Everyone in your family will love this Cheesy Crockpot Penne Pasta with a gluten-free option! Both of my picky toddlers had two helpings. So did my husband and I actually.
I love this recipe because I can throw everything in the crockpot earlier in the day when I have time, and then when dinner rolls around, we have this delicious pasta meal ready to go.
You do need to cook your meat ahead of time. It’s up to you if you’d prefer to use ground turkey or ground beef. I usually prefer to use ground turkey, and I just cook it with a chopped onion and some light seasonings. I sometimes meal prep a bunch of ground turkey and have it in individual freezer bags that I can pull out and thaw ahead of time.
Your pasta noodles should not be cooked in advance. Yes, you can cook pasta in your crockpot! I even use gluten-free noodles, and it still works wonderfully. My favorite gluten-free penne noodles are the Barilla brand. Cook time will vary slightly depending on your crockpot and noodles of choice, so it’s best to check it after 3 hours on low or 1 hour on high. It could end up needing a little extra time.
I like adding fresh spinach because it adds some vitamins, and you don’t really notice it. You can skip that step if you want.
This dish does have a thick sauce, similar to a baked pasta dish. If you would like a thinner sauce, add 1/2 cup to a cup of water.
Cheesy Crockpot Penne Pasta (Gluten-Free Option)
- 2 24 oz jars marinara sauce
- 1 lb cooked ground turkey or beef
- 15 oz container ricotta cheese
- 8 oz bag Italian blend shredded cheese
- 2 cups fresh spinach
- 12 oz box penne noodles (use gluten-free if needed)
- Combine marinara sauce, meat, ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, penne noodles and 1/2 the bag of cheese in your crockpot. Mix well.
- Top with the remaining cheese.
- Cook on low around 3 hours or on high around 1 hour. Make sure your noodles are soft before you serve. Cook time can very slightly between crockpots.