This mac and cheese recipe is so easy to make in the crockpot – you don’t even need to boil the macaroni first! You just need to stir together the ingredients, the slow cooker does the rest.
Here’s the thing: I grew up on homemade mac and cheese, so I’m picky about it. But also? I often find myself so short on time I cannot possibly pull off a full-on baked macaroni cheese made from scratch.
That’s when this slow cooker recipe comes in handy! So easy, quick to throw together and unbelievably creamy.
This crockpot mac and cheese recipe:
- is the creamiest you’ll ever make!
- takes 5 minutes to prep
- can be doubled to feed a crowd
- is made with less than 10 ingredients
Ingredients you’ll need
This is just an overview of ingredients used. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- Evaporated milk: Can use more whole milk or half and half in place of the evaporated milk. The dish may come out a little less creamy.
- Butter: Can also use margarine for a more budget-friendly option.
- Cheeses: This is my favorite combination of cheeses for mac and cheese, feel free to use your favorite. I have also used Gouda and Colby Jack before and it was delicious, too.
How to make mac and cheese in the slow cooker
- Please do not pre-cook the macaroni. They go into the crockpot uncooked. If you pre-cook them, your mac and cheese will come out soupy.
- The macaroni will clump together as they cook, don’t worry: That’s completely normal. Just make sure you thoroughly stir to gently break them up.
- Do not leave this mac and cheese on the “warm” setting, and do not let it sit once it’s done cooking. It’s best eaten right as it’s finished.
- To double the recipe, use a 5-6 quart crockpot and double all ingredients. Add 15-30 minutes to the second cooking time (depending on the size of your crock – the macaroni tend to need a little longer in a smaller crock).
Mac and cheese FAQs
I always like to use a combination of a melty cheese and a sharp cheese. Here I’m using a sharp cheddar blend and shredded mozzarella. It makes the creamiest, most flavorful dish!
You don’t have to use evaporated milk, you can also use all regular milk or half and half in place of the evaporated milk. I like using evaporated milk for the creaminess it adds, but the substitutes work very well, too.
If your mac and cheese is grainy because the cheese hasn’t entirely melted, you can fix it by switching on the crockpot on LOW again and cooking the mac and cheese for a few more minutes while gently stirring.
Dry mac and cheese is usually a result of not enough liquid used. If you notice there isn’t enough liquid to form a creamy sauce after adding the cheeses, you can gradually add more hot milk while stirring. Do not use cold milk!
You also want to make sure your mac and cheese is hot when served, and to serve it right as it has finished cooking. Otherwise, the cheese can harden and turn your once creamy mac into a solid brick of cheese and macaroni.
What to serve with mac and cheese
Mac and cheese works great as a side dish for classic BBQ dishes, such as pulled pork or BBQ chicken. But classic comfort foods like meatloaf or fried chicken are also great.
It’s also wonderful as a simple main dish – stir in some cooked broccoli or peas for some greens! You could even add some diced or shredded rotisserie chicken to bulk up the meal.
Tips for leftovers
This is not a recipe I recommend making ahead on purpose to reheat later – the macaroni do soak up more liquid, so they turn quite soft.
If you do have leftovers and want to reheat them, I recommend spreading the leftover macaroni and cheese in a casserole dish. cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the oven at 375°F for around 30 minutes, or until steaming hot and bubbly all the way through.
Some more tips:
- stir in some chopped broccoli or frozen peas before baking
- sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs and dot with butter for a crispy topping
More macaroni recipes
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Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
- 1 (12-oz) box macaroni uncooked
- 1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 6 tablespoons butter diced
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
- salt & pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper)
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Prep: Line a 3-4 quart slow cooker with a slow cooker liner OR spray with nonstick cooking spray OR grease with butter.
- Combine ingredients: Add uncooked macaroni to crock, then add evaporated milk, whole milk, butter, mustard, salt, ground paprika and ground pepper. Stir well.
- Cook: Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour.
- Stir & cook again: Open lid, stir well to break up macaroni. Cover and cook for another 30-45 minutes on LOW.
- Finish with cheese: Open lid and stir well. Stir cream cheese and both shredded cheeses into macaroni. Let sit 5 minutes, covered, to melt cheeses. Stir, then serve immediately.
- if mac and cheese seems too dry or gloopy after adding the cheeses, gradually add up to 1/2 cup more hot milk while stirring well
- if cheeses don’t melt well in the end, switch slow cooker to “LOW” heat again to heat up the cheese while stirring
More recipe information
Crockpot Mac and Cheese Recipe first published on Unfussy Kitchen.