Yes, there is a way to cook raw pasta in the crockpot and you’d better believe it’s super simple! Want to get out of cooking dinner tomorrow? You may already have the ingredients in your cupboard! (And I don’t mean what my kids call ghetto spaghetti…)
One of my first thoughts when I started brainstorming recipes for the crockpot was whether I could find a way to cook raw pasta without it getting smushy and turning to slop. But I figured if Hamburger Helper could crack the code, so could I.
And the solution is surprisingly simple: you add water to the sauce and then add the pasta just before serving. The trick is to start the sauce in the slow cooker and get it boiling and bubbling.
Here’s how you do it:
- Pour one or two jars of sauce into your crockpot
- Add an equal amount of water (if using jarred sauce, refill with water, shake and add)
- Add any mix-ins (frozen veggies, chopped chicken, etc.)
- Set crockpot to high and cook until bubbling (my pot takes about four hours for this)
- Add pasta to hot sauce and stir
- Cover and let set for: 20-25 minutes for thick pastas like penne and 10-15 for spaghetti
- Once the pasta is cooked and no longer chewy, remove the crock from the base and remove the lid to cool the pasta and stop the cooking process
The best part of knowing this little trick is that the recipe possibilities are endless! You can literally mix and match by changing up every element: the sauce, type of pasta, meat and veggies.
To save time, I used frozen vegetables and I snuck in some faux chicken strips to see if my kids would call me on it. They didn’t and even I was surprised. (My kids turn into forensic scientists when served something new.) Here’s what we made:
Red Pepper and Chicken Alfredo
2 jars Classico Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo + 2 jars water
½ bag Meatless Chicken Strips
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag Green Giant Fire-Roasted zucchini, carrots and onions (frozen)
1 box multi-grain, fiber-added or rice noodles (we used Ronzoni Smart Taste penne rigate)
- Heat the sauce, water, chicken (imposter) and veggies in the crockpot until bubbly (leave it in on high or program it and get on with your day)
- Just before dinner, stir in your pasta and return the lid
- Let pasta cook in sauce for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Once pasta is cooked through, turn crockpot off, remove crock from base and remove lid to stop cooking
- Eat and enjoy not standing over a pot of boiling water
This recipe made a ton of pasta…and the whole pot has only 2,380 calories. At eight servings per recipe, that’s 298 calories per serving and it’s packed with fiber and nutrient-dense vegetables.
Looking for a little adventure? Let’s explore some other mix-ins to shake up your family’s next spaghetti night!
Meat and Substitutes
Chicken Chorizo Pepperoni
Meatballs Ground Turkey Sliced Steak
Bacon Italian Sausage Ground Beef
Tofu Felafel Balls Faux Meatballs
Faux Steak or Chicken Kidney or Black Beans
Frozen or Fresh Veggies
Broccoli Cauliflower Peas
Onion Shallots Tomato
Zucchini Carrots Olives
Peppers Yellow Squash Eggplant
Diced Butternut Squash Garlic
Jalapenos Asparagus Roasted Red Peppers (jarred)
Obviously you can also experiment with the type of sauce and pasta , including using these three yummy (nutrient-dense) pasta swaps. For sauce, The Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival Guide recommends the Classico brand of pasta sauces but I’d also like to suggest Muir Glen and Wild Oats brands, as both have organic options. It is also documented that Muir Glen does not use BPA chemicals in the canning of their tomatoes.
Wanna go one step further and make sure you know what’s in your sauce? I’ll be sharing a prep-ahead, fire-roasted pepper and tomato sauce in the next few weeks that you can freeze and use as needed…and you put it together in the blender! It’s sweet and a tiny bit spicy and most of the ‘cooking’ is hands-off which I love…plus it’s great on everything. I smothered a bratwurst in it yesterday at our Easter bbq and the peppers in the sauce worked perfectly with the sausage!
What are your favorite pasta-dish ingredients? Got anything off-the-wall you can’t wait to mix-in to your next spaghetti dinner? I’d love to hear about it!