Crockpot Mac and Cheese

November 10, 2022

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Crockpot Mac and Cheese – It’s made with hearty macaroni and over a pound of three cheeses! It’s rich and satisfying and one of the ultimate comfort food side dishes.

Scoop of macaroni and cheese.

Easy Crockpot Mac and Cheese!

This is hands the absolute easiest way to make macaroni and cheese! And believe it or not and it’s unbelievably creamy, no broken curdled sauce, and the taste is simply perfect.

My tricks to a good crockpot mac and cheese are to use a combination of cream, water, and evaporated milk – instead of regular milk so it doesn’t curdle. Then also waiting until closer to the end to add the cheese so that doesn’t overheat and separate.

And another important key is to use a combination of cheeses for great flavor and texture. Sharp cheddar builds up the best traditional macaroni and cheese flavor, while each American cheese and Monterey Jack cheese create a velvety sauce.

The starches of cooking everything together in one pot (or slow cooker insert technically) also helps create a smooth sauce.

This is a family favorite! It has a well balanced flavor that isn’t too harsh so people of all ages love it, and the cook will love the ease of preparation.

It’s jam packed flavorful goodness in every bite and undoubtedly worthy of the holidays, but yet simple enough for a weeknight side dish!

Single serving of crockpot mac and cheese shown in a white soup bowl with a blue plate underneath.

Crockpot Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ingredients

  • Dry macaroni pasta
  • Butter
  • Water
  • Evaporated milk
  • Heavy cream
  • Onion powder and garlic powder
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • American cheese (from the deli)
  • Monterey Jack cheese

Ingredients for crockpot mac and cheese.

How to Make Crockpot Mac and Cheese

  1. Spray a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add macaroni pasta, butter, water, evaporated milk, heavy cream, onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt to taste. Stir then level and submerge pasta in liquid as best you can.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat until macaroni is about 2/3 of the way tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Working quickly remove lid and add cheddar, American cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. Stir then quickly return lid.
  5. Cook covered 15 to 30 minutes longer until pasta is tender and cheese is melted.
  6. Stir. Thin with a little hot water as needed. Season with pepper to taste if desired.

Six photos showing how to make crockpot mac and cheese in a slow cooker.

Possible Substitutes and Variations

  • Velveeta option: While it won’t taste quite as good you could substitute Velveeta for the deli American cheese if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Toasted breadcrumb topping: A delicious addition to this is to finish it with toasted panko breadcrumbs. To do this melt 3 Tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat, add 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs. Toss almost constantly until toasty and golden brown. Serve over finished mac.
  • Stronger cheese flavor: For bolder flavor use extra sharp cheddar in place of sharp cheddar, or replace Monterey Jack cheese with Gruyere, or you can even add a little finely shredded parmesan cheese (shred with a zester).
  • Extra creamy sauce: If you want it even creamier then replace 1/3 cup of the water with an additional 1/3 cup heavy cream.
  • Make it spicy: Add some red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to taste.

Overhead photo of slow cooker macaroni and cheese.

Helpful Tips

  • Use freshly grated cheeses: We don’t want the additives that are included in pre-grated cheeses here. The flavor won’t be as good or the texture.
  • Brands of macaroni to use: I’ve made this recipe with several brands and we preferred Barilla. It’s a bit larger and holds up a little better and doesn’t seem to release as much starch as others.
  • Slow cooker brand cook time: Note that every brand and model of slow cooker will cook at a different rate. For this recipe I use Crockpot brand slow cookers and they are known to cook high. If you have a different brand you will likely need to cook toward greater times listed and possibly even a little more.
  • Be careful not to over-stir: And stir gently. This is once pasta is partial cooked, then when stirring in cheeses and at the end. Just a few good quick stirs each time so it doesn’t mash the macaroni and get overly starchy.
  • Keeping mac and cheese warm: You can keep the macaroni and cheese set on the warm setting of the slow cooker for up to 30 minutes after cook time is complete. Keep it covered with a lid.

Crockpot Mac and Cheese in a slow cooker with a wooden spoon.

Serving Suggestions

I recommend serving this with:

Two servings of crockpot mac and cheese.

More Ways to Make Mac and Cheese

Scoop of macaroni and cheese.
5 from 2 votes

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

These easiest mac and cheese! It's made with hearty macaroni and over a pound of three cheeses. It's so rich and creamy and easily one of the ultimate comfort food side dishes.
Servings: 8 (as a side)
Prep10 minutes
Cook1 hour 30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry macaroni pasta (recommend Barilla)
  • 1 1/3 cups water, then hot water to thin as needed
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into small cubes
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 10 oz. sharp cheddar cheese,* shredded (2 1/2 cups)
  • 4 oz. deli American cheese, (recommend Boars Head), shredded (1 cup)
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 cup)

Instructions

  • Spray a 5 to 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Add macaroni pasta, butter, water, evaporated milk, heavy cream, onion powder, garlic powder and season with salt to taste. Stir then level and submerge pasta in liquid as best you can.
  • Cover and cook on low heat until macaroni about 2/3 of the way tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Working quickly remove lid and add cheddar, American cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. Stir then quickly return lid.
  • Cook covered 15 to 30 minutes longer until pasta is tender and cheese is melted.
  • Stir. Thin with a little hot water as needed. Season with pepper to taste if desired.

Notes

*For bolder flavor use extra sharp cheddar cheese. Gruyere can also be substituted for the Monterey Jack cheese.
Nutrition Facts
Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 632 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Fat 37g57%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Trans Fat 0.4g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Cholesterol 110mg37%
Sodium 712mg31%
Potassium 335mg10%
Carbohydrates 49g16%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 1127IU23%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 677mg68%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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9 Comments

  • Susan

    I did make this on Thanksgiving but it wasn’t as good as regular Mac N cheese that you either bake or make on stovetop. It was just ok and it was eaten but in the future I will not make it in the crockpot … everyone seems to be obsessed with making things in the crockpot but some things are better made in another fashion.

  • Kelsey

    This recipie was not good. It turned the pasta to paste. I followed the recipie and was exact on my times. The flavor was good, the pasta was not. This recipie is a no from me.

  • Louise Moore

    This sounds very easy but, just to clarify, you do not cook the pasta before adding to the crockpot?

  • Susan

    This looks great & super easy. I was wondering if you ever made it the day before then reheated it in the crockpot? I’m thinking of thanksgiving but I’d like to make it ahead if I can.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Most mac and cheeses don’t reheat very well and I think this one would be the same unfortunately. Small individual servings would be ok to reheat in the microwave but for a dinner I’d make fresh.

      • Maureen Hutchinson

        Thanks for this recipe. I am going to try it. Being in Canada, I had to look up what “American Cheese” is. I found out that it is called processed cheese slices here — unfortunately no Boar’s head avail.

        I love to reheat mac and cheese by melting a little butter in a cast iron skillet and frying thick slices of the mac and cheese until they get a crunchy crust on each side. It’s the best. (But I think the person with the question was thinking about serving this for a family gathering meal, like Thanksgiving, so that would not have worked in this case and your answer was the right one for her)

        • Maureen

          I did try this, and like another respondant said, it maybe wasn’t as good as regular mac and cheese. Not sure why. (well actually i had no evaporated milk, so used more heavy cream and some milk, so maybe that changed it too much) But it really was super easy and if that’s what you are looking for, this was quite tasty.