The Best Crockpot Mac and Cheese you’ll ever taste, this recipe comes together with simple ingredients for a bold, creamy flavor you’ll adore. Quick to toss together and unbelievably easy to clean up, it’s the perfect side dish for holiday dinners, potlucks, weeknight meals, and more!
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Why We Love This Crockpot Mac and Cheese
There’s nothing better than a big, warm bowl of crockpot mac and cheese! Creamy and delicious, it’s the ultimate comfort food loved by kids and adults both. While we have tons of different mac and cheese variations, this one is our go-to when we need to feed a crowd, especially around the holidays! Here are just a few reasons why we love this recipe:
- It requires minimal prep work and is super easy to clean up.
- You can make a large batch to feed even the hungriest of crowds.
- Made with two types of cheese and a few secret ingredients, it’s the creamiest, most indulgent recipe you’ll ever make.
- Great for
meal prep, you can make one batch to enjoy throughout the week!
Ingredients You’ll Need
For this easy crockpot mac and cheese, we use a few secret ingredients to enhance the savory flavor and create an extra silky smooth texture. Here’s everything you’ll need:
- Pasta – We like to use elbow pasta, but any small or medium-sized noodle will do.
- Evaporated Milk – This provides creaminess without weighing the cheese sauce down with extra fat.
- Whole Milk – Used to combine the ingredients and form the base of the cheese sauce. Whole milk creates the richest taste, but any kind of milk you like best can be used.
- Broth – This helps thin out the cheese sauce without watering down the flavor.
- Spices – A combination of paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper enhances the savory flavor for the absolute best side dish.
- Mustard – A dash of Dijon mustard adds a slight tanginess and helps cut through some of the heaviness of the fats for a well-rounded flavor.
- Cheese – We like to use a combination of Sharp Cheddar and White cheddar cheese for ooey-gooey goodness.
- Butter – Included for extra flavor and to help give the sauce a richer texture.
If you’re feeling a little extra, try some of our favorite mix-ins below to take this crockpot mac and cheese to a whole new level!
- Veggies: Add a boost of nutrients by stirring in vegetables like broccoli, mushrooms, peas, or spinach.
- Meat: Make it a complete meal with ground beef, turkey, bacon, sausage, or chicken.
- Breadcrumb Topping: Coat breadcrumbs in butter, and sprinkle them on top of your mac and cheese in the final minutes of cooking. To make them extra crisp, cook them under the broiler until they’re golden brown.
- Spice: Add a bit of heat with sliced jalapeños, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper.
- Cheesier: If you want a bolder cheese flavor, swap out or add to the cheese with a sharp variety like Monterey Jack, Gruyere, or shredded Parmesan.
How to Make Easy Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Once you see how easy crockpot mac and cheese is to make, you’ll never go back to other variations again! Just follow the steps below.
- Combine the Ingredients. Add all of the ingredients except for the cheeses to your crockpot, and stir to combine.
- Cook. Cover, and cook on high for 1 hour. Stir in the cheese, and continue to cook on high for another 30 minutes.
- Serve. Add extra milk to thin out the cheese sauce, if desired. Then, adjust the seasonings to taste, and serve warm!
Tips for the Best Crockpot Mac and Cheese
The tips and tricks below will guarantee you have the best crockpot mac and cheese every single time!
Use Fresh Cheese. Pre-shredded varieties have anti-caking agents that prevent them from melting well and will cause your mac and cheese to become gritty.
Use the Thick Pasta. We found that thicker pasta noodles like elbow or cavatappi hold up better in the crockpot cooking without turning to mush.
Adjust the Cooking Time. Every crockpot cooks slightly differently. So, be sure to check on your pasta before the cooking time is up. You want it to be tender but still slightly firm.
Don’t Stir Too Much. Stir the ingredients sparingly and very gently so as not to mash the macaroni.
When we were kids, we were known to eat bowls of macaroni as a complete dinner. Now that we’re adults, we still don’t think that’s a bad idea! However, if you want to prepare a more grown-up meal, try pairing it with all your favorite main courses like:
- Easy Beef Kofta
- Easy Chicken Kofta
- Ground Beef Philly Cheesesteak
- Whipped Feta Baked Chicken
- Air Fryer Honey Garlic Chicken Wings
If you have leftovers, you can transfer them to an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Or, for a longer-lasting option, place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
When you’re ready to eat, let your mac and cheese thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, warm it back up in the microwave, on the stovetop, or just add it back to the crockpot on warm!
Crockpot Mac and Cheese Common Questions
Yes, you can! As long as the recipe contains liquid, the pasta will cook well. For the best results, use thick, more sturdy noodles to prevent them from becoming mushy.
Yes! As long as you have a fairly large crockpot, the cooking time shouldn’t change. Of course, be sure to check on your pasta, and adjust the cooking time as needed until they’re tender.
The most common cause of mushy pasta is cooking it too long or too quickly. To prevent this from happening, use thick, sturdy noodles. Also, your crockpot may cook faster than ours. Be sure to keep an eye on your pasta, checking it frequently.
Although similar, the two are not the same things. The primary difference is that evaporated milk is unsweetened whereas condensed milk is made with extra sweeteners.
The Best Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow pasta uncooked
- 16 ounces evaporated milk
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups broth
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar cheese option to use Aged for a smoky flavor
- 4 ounces White Cheddar cheese
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- In the bowl of a crockpot, add the pasta, evaporated milk, whole milk, broth, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Cover, and cook on high for 1 hour.
- Stir in the cheese. Cover, and cook for another 30 minutes.
- Add a splash of extra milk if needed to thin out the sauce, and serve warm.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
If you like this macaroni recipe, you won’t want to miss out on more of our favorites below!