This ultra creamy Mac and Cheese recipe is made right in your slow cooker! Loved by both kids and adults, it’s perfect for parties, potlucks, and more!
This is one of my Pasta recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
Ever since I posted my baked mac and cheese, you guys have loved it. And I’m talking, winning contests with it, winning over family holidays with it… the whole deal.
You guys have been requesting a crockpot version, and years ago I did develop one that was cooked entirely in the crockpot.
But it didn’t have that same level of ooey gooey creaminess, and since the pasta cooks in the crockpot, it can be a bit on the mushy side.
So I’ve been hard at work coming up with the best the ultimate version.
In all my testing and developing, I realized the best texture came from pre-boiling the pasta. I know it can be a hassle, but it can be done ahead of time!
This version also uses both traditional shredded cheese (remember to shred your own to avoid the weird anti-clumping agents), and some cubed Velveeta.
I know that isn’t a hugely popular ingredient, but it really yields the absolute best creamy, cheesy, mac.
Without further adieu, let’s get crackin’ on this so you can be on your way to some amazing mac and cheese!
How to make mac and cheese in the crockpot?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Boil pasta. You want to undercook it a bit, since it’ll cook more in the slow cooker. Drain.
- Add pasta to crockpot. Toss with olive oil and butter.
- Add remaining ingredients. The milks, seasonings, and cheeses… then give a good stir.
- Cover and cook. Cook on low heat for 2 hours, stirring after the first hour.
- Stir. After the 2 hours, give the mac and cheese a steady stirring and you’ll see the cheese sauce come together.
Please take note that all slow cookers cook slightly differently, so you may need to alter the cooking time of this recipe. If you’re making this for a party or large gathering, I recommend making it ahead of time to test it out.
Variations of this recipe
- Other dairy – evaporated milk and whole milk gave me the best consistency, but feel free to play around with using other dairy products, like half and half or heavy cream instead. Just keep the total amount the same.
- Different seasonings – I’ve chosen the seasonings we like for our mac and cheese for this recipe, but feel free to omit some, or add your favorites… this is your mac 🙂
- Adding meat – we like to add some diced ham or pulled pork to our mac and cheese from time to time, and they’re great additions!
- Thicker – if you prefer a mac and cheese that isn’t quite so creamy, you can increase the time in the slow cooker by 30-60 minutes (still stirring every hour).
Evaporated milk is like a concentrated version of whole milk, which adds a richness like heavy cream, but without all the added fat. It also holds up really well to being cooked in the slow cooker.
If doubled, this recipe won’t fit in a standard size slow cooker, however if you need to double it, my advice is to use multiple slow cookers.
I know Velveeta isn’t the healthiest ingredient, but this is mac and cheese we’re talking about here 😉
During all the testing, I found Velveeta was essential to creating that ultra creamy texture.
Making crockpot mac and cheese ahead of time
Any time you make mac and cheese ahead of time, you risk it losing some creaminess. For that reason, I don’t recommend making this recipe, in it’s entirety, ahead of time.
However, you can boil the pasta ahead of time, cool it, then store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
The cheese can be shredded and velveeta cubed ahead of time as well.
This cuts down on prep time quite a bit!
Leftover mac and cheese should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and eaten within 3-4 days.
To reheat, add a splash of extra milk or cream and reheat in the microwave, stovetop, etc.
My Favorite Slow Cooker!
I had this crockpot for a while now, and I really love how it cooks. The locking lid feature is amazing for taking foods to potlucks or other gatherings!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 16 oz box dried elbow macaroni pasta
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter cut into small cubes
- 2 (12 oz each) cans evaporated milk
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- few dashes hot sauce optional but recommended – doesn't make it spicy
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese for best results, shred your own
- 16 oz block Velveeta cut into small cubes
- Cook elbow macaroni for 4 minutes, then drain. This will likely be less time than the box says to cook it for, but we want to undercook it.
- Lightly spray the insert of a 6 quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray, and add cooked pasta.
- Top with olive oil and butter, stirring to combine well.
- Add all remaining ingredients and stir.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 2 hours, stirring after one hour. After one hour, the pasta may be slightly stuck, just give it a good stir and it'll loosen up.
- When the second hour is up, give the mac and cheese a good, solid stir and you'll see the cheesy sauce come together. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and enjoy!
Want to save this recipe for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own recipe box!
- Recipe serves approximately 12 as a side dish, 4-6 as a main course. Serving size isn’t measured precisely.
- For the best results, shred your own cheese from a block. The pre-shredded cheeses are coated in anti-clumping/caking additives which prevent the cheese from melting as well as it should.
- I use 2 (8oz each) blocks of medium sharp cheddar cheese to get the 4 cups, but depending on the grater and cheese you use, you may need a bit less. I’d buy two just in to be sure.
- For an Instant Pot version of mac and cheese, please check out my Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.
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