Slow Cooker Italian Potato Casserole

This Italian potato casserole is loaded with cheese, herbs and sauce, making the perfect Italian casserole to pair with a loaf of crusty garlic bread and a fresh tossed salad. This version is made in the crockpot, which makes a nice prep ahead meal for a day when everything seems to be hitting the fan at once, or you just simply like to prep dinner ahead of time so that you can focus on other projects like I do. If you enjoy slow cooker casseroles be sure to scroll below the recipe card for a list of my family’s favorite slow cooker casseroles!

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Cheesy & Saucy Slow Cooker Italian Potato Casserole

Slow Cooker Italian Potato Casserole

marilynpeight
This cheesy and saucy Italian potato casserole is a nice spin on classic Italian dishes that use pasta. This version for Italian potato casserole is made in the slow cooker for a prep ahead dish that can be served with a simple salad and a loaf of crusty garlic bread for an easy, yet delicious dinner!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Slow cooker (linked below)
  • Saucepan (linked below)
  • Spatula (linked below)
  • Cutting board (linked below)
  • measuring cups

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups marinara or pasta sauce Divided *see note
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly diced basil optional
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 5 med-large potatoes, thinly sliced.
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Topping

  • shredded mozzarella

Instructions
 

  • Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan. Add onions and fry for another minute or two (optional for sweeter onion flavor). Remove the ground beef from the heat and then stir in the spices, basil, 2 cups sauce and minced garlic. *see note.
  • Peel and cube the potatoes (removing any blemishes), then thinly slice the potatoes length wise similar to scalloped potatoes. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta sauce into the bottom of a 3-4 quart slow cooker. Place the potatoes on top of the sauce, then sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over the potatoes. Evenly spread the meat sauce over the cheese topped potatoes.
  • Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Slow cook the casserole until the potatoes can easily be pierced through with a fork, then top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return the cover onto the slow cooker and allow the cheese to melt, then serve and enjoy!

Notes

The sauce I use is a homemade marinara sauce, which tends to be sweeter in flavor than store bought pasta sauce. If you wish to reduce the acidic flavor of your sauce, you can add brown sugar to the sauce to taste. 
There is no need to simmer the meat sauce after the beef has been cooked through. Simply stir the spices, herbs, garlic and sauce in with the meat, then allow the slow cooker to develop those lovely Italian flavors. 
Additional notes and step by step photos below. 
Keyword Italian, Potato casserole, Slow Cooker, Saucy, Cheesy, Prep ahead dinner
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Equipment needed for this Cheesy Italian Potato Casserole:

  • Slow Cooker I like to use my 4 quart crockpot for making this Italian Potato Casserole. You could also use a 3-5 quart slow cooker, but may need to adjust the cooking times according, because slow cooking times can vary by size of the slow cooker.
  • Saucepan You will need a large saucepan or skillet to brown the beef and onions in, and it will also need to be large enough to hold the sauce and seasonings added later.
  • Spatula A spatula is nice to have for scraping out the dishes to get every last drop, and also for breaking up the beef as it browns.
  • Cutting board I like to use a cutting board and Chef’s knife for dicing the onions and basil, mincing the garlic and slicing the potatoes.
  • Measuring cups Measuring cups are needed to measure the ingredients needed in this slow cooker Italian potato casserole.

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Other family favorite casseroles that can be made in the crockpot:

Ingredients needed for this Cheesy Italian Potato Casserole: Marinara sauce (or pasta sauce), potatoes, onions, pepper, salt, chili powder, Italian seasoning, ground beef, garlic, basil (optional), grated parmesan cheese and shredded mozzarella cheese.

Step 1: Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan. Add onions and fry for another minute or two (optional for sweeter onion flavor). Remove the ground beef from the heat and then stir in the spices, basil, 2 cups sauce and minced garlic.

Too much/too little sauce:

The first time I made this slow cooker Italian casserole, I made it with 3 cups (total) of my homemade marinara sauce. While I loved the flavor of the casserole, I did find the sauce to be a bit too much for my taste. If you prefer lots of sauce, you can add more to the meat sauce before adding it to the crockpot. And if you prefer your casserole even less saucy, that can be adjusted to your preference too.

What to do if the sauce tastes too acidic:

The original recipe for this Italian potato casserole calls for 1/3 cup brown sugar. Because my homemade marinara is already sweetened, I preferred to omit the brown sugar from the recipe. Feel free to sweeten your meat sauce to taste with brown sugar or sweetener of your choice.

Step 2: Peel and cube the potatoes (removing any blemishes), then thinly slice the potatoes length wise similar to scalloped potatoes. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup of pasta sauce into the bottom of a 3-4 quart slow cooker. Place the potatoes on top of the sauce, then sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese over the potatoes.

Step 2 continued: Evenly spread the meat sauce over the cheese covered potatoes.

Why can’t I just dump the meat sauce in and go?

Because of the low and slow heat of the slow cooker, it is not a good idea for potatoes to be exposed without being covered in some sort of sauce or liquid (trust me, been there done that). Be sure to evenly spread out the meat sauce to cover the potatoes before slow cooking them. Toward the end of the slow cooking time you may need to stir the meat sauce away from the edges to prevent the sauce from burning.

Step 3: Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Slow cook the casserole until the potatoes can easily be pierced through with a fork, then top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return the cover onto the slow cooker and allow the cheese to melt, then serve and enjoy!

Storage options for this slow cooker Italian potato casserole:

Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container or tightly wrapped for several days in the refrigerator. To reheat, simply pop them into the microwave until heated through. These leftovers can also be frozen for several months, then thawed and reheated.

Feel free to pin this recipe for later and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram to show off a photo of your own creation of this recipe. Thank you for your support!

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