Ultimate Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese – creamy, cheesy and absolutely loaded with flavor.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
When the holidays come around, people are always asking if I have a slow cooker mac and cheese recipe that I recommend. This year, I decided to dial in a really good recipe that you can be excited to serve at Thanksgiving or any family holiday. Since we want to cook (bake) this recipe in the slow cooker, it needs to have a stable base. So instead of starting with a béchamel sauce or heavy cream, I use canned cheddar cheese soup and evaporated milk as the base so the mac and cheese won’t break or get grainy.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- Elbow Macaroni – Medium Shells or Fusilli would also work
- Unsalted Butter – if using salted butter, reduced salt added to recipe later
- Cheddar Cheese Soup – Campbell’s Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup recommended
- Evaporated Milk – not sweetened condensed milk
- Cream Cheese
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Seasonings – Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Smoked Paprika
- Cheese – Freshly Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Colby Jack Cheese, and Parmesan Cheese
How to Make Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
- Start by cooking the pasta according to package directions, but just for 5 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the slow cooker.
- Drain pasta and move to slow cooker.
- In pasta cooking pot, prepare cheese sauce.
- Stir cheese sauce into macaroni and cook on low for about 2 1/2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes to help mac and cheese cook evenly.
- Important to note that to ensure the best results, the pasta is partially cooked before going into the slow cooker. The cheese sauce is also prepared and then added to the slow cooker along with the pasta.
- Depending on your slow cooker, the ideal cooking time is about 2 1/2 hours on low.
- If you are timing this to serve with Thanksgivings, try to time the serving time as close to the end cooking time as possible for best results.
MORE THANKSGIVING RECIPES
- Garlic Herb Butter Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- Sausage Apple Cranberry Stuffing
- Pumpkin Pie
- Easy Pecan Pie Recipe
- Pumpkin Cheese Ball
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Corn Casserole
- Fresh Cranberry Orange Sauce
- No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake
- Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
- 1 pound macaroni
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 10.5 oz cans cheddar cheese soup
- 2 12 oz cans evaporated milk
- 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded colby jack cheese divided
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add macaroni and cook for 5 minutes. Pasta will be slightly under cooked.
Spray slow cooker insert with nonstick cooking spray. Drain pasta and transfer to slow cooker. In the same pot the pasta was cooking in, melt butter over medium heat. Then stir in cheddar cheese soup, evaporated milk, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Heat until warm, then stir in cream cheese. Once cream cheese is melted, stir in shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of colby jack cheese and parmesan cheese.
Transfer cheese sauce to slow cooker and mix with pasta. Cook on low for 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. For the last 30 minutes of cooking time, top with additional Colby Jack cheese, cover and let melt.
Tip: After each stir, use a damp paper towel to wipe excess cheese sauce from inside the upper edge of the slow cooker. This will make clean up easier later.
5 Easy Dinner Ideas for Busy Weeknights
My five FAVORITE recipes for busy families!
- Quick to make
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- and...most important...absolutely DELICIOUS