This creamy crockpot macaroni and cheese starts with uncooked elbow pasta; no boiling these noodles. Simply throw the milk, cheese, and seasonings in the slow cooker for a meal everyone will love! We’ve also made homemade stovetop macaroni and cheese, but the slow cooker is super portable and the dish won’t dry out. This is a great casserole to take to a potluck or family get together.
PRINTABLE RECIPE IS AT THE END OF THIS POST
Creamy Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese
I love cheese. I love the variety and how it spans cultures from Italian Beef and Cheese Manicotti to Mexican Corn in a Cup. Today, I’ve got an American classic – creamy crockpot macaroni. Hard to believe I first had slow cooker macaroni and cheese five years ago! I remember it so clearly because everyone at the potluck thought it was a genius idea to throw it together, keep warm and transport. Everyone loves mac and cheese. Just remember that next time you need a dish to pass!
There are two main types of macaroni and cheese. The first type is southern or baked mac and cheese, which includes eggs and is almost like a casserole. The second type is cooked on the stovetop in a béchamel sauce. There are no eggs and it is super creamy.
I love the slow cooker recipe I have, but it’s southern–style and I wanted creamy crockpot macaroni, so I turned to the internet in search of inspiration. I also did not want to pre-boil the pasta, which a lot of recipes call for. To me, that defeated the purpose of using my slow cooker.
RELATED: This Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with Ham in Peas is a crowd pleaser!
Turns out that in order to get that ultra creamy texture in a crockpot, you either have to use condensed cheese soup or Velveeta cheese, neither of which appealed to me. The next-best thing is to use evaporated milk and American cheese, the kind you get from the deli counter. Barring American cheese, using a melty cheese like Monterey Jack or White American will also produce creamy results.
To this, I also added lots of sharp cheddar. This gives it that great mac and cheese flavor, but it is not the best kind of cheese for melting. For best results, buy a brick and shred it at home since the pre-shredded cheese comes coated in anti-caking agents. I use my food processor and it’s done in the blink of an eye!
Frequently Asked Questions
There have been quite a few questions on this recipe, please check here before asking in the comments as it may already have been answered.
Q: Can I double this recipe and does it change the cooking time?
Yes this recipe can be doubled provided you have a large enough slow cooker. The cooking time will not change.
Q: The recipe says to use uncooked noodles, however it also says to rinse the pasta?
Yes, rinse the uncooked pasta simply to remove any dust and foreign particles from the manufacturing plant.
Q: I don’t eat yellow cheese, what is a good white substitute?
Monterey Jack works well, as does White American and White Cheddar. A marble cheese should work as well.
Q: Can I make this ahead and reheat it?
We don’t recommend reheating macaroni and cheese as it never tastes quite the same and there’s a possibility that the macaroni will become mushy. However if this is a deal breaker, you can reheat it – simply add some milk to loosen the thickened sauce while reheating.
Q: How many servings does this make?
This serves 6-8 people. A serving size is 2 ounces of dry pasta which expands to approximately 1.5 cups with sauce when cooked.
Q: Can I mix all of the ingredients, refrigerate overnight, and put in crock pot a few hours prior to serving?
Yes, with the exception of the pasta. Wait until you take it out of the fridge and are turning the slow cooker on before you add the macaroni.
Q: I’m confused by the cooking time, is it 2 hours or 3?
Actually it’s up to 3 hours. You should cook the dish on low for 1 hour, then stir it and check for doneness. After that, check it periodically (every thirty minutes or so) until it is done. The actual cooking time is completely dependent on the slow cooker you have (similar to ovens, they all cook differently), hence the “up to 3 hours” instruction.
Ingredients you will need for crockpot macaroni and cheese:
- 1 pound elbow pasta
- 2 1/2 cups milk (whole is best)
- 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
- 3 cups (12 oz) shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup (4 oz) shredded American cheese (or Monterrey)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Dash of cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
Helpful kitchen gadgets:
While scrolling through recipe reviews, many cooks noted that the mac and cheese was bland. I hate bland food, so I remedied this by adding mustard, garlic, and cayenne to my dish in addition to the basic salt and pepper. These can all be adjusted to your taste.
It’s very important that you check the mac and cheese every so often. Pasta is not an ingredient that can cook all day or it will turn to mush. Slow cookers vary by brand and size, so keep an eye on it after the first hour. Mine was perfectly al dente around 90 minutes in a 6-quart cooker. It’s still less hands-on than babysitting a béchamel sauce on the stove or dirtying up a number of dishes!
Watch the making of this delicious creamy macaroni and cheese below!