Slow Cooker Baked Ziti - perfectly cooked pasta with gooey melted cheese!
This Slow Cooker Baked Ziti recipe is the perfect dinner recipe for year-round cooking. It’s great for weeknight dinners and for company! Plus, it tastes pretty amazing--I mean just look at all of that melty cheese!
Make foil collar for slow cooker by folding 2 pieces of foil to make 2 strips measuring approximately 18x14-inches each. Line inside of slow cooker insert with foil strips and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
In large heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally to break up large chunks until cooked through and browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add onion and cook until onions are translucent and starting to brown around edges, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano, fennel, salt, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
Reduce heat to Medium-low, and add raw ziti and cook, stirring constantly, until edges of pasta are translucent about 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Scrape mixture into prepared slow cooker insert. Cover and cook on low until pasta is tender, about 3 hours.
Use tongs to remove foil collar from the slow cooker. Spoon ricotta over ziti and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Turn off slow cooker, cover, and let the cheese melt for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.