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Slow-cooker pasta might be the ultimate weeknight game-changer. It’s a broad category—a slow-cooker pasta dinner can be anything from brothy tomato soup with noodles, to a hearty alfredo—but a universally popular one, which means you really can’t go wrong. If you’re in the mood for a particular flavor, chances are you can work that flavor into an easy pasta—and an easy pasta you can whip up in your slow cooker, at that.
Slow-cooker pasta might not be intuitive, since normally you use a slow-cooker for recipes with long cooking times, not quick dishes. But in certain circumstances, the slow-cooker pasta route is a real time saver. You can get dinner ready to go in the morning, set it to cook for a certain amount of time, then leave it warming in the slow cooker until you’re ready to eat. This way, you can spend as much time as possible soaking up the great summer weather outside.
There’s truly something for everybody on the list below. If you’re skeptical, start with something simple like baked ziti or chicken alfredo. If you’re confident, skip straight to stuffed shells or pasta e fagoli. The summer is long and full of opportunities to make and eat slow-cooker pastas—why not take advantage of all of them?
1. Chicken Alfredo Pasta
This creamy chicken pasta might be simple, but it sure is satisfying.
2. Easy Taco Pasta
Take Taco Tuesday in a different direction with this easy, cheesy pasta.
3. Million-Dollar Pasta
Despite its name, million-dollar pasta is very budget-friendly.
4. Pesto Chicken Mozzarella Pasta
You can use fresh herbs to make your own pesto, or throw this chicken pasta together with the store-bought stuff.
5. Baked Ziti
Classic ziti, made easier.
6. Beef and Cheese Pasta
When you’re sick of cheeseburgers, trade in your grill for slow-cooker and make beef and cheese pasta instead.
7. Mac and Cheese
This mac and cheese takes a little longer than the boxed stuff, but it’s worth the extra foresight.
8. Chicken Meatball Pasta Bake
Trade red meat for chicken in this meatball pasta bake.
Some days, only lasagna will do.
10. Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo
This chicken alfredo has some green mixed in, to cover all your bases.
11. Creamy Tortellini Soup
It’s never too hot for this creamy tortellini soup!
12. Stuffed Shells With Spinach
Stuffed shells make for a pretty nutritious dinner when you drown them in tomato sauce and fill them with chopped spinach!
13. Southwestern Cheesy Chicken Pasta
This Southwestern-style pasta is great for kids, too.
14. Sun-Dried Tomato Penne Vodka
Classic penne vodka gets an update with umami-packed sun-dried tomatoes.
15. Spaghetti and Meatballs
Cook your spaghetti and your meatballs at the same time in a slow-cooker!
16. Eggplant Pasta
In the mood for something meaty but meatless? Eggplant pasta will do the trick.
17. Pasta E Fagioli
This pasta-studded tomato broth may be the only soup that actually tastes better in the summer.