Slow Cooker Mac And Cheese Recipe

Of all the types of comfort food out there, there's one delight that you simply can't go wrong with: macaroni and cheese. The dish is fairly simple, traditionally only involving pasta, cheese, and either a basic béchamel or a little cream. Recipe developer Hayley MacLean's slow cooker macaroni and cheese recipe doesn't veer away from these traditional ingredients, but it does opt for a unique cooking method. "I think making mac and cheese in the slow cooker is much easier than on the stovetop or other methods," MacLean explains. "Being able to cook everything in one pot instead of making the noodles and cheese sauce separately is the first big advantage. Secondly, it allows you to walk away in between stirring, and [you don't] have to be standing over a hot pot."

Aside from the advantages that using a slow cooker provides, this is also just a really tasty recipe. "My favorite thing about this dish is how creamy and delicious it is," MacLean says. She notes that her spice blend helps add an abundance of flavor, and it pairs especially well with the cheesiness of the dish. MacLean says it best: "It is the perfect bowl of comfort food!"

Gather the ingredients for slow cooker mac and cheese

To make slow cooker mac and cheese, you'll need elbow noodles (don't cook them in advance), shredded sharp cheddar cheese, American cheese (either shredded or cut into small chunks), whole milk, evaporated milk, and unsalted butter. As for spices, you'll use mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and an optional dash of cayenne pepper. MacLean also suggests garnishing the finished product with some fresh parsley, though this is also optional.

 Most of these items are fairly traditional, but there's one ingredient (well, a collection of ingredients) that sets this mac and cheese apart: the spice blend. "The mustard powder and paprika are what really make this mac and cheese sing," MacLean says. "They add a bit of tangy heat that is just delicious." Of course, cheese is arguably the biggest star of mac and cheese, and MacLean loves the two types she uses in this recipe. "Using extra sharp cheddar really gives this dish some flavor, and by adding the American cheese for extra creaminess, it is the perfect balance of flavors," she explains.

Load up the slow cooker

Because this recipe involves the slow cooker, the first step essentially involves loading all of the ingredients into it. Start by lightly greasing the inside of the pot, then add the uncooked macaroni, both milks, both cheeses, and the seasoning blend (including the optional cayenne, which will provide a nice kick). Give everything a good stir, and make sure that the macaroni is fully (or at least mostly) covered with liquid. Finally, top off the mix with pieces of unsalted butter.

Cook the mac and cheese

Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 1 to 1 ½ hours, and be sure to stir every 30 minutes. When you stir, you can also check for doneness; if the pasta is tender after an hour, then you don't have to cook it any further. Once the mac and cheese is done, give the entire dish a big stir, ensuring that all of the milk and melty cheese come together to create a creamy sauce. 

Garnish and serve the slow cooker mac and cheese

And just like that, you're ready to plate and serve your slow cooker mac and cheese. Just be sure to give it a quick taste test and add any salt and pepper if necessary. MacLean says this dish works great either as a side or with sides: "A nice hearty protein like meatloaf or BBQ beef is perfect to serve alongside this comfort classic," she suggests. "To lighten things up a bit, add a side of coleslaw or grilled veggies as well — yum!"

If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days. You can also freeze this for up to three months; simply reheat the mac and cheese when you want to serve, and you've got an easy meal or side dish!

Slow Cooker Mac And Cheese Recipe
5 from 49 ratings
This mac and cheese could not be simpler: If you can add ingredients to a pot, you can make this dish. The slow cooker does all the heavy lifting!
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
1.5
hours
Servings
6
Servings
mac and cheese with herbs
Total time: 1.75 hours
Ingredients
  • 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 ½ cups whole milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 3 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup American cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
Optional Ingredients
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Directions
  1. Lightly grease the inside of a large slow cooker.
  2. Place the uncooked macaroni, whole milk, evaporated milk, cheddar cheese, American cheese, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne (if using) inside the cooker.
  3. Stir to combine, making sure the macaroni is mostly covered.
  4. Dot the top with butter pieces.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 1 to 1 ½ hours, stirring and checking for doneness every 30 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, stir generously to create a smooth sauce.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 733
Total Fat 36.5 g
Saturated Fat 21.1 g
Trans Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 106.8 mg
Total Carbohydrates 69.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 13.1 g
Sodium 710.0 mg
Protein 31.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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