Slow Cooker Zucchini Ziti

4.34 from 3 votes

Slow cooked comfort food that's packed with nutrients!

Dig into a deliciously comforting bowl of Slow Cooker Zucchini Ziti.

For me growing up, Sunday night was known as Ziti night! The recipe my mom used to make was baked– and boy was it delicious. But it was always perfect for Sunday evenings at home because she could keep an eye on it while it was in the oven. Fast forward to today, and life seems to have sped up quite a bit (no pun intended). Easy-going Sundays that used to provide the whole day for cooking leisurely meals have turned into days to Get. Stuff. Done. Trust me, we understand and we have a solution! Our Slow Cooker Zucchini Ziti is just as delicious as my mom’s baked ziti was, but because it’s made in the slow cooker, you can just set it and forget it! This healthy low-maintenance recipe is perfect for our busy lives!

Cleaning Up the Classic Version

Your kitchen will be filled with wonderful aromas whien you set the slow cooker up to cook this tasty meal!

Once we decided to create an easy slow cooker ziti recipe, we thought, while we were at it, that we would try to make it a little healthier than the classic version! Simple swaps like marinara sauce with no sugar added, whole grain ziti, and fat-free cottage cheese increase nutrients while cutting some calories. Note that we used jarred marinara to save some time, but if you’ve got some time to spare, you might want to try making your own marinara sauce!

The addition of zucchini also increases the nutritional value of this dish. Zucchini is rich in vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Vitamin C promotes eye and immune health, while potassium is vital for a number of body processes. These include regulating your heart beat, lowering your blood pressure, maintaining normal nerve and muscle function, and more! The water and fiber content makes zucchini an excellent ingredient for weight loss because it will keep you feeling fuller for longer, thus controlling your appetite. And, for those of us with small kids, who frequently HATE anything green, cloaking the healthy veggies in a tomato-y, cheesy pasta dish will get even the pickiest eater to ask for seconds!

Want to Make Our Slow Cooker Zucchini Ziti?

Who needs baked ziti with a slow cooker recipe this easy?!

This recipe begins with cheese (as every recipe should.) Combine the fat-free cottage cheese, mozzarella, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl, We used full fat mozzarella in this recipe for its ooey-gooey texture, but if you’d like to slash a bit more fat from your slow cooker ziti, you can go with part-skim or fat-free mozzarella. Just keep in mind that it won’t get as melty. 

Next, pull out your slow cooker and add one cup of marinara to the bottom of the pot. In a large bowl, add the uncooked ziti shells, (or penne, if you prefer) and then pour the rest of the marinara on top of them. Stir the pasta and sauce together to coat the shells

Now you can begin assembling your ziti in the slow cooker. Add a layer of sauce-covered pasta, followed by a layer of zucchini, and then a layer of the cheese mixture. Continue this process until all of the ingredients have been used, making sure to finish with a cheese layer. Once everything is in the slow cooker, place the lid on the pot and cook it on low for about 2 hours. Dish it up on the plate and sprinkle the pasta with parmesan cheese before serving!

Make this Recipe Your Own

Satisfy your comfort food needs in a healthier way with this yummy ziti!

This tasty slow cooker zucchini ziti is a vegetarian-friendly meal that’s loaded with healthy ingredients and delicious flavor. It currently offers 15 grams of protein in a less than 300 calorie serving. That said, we always want you to feel free to make our recipes your own!

If your family is made up of meat eaters, you might want to add some seasoned ground beef or Italian sausage to this ziti. If you decide to add meat, be sure to cook it separately and drain it before adding it to the crock pot. You can stir the cooked meat into the large bowl with the uncooked pasta and sauce, before creating the layers, or use it as part of the individual layers, as you like. 

And while we’re on the subject of adding extra ingredients, you can add in any extra veggies or cheese that you’d like. Some people add mushrooms, while others enjoy roasted veggies like tomatoes or red peppers, or even sautéed spinach. It’s totally up to you! If using fresh mushrooms, you’ll want to sauté those before adding to the mixture to keep your pasta from getting watery as the mushrooms release their liquid during cooking.

Basically, anything that you can think of as an Italian or pizza ingredient can be added to customize your new go-to slow cooker ziti dish, so feel free to get creative!

4.34 from 3 votes

Slow Cooker Zucchini Ziti

This vegetarian dish is cooked in one pot and is a great meal for the family!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Yield 10 people
Serving Size 0.75 cup
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian


  • 25 ounces jarred marinara sauce no-sugar added
  • 3 cups whole grain ziti shells uncooked, or penne
  • 2 cups fat-free cottage cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 1 large zucchini cut into 1/4 inch half moons
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese finely grated


  • In a medium bowl combine the cottage cheese, mozzarella, and spices. Add one cup marinara to the bottom of the slow cooker. Combine (uncooked) pasta shells with remaining marinara. Layer pasta coated marinara, zucchini, and cheese mixture until all ingredients have been used. Cheese should be the last ingredient added.
  • Cover and cook on low for two hours, or until pasta is al dente.
  • Sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the top of each plate before serving.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 376mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g |
SmartPoints (Freestyle): 8
Keywords Pasta, Slow Cooker, Vegetarian

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If you enjoyed this slow cooker zucchini ziti, we think you might also like to try these simple, Italian-inspired meals:

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Gale Compton

Gale co-founded SkinnyMs. with a goal to provide women with delicious recipes, fitness routines, and ways to reach their ideal weight. Gale has been featured on the Today Show in which she won a cook off for the best Lasagna. Be sure to search for her winning recipe, Skinny Lasagna Rolls.

Guided by her firm belief in healthy eating and the power of exercise, Gale has written two cookbooks and several fitness ebooks. She earned her Fitness Training Certification from, National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association. Gale loves to run with her dog Maggie and has completed numerous half-marathons.

More by Gale


  1. This was an amazing dish!  I love that you can put the pasta in dry.  I don't love to cook so thank you Skinny Ms. Crockpot for creating and EASY and healthy way for me to put food on the table.


  2. This was awesome.  I'm getting quite a few zuchinnis in my CSA box and this used up one.  It is also another way to get my kids to eat zucchini!  All of us loved it!

    1. Connie, Great way to use up fresh zucchinis. So happy your entire family enjoy!!! 😀 😀

  3. While this dish was a hit once it was done the pasta never got quite al dente for me and it was in the crock pot for about 3 hours before people at it. They still liked it but I will cook my pasta a bit prior to making this next time.

  4. LOVE this recipe! I am not a cook by any means, but this was so easy to make and tasted delicious! Can't wait to try another skinny ms recipe soon!!!

  5. Where's the recipe?! Am I the only one who can't see it? I would really love to have this recipe but foe some reason it's not showing up for me! =(

  6. Could you add cut up chicken breast to this? How long would you need to cook for and would you need to add the pasta later?

  7. This was delicious and sooooo easy :-). My pasta cooked just fine and it came out great. Was so quick to put together (less than 10 minutes). Love that I didn't have to cook the pasta first. Thanks skinnyms for so many awesome recipes!!

  8. Could you add turkey burger to this as well? If so, would I cook the turkey burger and just add it in the crock pot? Can't wait to try this recipe!

    1. Emily, Yes you can. I would recommend cooking the ground turkey first, drain well and then add to the sauce before putting in the slow cooker.

  9. On the recipe I see it says to cover and cook for two hours twice. Is that a typo or do I cook for 4 hours?

  10. 2.5. Hours and still not cooked. Think I will cook a bit before putting in crock next time. Otherwise, great idea!

  11. How long would you precook your pasta for? Mine wasn't quite done after 3 hours, but my family still enjoyed it!

  12. I just bought and downloaded your cookbook! Can you freeze this ziti recipe, because if i can, i would divide up into 13 servings and freeze.

    1. Barbara, Thank-you! I’m assuming you mean after cooking? MAke sure to allow the ziti to cool before freezing.

        1. Sure! Just add ingredients to a casserole dish and bake until cheese it bubbly and melted, approximately 30 minutes on 375 degrees.

  13. All in family loved it. Wife is a bit of a pasta snob. She very much enjoyed it. A great recipe: easy to make, satisfying, relatively inexpensive, and as a bonus, uses up those zucchinis! ( I cooked on High for about 2 hours and then switched to Low and served after 3 hours.)

  14. Making this today to take to a pot luck lunch. I just had a couple of thoughts while reading the comments. Both the type of pasta and the slow cooker matter with time. I have a very old crockpot and a smaller newer one. I the new one is very hot on low and the older one is more what I would consider low. Since I am using the older one, I am cooking it on high. I am also using Barilla Plus pasta which takes longer to cook than most penne, so I precooked it for 1/2 the time. Hope this is helpful for those who found they needed to cook it longer.

  15. I made this for my family last night, and it was a huge hit! It took some convincing to get my three year old to try it, but once he did, he ate a ton including the zucchini! He now says he loves zucchini. Seriously! Thanks for that. A healthy, very easy to make meal with no fights to get my kids to eat is always welcome in my home.

  16. If you're cooking this for someone who's lactose intolerant, what could be substituted for the cottage cheese?

    1. We haven't tried substituting in this particular recipe, but you may try using puree'd chickpeas in place of the cottage cheese. Keep us posted on how it turns out!

  17. It was super and enjoyed by all but didn't look close to the picture even after I mixed all the cheese up with the noodles. I used ricotta though since I can't do cottage cheese and used a bag of Italian cheese I found in the freezer. I had to use the Smart ? Penne pasta since pickings were slim!

  18. I stumbled on this recipe last year when I was looking for way to use up garden zucchini. My family loves it and I've made it many, many times since. They didn't even realize the cottage cheese was not ricotta till I told them. Taste like it took hours to prepare.

  19. When you layer the ingredients, do you repeat layering? I wasn’t sure if you put all the pasta then all the zucchini and then all the cheese or layer it like a lasagna with repeat layers

  20. My slow cooker is only 3.5 quarts. Do I need to halve the recipe or can I adjust the cooking time in some way to compensate?

    1. Kelly, Hmmmm…I would suggest cutting down the recipe slightly, about 1/4 less ingredients. Keep us posted! 🙂

    1. Hi Lina, sorry for any confusion our recipe may have caused. For this recipe, about 9 to 10 ounces of whole grain ziti pasta shells would be needed.

      This recipe calls for ziti, with an option of penne. We chose to use cups in this particular recipe because sometimes a cup of one type of pasta will have a different weight in ounces than another, such as penne. Or, if you had chosen to use gluten free pasta instead of whole grain the weight may also be different. For some, it’s easier to measure in cups since not everyone owns a food scale. We want to be sure our recipes are accessible to all diets and individuals of different cooking levels! Hopes this helps to clear up any confusion!

    1. Hi Barb, add the Parmesan into the cheese mixture! If you’d like you can reserve some to sprinkle on top after the ziti is cooked.

  21. Can this recipe be used without the zucchini? My daughter is very picky and I would be surprised if she doesn’t recognize the cottage cheese. She doesn’t like cottage cheese, do you have any suggestions as to what I could replace that with? Im hoping to try this recipe this evening. Thanks so much!

  22. Can you put this together the night before and stored in the refrigerator? Then just pop it in the Crock-Pot in the morning so it’s ready for lunch?

  23. Your receipes has to many carbs. My husband is a type2 diabetic he only suppose to have 15 carbs per meal and lots of protein and I can’t find any receipes that fills the bill. Can you hlep me in this quest?

  24. Hi Gail,

    Is the parmesan cheese added to the slow cooker, or is it just used added to the pasta after it cooks?

  25. This is delicious!! It was incredibly easy and yummy. I did need to cook it a little longer but it’s definitely going to be a regular. Thanks so much for creating and sharing this!5 stars

  26. I (and one daughter) really enjoyed this recipe. The Parmesan sprinkle before serving was key. One daughter did not enjoy, but she is not a fan of ricotta (used instead of cottage cheese), so this is not a fault of the recipe.

    I did not read carefully and shredded my zucchini. You couldn’t detect it much at all which I appreciated. I may or may not try the slices suggested in future.

    The moisture balance and cooking time was perfect to prevent the pasta from becoming too soft. However, I would have liked a saucier dish overall. Next time I will cook as instructed, then pour in extra marinara just before serving.

    I was skeptical about slow cooked pasta and it IS texturally different than boiled pasta, but to me the difference is a reasonable trade off for not heating up the kitchen. I expect I’ll make this a time or two more this summer.

    Thanks for a good and unique recipe!4 stars

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