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Slow cooker sausage and four cheese lasagna

My family says this is the best lasagna EVER! I might have to agree.

My five-year-old granddaughter, who doesn't like anything, polished off a plate of this slow cooker lasagna, and asked for seconds. Her older brothers, and, well... all of us, loved it, too. As the family meal organizer, I loved it more than anyone, because with the sauce made ahead, the assembly job took minutes, and the lasagna sat in the slow cooker for the afternoon while we went out and did other things. I love that there's no chance of it burning in the slow cooker, as there is in the oven. And when the voila moment comes, and you take the top off the cooker to reveal the lasagna, you'll love the ooohs and aaahs, all for the few minutes of actual work you put in.

Make your sauce ahead, or use a store-bought marinara as a quick start, as I often do. Omit the sausage, if your family doesn't like it. The best part of this recipe is that it calls for regular curly-edged lasagna noodles, layered as is (no precooking required) into the slow cooker, and the only flaw in this recipe is that it never seems to yield quite enough leftovers after everyone has had seconds and thirds!

A pan of this slow cooker lasagna takes minutes to prepare, and cooks all afternoon while you're doing other things.

Slow cooker sausage and four cheese lasagna

From the pantry, you'll need: ground beef or turkey, onion, garlic, canned chopped tomato, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, lasagna noodles, shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, egg.

Serves 8-10. Can be frozen.

Ingredients

For the sauce:
1 lb lean ground beef or turkey
12 oz pre-cooked sausage (I like Aidells Italian-style chicken sausage with mozzarella cheese, garlic and basil), diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz box chopped tomatoes (I use Pomi brand)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp chopped basil or herb paste from a tube
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

For the lasagna:
14 ruffle-edge dry lasagna noodles (do not pre-cook)
8 oz shredded low-fat mozzarella
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
1-1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
1-1/2 cups shredded or grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 large egg
2 Tbsp chopped basil or herb paste from a tube
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Directions

First, make the sauce (this can be done far in advance and refrigerated or frozen): In a Dutch oven or deep stock pot, brown the beef or turkey over low heat (do not add any oil to the pot). Stir frequently to break up the pieces of meat and keep it from sticking.

When the meat is mostly brown, add the sausage and onion, and cook 4-5 minutes, until the sausage just begins to brown, and the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.

Then, add the remaining sauce ingredients. Mix well, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook partially covered for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced and thickened a bit.

Set aside to cool for a few minutes, or make the sauce ahead and refrigerate or freeze. If you freeze the sauce, defrost it before assembling the lasagna.

To make the lasagna, spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker.

Top the sauce with a layer of dry noodles. Break the noodles as needed to cover the slow cooker insert.

Cover with another layer of sauce, approximately 1-1/2 cups.

In a mixing bowl, combine all of the cheeses (reserve 1/2 cup parmesan cheese), the egg, basil, salt and pepper. Stir together. Spread half of this mixture over the lasagna in the slow cooker.

Continue making another layer of noodles, then sauce, then cheese. Make a final layer of noodles, top with sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese.

Cook on LOW for 4 hours.

Remove the insert from the slow cooker, and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Serve warm.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


More lasagna variations:
Four-cheese lasagne, from The Perfect Pantry
Butternut squash and spinach lasagna, from Julia's Album
Fresh spinach lasagna with mushrooms, from Inspired Taste
Cheesy Brussels sprouts lasagna, from How Sweet Eats

Super-easy slow cooker lasagna.


Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.

Comments

It looks fantastic; can't wait to try lasagna in the slow cooker now. I don't know why it's taken me so long!

Oh, I'm definitely making this one!

Well, this is the recipe that says -- time to move up from the 1970's Crockpot! I'd love to make lasagna like this.

Kalyn, I don't know why it took me so long, either, or why lasagna made this way appeals to my grandkids so much more than my usual oven-baked version. I think it's extra-"creamy"!

Pat, oh yes, you must.

Susan, I've made this one so often during the past couple of months that I think I've forgotten how to do it in the oven. It just might be time to upgrade that slow cooker of yours!

Looks good! What kind of Crockpot do you have? In the market for a new one and curious what brand and if you like it.

Shannon, I love my Ninja Cooking Sysrem. It's a six-quart slow cooker with a nonstick insert. I bought mine at Costco.

Love the combo of ingredients! Recently purchased the casserole crock and absolutely love it. Made 1 version of an Italian meatless lasagna, as well as a Mexican version. Both were loved by all. Will make yours on a baking day. Make it early before the treat baking, get no worries about dinner when am starving! Thanks for the recipe, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Have made many of your recipes,all successes.!!

Teri, thanks so much for your kind words. I do hope you'll try this, especially during the busy holiday baking season!

Oooh I look forward to trying this soon! I am not sure if I can bring myself to add Dijon mustard to the sauce though! I love the stuff but I have never seen or tasted (that I know of) it as an ingredient in an Italian tomato sauce. Is it a game changer?

Ellen, I always add a little bit of Dijon to my tomato sauce! Is it a game changer? Well, I love it, and it keeps the sauce from being one-dimensional. I hope you'll give it a try, but if you'd rather use your own favorite tomato sauce, that's fine in this recipe.

Did he read my mind? or read my comment? (NO)
Birthday present walked through the door, with my husband (yes, the box was that big). New Crockpot, oval, removable pot - just what I need! Now I have to make this...

Susan, congratulations! What a super birthday present. You can give him the gift of lasagna as a thank-you.

We had this lasagne at our DENNY family party---Kalyn made it! We all so enjoyed it. Thanks for a great recipe!
Pam

I want to make this recipe as I've been looking for a crock pot lasagna recipe for awhile. However, I'm confused by one of the ingredients. What are boxed chopped tomatoes? I've never seen chopped tomatoes in a box. Do you get this at a specialty store?
Thanks and looking forward to trying the recipe!

Kim, boxed tomatoes are the same as canned, but I think they have a fresher taste! Use canned if that's what you have. Chopped tomatoes in a box are in the same section of the regular supermarket.

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