Crockpot Lasagna is the gift that keeps on giving. Proud layers of saucy beef, melty mozzarella, tender noodles, and a sneaky spinach cottage cheese filling, this hearty Italian favorite can feed a crowd and tastes fantastic leftover too!
Lasagna is quite an accomplishment.
The moment when you reach your biggest spatula down through the layers to reveal the masterpiece of stacked cheese, meat, and noodles within is one of glory and pride.
Lasagna layers do take some time to prep, but this easy recipe streamlines them wherever possible.
- The meat layer is made with spaghetti sauce to keep it easy.
- The slow cooker means all of the work happens earlier in the day, giving you more flexibility before dinner.
- No boiling of the noodles is required, hooray! Just layer them right into the slow cooker.
For a slow cooker pasta with even less prep time, check out my Crock Pot Pasta, which doesn’t require assembling layers.
Or for a no-noodle version, you’ll love this Crock Pot Low Carb Lasagna, which uses eggplant and zucchini noodles.
How to Make Crockpot Lasagna
To pack in the max amount of nutrition, I used protein-packed cottage cheese, convenient frozen spinach, and lean ground beef.
Feel free to try a different ground protein, make your crockpot lasagna with ricotta, or add more sautéed vegetables like the ones you’ll find in Vegetable Lasagna.
When you uncover the crockpot lasagna, it will look soupy, but don’t panic. Once the lasagna rests for 20 minutes, it will set up and the excess liquid will be absorbed.
- Ground Beef. Lean ground beef is healthy, hearty, and flavorful, making it perfect for our easy crockpot lasagna recipe.
For more great ground beef recipes, check out Ground Beef Dinner Ideas.
- Oregano. Adds an earthy, herby flavor to the meat.
- Balsamic Vinegar. Helps give the meat layer a note of needed acidity.
- Red Pepper Flakes. For a touch of spice.
- Marinara. I chose to use jarred pasta sauce for this lasagna, as it’s quick and easy. Make sure to use something good quality that you enjoy.
- Low-Fat Cottage Cheese. Low-fat cottage cheese helps us create a lighter lasagna while still ensuring it’s rich and flavorful.
- Frozen Spinach. Using frozen spinach in this lasagna is an easy way to sneak in extra nutrition. Spinach is packed with fiber and vitamins.
- Egg. Egg helps bind the cheese layer together, ensuring it won’t run out during cooking and serving.
- Parmesan. Adds nuttiness and saltiness to the cheese mixture.
- Basil. Tastes fantastic in the cheese layer.
- Lasagna Noodles. Lasagna noodles are thick and hearty, making them ideal for the slow cooker. The tasty sauce, meat, and cheese layers all cling to them.
- Mozzarella. A delicious, gooey lid of mozzarella cheese is a hallmark of any good lasagna. I used part-skim mozzarella to keep things light.
- Water. Adding water to the lasagna helps create steam in the slow cooker. The moisture keeps the ingredients from drying out and kick-starts the cooking process.
- Brown the beef and onion.
- Set aside 1 cup of the marinara, then stir the remaining 3 cups into the pan with the beef.
- Stir the cottage cheese and spinach filling together.
- Spread the reserved marinara on the bottom of the slow cooker, then top it with 3 uncooked lasagna noodles.
- Add one-third of the meat sauce.
- Dollop the cheese mixture over the top, spreading it into an even layer.
- Top with part of the mozzarella.
- Layer in the next 3 noodles and half of the remaining meat sauce. Add all of the cheese mixture, and half of the remaining mozzarella.
- Finish with the 3 final noodles and remaining meat sauce. Slowly pour the water over the top of the lasagna.
- Cook crockpot lasagna on LOW for 3 to 4 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top.
- Remove the slow cooker insert, cover it, and let it cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes. Serve with fresh basil and ENJOY!
Serve this crock pot lasagna with Chianti, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, or Sangiovese.
- To Store. Refrigerate lasagna in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the recipe through Step 2. Refrigerate the mixture in an airtight storage container until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Slow Cooker. Ideal for making slow cooker lasagna on repeat.
- Large Saute Pan. A deep, large skillet like this one is perfect for cooking the beef.
- Cheese Grater. Grate your cheese at home using a box grater or a microplane grater.
Make this tonight and get ready for the oooohs and ahhhhs!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can easily make this recipe gluten free by swapping the regular lasagna noodles for gluten free lasagna noodles.
If you’re looking to shake up your lasagna game, there are a number of things you can add to it. Add some Roasted Garlic, Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers, Italian sausage, or take inspiration from my Eggplant Lasagna and add some thinly sliced eggplant.
In a word, no. If you cook on high instead of low, the noodles will not cook through evenly.
- 1 pound 90% lean ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 6 cloves garlic minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 (32-ounce) jar good-quality marinara sauce (4 cups), divided
- 24 ounces low-fat cottage cheese or part-skim ricotta cheese (about 3 cups)
- 1 (10-ounce) bag or box frozen spinach thawed and squeezed very dry
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus additional for serving
- 9 dry lasagna noodles do not use oven ready/no boil noodles
- 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup water
- Coat a 6- or 7-quart slow cooker very generously on the bottom and sides with nonstick spray. Heat a large, deep pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef, onion, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, breaking apart the meat with a spatula or spoon, until the meat is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, balsamic vinegar, and red pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds.
- Reserve 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and add the remaining 3 cups marinara sauce. Stir to combine, then set aside.
- In a large bowl, use a fork to stir together the cottage cheese, spinach, egg, Parmesan, basil, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until evenly combined. Use the fork to break apart the spinach as needed.
- Assemble the lasagna: spread the reserved 1 cup marinara sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay 3 of the noodles on top of the sauce, breaking them as needed to make a roughly even layer—it doesn’t need to be perfect and is fine if some of the noodles overlap slightly and parts of the sauce peek through. I typically lay one noodle down the center, then break the other two in half and arrange them in a wide "V" in the open spaces on either side of the center noodle.
- Top with one-third of the meat sauce, spreading it into an even layer.
- Evenly dollop half of the cottage cheese mixture over the meat sauce. With the back of a fork, spread it into an even layer.
- Sprinkle with one-third of the mozzarella.
- Repeat layers with the next 3 noodles, half of the remaining meat sauce, all of the remaining cottage cheese mixture, and half of the remaining mozzarella.
- Finish layering with the 3 final noodles and remaining meat sauce (refrigerate the last portion of the mozzarella until the end—if you add it now, it will disappear into the sauce while the lasagna cooks). Gradually pour the water in a slow stream over the top and around the edges of the lasagna, allowing some of it to trickle down the edges so it flows between the lasagna and the insert.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours, until the noodles are tender and the lasagna registers 140 degrees F in the center (do NOT cook on high or the noodles will not cook through evenly— mine was done in 3 hours and 15 minutes). Turn off the slow cooker, uncover, and sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella.
- Carefully remove the insert from the base and set it on a wire rack (use oven mitts if needed; the insert is hot). Recover and let the lasagna rest for at least 20 minutes (if you serve it right away, it will fall apart). To serve, sprinkle the top generously with more fresh basil. Cut the lasagna with a knife and scoop out servings with a big spatula or spoon. Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate lasagna in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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