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Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese

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overhead shot of Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese in a crockpot
This is the best creamy crockpot mac and cheese around, making it the ultimate comfort food, and it's sure to become a favorite recipe with the entire family.
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Table of Contents
  1. Crockpot Mac N Cheese
  2. Crockpot Mac N Cheese Ingredients
  3. How To Make This Crockpot Mac and Cheese Recipe
  4. How Long To Cook Crockpot Mac & Cheese
  5. What To Serve With Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
  6. BEST CROCK POT MAC AND CHEESE FAQ
  7. Other Favorites You'll Love
  8. JUMP TO RECIPE

This homemade crockpot mac and cheese recipe comes together beautifully in your slow cooker. This is no ordinary crockpot mac and cheese recipe because it’s extra creamy and full of flavor thanks to an amazing combo of milk, seasonings, plus cheddar and parmesan cheese.

Our super special crockpot mac and cheese recipe wins the hearts (and stomachs) of everyone who tries it – the secret is in the cheese sauce! Yummy alternatives to this recipe are our baked mac and cheese recipe as well as this easy chili mac and cheese.

overhead shot of Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese in a crockpot

Crockpot Mac N Cheese

This superfast crockpot mac n cheese is easy to make, and using a slow cooker takes it from bland and boring to extra-creamy and mouthwatering. If you’re looking for a new meal idea in your crockpot, you’ll want to try this for sure.

It’s a great option for serving a crowd. Crockpot mac and cheese is one of the easiest things to make in big portions and keep it warm in the slow cooker — that makes it perfect for a lot of guests. (Make sure you check out my crockpot chili as well.)

Warning: Once you try this, you may never want to eat the plain boxed version of mac and cheese again! 🙂

Crockpot Mac N Cheese Ingredients

Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese raw ingredients that are labeled
  • 1 (16-ounce) box of elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • 1 (8-ounce) block of extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded by hand
  • 8-10 ounce block of extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded by hand
  • ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 ounces container of sour cream
  • 1½ teaspoons of sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground mustard

PRO TIP:

Be sure to buy blocks of cheese and shred them yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it which can impact how it melts and therefore can affect the texture of your finished mac and cheese. 

How To Make This Crockpot Mac and Cheese Recipe

Not only is the flavor of this recipe amazing, but it’s also so easy to make. Perfect for busy days!

  1. To begin, you’ll fill a large pot halfway up with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Once the water has started to boil, pour in a little bit of olive oil and the box of macaroni. Cook the macaroni for 2-3 minutes and then drain.

    Why add olive oil? It helps to keep the pasta from sticking together. It’s such a brilliant cooking hack. You can use it anytime you make pasta.
  3. Next up, add the macaroni to a slow cooker. Then add the milk, shredded cheddar cheeses, parmesan, and seasonings.
  4. Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cut the cream cheese into small, one-inch cubes.
  6. Stir in the cream cheese and the sour cream until the cream cheese starts to melt. Look at all that ooey gooey, creamy, cheesy yumminess!
  7. Cook on low for an additional 20-30 minutes until it’s hot and creamy.
  8. Serve it as it comes or with bacon on top.

My boys liked adding some extra salt and pepper of course. My oldest also loves parmesan cheese and shakes it liberally over the top of his mac and cheese as well.

How Long To Cook Crockpot Mac & Cheese

From start to finish, making your very own crockpot mac and cheese from scratch should take no more than two hours. For the majority of that time, you don’t have to do a thing… Apart from smelling the delicious cheesy aroma.

Making this no-boil crock pot mac and cheese recipe couldn’t be much easier (or quicker!). Simply boil the macaroni in a pan for just a couple of minutes, then drain. Add the macaroni to the slow cooker with milk… Then add seasonings, plus cheddar and parmesan cheese, and give it a good stir.

Go put your feet up and read a book while you let the crockpot mac and cheese do its thing for about an hour. All you’ll have to do is stir it occasionally. Lastly, add the cream cheese cubes and sour cream and let it cook for another 20-30 minutes.

By this point, you’ll hardly be able to wait to taste your homemade crockpot mac n cheese, so dig in. Enjoy the velvety richness.

What To Serve With Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Crockpot mac and cheese is so versatile. Although we say to serve this recipe with bacon on top, the things you could serve with this delicious crockpot mac and cheese recipe are endless! Plain old macaroni and cheese is very kid-friendly, but what else could you pair with this creamy, cheesy bowl of goodness?

If you want to sneak in some hidden veggies, broccoli and cauliflower will go pretty much undetected by your children. When they’re smothered in cheese, who can tell the difference? If you can get away with visible veggies, peas, corn, and bell peppers, add a nice bit of crunch to this soft pasta dish.

Serve your quick crockpot mac and cheese with ham, chicken, or beef for some protein. If you like something that’s a little bit spicy, buffalo chicken and chili make a great contrast to the creamy cheese.

My top-rated way to dish up mac n cheese has to be what I like to call, “Adult Mac n Cheese”. This is mac n cheese loaded with crab or lobster with extra cheese on top. Talk about simple and tasty homemade meals!

Alternatively, you could make this crockpot mac and cheese recipe with another type of pasta or even noodles for a bit of a twist. And if you don’t have a family of bacon lovers like me, sprinkle the mac and cheese with bread crumbs, so you still get a bit of crunch.

It’s so easy to turn a classic mac and cheese into something that the whole family will want to eat time and time again.

overhead shot of Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese in a bowl

You could even do a buffet-style crock pot mac and cheese. Make a plain batch and let everyone load their bowl with their choice of toppings. Serve with a caesar salad and cheese biscuitsbeer bread, or cornbread on the side. (I’d recommend easy blueberry cobbler for dessert.)

BEST CROCK POT MAC AND CHEESE FAQ

How to avoid grainy Mac and Cheese

First, be sure to use good-quality cheese. A sharp cheddar will give the best flavor, but you can also use a combination of cheeses if you prefer.

Next, grate the cheese yourself rather than using pre-shredded cheese. Shredded cheese often has additives that can prevent it from melting properly.

Finally, be careful not to overheat the cheese. If it gets too hot, it will separate and become grainy.

Can you put uncooked pasta in a slow cooker?

It is perfectly fine to put dry pasta in the slow cooker. It will cook and soften up while the slow cooker is heating the rest of the ingredients.

Can I double the recipe? Will the cooking time change?

Doubling a slow cooker recipe can impact the cooking time. The best approach if you would like to double your slow cooker recipe is to use a second slow cooker so that you don’t have to try to adjust the cooking time.

Can I substitute white cheese?

If you would like to use all-white cheese in this mac and cheese recipe, it will be just as gooey, cheesy, and delicious.

Why is my mac and cheese mushy?

Overcooking the mac and cheese in the crockpot can result in mushy pasta. Make sure to stick to the recommended cooking time.

Can I make Crockpot Mac and Cheese ahead of time?

While you can make this mac and cheese ahead of time, we don’t recommend having it ready more than a few hours ahead of time, or it may lose its creamy texture.

Other Favorites You’ll Love

overhead shot of Best Crockpot Mac & Cheese in a crockpot

Crockpot Mac and Cheese

5 from 20 votes
This is the best creamy crockpot mac and cheese around, making it the ultimate comfort food, and it's sure to become a favorite recipe with the entire family.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, extra-sharp, shredded by hand
  • 8 ounces white cheddar cheese, extra-sharp, shredded by hand
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • teaspoons sea salt, optional
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard

Instructions
 

  • To begin, you'll fill a large pot halfway up with water and bring to a boil.
    Once the water has started to boil, pour in a little bit of olive oil and the box of macaroni. Cook the macaroni for 2 to 3 minutes and then drain.
  • In the insert of your crockpot, place the milk and the elbow macaroni noodles. Stir well to make sure that the noodles are not sticking together.
  • Then add the milk, shredded cheddar cheeses, parmesan, and seasonings.
  • Turn the slow cooker on low and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Cut the cream cheese into small, one-inch cubes and stir in the cream cheese and the sour cream until the cream cheese starts to melt.
  • Cook on low for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until it’s hot and creamy.

Video

Notes

  • Be sure to buy blocks of cheese and shred yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has a coating on it which can impact how it melts and therefore affect the texture of your finished mac and cheese. 
  • Every slow cooker is different, so keep an eye on it and adjust your cook time slightly if you find it looks ready a bit early or takes a bit longer. The pasta will become mushy if it is cooked too long.
  • Stirring is very important to ensure the sauce is evenly distributed and coats all of the pasta.

Nutrition

Calories: 769kcal | Carbohydrates: 70g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 112mg | Sodium: 1725mg | Potassium: 588mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1392IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 963mg | Iron: 2mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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  1. Victoria says

    5 stars
    Quite literally JUST made this (as in within the past hour), it’s the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had! My munchkin sat with me in the kitchen while it cooked, and every time we stirred it, we snuck a itty bitty scoop of cheese! M’mm!

  2. Susan Fletcher says

    I just made this and all I’m hearing is each of my family members moaning! Thank you for sharing. This is amazing!

  3. Marilyn says

    5 stars
    My boyfriend and I have made this once already. We put smoked sausage in it. It’s literally the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

    • Layne Henderson says

      Hi, Ruth – usually it doesn’t last too long at our house 😉 I would say you could leave it on warm for a few hours. Enjoy!

  4. Milena says

    Can I bake this after it’s done with Pablo ontop? I see your baked Mac n cheese is a different recipe and don’t want to mess anything up.

    • Layne Kangas says

      I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question? Our backed mac and cheese and crockpot mac and cheese are two different recipes 🙂

  5. Julie Meyer says

    I couldn’t find any white cheddar cheese. So I’m using the extra sharp yellow instead. Hope it tastes as divine as it looks!!

  6. Amanda says

    I accidentally added the sour cream and cream cheese at the beginning with everything else. Will this change the taste significantly?

  7. Caelan says

    What type of grated parmesan? Did you use the one that comes in the container (like the one you use for spaghetti) or the already shredded one?

  8. Nicole says

    Do we cook the pasta al dente so it’s cooked? Or do you literally only want it boiled for a few minutes to soften slightly before sitting in the crock pot?

  9. Nick says

    How long will it stay good in the crockpot? Planning a party with guest that may eat at all different times during the day.

  10. Marcy says

    I have everything on hand except for the sour cream! Could I substitute with anything? Will it turn out if I just leave it out or add extra cream cheese instead??

  11. Jill says

    5 stars
    This was a huge hit at dinner last night. I’ve made many many recipes on Pinterest for mac and cheese and it was just so so but this one was completely gone within an hour!! It was delicious!! I used cavatoppi noodles and boiled for 6 minutes instead of 2-3. I also added more S & P. Other than that I made per recipe. Thanks for sharing this-this will be the one i make from now on!!

  12. Bob Smith says

    5 stars
    I’m a 71 year old male and I just made this today for my fiance. And we both love it. I didn’t have white pepper so I used the coarse black pepper. ( Which is all I had anyway.) Looking forward to making many different recipes in the future.

  13. Shelley says

    Oh my, this is the BEST mac n cheese recipe. Such rich creamy flavour. Our family loved it and its definitely a keeper. Thanks so much!

  14. Taylor says

    5 stars
    I made this recipe over the summer and it was delicious! I am planning to make 2 batches of this for Thanksgiving. But in an effort to save time on the day of, I’m contemplating making this the day before and then reheating on Thanksgiving day to serve. Do you think this would hold up well over night, or is it best to serve freshly cooked? Thanks!

  15. Jessica says

    Ok I need help. I made this for my three young boys who will very shortly eat me out of house and home. But I must have done something wrong, it was grainy and not smooth at all. I fussed at my kids until I finally sat down to and took a bite. So not enough heat? Too much heat? HELP!

    • Layne Kangas says

      Hey, there! Did you shred the cheese or use pre-shredded? I would suggest buying blocks and shredding it. The pre-shredded has a coating on it and it can make it melt funny so it could have impacted the texture!

  16. Chester Hinman says

    I have been making Mac n cheese for over 40 years and my family loves it.
    Reading your recipe looks intriguing.
    I think I’ll try it.
    Do you think a 2 quart slow cooker will suffice?

  17. Teso says

    Why yellow and white cheddar? The flavor is the same…

    Also, I suggest that anyone that makes this gets a Searzall so you can get the crust on the mac & cheese, that’s the best part.

  18. Christina says

    If you only cook the macaroni for a few minutes, does that mean you don’t cook it all the way? I usually cook my macaroni for 6 or 7 minutes until done.

    • Layne Kangas says

      Hi, Christina – you won’t cook it fully before putting it in the crockpot because it will continue to cook and get more tender in the crockpot! Enjoy 🙂

  19. JNeen says

    Sounds delicious and I’m planning to make this tomorrow. Can I use heavy cream instead of whole milk? If so, same quantity or how much? Thanks

    • Layne Kangas says

      I haven’t subbed that out! I think it tastes wonderful with the whole milk and the consistency is perfect so I don’t know if I would recommend subbing the heavy cream. Let me know if you try it!

  20. Lindsey says

    I would like to make a double batch, with a box of 32 oz elbow macaroni noodles, and wondered if you would recommend simply doubling the other ingredients as well? Also, cooking time? Thank you!

    • Layne Kangas says

      I’ve never tried doubling this! I would suggest doubling everything. I am not sure how that would impact cooktime. It might be easiest to make each batch in it’s own crockpot just to make it simpler. Enjoy!

    • Shila says

      I have a similar recipe and I double it almost every time I make it because it’s a family favorite! I simply double all the ingredients and I cook for the same amount of time.

  21. Jennifer says

    I will be making this Sunday for my son’s graduation party but would like to add some diced tomatoes – would you suggest draining before putting them in – and at what point in the cooking process? Thanks in advance 🙂

  22. Liz says

    I’m planning to make this for a group of 115 people. How big are you calculating the serving size at? It’s being served as a side so I want to make sure I’m making only enough for about 1/2 cup serving per person. Thanks.

    • Layne Kangas says

      The recipe is to make eight one-cup servings. So, using that for our basis, this recipe would make 16 1/2-cup servings. To make 115 of the 1/2 cup servings, you’d need to make this recipe 7-8 times over. Enjoy! 🙂 (Please also note, that we updated our recipe today, so be sure to print this new recipe card out!)

  23. Carrie says

    5 stars
    Was this recipe recently changed? I made it often and it had cream cheese and sour cream in it (no velvets).

  24. Sally says

    I want to make this for a big dinner. I don’t have enough crockpots. What do you suggest for baking in oven time and temperature?

  25. Soni says

    5 stars
    Made this yesterday and it was delicious.I didn’t have any dry mustard so stirred through some hot English mustard.thank you for sharing .