Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

I am a macaroni and cheese lover through and through. I loved it when I was a kid, and I appreciate it and all of its varieties even more so now. I love trying new recipes at home (see all of my mac and cheese recipes here), and I can’t seem to resist it on a menu when I go out to eat, either (my very favorite was this short rib variation I had last year).

I was undecided about what to make for the 4th of July last week, when my sister suggested crock-pot dishes. Genius! I immediately thought of our favorite beer and brown sugar kielbasa and sauerkraut, but knew not everyone might what kielbasa. My sister mentioned that she had seen a lot of crock-pot macaroni and cheese recipes on Pinterest lately, and it took approximately one second for me to be on board with that idea.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

I searched Pinterest and Google and found umpteen recipes for macaroni and cheese made in the slow cooker. I started to narrow down my search by omitting any that called for eggs (supposedly makes it creamy, but tons of reviews reported curdled mixtures) and condensed cheese soup (just, no). Then, I found this recipe and I thought it sounded perfect. I normally don’t use the processed cheese loaf, but decided that the 4th of July was a special occasion. Good decision on my part, if I do say so myself. I haven’t experimented with replacing it with another type of cheese, but I assume it might be less creamy.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

This macaroni and cheese may have been the biggest hit of the day. My mom declares herself not much of a macaroni and cheese fan, but said this one changed her mind. My father-in-law and cousin are both macaroni and cheese aficionados and they both went back for seconds (shhhh, I think I saw some thirds!).

I loved having a mostly from-scratch macaroni and cheese without having to stand over the stove, make a white sauce, stir in cheese, etc. As great as from-scratch mac and cheese is, it’s not the most conducive meal for feeding a crowd unless you pop it in the oven and then keep it warm. I adore slow cooker meals and love that I have a meatless go-to option now!

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese | browneyedbaker.com #recipe

One year ago: Banana Snack Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Two years ago: Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream Topping and Homemade Pineapple Ice Cream Topping
Four years ago: S’mores Whoopie Pies
Five years ago: Bananas Foster Banana Bread
Six years ago: Homemade Bagels

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 to 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes

Quite possibly the easiest macaroni and cheese you'll ever make!

Ingredients:

12 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1½ cups half & half
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. Spray 3½ to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Place the macaroni in the slow cooker, immediately add the butter and stir until melted.

2. Add the evaporated milk, half & half, 2½ cups of the cheddar cheese, the Velveeta, salt and pepper; stir to blend well.

3. Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours (if you have a larger slow cooker, decrease the cooking time). During the last 15 minutes of cooking, sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheddar cheese. Once done, turn the slow cooker setting to warm until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

(Recipe adapted from Pillsbury)

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76 Responses to “Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Samina | The Cupcake Confession on July 9, 2014 at 1:33 am

    MMMMmmmmm Macaroni and Cheese is like the BEST{EST} comfort food ever created by mankind!!!!!! This looks amazinglllly ooey – gooey and cheesy!!!!!!!!!!!! I would also go for thirds, maybe even fourths!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 Loved it!!!!!!!!

    Reply

  2. SimoCuriosa on July 9, 2014 at 2:26 am

    make me…hungry!!!
    see you soon!!!

    Reply

  3. Averie @ Averie Cooks on July 9, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Using the slowcooker, using Velveeta and not having to stand and stir to make the cheese sauce, and how great this looks (and I’m like your mom, not really a big mac and cheese person) – totally sold! Pinned :) Looks amazing!

    Reply

  4. Thalia @ butter and brioche on July 9, 2014 at 3:57 am

    ok wow this looks like heaven… you’ve definitely inspired me to re-create the classic mac + cheese recipe. thanks for the inspiring ideas and great post.

    Reply

  5. Gina on July 9, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Looks amazing! What would you consider a “larger” crockpot?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 9th, 2014 at 8:25 am

      Hi Gina, Anything larger than what is called for in the recipe. Just reduce the cooking time by the same ratio, i.e. if you have a 6-quart slow cooker, it’s 50% larger than a 4-quart (the largest recommended size for this recipe), then reduce the cooking time by 50% (so, cook it for 1 hour 30 minutes). I used a 6-quart and found 1 hour 30 minutes to be perfect for the consistency you see above. I’ve also cooked it a little over 2 hours and it ended up being a bit on the crustier side.

      Reply

  6. Tom @ Raise Your Garden on July 9, 2014 at 7:11 am

    My kid’s and I love mac and cheese. This is the perfect thing to bring to mom’s thanksgiving or easter meal. Everyone will love it!

    Reply

  7. Lauren on July 9, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Michelle,
    Crock pot macaroni and cheese is most definently a familly favorite- My mom indroduced it to us a couple of years ago (with a recipe very similiar to yours)… super easy, delicious and always gone after family get-to-gether :)
    Another AMAZING macaroni and cheese recipe that I was recently introduced to:
    Zoe’s Blue Crab Mac’n’cheese:
    ½ pound unsalted butter (two sticks)
    ½ cup flour
    4 cups whole milk
    ½ to ¾ pound shredded white American cheese
    ¼ pound shredded white cheddar

    2 tablespoons dusted Parmesan (the sprinkle kind)

    1 to 2 tablespoons Old Bay

    Dash of Worcestershire sauce

    1 pound cavatappi pasta cooked al dente and drained

    ¾ pound lump backfin crabmeat, or your favorite crabmeat to taste

    Heat butter and flour in a saucepan over low heat, constantly stirring, to make a light, loose roux, about 3 to 4 minutes, or just until it melts. In a separate pot, heat the milk until it is medium-hot, but not scalding. Add the heated milk to the roux and whisk over medium heat until it is thick and smooth. Add the other ingredients, except the noodles and crabmeat, and mix well. Add the sauce to the cooked noodles and mix well. Stir in the crabmeat. If desired, brown the top under a broiler.

    *****AMAZING!!!!
    I love your blog :)
    Happy Wednesday

    Reply

    • Jamie on August 31st, 2014 at 8:22 pm

      Being from Maryland, this sounds amazing and I will HAVE to try it!

      Reply

  8. Aimee on July 9, 2014 at 8:28 am

    What would you use as a substitute for the velveeta? I know that is a crazy question considering it is a major cheese in this recipe and it gives it that smooth cheesy consistency, but my childhood days involved a lot of velveeta. I didn’t like it as a kid, but had to eat it and now I just can’t put it in a recipe…. just can’t do it but the idea of crock pot mac and cheese is an awesome idea!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 9th, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Hi Aimee, As I mentioned above, you could use another type of cheese, although I can’t guarantee the consistency. This recipe makes a really smooth and creamy mac and cheese; substituting something else for the Velveeta would probably be okay, but the texture and consistency will likely be a bit different.

      Reply

    • Vickie on October 2nd, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      You can easily substitute white American for Velvetta. I had some of the best M&C I’d ever tasted in a restaurant a couple of years ago. When I commented to the owner how good it was she kindly gave me her secret….White American cheese! I was surprised but it was so good I came home and tried it. It melts easily and has a smooth and creamy texture and perfect taste along with the cheddar. I think you will love it too!

      Reply

  9. Colleen on July 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

    How easily do you think this recipe would double? We’re going to a cookout this weekend. Or do you think throwing it in a dish and warming it in the oven before going would be sufficient?

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 9th, 2014 at 9:29 am

      Hi Colleen, I think you could easily double this in a 6-quart slow cooker. I actually plan on doing that the next time I make it for a crowd!

      Reply

      • Colleen on July 9th, 2014 at 9:36 am

        Thanks! I’ll definitely give it a shot for a cookout we’re going to this weekend. I love the website! Your homemade Primanti’s recipe has made us miss Pittsburgh just a little bit less.

        Reply

      • Kathy Hayes on July 14th, 2014 at 8:51 am

        Michelle, I plan on making a double back in a 6 quart this weekend, since I am doubling what are you thoughts on the cooking time. I know you said to half the time for a single recipe in the 6 quart slow cooker. Thanks so much, Kathy.
        PS Congratulations on the new addition, so happy for you all.

        Reply

        • Michelle on July 14th, 2014 at 12:55 pm

          Hi Kathy, I think if you do 3 hours it should be good, just check it when you stir towards the end – if there is still liquid not absorbed, it will need to go a bit longer. It will be easy to tell if it’s ready or not. Enjoy!!

          Reply

          • Kathy Hayes on July 14th, 2014 at 1:11 pm

            Thank you so much for the quick reply, making this for our great nephews 1st birthday party.

            Reply

            • Rachel on July 23rd, 2014 at 3:17 pm

              Just curious how the doubling went? Going to the lake in a few weeks with about 20 people and wanted to try it.

  10. Elizabeth on July 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

    I love the convenience of Crock Pot cooking and Mac and Cheese is always the perfect side to summer Barbeques. What does the 12 ounces of macaroni equate to? 1 1/2 cups?? I know some measurements differ when we convert here in Canada.
    P.S. Loving your website!! I’ve even book marked it here at work !!

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 9th, 2014 at 9:30 am

      Hi Elizabeth, It would be about 3 cups of uncooked macaroni. So glad you’re enjoying the site! :)

      Reply

  11. Tieghan Gerard on July 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

    This looks incredible! Holy YUMMO!

    Reply

  12. Alice // Hip Foodie Mom on July 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

    oh my gawd, I LOVE this!!!

    Reply

  13. Maria on July 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

    This mac and cheese looks perfect!

    Reply

  14. Lesley-Ann on July 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Hi I’m in the uk what is velveeta cheese?
    I’ve never seen it? Maybe we have an equivalent.
    Always love a good slow cooker recipe. This looks like a winner

    Reply

    • Carol on July 9th, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      I’m in the UK as well, though I grew up in the US. There is NO equivalent to Velveeta, unfortunately!

      Reply

    • Randy Goldberg on July 21st, 2014 at 8:19 am

      Velveeta is a processed cheese product made by Kraft, designed to melt smoothly. Someone upthread posted a recipe for home-made Velveeta; you might try that.

      Reply

  15. Ashley @ Wishes & Dishes on July 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    I love crock pot mac n cheese!! Looks amazing!

    Reply

  16. Shaina on July 9, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve been wanting to make mac and cheese in my slow cooker for some time now. I need to get on this asap!

    Reply

  17. Angelyn @ Everyday Desserts on July 9, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    who doesn’t love mac & cheese?! this looks perfect, I couldn’t resist it! yum!!

    Reply

  18. Becky on July 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Wow! I really want to eat this right now!

    Reply

  19. Lindsey @ American Heritage Cooking on July 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    That first photo is worth a thousand words!!! So gorgeous! Can’t wait to try this easy recipe out!

    Reply

  20. Jamie on July 9, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I’m so excited to try this recipe! I was just talking to my mom about crockpot mac and cheese because I’ve been on the lookout for a recipe that’s moist and cheesy. I’ve had really good crockpot mac and cheese but I’ve also had some that was dried out. Your recipe sounds perfect! I can’t wait to make it!

    Reply

  21. Kate on July 9, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Do the noodles get at all mushy? Seems like in 2-3 hours they’d be really, really, really soft.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 10th, 2014 at 9:16 am

      Hi Kate, Not at all! They are cooked perfectly; just be sure to boil to al dente before putting them in.

      Reply

      • Kate on July 10th, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        Good to know, thanks for the reply!

        Reply

  22. Lynne on July 10, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Hmm, I can’t wait to see posts from people who made this. I don’t see the point in crock pot recipes where you have to cook ingredients first and/or have to be home while it cooks (i.e., less than 8 hours of cooking), it’s not convenient at all! If you want to make M&C w/o a white sauce, use this award-winning M&C from a Bobby Flay Throw Down: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/delilahs-7-cheese-mac-and-cheese-recipe.html.
    The other thing about slow cooker recipes – they all that that same slow cooker taste.

    Reply

    • Randy Goldberg on July 21st, 2014 at 8:25 am

      I disagree. It’s perfectly convenient when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, or you don’t want to spend an hour or more standing at the stove stirring a mornay sauce. Running the crock pot on wall power is also cooler, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly than leaving a gas burner running for an hour at a time. “Cooking unattended” is not the only purpose of a crock pot. The recipe you recommend requires seven kinds of cheese, driving the price per serving way up, and requires an oven (not welcome in the heat of summer). And, I’d add, beating Bobby Flay on his dumb TV show does not make a recipe “award-winning.” As to that “same slow cooker taste,” I’ve never found any such thing. Every dish I make in my slow cooker tastes of itself, not the machine, and no two dishes taste the same.

      Reply

  23. Jaclyn on July 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    This looks so perfect! Love that it’s made in the slow cooker!

    Reply

  24. Patt on July 11, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Do you think low-fat ingredients would work? Not the non-fat stuff, but reduced fat (2%milk) ? Mac n Cheese is a favorite in my house, but it loves me just a little too much, if you know what I mean.

    Reply

    • Michelle on July 14th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Hi Patt, I think you could do that, it just might not be as thick or rich. Enjoy!

      Reply

  25. Tegan | The Macadames on July 12, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Love your blog! And I love a slow cooker recipe, I would have never thought to do mac and cheese in this way!!
    Tegan | The Macadames
    http://www.themacadames.com

    Reply

  26. Melissa on July 16, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Had this the other night and it’s fantastic! It’s delicious and a great consistency.

    Reply

  27. Joylynn on July 20, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    I doubled this to take to a family reunion today and got rave reviews (and an empty slow cooker). Very cheesy and yummy! 3 hours on low was perfect for a double batch in a 6 qt slow cooker.

    Reply

    • Rachel on July 28th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      Wanted to try doubling but wasn’t sure if it would be as good. Will do as you suggested. Thanks!

      Reply

  28. Karen Condit on July 25, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Making a double batch tomorrow for our family summer birthdays celebration. Didn’t know they still made Velveeta but had no problem finding it. Will go with the three hours as suggested by Joylynn.

    Reply

  29. Becky on August 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I was wondering, if I wanted to add croutons to the top of this could I do it in the crock pot or would that turn them soggy? I like the crunchy texture topping and I have used it when making mac and cheese and tuna noodle casserole in the oven.

    Reply

    • Michelle on August 23rd, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      Hi Becky, They would definitely get soggy, I would add them at the end. Enjoy!

      Reply

  30. Maggie on September 18, 2014 at 4:33 am

    Hi! Okay I can’t seem to ever get the “white sauce” right in a traditional mac & cheese recipe, so I tried this over the weekend while we were at Awana & it was AMAZING! Just the right amount of cheesiness! Wish the store would of had sharp cheddar, but the mild worked fine in a pinch. Thanks for adding this.
    Oh also, reheated the next day in the oven & it was just as good, if not better!

    Reply

  31. Em on September 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    About to make—anybody add any spice to give subtle flavor. Cumin? Or cayenne?
    Or any other? If so how much?

    Reply

  32. Salli on October 2, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Has anyone made this without cooking the noodles? We want to make up north and don’t have an easy way to boil the noodles first, so would like to be able to do it completely in the crockpot… any suggestions?

    Reply

    • Amy on November 25th, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Hi, Salli. I’ve made this without cooking the noodles. I also used cheddar instead of velveeta. I use a larger crock pot and it only needed about 2.5 hours to completely cook the noodles.

      Reply

  33. Suzie on October 15, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    I’m hosting a Harvest Party next week with a Mac and Cheese Bar….going to give this recipe a try. :) I’m making it 4x though. Any tips for the recipe that large? I plan to cook it in a roaster.

    Reply

  34. Kelli on October 16, 2014 at 6:11 am

    I have a work potluck and wanted to bring something warm. This sounds good, but how can I transport it? I get to work at eight, lunch is at 12:00. I was thinking of it putting all the ingredients in the crock pot in the morning, driving the half an hour to work, and plugging in the crockpot for 3 hrs. Then putting it on warm for the last hour until lunch. Do you think that would work?

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 16th, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Hi Kelli, Yes, that would definitely work. Enjoy! :)

      Reply

  35. Jan on October 16, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    We are having a family picture time and will be doing soups for adults. I would like to try the Mac and cheese but needs to be ready when we are ready about 1 to 1 1/2 hours and we will be eating at sons home which is a 2 hour commute. Can this be prepared the day before and then warmed while we are off doing pictures? Little ones will need to eat soon after pictures. It won’t need to be steaming hot, but warmed through. Appreciate quick reply as pictures are day after tomorrow! :)

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 17th, 2014 at 10:39 am

      Hi Jan, You can definitely serve this as leftovers, but it will be a little thicker and not as creamy as when it is first made. You could always stir in some additional half and half if needed.

      Reply

  36. Jane on October 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I made a double batch in my 6 qrt pot for a fall potluck. I made no changes to the recipe. I cooked it for 3 hrs on low.

    So incredibly good. Make certain you only cook the noodles to al dente. I can see how over cooking them from the start could result in an overly gummy end product. Also, I was not home to stir mine while cooking and I wish I had been. I do think that would be best to stir at least two times while cooking.

    Honestly, this may be a little cheesy (I know, I know). When I make it again, I think I will use a tad bit less Velveeta. Delicious though. Thanks!

    Reply

  37. Jeanna on October 25, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    I too was searching for a crock pot mac & cheese recipe for an upcoming family Poker Night potluck. As soon as I saw “Brown Eyed Baker” on this recipe I was done searching! I know I can trust you :)
    My question is, will using a disposable crock pot liner have any bad effect on this recipe? I love the ease of clean up but some dishes just taste so much better if allowed to get “crusty” on the edges and/or bottom. I know using the called for cooking spray will help with clean up, but I love just throwing that bag away and having a clean crock pot!
    Thank you.

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 25th, 2014 at 7:45 pm

      Hi Jeanna, I don’t use the liners because of the plastic/nylon – I’m just not comfortable cooking food in them. As for this particular recipe, I love crusty mac and cheese, so I liked the edges getting crusted up a bit, but if you don’t care one way or the other, you could use the liner.

      Reply

  38. Kathleen on November 13, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    I doubled the recipe. After 1 and a half hrs, its very thick. Is it supposed to be like that? Not sure of the size of the crockpot, but its large.

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 16th, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      Hi Kathleen, It should not be runny, if that’s what you mean. As I mentioned in the recipe, if you use a large slow cooker, the cooking time will be decreased.

      Reply

  39. Shan on November 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Wow! Just made this and it is excellent! I want to eat a big bowlful but am resisting until dinner. This is one of the best m&c recipes I’ve ever tried!

    Reply

  40. Diana on November 22, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Hello I want to try this for Thanksgiving but was wondering if I could use another shredded cheese besides sharp cheddar? Thank you!

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 24th, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Hi Diana, Absolutely!

      Reply

  41. miri on November 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Hi! Do you shred your own chedder cheese, or buy the pre-shreded stuff in the bag? I know there are different stabilizers in the stuff in the bag. Sometimes it melts differently… I love you blog! I can’t wait to try this for Thanksgiving

    Reply

    • Michelle on November 24th, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Hi Miri, I shred my own cheese and definitely recommend it. The caking agents in pre-shredded bags of cheese keep it from melting smoothly.

      Reply

  42. Lydia on November 26, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    How many does this serve?

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 14th, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Lydia, Serving size is always listed at the top of the recipe by the prep and cooking times. In this case, the recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.

      Reply

  43. Nicole on December 8, 2014 at 2:10 am

    Hi! I’m in Australia …. what is half and half? Thanks :D

    Reply

    • Michelle on December 14th, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Hi Nicole, It is essentially half whole milk and half heavy cream.

      Reply

  44. Polly on December 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I wonder if cream cheese could be used in place of the Velveeta? I need this in a hurry, so no time for a practice batch subbing in cream cheese, darn it. I trust you…so probably don’t need to keep my fingers crossed that this works out well…and thanks for the hints about not using a recipe with eggs. I wonder where in the grocery store I will find some Velveeta. Never thought I’d be looking for it, LOL. Dear Ozzie, Half-and-half is light cream…or half whole milk and half heavy cream.

    Reply

  45. Elizabeth on December 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    I just made this for our office Christmas potluck and it was a huge hit! Five people asked me for the recipe. I boiled my noodles and cut up the cheese last night, then I threw it all in the crock pot this morning and let it cook in our break room. There is none left. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply

  46. Marie on December 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Like Elizabeth, I made this for a work potluck. It was delicious! The pickiest girl in my department took a huge plate and finished it all (and pretty much nothing else). I also made the noodles and cut up the cheese the night before (I didn’t bother shredding the cheddar, just cut it into smallish chunks). I put the noodles in the slow cooker, added the butter, then stuck it in the fridge. I added everything else in the morning before driving to work. I did stir it a few times as it was cooking to make sure the cheese was melting, but it turned out great. Thanks!

    Reply

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