This Cooking Method Makes Mac And Cheese Easier Than Ever

Rich, comforting, and full of creamy dairy, mac and cheese just might be the most classic pasta-based side dish out there. Featuring noodles swathed in a luxuriously cheesy sauce that's usually based on a melty choice such as American, cheddar, or Monterey Jack, mac and cheese is pretty well beloved by almost all types of eaters and makes an ideal accompaniment to barbecue, meatloaf, and fried chicken.

Most of us who have made mac and cheese at home are familiar with two types: The kind made on the stovetop and the oven-baked casserole version. Both have their charms — with the latter usually sporting a burnished top crust that would make any cheese fan weak in the knees — but both are relatively hands-on, especially the stovetop version, which requires a fair bit of whisking and stirring (via Serious Eats). That's where this Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese by recipe developer Hayley MacLean comes in: It's cooked relatively unattended in the slow cooker, which makes for an easy, breezy process.

Slow cooker mac and cheese is easier than other methods

If you've got a hankering for mac and cheese but don't feel like standing over a hot stovetop or oven, recipe developer Hayley MacLean's Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is the dish for you. MacLean tells us that the creamy side dish comes together easily in the slow cooker, requiring very little babysitting and — perhaps best of all — dirtying only the insert of the appliance as opposed to multiple pots. "Being able to cook everything in one pot, instead of making the noodles and cheese sauce separately, is the first big advantage," MacLean says. "Secondly, it allows you to walk away in between stirring, and not have to be standing over a hot pot making sure it does not burn!"

If you've never made mac and cheese in a slow cooker before, never fear: MacLean's version comes out creamy and dreamy, just as you'd expect from the dish. "The sauce comes together so well and thickens due to the starch in the pasta," she explains. "It is the perfect bowl of comfort food!"

MacLean deepens the flavor of her cheese sauce with hints of mustard, onion, and garlic powders, plus a hit of paprika, adding "a bit of tangy heat that is just delicious." She suggests going with a tried and true meat dish to accompany the cheesy pasta: "A nice hearty protein like meatloaf or BBQ beef is perfect to serve alongside this comfort classic!"

The dish will keep for up to five days in an airtight container in the fridge or for up to three months if frozen.