Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese is creamy, tender, and delicious. Family-friendly comfort food! It's easy to prep in 10 minutes because there's no need to boil the pasta before slow cooking it.
You're going to love this recipe! It's one of our family favorites! Once you make this tasty crock pot macaroni with evaporated milk, you'll be hooked. (That's what fans say about our Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese too!)
Try it as a side for Thanksgiving dinner!
If you're new to slow cooking, check out our Crockpot Tips and Tricks—they're invaluable!
Why You'll Love the Recipe
Besides the amazing cheesy sauce, here's why we love it so much:
- It's a no-boil pasta recipe that cooks right in your crock pot.
- It frees up your stove or oven for cooking other dishes.
- It's so easy and feeds a crowd, so perfect for weeknight dinners, potlucks, parties, and larger gatherings.
It's simple to throw all your ingredients in your crock and dig into the cheesy, gooey noodles a short time later.
- Elbow Macaroni Pasta - please do not use gluten-free or quick-cooking pasta in the recipe.
- Milk - we prefer the creaminess of using whole milk.
- Evaporated Milk - this also gives this recipe for mac and cheese creaminess.
- Extra Sharp Cheddar - grated yourself, not pre-shredded cheeses. Prepackaged cheese is coated with anti-caking ingredients, so it doesn't melt as well.
- American Cheese - shredded or cubed from the deli department at the grocery store, not processed cheese slices.
- Salt & Pepper
- Dry Mustard, Garlic Powder, Paprika, and Cayenne Pepper - spices to round out the flavor profile.
- Butter - you'll cut the butter into slices.
Since there's no meat, this is a fantastic vegetarian option for your dinner table!
Why Use Evaporated Milk?
Using evaporated milk in Mac & Cheese helps keep the cheese from breaking apart and becoming gritty or chalky. It's also concentrated and acts like a cream but with fewer calories.
Recipe Variations and Substitutions
ADD MEAT - this crockpot recipe is delicious with diced ham, cooked bacon, or pulled pork. Give them a try and see which is your favorite.
SWAP CHEESES - readers have used Velveeta processed cheese instead of American cheese from the deli with good results. You can also play around with the sharp cheddar cheese and substitute pepper jack, Monterrey jack, gruyere, Colby cheese, or a Mexican blend as long as you shred it yourself.
ADD VEGGIES - try adding roasted or steamed broccoli or cauliflower to the recipe. Peas would also be good. Yum!
TOPPINGS - You can top your mac n cheese with more cheese, fresh ground pepper, bacon bits, green onions, or chopped parsley. For those looking for a kick, top with a drizzle of sriracha.
How to Make Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Before you start, spray your 6-quart slow cooker with a non-stick cooking spray.
Step 1 - Rinse Pasta. First, give your uncooked pasta a good rinse in cold water, then drain it.
Step 2 - Add Ingredients to Crock. Next, place uncooked pasta, milk, evaporated milk, cheese, salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper in your crockpot. Stir to combine them. Make sure to submerge the macaroni in the liquid.
Then, top with butter slices.
Step 3 - Cover and Cook. Place the lid on the crock and cook on LOW for 1 hour. Remove the lid and stir the ingredients.
Depending on your slow cooker, your crockpot macaroni and cheese may be done at this point or require 1-2 more hours on low.
If not done, continue cooking, but check it every half hour until the macaroni is tender and cooked through.
Note: Slow cooker cooking times may vary. You may need to watch this recipe more closely the first time you make it to determine exactly how much cooking time it needs.
Tips & Tricks
- We think whole milk is best in this recipe, but you can also use heavy cream or half & half if that's what you have on hand.
- Do NOT use packaged, shredded cheese in the recipe as it contains ingredients to prevent caking that may affect the texture and become gritty in the finished recipe.
- Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese is best eaten after it's cooked for maximum creaminess, so we don't recommend making it too far ahead. However, you could shred all your cheeses beforehand to speed up the prep work.
How to Store
You can store leftover crock pot mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Eat within 3-4 days.
To reheat, add a little extra milk or cream and reheat in the microwave or stovetop.
This recipe fills a 6-quart crockpot, so we don't recommend doubling it unless you have a larger slow cooker. In that case, the cooking time remains the same. We suggest using a second slow cooker if you need an extra-large batch.
The milk can curdle if you heat it too quickly. That's why we like to cook this recipe on low. Also, we use whole and evaporated milk to help prevent this from happening.
Yes, this is a recipe that you can make and then keep warm in the crockpot if you're entertaining or need to take it to a potluck. Make sure it's on warm, and add more milk if it gets too thick and clumpy.
Yes, since you're not draining the pasta, you need to rinse it to remove any starchy residue as well as remove any dust/particles from the manufacturing process.
More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes You'll Love
Here's another fan-favorite crockpot pasta dish - Slow Cooker Pizza Casserole.
Let Us Know What You Think
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Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- 6-quart Slow Cooker
- cheese grater
- Spatula or cooking spoon
- measuring cup
- measuring spoons
- 1 pound elbow macaroni pasta (not gluten-free or quick-cooking)
- 2 ½ cups milk (we like whole milk)
- 12 ounces evaporated milk (one can)
- 12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar (3 cups shredded or grated yourself, not prepackaged)
- 4 ounces American cheese (1 cup shredded or cubed from the deli department, not processed cheese slices)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- dash of ground paprika
- dash of cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup Butter (cut into slices)
- Rinse uncooked pasta in cold water, and then drain it.
- Place uncooked pasta, milk, evaporated milk, cheeses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper in your crockpot. Stir to combine them. Make sure to submerge the macaroni in the liquid.
- Top with butter slices.
- Place the lid on the crock and cook on LOW for 1 hour. Remove lid and stir ingredients. Depending on your slow cooker, your crockpot macaroni and cheese may be done at this point or require 1-2 more hours on low. If not done, continue cooking, but check it every half hour until macaroni is tender and cooked through.
It's hard to go back to boxed macaroni after eating this! It's creamy & so yummy!! We make it often!
My family loves a good, homemade crock pot macaroni!! We make it for dinner, but it's always a must-have side at the holidays!
Thanks for the tips about using evaporated milk and freshly grated cheeses. It turned out much creamier than other crock pot versions I've tried. Total comfort food!