Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is creamy and delicious. This homemade mac n cheese recipe has 3 types of cheese for the best flavor, and is such a delicious recipe! With just a few ingredients, this family favorite crock pot mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and very cheesy with a creamy sauce the whole family will love.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
Originally published 4/21/20
This easy Macaroni and Cheese is a staple around here and is one of those easy dinners that we make often. This delicious, easy crockpot recipe is great for your main dish, or as a side dish served at family gatherings, holidays, cookouts, backyard barbecues, and even weddings and other events!
This is one of our favorite recipes, and is the easiest thing to make! This crockpot mac and cheese is great because it saves on oven space you can make the sauce in the slow cooker and then add the al dente noodles and let it cook while you do other things.
How do you like your mac and cheese recipe? Creamy? Cheesy? Tasty? Easy? How about all four? Okay, this great recipe is for you!
I often get asked about recipes that cook faster than the typical 4 or 8 hours cooking time in the slow cooker. Many of the recipes with shorter cook times will be chicken, side dish recipes, or pastas.
This yummy crock pot macaroni and cheese recipe takes about two hours plus a little prep time to make. That’s not bad for a slow cooker recipe!
The Best Mac and Cheese in the Crock Pot – Tips
• The most important thing is to cook this on Low Heat setting. The cheese will separate and be oily and unpleasant if you cook it on High heat.
• Only cook the noodles to about 80%-85% (very al dente) done before adding to the crock. Otherwise you will have mushy mac and cheese!
• Grate your own cheese if you can for best results. If you use the stuff from the bag it will have a chalky or gritty texture.
• Don’t stir it until the 1 hour mark.
• Be sure to check on it after 1 hour of cook time. Eat a noodle and see if it is soft enough. Cook longer if needed.
Ingredients for Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe:
• Elbow Macaroni Noodles
• Unsalted Butter
• Processed Cheese (such as Velveeta®), or American Cheese
• Freshly Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (or Half Monterey Jack)
• Grated Parmesan Cheese
• Whole Milk (or evaporated milk)
• Ground Mustard Powder (optional)
• Garlic Powder (optional)
• Onion Powder (optional)
• Salt & Black Pepper to taste
The steps to make this creamy macaroni and cheese are easy. Here they are:
1- Spray the crock of a 5 qt or 6 qt slow cooker with cooking spray. Add the cubes of butter.
2- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove top on medium-high heat and add the uncooked pasta. Cook for about half the time the package directions say. You want the pasta cooked to about 85% done, but not all the way or it will get overcooked and mushy in the slow cooker. Too little and it will take longer in the crockpot. Stir and drain well.
3- Turn on the slow cooker to Low. Add the pasta to the crock.
4- Add the cheese cubes in an even layer, but don't stir.
5- Sprinkle on the shredded cheese and the parmesan, and any seasonings (except mustard powder), but don't stir.
6- Pour in the milk. Do not stir. Put the lid on and cook for 1 hour on Low. Do not cook on High.
7- After 1 hour, add the ground mustard, if using, and give the the mac and cheese a good stir. Taste a noodle or two to test doneness. If not done, put the lid back on, turn the heat down to the Warm setting, and cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it reaches desired doneness.
8- Stir again, and test for doneness. Mine usually cooks in just under 2 hours (1 hour on Low, and 1 hour on the Warm setting). This is how I avoid overcooking it. Of course, every slow cooker is a little different.
9- When done, turn off the slow cooker. Stir in a little warmed milk or heavy cream if you like it creamier. Taste and add a little more salt and pepper, and extra cheese, if desired.
10- Serve immediately.
*Remember that some slow cookers cook hotter than others. The newer slow cookers seem to cook hotter than the older slow cooker models. You probably know your own crock pot pretty well.
Just follow the tips for this easy recipe and you should get a nice creamy and cheesy macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker!
Slow-Cooker Mac and Cheese Add-Ins
If you like extra stuff in your slow cooker macaroni and cheese, there are several tasty add-ins you can try:
• Bacon. Of course bacon is at the top of my list! Cooked, crumbled or chopped bacon adds a lot of delicious flavor.
• Cream Cheese for a thicker, creamier texture.
• A can of cheddar cheese soup. A shortcut that many people like.
• Sour Cream for a tangy flavor.
• Use heavy cream in addition to regular milk.
• A couple of eggs, beaten, added to the sauce before adding the elbow pasta makes a custard-style mac n cheese sauce that's even creamier and richer.
• Chili. You can have a chili mac just by combining the two.
• Stewed tomatoes added to a serving or stirred in right before serving. I have done this for years. So good!
• Hot sauce for a little spicy kick.
• Smoked paprika. For a hint of smoky flavor – a half to 1 teaspoon stirred in.
• Smoked sausage cut in ½″ rounds, added in the last hour of cooking is excellent!
• Toasted Bread Crumbs mixed with a little melted butter on top about 40 minutes before serving are delicious and add a nice crunch!
Use your imagination and come up with something you will enjoy. Or just enjoy your slow cooker mac and cheese as is!
Can I Make Mac and Cheese Healthier?
- If you are trying to cut calories, you can use low fat ingredients and dairy products.
- I haven't tried gluten free or non-dairy products in this recipe. It will require some testing.
- I recommend trying a partial batch first, then the next time you make it you will know what worked or didn't work and can make any adjustments. This is how I test my recipes! It can take a few times to get it just the way you like it!
How to Store Leftover Macaroni and Cheese
You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days. I don't recommend freezing
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese in the Microwave
• To reheat, add a couple teaspoons of milk and warm in the microwave on a low setting for about 45 seconds, then gently stir.
• Add a little more milk, if needed, and heat an additional 45 seconds, and stir again. Repeat as needed.
• This method heats up the mac and cheese gently so it doesn't separate.
If you made this yummy, creamy crockpot mac and cheese recipe, please leave a comment with a star rating below. I would like to know how you liked it!
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is creamy and delicious. This is a three cheese macaroni recipe. Easy to make and very cheesy.
- 16 oz Macaroni Noodles
- 4 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into cubes
- 8 oz Processed Cheese (such as Velveeta®), cut in 1 inch cubes
- 3 cups Freshly Shredded Cheddar Cheese (I use sharp), Not from a bag
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 3 cups Whole Milk
- ½ tsp Ground Mustard, optional
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Spray the crock of a 5 qt or 6 qt slow cooker with cooking spray. Add the cubes of butter.
Bring a pot of water to boil and add the macaroni. Cook for about half the time the package directions say. You want the pasta cooked to about 85% done, but not all the way or it will get overcooked and mushy in the slow cooker. Drain well.
Turn on the slow cooker to Low. Add the pasta to the crock.
Add the cheese cubes, but don't stir.
Sprinkle on the shredded cheese and the parmesan, but don't stir.
Pour in the milk. Do not stir. Put the lid on and cook for 1 hour on Low. Do not cook on High.
After 1 hour, add the ground mustard, if using, and stir the mac and cheese. Taste a noodle or two to test doneness. If not done, put the lid back on, turn the heat down to Warm, and cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it reaches desired doneness.
Stir again, and test for doneness. Mine usually cooks in just under 2 hours (1 hour on Low, and 1 hour on Warm). This is how I avoid overcooking it. Of course, every slow cooker is a little different.
When done, turn off the slow cooker. Stir in a little warmed milk if you like it creamier. Taste and add a little salt and pepper, if needed.
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