Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is rich, creamy, and so easy to make! This is a set it and forget it meal. Make it for a family favorite dinner, potluck, or a side for Thanksgiving when you're short on oven space. Just 5 ingredients (plus a few basic spices) and only a few minutes of prep time. Cooking the noodles in milk and evaporated milk makes this pasta extra rich and creamy.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Elbow Macaroni Pasta - or another short shaped pasta.
- Butter - I prefer unsalted so I can control the salt, but you can use salted butter as well.
- Milk - This provides the bulk of the liquid that cooks the pasta. You can use whatever you have in your fridge! Whole fat, 2%, or nonfat skim.
- Evaporated Milk - Makes it extra rich.
- Sharp White Cheddar Cheese - you can substitute a different cheese as well! I buy the blocks and grate it myself because it melts better than buying the pre-shedded bags.
- Paprika, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder - adding these simple spices adds just the right amount of flavor and elevates this recipe!
- Salt and Pepper
Tips and Frequently Asked Questions:
What type of pasta should I use?
I prefer to use regular, white pasta. My favorite is elbow macaroni but you could also use a different short noodle such as medium shells, mini penne, or farfalle.
What is evaporated milk? What does it do in this recipe?
Evaporated milk is an easy thing to keep in your pantry. Evaporated milk is essentially milk that has been heated so some of the water evaporates. The result is a dense, creamy, concentrated milk. Using it in this recipe results in a rich and creamy Mac & Cheese.
What size of crock pot should be used?
Pictured is a 4qt slow cooker and it fits perfectly. I recommend using a 4qt or larger.
Can this be made in the Instant Pot?
Yes! I actually have a separate post with instructions but it uses similar ingredients. Recipe linked here.Print
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese is rich, creamy, and so easy to make! Make it for a family favorite dinner, potluck, or a side for Thanksgiving when you're short on oven space. Just 5 ingredients (plus a few basic spices) and only a few minutes of prep time.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
- Yield: 6-8 servings
- Category: Main Dish, Slow Cooker, Side
- Method: Slow Cooker
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 1 lb elbow macaroni pasta
- 3 cups milk, I used skim, but 2% or whole milk works too
- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 16 ounces cheese, shredded. *see note
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoons onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Prepare Slow Cooker. Spray a 4qt or larger slow cooker with cooking spray.
- Combine Ingredients. Add all ingredients and stir together.
- Slow Cook. Cover and cook on low for 2 ½-3 hours. Stir every hour until tender and creamy. If it is too thick, you can stir in a little more milk as needed to loosen it up. Serve immediately or turn the the 'warm' setting.
Cheese: I used 2 8oz blocks of sharp white cheddar that I shredded myself. You can also use pre-shredded cheese in bags, but it doesn't melt as smoothly. I like to use my food processor's shredding disc to make quick work of shredding cheese. Feel free to use a different cheese of your choice!
Leftovers: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Keywords: Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese, Thanksgiving Mac and Cheese, Crock Pot Mac and Cheese, Thanksgiving Side Dish
I live how simple this recipe sounds. It's exactly what I'm looking for. I'm only wondering if the macaroni goes in the crock pot cooked or uncooked? Also, does this recipe fill a 4-quart crock pot? I'm serving it as a side dish to about 14 people.
Hi Jackie! I’m glad you’re interested in the recipe. To answer your questions.. Add the macaroni uncooked - It cooks right in the crockpot with the milk. Yes, it will fit in a 4qt crockpot. The crockpot pictured is 4.5 qt so a 4qt should work just fine. I hope you love it!
Erin S. says
So easy to make! My husband brought this to a work pot-luck (pre-covid) & everyone loved it!! I was just bummed there were no leftovers for me - guess I have an excuse to make it again soon! 🙂
Yay! I’m so glad it was a hit! Isn’t it strange to think back to work pot-luck days? Someday! Thank you for your comment 🙂