A Crock-pot® pizza is a pizza-inspired casserole dish cooked in a slow cooker. It can contain a variety of meats and vegetables, as well as cheeses, and typically uses a canned or homemade pizza sauce as the liquid. In place of a crust, noodles are used to round out this slow cooker casserole. All of the ingredients are layered in the pot and then allowed to cook for several hours.
Most Crock-pot® pizza recipes call for browned ground beef and sliced pepperoni. Despite this, as with pizza, nearly any type of meat can be used in this dish, and meat can be omitted all together if desired. Popular substitutions include ground turkey, Italian sausage, and bacon, either smoked or not. Only one meat can be used, or several different types can be added to the dish. This versatility is one of the many reasons that Crock-pot® pizza is popular.
Outside of meat, nearly any vegetable can be added to Crock-pot® pizza. Onions, peppers, and pickled hot peppers are some of the most popular. The dish can also include eggplant, zucchini, or fresh tomatoes in place of or in addition to other vegetables. Black or green olives and greens such as spinach or kale can also be added. As with the meat portion of this dish, the vegetables in Crock-pot® pizza can be adjusted to suit nearly anyone’s tastes.
This dish would not be called Crock-pot® pizza without cheese. A combination of cheddar and mozzarella is most common, although romano, parmesan, and provolone can be used for those who prefer stronger cheeses. Unlike other slow cooker dishes that include cheese, this pizza dish usually calls for this ingredient to be added at the start of the cooking process, rather than towards the end.
As with most slow cooker dishes, liquids are added to cook all of the ingredients together. For this dish, pizza or marinara sauce are the most commonly used. The quickest version of this meal relies on jarred or canned sauces, although homemade sauce can easily be used in place of store-bought varieties provided that it is made in advance.
The primary difference between Crock-pot® pizza and a traditional pizza is the lack of a dough crust. Typically, it is not possible to cook raw dough in a slow cooker with so many other ingredients. For this reason, noodles are cooked until they are almost al dente and then added to the slow cooker casserole. Over-cooking the noodles prior to placing them in the slow cooker can cause the noodles to become too tender, or even dissolve, during the cooking process.
All of these ingredients are layered inside of the slow cooker. The typical order includes sauce, noodles, and meat, followed by the vegetables and cheese. The layers are continued until all of the ingredients are used up or the slow cooker is full. This dish typically cooks for four hours on high or eight hours on low, and is served as a casserole.