Crockpot mac and cheese is about to be your new favorite method of making macaroni and cheese because it's so easy, and there are no dishes! There's no boiling your macaroni noodles; just toss them in your slow cooker with the other ingredients and let it do its thing!
If there's one food everyone can agree on, it's mac and cheese.
A big bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta makes all feel right with the world. The only thing better is mac and cheese. You can throw in the crockpot and forget about it until it's time to eat!
Crockpot mac and cheese is a must-have side dish for holidays or special occasions!
You could easily add another type of cheese to make this a 4-cheese macaroni & cheese! Gruyere, Gouda, muenster, white cheddar, whatever you like!
- Elbow Pasta - 1 pound of elbow pasta, uncooked.
- Milk - 2 ½ cups of milk, whole milk yields the best results.
- Evaporated Milk - 1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk.
- Cream Cheese - 4 ounces (half a block) up to 8 ounces of cream cheese for extra creamy mac and cheese.
- Extra Sharp Cheddar - 3 cups of freshly shredded cheddar, not pre-shredded packages.
- American Cheese - 1 cup of freshly shredded American cheese or processed slices. Or Monterrey cheese.
- Seasoning - 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon onion powder.
- Butter - ¼ cup of butter, cut into cubes.
*Be sure to see the free printable recipe card below for ingredients, exact amounts & instructions with tips!*
🔪 How To Make Mac & Cheese In A Crockpot
The crockpot makes any recipe a breeze, and crockpot mac and cheese is no different! You will need a slow cooker, a colander for rinsing the pasta, and a wooden spoon for stirring.
One batch of this mac and cheese makes 8 servings. You can easily double it if you have a large crockpot or 2 smaller crockpots!
- Prep. Spray your crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Rinse 1 pound of uncooked macaroni noodles under cool water and drain.
- Combine ingredients. Place the uncooked pasta in your crockpot. Then, add 2 ½ cups milk, 12 ounces of evaporated milk, all cheeses ( 4-8 ounces of cream cheese, 3 cups of cheddar, and 1 cup of American), and seasonings ( 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder). Stir to thoroughly combine.
- Add the cubed butter. Make sure the macaroni noodles are as submerged in liquid as possible. Place ¼ cup of cubed butter on top, spreading the cubes around evenly.
- Cook. Replace the lid of your crockpot and cook on low for 1 hour. Then, stir and check the pasta for doneness. If not done, continue cooking and check a piece of pasta for doneness every 30 minutes.
- Serve. Mac and cheese are done when the pasta is tender and the cheese sauce is thick and creamy. Serve immediately.
🍽️ What To Serve With
For more suggestions on what to serve with mac and cheese, check out our page dedicated to macaroni and all the awesome recipes that go with it!
💭 Tips & Notes
- Rinse Pasta Thoroughly: After cooking, rinse the pasta under cool water until it's clear and the water is no longer milky. This helps remove excess starch.
- Freshly Shredded Cheese: Use cheese that you shred yourself for a creamier texture. Pre-shredded cheese often contains preservatives that can affect melting and texture.
- Crockpot Variations: Be aware that the age and model of your crockpot may cause variations in cooking time. Adjust accordingly.
- Sourcing Fresh American Cheese: For fresh American cheese, request it at the deli counter of your local grocery store.
- Thickening Cheese Sauce: To thicken the cheese sauce, remove the lid of the crockpot and let the sauce set for 10-15 minutes before serving.
🥡 Storing & Reheating
You may leave your crockpot on warm for up to 2 hours for easy serving.
In a shallow, airtight container, mac and cheese will last for up to 3-5 days in the fridge.
Reheat individual portions in the microwave until warmed through. For large portions, reheat the mac and cheese over medium heat on the stovetop, stirring frequently.
You will likely need to add some milk to thin it out and get your desired consistency.
🤔 Can I Skip Rinsing The Pasta?
Yes, you can. However, this does affect the resulting mac and cheese. If you're serving up your mac & cheese right away, it can work out just fine.
If you're going to leave the crockpot on warm to serve later or at a family gathering, your pasta will get clumpy. Skipping the rinse will also lead to less desirable results when reheating your leftover mac and cheese.
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You can keep this mac and cheese warm in the crockpot for up to 2 hours. If you know it will be sitting, it's a good idea to spray the inside of the slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Stir it occasionally so that it stays creamy. If you need it warm longer, plan to cook the mac and cheese wherever the potluck is being held for the best flavor and texture rather than cooking, refrigerating, and reheating it.
To freeze this mac and cheese, let it cool off, then place it in a heavy-duty freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let the macaroni and cheese defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating; you may need to add milk to thin it out.
Cheddar is pretty standard because it has a rich flavor and melts wonderfully. I also use American cheese and cream cheese because the combination gives this macaroni its smooth and velvety texture. Other great choices would include Monterey Jack cheese, gruyere, mozzarella, or fontina.
🍲 More Easy Crockpot Recipes
- Grape Jelly Meatballs - These sweet and sticky meatballs are always a crowd favorite!
- Green Beans and Potatoes - Tender potatoes and green beans cooked in chicken broth with bacon!
- Beef Stew - Nothing beats a hearty homemade beef stew cooked low and slow in the crockpot.
- Cube Steak - A fuss-free recipe for cube steaks with gravy made entirely in a slow cooker!
- Candied Yams - You don't need to wait for a holiday to enjoy these sweet and sticky candied yams!
- Kielbasa and Sauerkraut - This Polish comfort food makes a tasty dinner any day of the week!
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📖 Recipe Card
Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (uncooked)
- 2 ½ cups milk (whole milk is best)
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 4 oz cream cheese (up to 8 ounces for extra creamy mac and cheese)
- 3 cups sharp cheddar (freshly shredded, not pre-packaged shredded)
- 1 cup American cheese (freshly shredded, or processed slices- or Monterrey cheese.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup butter (cut into cubes)
- Spray your crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Rinse the uncooked 1 pound elbow macaroni noodles under cool water and drain.
- Place the uncooked pasta in your crockpot. Then, add 2 ½ cups milk, 12 ounces evaporated milk, all cheeses (4 oz cream cheese, 3 cups sharp cheddar, and 1 cup American cheese), and seasonings (1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder). Stir to combine.
- Make sure macaroni noodles are submerged in as much liquid as possible. Spread cubes of ¼ cup butter over the top of everything.
- Replace the lid to your crockpot and cook on low for 1 hour. Then, remove the lid and stir. Check pasta for doneness, depending on your crockpot it may take 1-2 more hours. If not done, continue cooking and check a piece of pasta for doneness every 30 minutes.
- Mac and cheese is done when the pasta is tender and the cheese sauce is thick and creamy. Serve immediately.
- For best results, rinse the pasta under cool running water until the water runs clear and no longer has a milky appearance.
- Using freshly shredded cheese is essential in getting creamy macaroni and cheese! The pre-shredded packaged cheese is coated in preservatives to keep it from sticking together or melting properly.
- The age, make, and model of your crockpot can affect the cooking time. So, it is normal for cooking time to vary some.
- The easiest way to find fresh American cheese is to ask for it from the deli counter at your local grocery store!
- Your cheese sauce will thicken up if you remove the lid and let it set for 10-15 minutes before serving.
- You may leave your crockpot on warm for up to 2 hours for easy serving.
- Store leftovers in a shallow, airtight container. Mac and cheese will last for up to 3-5 days in the fridge.
- Reheat in the microwave in short 30-second intervals, stirring between. Add more milk as needed. Or heat over low on the stovetop in a small saucepan.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!