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Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

February 9, 2021

Classic lasagna flavor, with a rich grassfed meat sauce packed with veggies, layered with cream and noodles, all in the convenience of your slow cooker!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna
Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.


Michigan born and bred has made us quite used to months of piles of snow and cold, but right around the middle of February, we usually dip well below even our threshold for cold air! These kids are pretty used to playing outside everyday no matter the weather, though, and we embrace the cold with warm campfires, cozy blankets…and comforting lasagna!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Warm lasagna made in the slow cooker!

Not that popping a casserole dish in the oven is that hard, but there is just something about being able to get dinner done before noon that makes me smile. Checking dinner off the list early in the day always makes me feel 10 steps ahead of the game, and this slow cooker lasagna will warm up even the most chilled to the bone kids and adults alike in just a few easy steps.

Veggie packed but so kid friendly

I don’t mind a big salad to get our veggies in on lasagna night, but sometimes a cold salad just doesn’t work in February. And little kids eat cooked veggies easier than raw. This lasagna is super packed out with plenty of veggies, but chopped small, and sautéed until sweet, they are the perfect kid friendly way to get flavorful and nutrient loaded vegetables in on lasagna night. Just look at all that veg!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: The Veggie Meat Sauce

The veggie meat sauce can be made up to a day in advance. If you have a prep day, this is the perfect activity for that day. Or if you plan to make this for a school night, simply make the sauce the night before, so that you can just get everything into the slow cooker in the morning without any fuss. To make the veggie meat sauce, you’ll pull out all the sweetness and flavor from the veggies first by sautéing them in butter or olive oil. This time is precious, and will create so much flavor. Once the veggies are perfection, the beef will get browned, the sauce will be added, and a few minutes of simmering will pull all the flavor together.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: The Creamy Bechamel Sauce

If you are dairy free, you are in luck! You really can have a creamy element to your lasagna without dairy, and this creamy sauce is just the ticket to your creamy dreams! Make a quick rue with rice flour and butter (if you can have it) or olive oil, then whisk in some coconut milk. If you tolerate dairy, cream or milk work fine here. The creamy bechamel sauce comes together in mere minutes, and this too, can be made a day in advance so that you can build your lasagna easily.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

The Method :: Building and Slow Cooking the Lasagna

Once you have the 2 sauces made, you are ready to go! Get a little of the meat sauce down on the bottom of the greased slow cooker, and then build 3 layers of lasagna noodles, bechamel sauce, and veggie meat sauce. If you tolerate a lot of dairy, you can add some cheese on top of each bechamel layer. This is totally optional. Two of my family members only tolerate sheep’s milk or goat’s milk cheese, which is pricy, so we just add some Manchego to the top of the lasagna and are happy! If you are completely dairy free, just leave the cheese off the top – it still tastes so good!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

A note on the eggs

I know this is a weird ingredient, but in years of testing out slow cooker lasagnas, I have found a couple eggs whisked into my creamy sauce makes the lasagna set up better. I’ve even used up to 4 eggs! If you are egg free, I would suggest simmering the meat sauce down a bit more so there is less liquid. It does work without the eggs – you may not get perfect little square slices, but it works.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

A note on prepping and timing

If you have a slow cooker that has a timer function, you are going to want to use that. I have a super old school slow cooker that does not have a timer, so I have to remember to turn my slow cooker off a the 4 hour mark. When the lasagna is done cooking on low for 4 hours, you want to let it rest with the heat off for at least 30 minutes, but I prefer more like 2 hours. It allows the juices to be soaked in by the noodles, and helps the lasagna to set. You really can make this an all day slow cooker meal while you are at work if you have a timer to shut off the slow cooker while you are gone. If you don’t, like me, you’ll want to save this meal for the weekend, or if you work from home like I do, just set a timer to remember to turn it off.

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Lasagna Noodle Tips and GF Brands

So one of the things that my “type A” personality had to get over to make a slow cooker lasagna was that slow cookers are oval…and lasagna noodles are not. It about killed me the first time I broke some noodles up to cover the area needed in my slow cooker, and truth be told, it really doesn’t matter! It all comes out looking the same! By the way, if you are gluten free, you can use the Jovial GF Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles, or the Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles! Some regular grocery stores even carry these now!

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna


For the Veggie Meat Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • ½ head cauliflower chopped small
  • 4 ounces of mushrooms sliced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 lb grassfed ground beef
  • 1 – 32 ounce jar marinara sauce
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste

For the Creamy Bechamel Sauce

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 2 ¼ cups full fat coconut milk or regular milk
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs whisked

For the Slow Cooker Lasagna


Make the Veggie Meat Sauce:

  • Over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and then sauté the onion, bell pepper, cauliflower, and mushrooms for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and soft.
  • Add the garlic, spinach, and tomato paste, and stir to combine.
  • Add the ground beef with a big pinch of sea salt and pepper, and brown the beef, stirring it into the cooked veggies.
  • Once the beef is fully cooked, add the marinara sauce, stir to combine, simmer for 5 minutes, and then set aside.

Make the Creamy Bechamel Sauce:

  • Use a medium saucepan and melt the butter over medium high heat.
  • Whisk in the white rice flour, making a paste, and then gradually stir in the coconut milk, whisking along the way. Add the sea salt and pepper.
  • Keep the heat on high and whisk the mixture until creamy and smooth. This takes a minute or 2.
  • Turn the heat off. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and gradually add little bits of the egg at a time to the bechamel sauce whisking along the way until full incorporated.

Assemble and Cook the Lasagna

  • Spray the slow cooker with avocado oil spray before you assemble the lasagna.
  • Scoop enough of the veggie meat sauce onto the bottom of the slow cooker to generously cover the bottom.
  • Layer your uncooked lasagna noodles over the meat mixture. You’ll have to break up the noodles a bit to cover the area.
  • Pour about 1/3 of the creamy bechamel sauce over the noodles, and then scoop some of the veggie meat mixture over the top of the bechamel sauce, spreading it out to cover all of the surface of the noodles.
  • Add another layer of noodles, bechamel sauce, and veggie meat sauce.
  • Add the last layer of noodles, the last of the bechamel sauce, and the last of the veggie meat sauce, and then sprinkle with shredded cheese of your choice.
  • Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and let the lasagna rest for at least 30 minutes to soak in the juices and set up before cutting and serving. Up to 2 hours is even better and will still be hot!
Kid Friendly Veggie Packed Slow Cooker Lasagna

More real food recipe you might like!

Dinner Ideas Healthy Kids and Teens Real Food 101 Real Food Tips

Sheet Pan Nachos with Slow Cooker Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

January 13, 2021

The most perfect sheet pan nachos with easy slow cooker pulled beef for game day or fun Friday night!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

Product links in this post are affiliate links. It does not cost you anything, and helps maintain the free information on this site, as well as answer the questions of “what brand do you use?” Please know I never personally recommend any product I wouldn’t use on my own family.

A story about the girls’ first nacho experience

A couple of summers ago my girls had their first experience with a big pile of loaded nachos! We live in a little beach town, and each summer we pick one weekend to play “tourist” – we ride the trolley, go to the touristy shops and attractions, play at the busier beach instead of the quieter beach, and also enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. That year, one of the girls asked what “nachos” were on the appetizer menu, so we decided to give them the experience! These nachos were no ordinary nachos, with plain corn chips and fake cheese. They were loaded with real pulled barbeque beef, green onions, peppers, crispy fried jalepenos, super yummy aoili and guacamole – the works!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

A new fun weekend at-home nacho idea!

My kids just adored the family style way of getting to eat the nachos at that restaurant, and they talked about it for days! Every so often my middle one would reminisce about those nachos, and asked if we could try to make them at home. How could I say no to that?! We get a half grass-fed cow each year, and I just happened to have a brisket that I hadn’t decided what to do with yet. We slow cooked the brisket in my taco seasoning mix, let the girls dress up some nachos on a big sheet tray, and a new fun weekend dinner treat was born!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: Preparing the Beef and Sauce

The ingredients for the pulled beef is very simple. Your favorite taco seasoning mix and an easily whisked sauce – that’s it! The beef cut is really up to you on this one. Any cut of beef roast or brisket will do. (And really you could do a pan of ground beef taco meat if you don’t happen to have a roast around.). I keep a jar of my own taco season blend in my cupboard, so the prep for the beef goes really fast. Over the years, I have discovered that tripling that taco season mix into a jar works best for me, so feel free to do that and enjoy having taco seasoning already made up a lot longer!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: The Slow Cooked Pulled Beef

Once you season your beef roast with a generous amount of your favorite taco seasoning, take the time to sear the sides. The crust on the meat gives amazing flavor, and that extra 5-10 minutes of prep is so worth it. You get to tuck the seared beef into the slow cooker for the rest of the time anyway so take your time and get a nice flavorful sear on your beef! You’ll slow cook the beef roast for 8-10 hours on low, and boy oh boy will it just fall apart after that. Perfect for pulling apart with a couple of forks for your sheet pan nachos! Whisk some of the juices from the slow cooker with a starch of choice and you have a delicious sauce to mix in with your shredded beef for the nachos.

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

The Method :: The Sheet Pan Nachos

And now we get to do the fun part! If you want to get the kids involved, prepare a “topping bar” type set up so that they can sprinkle toppings onto the sheet pan nachos to their little heart’s desire! Such a fun way for kids to try new veggies like finely chopped peppers – they make the nachos so pretty and get super sweet once cooked! I like to get the cheese onto the chips first, and then let the girls do the rest. You can let them sprinkle a little extra cheese on top after they get the toppings on too.

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

A note on the chips and cheese brands

Because I know that there will be questions on chips and cheese brands! I do get the organic tortilla chips from Costco, but there are so many decent brands out there now! Get the best you can afford – this is an every once and a while fun dinner! I also use the manchego cheese from Costco, but any cheese that you love will work. My oldest and I do better on sheep’s milk cheeses so we use manchego which is also super melty!

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast


  • 2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp butter to sear the beef
  • 2-3 pounds grassfed beef brisket or roast I have found any beef roast cut works!
  • 3-4 tbsp of taco season mix divided (I use my own taco season blend. I keep a jar of a triple batch of the seasoning in my pantry, so it is easy to use!)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar honey, maple syrup, or sugar works here – it cuts the acid in the tomato paste.
  • ½ – 1 cup beef broth chicken broth or water would be fine if that is all you have – I also happen to think swapping some of the liquid for a good beer or red wine tastes amazing
  • 1 large onion sliced into strips
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • Sea salt/pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips of choice
  • Cheese of choice if using
  • Nacho toppings of choice
  • 1 tsp starch of choice *you may not need this if you are using a taco seasoning mix that already has starch or flour in it – this is to thicken the sauce. You can use potato starch, GMO free corn starch, tapioca starch, or arrowroot.


  • Warm a skillet over high heat with the olive oil and butter while you season the beef. Pat dry your beef roast and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of taco season ON EACH SIDE of the beef, rubbing it into the beef on each side. (Total of 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning on the beef roast – if your roast is on the bigger side, you might use a bit more than 2 tablespoons)
  • Put the seasoned beef roast in the hot oil to sear. LEAVE the beef in the skillet for a few minutes until a nice crust forms – if the beef is sticking when you pull it up that means it might need a bit longer. If it pulls away from the pan easily, you’ve made a nice crust on the beef! Turn the beef roast to the other side to sear for a few minutes.
  • While the beef roast is searing you can whisk the sauce. Put 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning into a medium mixing bowl. Add the tomato paste, coconut sugar, and broth and whisk to combine until smooth.
  • Put the whisked sauce, sliced onion, and minced garlic into the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the seared beef. I like to put the beef into the sauce, then turn it over so that it is coated on both sides. Put the lid on your slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
  • Remove the cooked beef to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. Strain out about a cup of the sauce from the slow cooker, and whisk a teaspoon of potato starch into the liquid – this will make a thicker sauce for the beef. Mix the shredded beef with the thickened sauce – you can use as much of the sauce as you want to your desired consistency, and you can make more if you want it saucier!
  • To make the sheet pan nachos, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line your sheet pan with tortilla chips. Sprinkle the cheese, then the shredded beef, and then the toppings of your choice. You can sprinkle extra cheese on the top if you want!
  • Bake the sheet pan tacos in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Garnish with green onion, fresh herbs, sour cream – whatever you like!
Sheet Pan Nachos with Pulled Brisket or Beef Roast

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