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Crock Pot Mac and Cheese (+Video)

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese is a creamy, cheesy and easy macaroni and cheese recipe that is always a hit!

A CREAMY MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE

This recipe is my go-to Mac and cheese recipe when I don’t have oven space and I want a recipe I know that everyone will love. There’s nothing quite like a comforting bowl of mac and cheese, and when it comes to making it, the crock pot is a game-changer. Whether you’re feeding a crowd or just looking for a comforting weeknight meal, this crock pot mac and cheese recipe is sure to become a new favorite in your household. So, grab your crock pot and let’s get cooking!

a spoon scooping up a serving of macaroni and cheese out of the slow cooker.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Why cook this in a crock pot when you can easily do it in the oven?

My main reason is to free up oven space. Especially during the holidays when oven space is at a premium. Or in the summer, when it’s hot in my house and I don’t want to turn on the oven, this is a great alternative. Also, some folks just love to use their slow cookers for things like this because they don’t have to watch it like a hawk to make sure it doesn’t burn. You can set this to cook then have it automatically switch to the keep warm setting until you’re ready to enjoy.

Do I need to cook the macaroni before adding it to the Crock Pot?

Yes, it’s important to cook the macaroni before adding it to the crock pot. This will ensure that the macaroni cooks evenly and doesn’t become mushy.

Can I use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe?

I don’t recommend it. If possible, use freshly grated cheese. Obviously, if you’re short on time then certainly use it. I don’t mind using it for my No-Boil Macaroni and Cheese – but for this, because it’s hanging out in the slow cooker for a while, I think freshly grated cheese seems to hold up a bit better to the process. Also the American cheese in this recipe helps to keep it so creamy. Don’t skip it!

Where do I find White American cheese?

In some stores you can find it with the other block cheese. However, you may need to go to your store’s deli counter. Just ask for a 3/4 pound of white American cheese. Tell them you don’t want it sliced, just a big block.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes, this recipe is easily doubled. However, you will need a larger crock pot. The cooking time should be about the same.

How can I make this with Velveeta?

Just replace the white American cheese in this recipe for Velveeta. One block of Velveeta is one pound (16 ounces) so you’d use 3/4 of a block.

Why do you use evaporated milk in Mac and Cheese?

This adds creaminess without the heaviness of milk or heavy cream. It also doesn’t curdle like milk tends to do. I like to use a bit of half and half to give it a richness without overloading. However, if you really want, you could certainly use milk instead of evaporated milk.

How do I store leftover mac and cheese?

Store them in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen (if stored properly) for up to 3 months.

Closeup photo of a spoon scooping up macaroni and cheese out of the slow cooker.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • elbow macaroni – you could use other small pasta shapes like shell pasta.
  • salted butter – you want to use real butter here not margarine.
  • evaporated milk – not to be confused with sweetened condensed milk although you can usually find them near each other in the baking aisle in the grocery store so make sure you’re looking closely at the label.
  • half and half – you could technically substitute with milk but half and half is going to make it much creamier.
  • shredded cheddar cheese – freshly shredded is best (if possible).
  • white American cheese – I prefer to cube this rather than shredding it – just make sure it’s small cubes, if you don’t want to use this you can use all cheddar cheese but this adds a lot of creaminess to the mac and cheese.
  • salt and pepper – you can use a white pepper here if you don’t want to see black specks in your mac and cheese .
ingredients needed to make slow cooker macaroni and cheese: elbow macaroni, salted butter, evaporated milk, half & half, shredded cheddar cheese, white American cheese, salt and pepper.

HOW TO MAKE CROCK POT MAC AND CHEESE:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions until al dente (should still have a little ‘bite’ to it.) Spray a 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cooked macaroni into the slow cooker. Add the butter and stir until coated.

collage of two photos: water and macaroni cooking in a large pot; butter on top of cooked macaroni in a round slow cooker.

Pour in evaporated milk and half and half. Then add 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, cubed American cheese salt and pepper. Stir to blend.

collage of two photos: evaporated milk being poured into the slow cooker; shredded cheddar cheese and American cheese on top of the macaroni mixture.

Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (gently stir occasionally as it cooks.) During the last 15 minutes of cooking, top with remaining cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Cover and allow cheese to melt.

fresh shredded cheddar cheese added on top of cooked Mac and cheese; showing the cheese after melting.

Once done, turn the slow cooker to the warm setting until ready to serve. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

closeup photo of a serving spoon scooping up some Mac and cheese.

CRAVING MORE?

Originally published: November 2016
Photos updated and republished: April 2019

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese recipe.

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese (+Video)

Crock Pot Mac and Cheese is a creamy, cheesy and easy macaroni and cheese recipe that is always a hit!
4.89 from 246 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook 16 ounce box elbow macaroni according to the package directions until al dente (should still have a little 'bite' to it.)
    boiling pot of water.
  • Spray a 4-quart slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cooked macaroni into the slow cooker.
    spraying a slow cooker with nonstick spray.
  • Add 4 Tablespoons salted butter, cubed and stir until coated.
    butter added to cooked macaroni in slow cooker.
  • Pour in 12 ounce can evaporated milk, 1 1/2 cups half and half, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 3/4 pound block white American cheese, cubed, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
    shredded cheeses on top of macaroni noodles in crock pot.
  • Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 to 2 hours (gently stir occasionally as it cooks.)
    covered slow cooker.
  • During the last 15 minutes of cooking, top with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Cover and allow cheese to melt.
    melted cheese on top of the cooked macaroni and cheese.
  • Once done, turn the slow cooker to the warm setting until ready to serve.
    a spoon scooping up a serving of macaroni and cheese out of the slow cooker.

Video

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions. 
  • Just go to your grocery store’s deli counter and ask for 3/4 pound of white American cheese. Tell them you don’t want it sliced, just a big block.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 34g | Sodium: 989mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” 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 and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating




108 Comments

  1. Looking forward to making this for Christmas Eve. I have a 10 Quart Slow Cooker. Do you think it would be okay to double the recipe in that size crock? Are there any changes you would make to double it or just double everything? Thanks! Happy Holidays!

  2. 5 stars
    So, so good. I actually made two crock pots of this recipe. I thought trying to double it in one crock pot would be too much and may not cook evenly and I’m glad I did. First of all, it was ALL eaten. Not a single crock pot had any left when we were done. Also, after making it, I think it would have indeed been too much to cook in one crock pot. It might’ve burned on the edges so I think that was a good call (in case anyone else is wondering about doubling – just use two separate ones).

  3. 5 stars
    I was skeptical about a crock pot mac and cheese recipe. I always bake it and everyone loves it but my oven was just too full this year and it is not heating evenly so I just knew I couldn’t manage the whole meal in my oven. Gave this a try (which is always a little scary on Thanksgiving) and I’m almost sad to say no one really missed my baked Mac and cheese which is what most people love about my Thanksgiving meals. They went crazy for this and it was gone in now time. So creamy and a great alternative if you need the oven space for other things. I will definitely make this more regularly. Thank you so much

  4. 5 stars
    So good! I subbed 1 c of Cheddar for smoked gouda & love that flavor profile! It was the 1st Mac & cheese to be gone at our Thanksgiving carry-in! Iwill definitely be making this again!

    1. I’ve used gluten free pasta (barilla brand) and it’s turned out great. Just don’t over cook the noodles.

  5. My store does not sell the block White American cheese. Would the sliced white American cheese work in it’s place or would it be better for me to buy a block of white cheddar cheese?

    1. Basically you just need something that melts really well and gets creamy. So if your deli counter at your grocery store doesn’t have the white American, you can look for the white Velveeta. It will be called ‘Queso Blanco’ and you’ll find it where the Velveeta is in your grocery store. That will be the closest in comparison with the white American. I hope that helps!

  6. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Everyone loves it and it is now my go to for parties and larger gatherings. I usually cannot find the block cheese of White American at the deli counter so I use either a block of Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack as a substitute.

  7. I’m still in search for the perfect mac and cheese for my family. Who knew there could be so many variations. This one sounds perfect and looks yummy! I’m wondering if this one can be made on the stove top or in the oven, instead of the crock pot?

  8. 5 stars
    I did a slight variation of this recipe. I made it in a double batch, grated the American cheese instead of cubing it, and used garlic salt instead of salt. To cut down on the mess, I mixed everything together in a huge bowl before transferring it to the crock pot. I was in a hurry and didn’t have time for the butter to soften, so I cubed half a stick (for the double batch) and microwaved it for 30 seconds so it was about half melted, half solid and incorporated it into the noodles that way. It’s cooking now, and so far, so good! I’ll update with the cook time if it needs more time!

    1. 5 stars
      I used a crock pot liner in mine, but I mixed everything beforehand so I wouldn’t tear the liner trying to mix it well and then dumped it into my lined crock pot.

  9. 5 stars
    This recipe is incredible, I made exactly as stated and it is exactly like Mac & cheese ought to be, cheesy, comforting, tasty. I highly recommend this recipe. Make you sure you read all the instructions before shopping for ingredients, I would’ve saved a lot of time I wasted searching for a block of American cheese if I would of read the recommendation first to get it at the deli counter.

  10. 5 stars
    This was THE BEST Mac and cheese recipe I have ever made!!!!! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! This will be our go to forever!

  11. 5 stars
    I’ve made this several times, and it’s a huge hit. My nephew even asked me to make it for him for Christmas. I’m doing prep for Thanksgiving today, and I’m wondering how it would freeze since I don’t need the full recipe and don’t want to waste the extra ingredients. Has anyone tried?

  12. 5 stars
    love this recipe – and I don’t typically like mac and cheese! a couple of hints: for those that don’t love cheddar, colby is a great substitution – it melts a little better and isn’t as strong in flavor. Second – when you go to the deli to get .75 lb white american, have them slice it in 1/2″ thick slices – makes the cubing SOOO much easier.

    my question is have you ever made this ahead and frozen it in a casserole dish to be heated later in the oven? thinking about sending it with my husband on a guys fishing trip but want to make it as easy for them as possible. thoughts?

  13. 5 stars
    This was a HUGE hit at my house. We made a Mac and Cheese bar With this recipe as the starting point and then made other things people could add. We had lobster, buffalo chicken, Bacon, chives, and broccoli just to name a few!!!
    This has become a weekly dinner in my house. Thank you!!!