Taste Test: Pizza Hot Dish In A Slow Cooker

Spending time browsing Pinterest makes me want to do strange things.

After avoiding Pinterest for quite some time, I logged back into my account and gazed in wonder and bewilderment at all of those frosted watermelon “cakes,” two or three ingredient [insert the name of any food imaginable] and recipe round-ups ad nasuem. Of course, nearly every image on Pinterest is vertical because someone’s research found people are more likely to pin them. Now, we have no other choice but to.

Last week my friend posted a nifty recipe for crock pot meatloaf. Between reading her post and seeing crock pot lasagna recipes, pizza hot dish got stuck in my head. I chose to try the Skinny Crock Pot Pizza Casserole recipe from the blog Six Sisters Stuff because it seemed to make slightly less food and contained less cheese and sausage than the other recipes (though I loathe the word skinny).

I did swap ground beef for ground turkey. My new favorite butcher grinds fresh beef and I drained the fat off anyway. Plus, the recipe calls for a cup of pepperoni, so why count calories? A friend commented that this type of pasta dish in the slow cooker can become dry and so I took her advice by adding more pasta sauce and water than the recipe called for. In the end, the pasta had still soaked up most of the sauce.

So, what does happen when you cook marinara sauce, rinsed (but not cooked) spiral noodles, chopped bell pepper and onion, black olives, ground beef, pepperoni, and mozzarella in a slow cooker on low for four-five hours?


The recipe called for fresh garlic. My pasta sauce smelled garlicky, so I omitted it.

The instructions specifically say no peeking while the dish cooks. Five hours later. . .


Honestly, the pizza hot dish in a crock post tasted pretty dang good. Since slow cooking is essentially steaming food, the cheese will melt instead of become golden brown. Also, the noodles at the bottom will feel mushier while the ones near the top will be chewier. Depending on how long you keep the meal on warm, some noodles may even become crunchy, but I didn’t even mind the varying noodle textures because they added textural contrast.

This isn’t the prettiest dish and it’s far from gourmet, but pizza hot dish in the crock pot is comfort food like our mom or school cafeteria might have made. We’re enjoying it enough to keep chipping away at the leftovers. Jake’s only complaint is that he did not like the addition of the green pepper. He likes raw green pepper but thought it got overcooked in the hot dish.

My best advice for anyone who wants to make this dish is to add lots of black pepper and change up the ratio of noodles and pasta sauce. Using about 2/3 box of pasta and 16 oz. of sauce + 1 cup of water might create more sauciness. Who knows, though. Cooking pasta in the slow cooker is wild, you guys.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Yum. Crunchy and soggy noodles all in the same dish. What more could a person want? Seriously– sometimes you just got to have a dish like mom used to make. Great video as always.

    • Jeni

      Haha. It sounds gross, but the textural contrast really is a good thing:)

  2. Terri

    Visiting from Missouri women Bloggers. You cracked me up, I totally agree with school lunch comfort food. I’ve used this term before and most people my age get it but I didn’t think a youngster like you had the privilege of having school lunch comfort food. Love it!

    • Jeni

      Thanks for visiting. The thread is a fun way to meet some of the other Missouri women bloggers! You totally get me:)

  3. Katy F

    I’ve tried a similar recipe before and found the same “problem” with the noodles…ours was also incredibly dry, so it’s never been recreated! Maybe I can make my own version!

    • Jeni

      I wonder how much sauce you’d have to add! It just keeps absorbing all of it-you’d be better off baking it in the oven with those noodles that are meant to be cooked from raw or al dente noodles. Plus, it wouldn’t take five hours.

  4. Katie

    Noted! Avoiding the green peppers, but were banana peppers in there? cause I’d want to add that!

    • Jeni

      That’s a fantastic idea!

  5. Donna Hup

    Haha! You said big pasta turd! I love your videos 🙂
    Seriously it does look pretty good. This would be a fun recipe to try with my nephews.

  6. Josh

    What a trip… I once saw a Good Eats episode where he made a lasagna in a crock pot, I suppose similar rules apply. Nothing wrong with comfort food!

    • Jeni

      I should watch that. Did it turn out well? I know there are noodles that are supposed to work in baking recipes without having to pre-boil. I made lasagna this month and they worked well for that but not sure about crock pot.

  7. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids

    Your videos always make me smile! Klayton watched it with me and he thinks we should make it now 🙂 Maybe the best thing is to just make the sauce in the crock pot and noodles separately?

    • Jeni

      I think that would be best too, or to try those no boil noodles?

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