When to Add Pasta to the Slow Cooker – One Dish Dinners Tips and Tricks

pasta to slow cooker When to Add Pasta to the Slow Cooker   One Dish Dinners Tips and Tricks

So we recently talked about when to add rice to the slow cooker. And now it’s pastas turn.

Making some meat or chicken with a sauce in the slow cooker can make for a wonderful meal.  But cooking the rice or pasta “on the side” is not always necessary. With many recipes, you can add the rice or pasta right in and let it cook during the last bit of cooking.

Pasta can quickly turn into a mushy mess in the slow cooker.  And by quickly, I mean really quickly.

To keep the pasta from getting soggy, add the shells plus 1 cup of hot water (or maybe more, depending on how much liquid is already in the slow cooker) when there is 30 minutes left in the cooking cycle.

If you are using quick-cook pasta that takes just 7 minutes to boil, then I would add it in 18 to 20 minutes left in the cooking cycle. If you are using a heartier, whole grain pasta, than plan to add that 35 to 40 minutes before the cooking cycle is complete.

Also, I recommend transferring the contents of the slow cooker to a large bowl or serving dish, to prevent the pasta from overcooking while the slow cooker sits on the warm setting.

Have you done much slow cooking with pasta or rice?! What have you found works best for you?!

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78 Responses to When to Add Pasta to the Slow Cooker – One Dish Dinners Tips and Tricks

  1. I’ve been too chicken to add the pasta in to the actual slow cooker so I often cook it on the stove. But what does work great in my experience is lasagnas in the slow cooker. Here is a link to my favorite one: http://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/2011/03/march-madness-day-15-whole-wheat.html

    • Erica R. says:

      Try it! I tried and it came out perfect and most of all I didn’t have to dirty another pan to make the pasta separate, which I was considering before I came across this article

  2. Joe says:

    We seldom add pasta to our slow cooker but we do when adding broken speghetti noodles to taco soup. The wife turns the slow cooker off when adding the pasta, stir well, and leave the lid off. I think it cooks in like 10 minutes…not sure though.

    It is hard to add pasta without it turning into a pile of mush.

  3. sheila mcginnis says:

    I was camping once with some friends, and we decided to have a soup night. So I decided to do chicken noodle. I put pasta in about 1 1/2 hours before time to eat…let’s say it became a cream of chicken soup—It was gone (to my surprise).

  4. Allie says:


    I love cooking with my crock pot. I have had it for about 15 years and consider it “seasoned”. (Like cast iron, lol.)

    I actually never cook with rice or pasta because I don’t know when to add them. Now I do. I have actually bought cookbooks geared to crock pot cooking and they don’t address this, I guess I was buying the wrong ones. 😉

    Thx for the wonderful tip.


  5. Dawn says:

    I have a dish that I add orzo pasta to a chicken dish that already has a lot of liquids (wine and stock) and I add it 20 minutes before hand.

  6. Erica R. says:

    I just tried this tip in homemade cheeseburger helper and it worked! 30 minutes and the pasta came out al dente which is what I love!

  7. Anne says:

    Would the 30 minutes be while cooking on low or high or does it matter? I am excited to try this!

  8. Joni says:

    I have a recipe for a spinach tortellini soup that has frozen tortellini as an ingredient. When should I add that to the crockpot?

    • Beverly Grage says:

      I love to add different flavors (stuffings) of tortellini to soups, stews and hot dishes. I add them in skillet dishes as well as crock pot recipes during the last 10 to 12 minutes (skillet/stovetop) or the last 20 to 30 minutes (crockpot) of cooking time. YUM !

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  11. Joey Boggs says:

    great tips can’t wait for more! Thank you so much!

  12. Lorry says:

    I have a double crockpot and I cook the meatballs and sauce in one and the broken up spaghetti in the other. I cook the spaghetti between 20 – 30 minutes and it turns out perfectly all the time. Glad to see this tip for others. It’s great!

  13. guesttt says:

    maybe im too much of a specific person but you don’t really say dry or partially cooked pasta…i assume dry but since alot of people coming to the page may have never tried i feel like you should make the distinction. the other concern i have is wouldn’t the timing depend of the type of pasta orzo or rigatoni, fettuccini or elbow macaroni? i just feel like imho if your going to advise on such a thing more details are needed…i kind of still feel like if i try it it’s a shot in the dark as to whether it will come out properly. no disrespect meant i do appreciate the attempt to help us slow cookers out with our dinners 🙂

    • Beverly Grage says:

      I usually use dry pastas when cooking soups and stews, regardless of whether it is stovetop dishes or crockpot. But when you’re using pastas in salads, fresh sauces such as a tomato-based spaghetti or a white sauce such as one poured over fettuccine alfredo that you’re going to pour over the pasta just at serving time, then fresh pasta is the best way to go.

      • Kelly Hawkes says:

        Hi, I am cooking the bolognese in the slow cooker would it still be 30 mins for the dry pasta shapes?

    • Bryan says:

      I am cooking those wavy noodles now, and they are kinda hard still after 2 hours.. My mother in law says my slow cooker cooks really fast. I will see what happens in the last 2 hours. maybe I will have a good sausage noodle soup.

  14. Rhonda says:

    Thanks for all the help 🙂

  15. Sandi says:

    I have come across many recipes where you can make macaroni and cheese using PRE-BOILED pasta. You add all your ingredients to the pre-boiled and then cook for 3-4 hours. Are there any recipes that will let you add all wet ingredients to DRY pasta and leave it on for longer? I want to be able to add everything in the morning and come home to very cheesy very hot mac n’ cheese.

  16. Kate says:

    I’ve found that adding one jar of spaghetti sauce, one box of rigatoni, and then refilling the pasta sauce jar with water and pouring it over the pasta —then cooking it on high for 3 hours works pretty good. (I found this out in Beth Hensperger’s book “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” and the “Slow Cooker Revolution Series”. (For someone who can’t boil water, such as myself, this works pretty good.)

  17. Sierra says:

    My boyfriend and I use wild rice or brown rice pasta in our slow cooker, and we usually put it on top of whatever other stuff we’ve got in there and make sure there’s not liquid covering it (a little is ok, but not covering it). The steam cooks it perfectly in 4-6 hours, and you just stir at the end. It’s perfect for our vegan mac and cheese and even better in our Tex-Mex pasta.

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  20. Francine Sousa says:

    I just found your site. I’ve enjoyed cooking for 50 years and still keep finding new and inspiring recipes and information I didn’t use before. I’m looking forward to utilizing your more.

  21. Pingback: 31 Days of Slow Cooker Meals: Best Tips for When to Add Rice & Pasta

  22. Joseph G. says:

    I have a stovetop recipe that I am trying to do with my Ninja 3-1 system crockpot setting. Basically, I brown 1 lb of beef/drain, add onion, bell pepper, 2 cans (14.5 ea) diced tomato, 2 cans (14.5 ea_ tomato sauce) and various seasonings. I’m not trying to give out a recipe here: I just want to indicate what I am basically working with: liquid-to-solid ratio. Normally, I cook all of the above on the stovetop, cook the pasta separately, and then combine the two. So, the question is, If I prepare all the meat mixture in my crockpot, does the combination above constitute enough liquid to cook 1 lb of pasta – like medium pasta shells or elboe macaroni? And, if so, how long? Please advise what you think.

    • Rclifton says:

      I make one pot dinners a lot. It takes about 5 cups of liquids, they all count, to one pound of pasta. Measure as you add to the pot. Up to 7 cups liquid may be used, depending on how saucy you like your dish. In my experience, one pound of meat and about 2 pounds of veggies seems right, but I like extra veggies. Making veggie versions, I like a pound of mushrooms and a pound of other veggies. When liquid, meat, veggies and herbs have cooked well, add pasta, stir, top with cheese if you like, or stir in some velveeta put the lid on and turn off the pot. Check in 20 minutes. If too thin, wait another 15. If too thick, add water or stock until it’s right.

  23. Pingback: When to Add Rice & When to Add Pasta to the Slow Cooker – New on OneDishDinners.com

  24. Chris says:

    I just tried adding whole grain pasta, and my discovery seems to be that it takes exactly the time it would normally take in a normal pot. Since that is the type of pasta I usually make, it is all the advice I can add to this, and it may seem strange that whole grain would take less time than stated here originally, but… well, that’s how it was for me.

  25. Alia says:

    Has anyone tried this with Fettuccine Alfredo ?

    • Monica says:

      yeah, that was pretty much what I had (my post is under yours…but I used angel hair…I took too long cutting and cooking onions and zucchini and had it in for the last 25 minutes…was afraid it would be too long….it was perfect, we like it all the way done…not al dente. Yum

  26. Monica says:

    I did it! I had chicken and cream sauce that seemed a bit too thin. I moved the chicken to one side and broke my angel hair in half and threw it in…since my sauce was runny I only added 1/2 c. water, and I separated with a fork twice while cooking…it ended up about 25 minutes in the pot while I cooked my veggies…I was worried it would be too long, but it was perfect!!

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  28. Cheryl says:

    I want to make stuffed shells in the crockpot. How long do I need to let them sit in the sauce until done. I have never cooked pasta in the crockpot before. And they are going in raw.

  29. Star says:

    So glad to finally find this and try it…
    My noodles are always mush!!!
    No matter what I try…

    I’ll try less liquid and time…

  30. JOE says:

    Thanks to all for the commets was very elpful

  31. Kevin says:

    Why, oh why, did I not find you yesterday? I am new to crock pot cooking, so I decided to do beef and noodles. The noodles turned into this nasty paste. (Though the roast part was perfectly done.) The dish though, was inedible. On the other hand, I learned how to make a homemade grout if I ever decide to re-tile my kitchen or bathroom…

  32. Chris says:

    I am cooking goulash. I am cooking for 110 folks. I have prepared two roasters with the hamburger, tomatos, green pepper, onion and tomato juice. I want to just throw in the pasta (elbow macaroni.) When would you do it?

  33. Gina says:

    Lol!!! I just tried making chicken Alfredo with pasta in the crockpot. Ugh! I too ended up with a mess, thus I find myself searching the web to find out what went wrong. Now I know!

  34. Micah kirkendall says:

    Im cooking bowtie pasta in beef broth in a slow cooker, whats the best time for it to be done

  35. colin says:

    if making dinner for that many people, I’d cook pasta separately and add it in. no sense wasting all those ingredients!!

  36. Kristin says:

    I’m using CLASSICO Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onion straight from
    a jar in the store. How long should I let the sauce cook it the pot if I used
    half a jar which is about 12oz? Can I still use the same technique with the
    pasta shells which I am using for the pasta bit?

  37. phlix says:

    I have made a lamb casserole and I did not have many potatoes in it but I came across this website and now I have added some orzo pasta for the last 20min of cooking time hope it turns out ok thanks for the info

  38. heather murphy says:

    Im making spaghetti bolognese when do i add the spaghetti pasta to my slow cooker

  39. Angela says:

    Thank you… I don’t think there is an exact time… I’m trying goulash today. When I get home I will put it on high… wait 20 minutes then add my noodles and check after 10 minutes then 20 minutes etc.

    Thanks for all the tips.. I added about 3 cups of water… so hopefully that will be enough for my noodles.

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  43. Tensemom71 says:

    I am moving just sold my stovetop oven. New one doesn’t come for a few days. Thank you so much for this info. Now I can make my brandy beef with egg noodles in confidence.

  44. Meredith says:

    I just tried this with gluten-free quinoa and rice penne pasta. I added the water 30 minutes ahead of time to get hot in the crock pot, then the pasta. It was perfect in 30 minutes! Thanks for the great tip.

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  46. Julie says:

    I’m doing a chicken mushroom with noodles dish today. I’m gonna try the noodles in at 30 mins left.. crock pot please don’t fail me or I’m gonna have 4 angry men OK my shoulders! Lol

  47. Mike O says:

    So tonight it will be
    Golden Mushroom soup – 1 can
    Chicken stock -1/2 soup can
    Chicken Brest -2 cut into small slices
    Peas – 1 can peas
    Velveeta – 2 slices
    Garlic powder
    Cook for 4hrs
    20 min before hand Ill add pasta

  48. Alex David says:

    Do you have any tips for when you reheat your soup the next day to keep your noodles from turning into mush then I always just cook noodles on the stove and just make fresh ones the next time I reheat it.

  49. Kathleen says:

    I really appreciate finding this! I made a chicken crock pot stew a couple of weeks ago, and it was turning out perfect. I decided to add egg noodles and let them cook for about an hour, and it turned into the nastiest smelling and tasting mush!! I tried to eat it anyway but ended up throwing it all out. Even my roommate commented on the bad smell. I may try again eventually now that I know how!

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  52. Ellen says:

    some good tips

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  54. Edith J Laux says:

    What about the various pastas such as lentil, black bean, rice,etc.? Do the still take the 10-20 minute recommendations?Would one still add more liquid with the dry pastas?

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