Creamy Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

This creamy crock pot mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food that you can make with the most minimal amount of effort. Perfectly cooked pasta is enveloped in the most creamy cheese sauce — it’s heaven on a plate.

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All you need to make this is pasta, your favorite cheeses that melt well, and a few other ingredients, and within an hour or so you’ll have the creamiest macaroni and cheese. Everyone will be ready to devour it! 

Whether you need a side dish for a large gathering, you’re feeding the family on a busy night, or you just want to indulge, this is definitely the best crock pot mac and cheese to do the trick! 

Why You’ll Love Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese

If you’re a mac and cheese fan, this easy recipe that makes it simple to prepare with nearly no hands-on work may become your new go-to. 

  • Allows Creativity – There are tons of ways to customize this classic dish from adding veggies and protein to any number of spices. 
  • Reduced Prep Time – Whether you typically make a stove top mac or bake it in the oven, this recipe will significantly reduce the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. 
  • Convenient – On busy weeknights there’s little time to get food together. Toss these basic ingredients in the slow cooker and either tend to making other parts of your meal or get all of that homework done and lunchboxes packed — or just use it as a way to free up oven space. Plus, all of the ingredients are easy to find at the grocery store.

Best Cheese for Melting

This is a great way to clean out odds and ends pieces of cheese in the fridge or customize the flavor. However, not all cheese melts the same. Here are our top picks for melty, gooey cheese. You can use them on their own or blend together a combination of cheeses.

  • Cheddar
  • Colby
  • American
  • Havarti
  • Gouda
  • White cheddar
  • Swiss
  • Fontina
  • Monterey jack
  • Pepper jack
  • Muenster
  • Provolone

Regardless of what type of cheese you choose, freshly shredding it versus buying a bag of shredded cheese will mean it melts better. Pre-shredded cheese saves time but has an anti-caking agent to keep it from sticking and this can prevent a smooth and creamy mac and cheese sauce.

angled shot of mac and cheese in slow cooker

Ingredients for Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Combining these simple ingredients in your slow cooker yields the most dreamy, creamy macaroni and cheese.

  • Elbow Macaroni Noodles – While this is the classic shape of pasta to use, you can substitute any pasta that you like. We also like cavatappi, penne, and rigatoni.
  • Whole Milk – The fat from whole milk makes this sauce super creamy and rich. 
  • Evaporated Milk – Evaporated milk helps to build a creamy sauce without too much added fat.
  • Freshly Shredded Cheese – Grating your own cheese will give the mac and cheese the best consistency and flavor.
  • Coarse Kosher Salt – Salt helps to bring out the flavors of the cheese and spices. Since cheese is already somewhat salty, be sure to avoid over-salting.
  • Ground White Pepper – White pepper will add subtle floral notes and add a gentle heat without affecting the appearance of the sauce. However, you can use ground black pepper if that’s what you have on hand. 
  • Onion Powder – Onion powder adds savory flavor to the mac and cheese.
  • Garlic Powder – Garlicky goodness is best incorporated in powder form for this recipe.
  • Unsalted Butter – Cut the butter into cubes so that it is easy to add the the crockpot and is more evenly dispersed during cooking.
crock pot mac and cheese ingredients

How to Make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Once you’ve made this crockpot macaroni and cheese, you may never go back to the stovetop. 

  1. Add the uncooked pasta to a slow cooker prepared with non-stick cooking spray or lined with a slow cooker liner. 
  2. Pour the milk and evaporated milk over top before adding cheese, salt, pepper, onion, powder, and garlic powder. 
  3. Using a wooden spoon, stir all of the ingredients together until well combined. 
  4. Add small pats of the butter over top. 
  5. Secure the lid on the pot and cook for the recommended time on low heat, stirring halfway through. 
  6. Check the pasta’s doneness. If it is not al dente after the initial recommended time, keep cooking, checking at the recommended time intervals. 
  7. When the pasta has finished cooking, give the mixture a good stir to allow the sauce to come together.
  8. Serve immediately or allow to sit with the heat off. 

What to Serve with Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese can be a bowl full of goodness served all on its own as a main dish but it’s also the perfect side dish for nearly any meal. Make it a side for juicy baked chicken breasts, simple steak frites, or baked pork chops.

It’s also great to serve at a party with appetizers like chicken wingspizza stuffed peppers, or any kind of sliders.    

Variations on Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese

There are plenty of ways to amp up your creamy slower cooker mac and cheese. 

  • Mustard – Try adding dry mustard or wet mustard for some tang and earthy flavor. 
  • Heat – Mix in some diced jalapenos, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes.
  • Meat – Pack in some protein with shredded chicken, cooked ground beef, or sausage.
  • Veggies – Sneak in some nutrients by adding peas, broccoli florets, or sun-dried tomatoes. 
  • Cream Cheese – For a super creamy sauce with a touch of tanginess, use a little bit of cream cheese. 

Make Ahead, Storage & Freezing

Can I make crockpot mac and cheese ahead of time?

We do not recommend making this dish ahead of time. Pasta dishes and cheese sauces never reheat to the same initial glory as being originally cooked. We did test it with this recipe and the cheese sauce was lumpy and the pasta overcooked.

How do you store leftover mac and cheese?

Store leftovers in an airtight container. Reheat on the stovetop or microwave, adding 1 tablespoon of additional milk to thin out the sauce. Do not overcook, this will result in lumpy sauce and overcooked noodles.

Can I freeze mac and cheese?

You sure can! Freeze it in individual containers or as a casserole, but thawing and reheating will have the same difficulties as making it ahead or reheating, never quite the same.

Commonly Asked Questions

Can I double this crockpot mac and cheese recipe and does it change the cooking time?

Yes, it should be fine in a standard slow cooker. The cooking time does not change.

Do I need to rinse my pasta noodles?

Some recipes call for rinsing pasta before cooking, much like rice, in our experience, this isn’t necessary.

How much mac and cheese per person?

Generally speaking, a serving size of pasta is considered to be about 1 1/2 cups, which is 2 ounces of dry pasta. This recipe will serve 6-8 people. If you know you have mac and cheese lovers, plan for 3 ounces per person.

Why was my mac and cheese gritty?

Mac and cheese can become gritty if the cheese is added at too high of a temperature. The cheese separates and becomes grainy.

Why is my pasta mushy?

Pasta gets mushy if it is cooked too long and absorbs too much moisture. Be sure to check on the pasta as it’s cooking.

Why is my cheese sauce lumpy?

Cheese sauce can become lumpy if you use cold dairy products when making the roux for a traditional mac and cheese. Always allow dairy products to come to room temperature before stirring them in to make the sauce.

Why is the cooking time so variable?

Because the type of pasta and your slow cooker make a difference. Thicker pasta and those with ridges will cook up the best but also need more time. Slow cookers are supposed to consistently run at 190°F on the low setting, but we’ve found this to be largely inconsistent. After you’ve done it once, you’ll know how long to cook it.

Can I leave my slow cooker mac and cheese on “keep warm”?

We don’t suggest allowing it to stay on the warm setting. The sauce and pasta will continue to cook and it will run the risk of getting overcooked. You can, however, turn it off and top with the lid. Crockpot pots are very good at holding heat.

collage of crock pot mac and cheese for pinterest

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angled shot of serving spoon full of creamy mac and cheese

Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese

4.50 from 10 votes
This EASY Crock Pot Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food — perfectly cooked pasta is enveloped in the most heavenly, creamy sauce!

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Spray a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray or use a slow cooker liner.
  • Add the dry pasta to the pot and top with the milk, evaporated milk, cheese, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir well.
  • Dot the top with butter cubes.
  • Place the lid on and cook for 1 hour on low heat, stirring at the 30 minute mark.
  • At 1 hour, check the pasta. If it is not done, continue to cook for up to 2 hours, checking every 15 minutes.
  • Stir well to let the sauce get creamy. Turn off the heat and serve.
  • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.

Video

Notes

We used 2 cups of sharp cheddar and 2 cups of monterey jack. 
Author: Jessica Formicola
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
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About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    I dont know how i messed this up but im thinking cause i added the ingredients not at room temp? It taste sooooooooo good i just have a bit a gritty or maybe just too much cheese i added and not enough liquid hoping to try again!!!

    1. This can be the type of pasta and cheese. Did you freshly grate it and did the pasta have grooves? We talk about both of these being issues in post- also overcooking. You have to hit the sweet spot and then just shut it off. It holds heat well and doesn’t need the “keep warm” function. The steam keeps it creamy.

    1. Coopers is great, I usually do a white cheddar and a sharp cheddar. Monterey jack is always good- there is a whole list of the best cheeses so you can make the best combo for you!

  2. 5 stars
    Game on for Thanksgiving! We have now freed up space by making the mac in the crock pot! So excited for this!

  3. 5 stars
    There is nothing better than homemade mac & cheese! I just love that this is made in the slow cooker. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I love how easy this was to throw together. It was kind of like magic actually. It was creamy and delicious. Thanks for the great recipe. My family loved it.