I only see chopped green pepper listed once.
I am really enjoying being able to find the smaller crockpot recipes so quickly now. Thank you very much for continuing to make these tasty recipes and for refining the method to find said recipes.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Thanks for the proofread. Fixed. It has been that way for years.
I hope you enjoyed your casserole.
Making this today. I have made other versions but I like homemade sauce. Like my Grandma and Mom have always made. Yours is similar so will try that. Added some fresh mozzarella. It smells wonderful. Thank you! Taste test, Yummy!
Delicious! I doubled this because I have don't have a small crockpot. It worked perfectly and was a big hit. The grandkids loved it!
Should also have mentioned I followed the recipe pretty much exactly as written. Thanks for sharing this!
5 hours in the crockpot was way too long. It cooked all of the sauce out of it and tasted horrible.
Just finished dinner of your crock pot pizza casserole and it was very good. I added 8 oz of fresh sliced Portobello mushrooms because I just can't imagine any pizza type entree without them and this is a fantastic recipe. My husband also stated it was a "Real keeper!" My 3 1/2 quart crock pot had it completely done on 'low' in 3 hours 10 minutes so mine must run a little hotter.
Keep these great recipes coming. I enjoy reading your detailed instructions and photos as it leaves no questions on how you prepared something. I also appreciate the photo's of your ingredients before hand as it leaves no questions as to what you used. Great job, you are appreciated.
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Glad you enjoyed the recipe and the presentation. We don't do mushrooms generally in this house due to food allergies. That leads me to forget to include them as an option.
Thanks so much for the note and the rating.
My entire family loves this! The uncooked pasta was so great not mushy and the homemade sauce was perfect since I hate jar pizza sauce . I always add more toppings but this by far is the best recipe I've ever tried and a family favorite
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog and sorry for the delayed response.
I do love this recipe. Glad you enjoyed the sauce.
Thanks for the note.
I just wanted to let you know that one of your posts was mentioned in my post :)
This was amazing! Now, I did use Mid's True Sicilian Pasta Sauce Pizza Sauce from Kroger. Grabbed 2 - 16 OZ jars and added 2/3 a cup of water. I used that instead of the crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and oregano mix. Also, I added mushrooms and pineapple (my fiancé's and my favorite pizza toppings). We used a 7 qt crock pot on low for 3.5 hours. Thank you, so much for keeping up this blog and sharing.
It's cooking now. After the heat came up, all of the topping cheese just melted through the lower layers and disappeared. For the pizza effect, I'm going to add another batch of cheese/pepperoni for the last bit of time. (not going to be a healthy one, that's for sure)
On another note - for things that are very compressible, such as shredded cheese (or any dry baking ingredient really,) could you please add a weight measure to go along with the cup approximation? 8 oz liquid != 8 oz dry loose != 8 oz dry packed...
Thank you for this site - I've tried several recipes, and all have turned out nicely.
Get the extra cheese on now... You want the edge to cook and brown nicely.
About the measuring / weight issue. 1 cup volume wise is 8 oz of water. Most liquids likewise weigh and measure about this way (oil not quit). Most home cooks do not have accurate weight measurement available so I measure things like flour, sugars etc by volume mostly. I those cases I state for example 1 cup of flour. When something is measured by a manufacturer like pepperoni if it is 8 oz package and I want half I will state 4 oz. With cheese I try to use volume.
I will try to pay more attention in future posts to this issue and it appears that some will try measuring differently I will try to include both.
I did add another layer of the toppings at the last bit of cooking, and ate it before I saw your response. Next time, I'll save back all of the reserved toppings for the last 30-60 or so. Regardless, it turned out very nicely.
Regarding the cheese. Normallly for any ingredient, weight and liquid can *almost* substitute. 8 oz of wet is *nearly* 8 oz of dry/weight measure. For shredded cheese, however... 8 ounces (weight) in the block = 16/2 cups dry after shredding. or even 24/3cups if you use a different grater. Unless you pack it - and how hard you pack it.
In a recipe like this, It probably doesn't matter. (Like bacon and garlic, you can (almost) never have too much cheese.)
I was on line when your first comment came through but wasn't fast enough. The longer the topping is on and cooking the more browning and more "pizza like" it will be.
More cheese is always good. I can't let my wife help cook when cheese is involved. She won't measure and it ruins the post... and then she yells at me.
When you say smaller crockpot, about what size do you mean?
I used a 3.5 qt. but larger should work but add more cheese to the top.
This turned out great. I was worried we wouldn't like it since it isn't really "pizza", but it certainly held its own. Felt like I was living on the edge with the uncooked pasta, but it was the right choice. I added some parmesan to the mix and to the top... also a good choice. Thanks for the recipe.
So glad it worked for you. I'm a "pizza guy" and find this amazingly good. I was quit surprised the first time...Nice modifications.
Thanks again for the comment and rating.
Tried the pizza cassarole in the crockpot and loved it! We made it to take to a friend who is a fiend for pizza, but wanted something "more" than just pizza. We will definitely make this again and again. So delicious and hearty.
I though this was amazingly good and I didn't expect that. Glad it worked for you
Thanks for the note
Just want to tell you I love your new blog! I follow you pretty much everyday because I live alone and many of your recipes are perfect for one or two people's servings! It's a bit difficult to just cook really good food for just one after being used to cooking for a family of five, so I really enjoy your recipe ideas! Thanks much for some really great ideas and some really yummy food!!!
Thanks for the note.