Enjoy the flavors of your favorite pizza in a convenient pasta form with this easy-to-make Crock Pot Pizza Casserole. This simple, savory meal layers juicy ground beef, tangy marinara, gooey cheese, and zesty pepperoni, all slow-cooked to perfection, making an easy choice for dinner!
If you're a fan of crockpot pasta recipes, give these a try! Parmesan Chicken Pasta, Chicken Alfredo, or one of my favorites, Creamy Tortellini. These dishes promise the convenience of slow cooking paired with the deliciousness of your favorite pasta creations.
Crock pot pizza casserole is, hands down, one of our favorite meals. It’s delicious, customizable, and easy to enjoy when you need something quick but don't have time. The downside is that it can get expensive and isn’t exactly the healthiest choice for the family. Luckily, we can still enjoy the flavors of pizza in pasta form when this blend of simple ingredients is cooked right in the crock pot!
Pizza casserole in a crockpot is the perfect way to enjoy pizza without the delivery fee, and it’s easy to assemble and cook. Cook the penne pasta and brown the beef with onions. Throw these into the slow cooker with marinara sauce, tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Add half the mozzarella and some pepperoni. Let it cook on low for 3-4 hours. Near the end, top with the remaining cheese until it melts and is ready to plate.
Swap out the ground beef for chicken, sausage, or even go meatless with mushrooms or green peppers. Toss in olives, onions, or whatever toppings work for you and your family. Pair it with a crisp salad or some garlic bread, or enjoy it solo, and it will become one of your favorite crock pot dinner recipes.
Easy Pizza Pasta
- Assemble your ingredients, toss them into the slow cooker, and let it do the work, saving you time and effort on busy nights.
- Unlike regular pizza, this meal contains ground beef, giving it a hearty and satisfying protein.
- Easily swap out meats, add your favorite pizza toppings, or adjust spices to change it up every time.
- Familiar pizza flavors are a hit with kids because everyone loves pizza's simple and delicious flavors!
- The ingredients are simple, budget-friendly, and can be found in any grocery store.
Crock Pot Pizza Casserole Ingredients
- Penne Pasta - Serves as the hearty base, absorbing the rich flavors and adding a satisfying bite to the dish.
- Lean Ground Beef - Adds depth and a savory, meaty texture, providing protein.
- Yellow Onion - Brings a subtle sweetness and aroma to the casserole.
- Marinara Sauce - Infuses the dish with a classic, herby tomato base typical of traditional pizza.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes - Introduces a chunkier, fresher tomato element, giving the sauce more body and a slightly rustic feel.
- Minced Garlic - Adds zesty kick that's fundamental to many Italian-inspired dishes.
- Italian Seasoning & Black Pepper - Provides Italian herbs and spice, contributing to the casserole's signature pizza-like taste.
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese - Melts into a gooey, stretchy layer, capturing a good pizza experience.
- Pepperoni - Adds a spicy, slightly smoky flavor, offering little bites of pepperoni throughout the casserole.
How To Make Crock Pot Pizza Casserole
Cook the pasta: The penne pasta needs to be cooked before the casserole is assembled and is not cooked IN the casserole. Cook according to the package instructions. Drain, then set aside.
Cook the beef and onion: To a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and onion. Cook in the pan, stirring the meat with a spatula until the ground beef is browned and the onions softens. Drain off the excess fat from the ground beef.
Assemble the ingredients: To the slow cooker, add the marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Mix until combined, then add the cooked pasta, cooked ground beef and onions, one cup of mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni to the slow cooker. Stir until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
Cook and add cheese: Add the lid to the top and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours. Before serving, top with the remaining cheese, add the lid back on, and cook until the cheese is melted.
Plate and serve: After the top layer of cheese is melted, spoon the casserole into a bowl or on a plate and garnish with parsley. Serve with salad and garlic bread for a well-rounded meal. Enjoy!
- Pre-cook the penne pasta to just under al dente, as it will continue to cook and absorb flavors in the slow cooker, preventing it from becoming too mushy.
- Brown the ground beef thoroughly before adding to the casserole for a richer flavor and to remove excess fat.
- Use a high-quality marinara sauce as the base flavor of your casserole; it makes a noticeable difference in the final taste.
- Drain the canned diced tomatoes slightly if you prefer a thicker sauce consistency in your casserole.
- Allow the casserole to rest for a few minutes after cooking to let the flavors and cheese settle to achieve the perfect melt.
Flavor Variations and Substitutions
- Swap ground beef for ground turkey or chicken for a leaner option with more protein.
- Enhance the casserole with a mix of colorful bell peppers and mushrooms sautéed with the onions for added texture and nutrition.
- Use a spicy marinara sauce or add a dash of red pepper flakes to warm the dish. You can also use pizza sauce for a more authentic pizza flavor.
- Incorporate a blend of Italian cheeses like provolone and parmesan along with the mozzarella for a more complex cheese layer.
- Substitute pepperoni with cooked Italian sausage slices or diced ham for a different meaty flavor.
- Add a layer of spinach or kale for a veggie boost that complements the rich flavors.
- Vegetarian: For a vegetarian option, omit the meat and pack the casserole with zucchini, eggplant, and artichokes.
- Keto: Create a keto pizza casserole by swapping out the penne pasta for cauliflower florets, still capturing the essence of a pizza but in a low-carb form.
- Without Pasta: For a lighter, grain-free alternative, use thinly sliced zucchini, spaghetti squash, or eggplant as a pasta substitute, layering them to create a lasagna-like texture.
Storing & Freezing
Storing: Cool the slow cooker pizza casserole to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Freezing: Place the completely cooled casserole in a freezer-safe container or wrap it tightly with aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Reheating: For best results, reheat the thawed or refrigerated casserole in the oven at 350°F until heated through, about 20 minutes. Individual portions can be microwaved on medium power for 2-3 minutes, stirring halfway through.
The casserole is done when the cheese is fully melted, the edges are bubbly, and the edges are slightly browned. The pasta should be tender, and the raw tomato flavor from the canned tomatoes is cooked through.
Assemble the casserole in an oven-safe dish and bake it covered at 375°F for about 45 minutes to an hour. Uncover it during the last 10 minutes to allow the cheese to brown.
Cook the pasta slightly less than al dente before adding it to the casserole. Since it continues to cook in the slow cooker, this will help maintain a firmer, more satisfying texture.
More Crock Pot Casserole Recipes
- Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole
- Crock Pot Taco Casserole
- Crock Pot Tater Tot Casserole
- Crock Pot Green Bean Casserole
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Crock Pot Pizza Casserole
- Cook penne pasta to al dente per directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, add ground beef and onion to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until hamburger is browned and onions are soft. Drain off excess grease and set aside.
- In a 6-quart slow cooker, add marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Mix until well combined.
- Add pasta, ground beef mixture, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni to the slow cooker. Mix until well combined.
- Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. When the pizza casserole is done cooking. Top with the remaining cheese and continue to cook until melted.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
*Nutrition information is an estimate. It may vary based on ingredients, brands, and changes in cooking methods listed in the recipe. If you need exact ingredient numbers, I recommend calculating them with your preferred nutrition calculator.