Slow cooker macaroni and cheese is the perfect easy comfort food. This recipe is a dump and go recipe that makes it easy to serve this cheesy pasta as a meal on its own or even as a holiday side dish!
Macaroni and cheese is always a hit in this house.
And I wonder: is there a single household- especially one with kids- that doesn’t love a good cheesy noodle?
This version makes the perfect easy meal any night, but it’s also a fabulous shareable dish for the holidays and other gatherings.
It will be a hit anytime you bring it out!
Here’s what you’ll need for this easy recipe:
- Elbow pasta – If you want, you can use shells or other small noodles.
- Milks – This recipe uses both whole milk (at room temperature) and evaporated milk.
- Cheeses – Sharp cheddar cheese and Colby jack cheese. For maximum creaminess, don’t buy the pre-shredded kind. Shred the cheese yourself.
- Spices – Salt, black pepper, ground mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Condensed cheddar cheese soup – This is actually optional, but I find it adds extra creaminess that my family goes crazy for.
- Cold butter – You can use salted or unsalted, just make sure it is cubed and cold.
Don’t sub more milk for the evaporated kind!
This tip is so important because this is the key to mac n cheese success.
Subbing regular milk for evaporated milk will cause the mac and cheese to be too runny!
Don’t have evaporated milk? Make your own homemade evaporated milk.
It is super easy, all you have to do is simmer 2 1/4 cups of regular milk until it reduces down to about 1 cup.
How to make
To prevent sticking, spray the inner bowl of your slow cooker with non stick cooking spray before getting started.
Next, add the pasta to the pot, followed by both milks, the cheeses, all the seasonings, and the condensed soup (if using). Once it is all in the pot, give everything a good stir to evenly combine.
Make sure to push any pasta down as needed so that it’s all submerged under the liquids. This step helps ensure the noodles all cook.
Finally, add the cubed, cold butter evenly out over the top of the combined ingredients.
Cover the pot with the lid and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
After two hours, stir the pasta and check to see how the cheese and noodles are. If the noodles and cheese sauce are not ready, you can continue cooking for another hour
If you feel it’s not ready and decide to cook for longer, make sure to check it every 30 minutes to test for that it’s reached the right level of doneness for you.
When the pasta is tender and your sauce is thick & creamy, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar evenly out over the top of the dish.
Finally, turn off the slow cooker, replace the cover, and let the slow cooker sit just until the cheese on top has melted.
If you have left overs, you can easily store them in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days. To store, all you need to do is transfer the cool mac and cheese to an air tight container and then place in the fridge.
For easy individual servings, you can place it in separate containers that are ready to heat up in the microwave.
You can also freeze the mac and cheese. To do this, allow it to cool completely and then place in a freezer safe container. It should stay fresh for up to 6 months. You can reheat it directly in the microwave until warmed through or thaw it and reheat over low heat on the stove top.
Tips and tricks
- Serve the mac and cheese immediately for the creamiest texture or let it sit and let if thicken some more if you prefer it like that.
- You can stir in a cup of thawed, frozen peas about five minutes before serving for some extra veggies for the kiddos.
- If serving a crowd at a gathering, you can leave it on warm in the slow cooker. Just keep in mind, it will continue to thicken, so keep an eye on it.
- I can’t stress this enough: use block cheese and shred it yourself! When you buy pre-shredded cheese, it has a waxy coating and other anti-caking ingredients to prevent it from sticking together. These added ingredients make the cheese stringy and prevents it from melting evenly. So don’t give into temptation, and instead recruit your kids to shred the cheese for you.
- One trick I find helpful, but is not required, is to boil the noodles for about 5 to 6 minutes before adding to the slow cooker. I find this helps get the noodles to perfection by the end.
- If you love ultra creamy mac and cheese, try stirring in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sour cream to the still warm mac and cheese before serving.
Other mac and cheese recipes you will love
My family loves this slow cooker macaroni and cheese. It is so easy to make, you won’t mind getting this together for your family or bringing it along to your next gathering.
Looking for other mac and cheese recipes? Check out some of my other favorites:
The (mostly) Traditional Kind
- Southern Homestyle Mac & Cheese
- Smoked Mac & Cheese
- Copycat Stouffers Mac & Cheese
- Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese
- Copycat Panera Bread Mac & Cheese
The Totally Delicious, But Non-Traditional Kind
- Breakfast Mac & Cheese
- Caesar Mac & Cheese with Kale
- Pimento Cheese Macaroni & Cheese
- Buffalo Mac & Cheese
- Mac and Cheese Lasagna
- Creamy Tomato Soup Mac & Cheese
If you’ve tried this SLOW COOKER MACARONI AND CHEESE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Slow Cooker Macaroni & Cheese
- 1 lb elbow pasta
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk at room temperature
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese reserve 1/2 cup for garnish
- 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/8 tsp paprika
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
- 1/4 cup cold butter cubed
- Spray the inner bowl of your slow cooker with non stick cooking spray.
- Add the pasta to the pot, followed by both milks, the cheeses, all the seasonings, and the condensed soup (if using). Give everything a good stir to evenly combine, and push any pasta down as needed so that it's all submerged under the liquids.
- Add the cubed butter evenly out over the top of the dish.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.
- Stir the pasta, and check for doneness. If not done, continue cooking for another hour- doneness depends on preference as well as your slow cooker at this point. Check every 30 minutes to test for doneness, if needed.
- When the pasta is tender and your sauce is thick & creamy, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar evenly out over the top of the dish.
- Turn off the slow cooker, cover and let the slow cooker sit just until the cheese has melted.
- Serve & enjoy!