Do you love baked ziti but don’t eat it because you’re gluten free or find it too time consuming to make? Then you need to try this Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti recipe that’s super easy to make for anyone who’s on a gluten free diet. Plus, it’s so delicious that your non-gluten free family members won’t notice that this slow cooker baked ziti is gluten free!
When I think of baked ziti, I always think of my husband’s best friend, Jimmy. He’s from Long Island and like many New Yorkers, he loves Italian food, especially baked ziti. Often when we’re over his house for dinner, his wife, Sheela, makes baked ziti. I just have a taste since she’s not making gluten free baked ziti for just me. (That’s OK. There’s always plenty of other food to eat that works for my gluten free diet.)
So I thought, why not come up with a gluten free recipe for easy baked ziti that would be so delicious that even a die hard baked ziti lover wouldn’t notice that it’s gluten free?
Some recipe inspiration for Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti
While I was shopping for slow cooker baked ziti ingredients, I saw that my local grocery store had two kinds of Italian sausage – spicy and mild. Perfect! Then I saw that slow cookers were on sale, which inspired me to try this gluten free baked ziti recipe in a Crock-Pot. I’d rather do that than buy one of those large disposable aluminum pans just to throw it away.
You’ll need a six-quart Crock-Pot for this slow cooker baked ziti recipe. I especially like Crock-Pot’s 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker with a digital timer. Cook and carry slow cookers make bringing a slowed cooked dish to a potluck party so much more convenient.
If you’re thinking of bringing gluten free baked ziti to a party, make sure to get a Crock-Pot carrying case. I have one and use it all the time.
Gathering up ingredients for Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked Ziti”
To make this slow cooker baked ziti recipe even easier, I used a store brand tomato & basil sauce. I usually make my own sauce, but the whole point of my Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti recipe is that it’s convenient with minimal prep time and made with quality ingredients. But you can use your own homemade sauce if you want.
Then I went over to the pasta section and got the store brand gluten free penne rigate, which is fairly close to ziti. I love my grocery store’s gluten free corn and rice pasta since it tastes just as good as regular pasta. This way I don’t have to prepare Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti for me and regular baked ziti for the rest of my family.
This Mama’s tips on making Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti
Here’s how to make the layers in this gluten free baked ziti recipe. If you goof up the layers, don’t worry. You can stir up the whole thing and top it off with 1/2 to 1 cup of the shredded cheese. I’ve done this and it turned out fantastic! It’s more like a casserole than baked ziti, but it still tasted heavenly.
If you like spicy, go ahead and use only spicy Italian sausage. If you don’t like spicy, just use mild Italian sausage.
If you want to sneak some vegetables into one of the layers, like some diced zucchini or summer squash, I won’t tell the kids. I swear!
Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti works just as well with regular or whole wheat pasta if you don't eat a gluten free diet.
While I chose gluten free store brand penne, Barilla Gluten Free Penne works just as well. I usually choose which ever one is cheaper the week when I’m making this gluten free baked ziti recipe.
If you’re cooking this for someone who has celiacs or a gluten sensitivity, make sure to read the labels of all the ingredients – the sausage, the cheeses, etc. – for any hidden sources of flour or gluten. Don’t assume that because there wasn’t any last time you bought Italian sausage, there won’t this time. Always check the labels!
Don’t overcook or the edges will get scorched.
For easy crock-pot cleanup, use slow cooker liners. They’re WONDERFUL. Now that I use them, I no longer have to soak my crock-pot overnight and scrub it using Bar Keepers Friend Cleanser and a scouring pad.
The verdict on Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti
My family were crazy for this slow cooker baked ziti recipe! My husband went back for thirds. My son ate leftovers for breakfast and took some to school for lunch the next day. My kids fought over the last plate. Even the dog gave Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti two paws up (when we accidentally dropped a few pieces on the floor)!
Gluten Free Slow Cooker “Baked” Ziti
- Cooking spray
- 1 pound mild Italian sausage
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup liquid egg whites
- 3 cups finely shredded Italian blend cheese, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 (26-ounce) jars store brand tomato & basil sauce
- 2 (12-ounce) packages uncooked gluten free penne rigate pasta
- Coat a six quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Remove sausage from its casings. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage, onion, and garlic 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned. Break up sausage with the back of your spoon as it cooks. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg whites, basil, oregano, and 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- In the slow cooker, layer 1 jar of Bertolli sauce. Then add half the sausage mixture, 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese, one package of the gluten free penne rigate pasta, and half the ricotta mixture. Evenly distribute each layer.
- Repeat. Then top with remaining jar of sauce. Then evenly sprinkle 1 cup of Italian blend cheese over top.
- Cover and cook on low for 5 hours or until pasta is tender.
- Serving size: Varies
Originally published on October 8, 2015. Updated with new pictures and information.