Anyone who has been following me for any length of time knows what a fan of Chicken Parmesan I am.
But this is even easier. Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole. And it’s so good!
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole
If you want to use jarred marinara sauce, be my guest (but make sure to use about 28 oz.). But I prefer to use my homemade spaghetti sauce recipe.
The flavors end up making a really tasty sauce, especially with the chicken cooking in it.
So anyway – just cook the chicken in the marinara sauce, shred it, and then add the pasta (I recommend something like penne).
Now the pasta will take longer to cook than if you were following the directions on the box. But a pasta like penne would take about 20 minutes to become al dente.
You could also use cooked pasta and just put it in for the last 5 minutes to warm up, but you may as well dump it in instead of boiling it up separately.
Once the pasta is done, top it with shredded mozzarella cheese and then close the lid. It’ll melt in about 10 minutes.
Ok – now for my favorite part… for any good chicken parmesan recipe, you will need a bit of crunch, right?
The best chicken parmesan always has a nice crispy breadcrumb crust on the outside. But making this as a casserole doesn’t give it that crunchy factor we usually get.
So to achieve that, we make a crispy breadcrumb topping.
Simply fry some breadcrumbs in oil for a few minutes, and that’s all it takes.
Use this awesome breadcrumb topping when you serve it; don’t mix it in right away, or it doesn’t stay as crunchy.
Then top with fresh basil and get read to dig in!
And if you know anything about Italian-style food, marinara sauce is messy, so get the napkins ready!
Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp dried basil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 oz. uncooked pasta
- 2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- Place chicken, spices, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and water in the slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 4 hours, medium for 6, or low for 8.
- Shred chicken.
- Add pasta and mix in well so that the pasta is covered in the liquid.
- Cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
- Add the cheese on top and close the lid and let it melt (this should take another 10 minutes).
- While the cheese is melting, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the breadcrumbs and mix well into the oil. Cook for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs are crispy.
- Serve and top with the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
When it comes to personalizing this Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole, you have several options to tweak the recipe to your liking:
If you’re looking to cut down on carbs, you can swap traditional pasta with a whole grain or legume-based alternative, like chickpea or lentil penne.
For a gluten-free option, choose gluten-free pasta or even spiralized vegetables such as zucchini noodles.
However, if you’ve cooked with gluten-free pasta before, you know it can be a bit difficult, and it can be wonky in the slow cooker.
Any pasta alternatives I make, I choose to do cooked pasta and then add it in at the end so I know it’s cooked the way through without getting mushy.
For any veggie noodles like zoodles, it’s definitely a preference thing, just like any other pasta alternative.
I like them a bit more crisp and crunchy to bring texture to a dish, so I lightly saute them and scoop the chicken parm casserole right on top.
Another way you could do it is to get a prepared baking dish, pop it in the casserole, top it with bread crumbs, and broil it for 5-10 minutes.
If you don’t have chicken breasts on hand, feel free to use chicken thighs, which will also render a juicy and flavorful result.
I find chicken thighs and drumsticks can be so flavorful, and I prefer them with the bone in, but it does mean you’ll have some chopping to do after it cooks.
Shredded chicken is definitely best for casseroles, which is why chicken breast is king, but the extra cutting is worth the juicy meat from chicken thighs, in my opinion.
Also, you can add Italian seasoning to the chicken to give the meat more flavor or to help if the pasta sauce is a bit bland.
And for those who are vegetarian, slices of eggplant or portobello mushrooms make a great chicken substitute, absorbing the rich flavors of the tomato sauce delightfully.
For the topping, while mozzarella cheese is the classic choice, you can also change things up with pecorino, gruyere, and more.
This is called chicken parmesan, but most people don’t actually have Parmesan cheese in the dish, which is so crazy!
You can certainly use Parmesan cheese as your main cheese; it’s what restaurants often use since it’s so flavorful.
Even try adding sprinkled Parmesan (aka shaker cheese in our family) for an extra flavor kick; sprinkled cheese just hits differently; it really doesn’t taste like the cheese slices!
Or use a dairy-free cheese if you’re catering to a vegan diet or lactose intolerance.
Remember that the quality of your marinara sauce can make or break this dish, so even if you’re using a jarred variety, select one that has robust flavor and minimal additives.
If you’re meh on the spaghetti sauce you’ve picked, simmer it on the stove first and add in some additional Italian seasoning and fresh basil and garlic to give it a flavor kick before adding it to the slow cooker.
You can get the traditional Italian seasoning mix or doctor up the sauce however you like.
Or, if you have extra time, making your own tomato sauce will undoubtedly elevate the flavor profile of this dish.
Can I make this Chicken Parmesan Casserole ahead of time?
Absolutely! If you want to prepare the Chicken Parmesan Casserole in advance, you can assemble it the day before and store it in the refrigerator.
When ready to bake, allow for an additional 5-10 minutes of cooking time to ensure it heats through perfectly.
Can I use pre-cooked chicken for this recipe?
Yes, using pre-cooked chicken is a great time-saving option for this recipe. By incorporating pre-cooked chicken, you can shorten the overall cooking time.
I suggest either baking your chicken breasts ahead like you would when meal prepping or using a rotisserie chicken.
If it’s rotisserie chicken, shake up the whole thing in its container to start loosening the meat, and then use forks to shred up the chicken before adding it to your meal.
To prevent the chicken from becoming dry, add it towards the end of the cooking process and not at the beginning.
Rotisserie chicken will be throughoutly cooked ahead of time, so you can just pop it in to cook for the last 10 minutes and be set.
What if I don’t have penne pasta?
If you’re missing penne pasta, feel free to swap it with any pasta variety you prefer.
Just keep in mind that different types of pasta may have varying cooking times, so adjust accordingly for the best results.
I usually stick with “short shapes” like penne, rotini, shells, and the like because they’re easy in the pot.
Longer pasta may need more cook time or need stirring often to keep them from clumping.
Is there a way to make this gluten-free?
For a gluten-free version of the Chicken Parmesan Casserole, simply substitute gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs.
This modification allows you to enjoy a delicious gluten-free meal without compromising on flavor.
How should I store leftovers?
After enjoying the Chicken Parmesan Casserole, store any remaining portions in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
These leftovers will stay fresh for up to 3 days. When reheating, use the microwave or oven until the dish is thoroughly warm for another tasty meal.
You can also freeze chicken parmesan casserole and have it stay good for up to 3 months.
The possibilities are endless with this versatile and delicious Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Casserole recipe, so don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen!
So if you’re a fan of chicken parmesan like me, give this easy slow cooker version a try for a tasty and effortless meal that will surely become a family favorite.
If you’re interested in some other recipes like this one, I’ve got a whole BUNCH of amazing slow cooker recipes that you’ve got to check out.
Make sure to bookmark or pin this one, because I’m sure you will make it again!
And if you like this one, you might be interested in 40 other slow cooker dump recipes that are AMAZING! The Slow Cooker Ribs are one of my favorites!