Crock pot mac and cheese is an easy, super cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe made right in the slow cooker, great for a busy weeknight dinner. It comes together quickly and can easily be scaled up, which makes it perfect for potlucks, holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, and any time you are feeding a crowd!

A fork scooping up cheesy mac and cheese from a small white bowl.

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 years ago).

Why We Love This Creamy Mac and Cheese

Many years ago, I put together an easy and hands-off menu for 4th of July. I first planned on our favorite beer and brown sugar kielbasa and sauerkraut, and then started choosing side dishes and served up this slow cooker mac and cheese. It immediately became a huge favorite and has been making appearances at family functions ever since!

I love that this crockpot mac and cheese recipe doesn’t use eggs (I’ve never had luck using them in macaroni and cheese recipes), nor does it use condensed cheddar cheese soup.

This is perfectly creamy, and cheesy, and doesn’t require much at all in terms of prep.

Ingredient Notes

You only need a handful of ingredients to create this amazing mac and cheese; here are a few notes on them:

  • Pasta – I love using elbow macaroni noodles because they’re so classic, but feel free to use whatever pasta shapes you like!
  • Butter – Unsalted is called for, but you can substitute salted butter and just use a pinch of salt in the recipe.
  • Evaporated Milk – Evaporated milk has been cooked down to allow some of the water to evaporate out, which results in a product that is more concentrated than regular milk. This means that it’s richer and creamier, which makes for absolutely outstanding macaroni and cheese!
  • Half and Half – If you do not have or cannot get half and half, simply substitute equal amounts of heavy cream and whole milk.
  • Cheddar Cheese – I recommend not buying packaged shredded cheese, but instead buying a block and shredding it yourself, as it will melt better and produce a creamier cheese sauce. If you like a cheese blend, you can substitute all or part with colby-jack cheese.
  • Velveeta Cheese – One of the keys to keeping this mac and cheese ultra-creamy! If you cannot get Velveeta cheese, you can substitute a half pound of American cheese, purchased at the deli counter and not the pre-packaged slices.

How to Make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

It’s so easy! Here is a quick rundown of the steps:

  1. Boil the noodles, drain, then add them to the slow cooker and toss them with the butter until it’s melted.
  2. Stir in the milk, half and half, and almost all of the cheese, salt, and pepper, then stir to combine.
  3. Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours; 15 minutes before finishing, sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top, then keep warm until ready to serve.
Cooked elbow macaroni noodles in a crock pot with pads of butter on top.
A hand sprinkling shredded cheese on top of macaroni and cheese in a slow cooker, then a close up of the melted cheese.

FAQ: Can You Cook the Noodles in the Slow Cooker, Too?

In this recipe, no; you’ll need to boil the noodles to al dente on the stove before adding them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Some recipes may be formulated to allow you to cook the pasta with the other ingredients, but this has the potential to result in very mushy pasta since it will be cooked for a longer period of time. 

Enjoy More Mac and Cheese Recipes:

Crock pot mac and cheese in a white bowl with a spoon on top of a black and white striped linen.

Watch How to Make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese:

If you make this crock pot mac and cheese recipe and love it, remember to stop back and give it a 5-star rating – it helps others find the recipe! ❤️️

A bowl of creamy crock pot mac and cheese.

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

An incredibly easy and cheesy mac and cheese recipe made right in the crock pot; perfect for feeding a crowd!
4.95 (359 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 6 tablespoons (85 g) butter, cut into cubes
  • 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 2 cups (480 ml) half & half
  • ½ cup (120 ml) whole milk
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 8 ounces Velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Instructions 

  • Spray a slow cooker (4 to 6-quart capacity) 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.
  • Add the evaporated milk, half & half, whole milk, 3½ cups of the cheddar cheese, the Velveeta, salt and pepper; stir to blend well.
  • Cover and cook on low for 2 to 3 hours. 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.

Notes

  • Crock Pot – A 4 to 6-quart capacity is ideal for this recipe. I recommend the KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker.
  • Pasta – I love using elbow macaroni noodles because they’re so classic, but feel free to use whatever pasta shapes you like! I do not recommend adding uncooked pasta to the slow cooker, as it could absorb too much liquid and become mushy.
  • Butter – Unsalted is called for, but you can substitute salted butter and just use a pinch of salt in the recipe.
  • Half and Half – If you do not have or cannot get half and half, simply substitute equal amounts of heavy cream and whole milk.
  • Cheddar Cheese – I recommend not buying packaged shredded cheese, but instead buying a block and shredding it yourself, as it will melt better and produce a creamier cheese sauce. If you like a cheese blend, you can substitute all or part with Colby-jack cheese.
  • Velveeta Cheese – One of the keys to keeping this mac and cheese ultra-creamy! If you cannot get Velveeta cheese, you can substitute a half pound of American cheese, purchased at the deli counter, and not the pre-packaged slices.
  • Increasing the Recipe – This recipe doubles and triples wonderfully! A great one for serving to a crowd. You can make a double batch in a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker; if you want to make more than that, you’ll need an additional slow cooker.
  • Storage – Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Nutritional values are based on one serving
Calories: 726kcal, Carbohydrates: 55g, Protein: 32g, Fat: 42g, Saturated Fat: 25g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 127mg, Sodium: 1052mg, Potassium: 503mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 1450IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 773mg, Iron: 1mg

Did you make this recipe?

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This recipe was originally published on July 9, 2014.

[photos by Whitney Wright]