5-Minute Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

posted by Andrea | 10/21/2014
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slowcooker mac and cheese

You know how much our family loves pasta and cheese — so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that we love Mac and Cheese!

We’re actually pretty big fans of the Kraft Mac and Cheese (especially Nora) but Dave and I also LOVE homemade, baked macaroni and cheese every now and then. Often, we’ll eat it as a side dish, but sometimes we’ll just have a big bowl as our main meal.

I’ve made baked macaroni and cheese several times — but what I really wanted was to find a super delicious (and super simple) slow cooker Mac and Cheese recipe that didn’t involve boiling the noodles first — because who wants to get 2 different pans dirty for one pasta meal? Not me!

I read through tons of recipes and reviews online, I tried a few different recipes at home, and finally decided that when it comes to macaroni and cheese, the simplest recipe really is the best (at least in my opinion.)

The recipe I’m sharing today honestly takes 5 minutes or less to toss in a slow cooker — and in just a few hours, you have creamy delicious, homemade Macaroni and Cheese.

Recipe for Slow Cooker Macaroni & Cheese

{print recipe}

Serves 4-6 as a main dish, and 7-10 as a side dish.

INGREDIENTS:

  • cooking spray
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • one 12 oz. can evaporated milk (here’s a recipe to easily make your own)
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • a pinch of Paprika (optional)
  • 8 oz. UNCOOKED noodles (half of one 16 oz. box)
  • 1-2 cups additional shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack)

DIRECTIONS: 

Spray the bowl of a slow cooker with cooking spray

Mix both milks, cheese, salt, and paprika in bowl of slow cooker until well combined

Stir in uncooked noodles, cover, and cook on low for 3-5 hours or until noodles are fully cooked.

Add additional shredded cheese, stir, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted. You can also add a little more milk at this point if it seems too thick for your taste.

Serve and enjoy.

I usually dump everything in the slow cooker as I’m cleaning up our lunch dishes and then turn it on around 1:00. That way, it’s perfectly cooked by 5:00 (we eat dinner very early).

I have wondered if our slow cooker cooks hotter than other slow cookers, so yours might take a bit longer than mine — especially if you’re making a double or triple batch. You’ll just want to watch it a little closer the first time… after that, you can simply dump everything in and come back a few hours later to a yummy, creamy, homemade macaroni and cheese!

This would be a great dish for potlucks or upcoming holiday parties too —  something both the kids and adults will like!

There are literally hundreds of slow cooker mac and cheese recipes out there (believe me, I’ve looked through many of them). Most of them include all sorts of various ingredients (and I’m sure they are all delicious). However, I’ve found that we like it best with just milk, cheese, and a little salt.

When it comes to comfort foods like homemade macaroni and cheese, simple is often better!

YUM! 

Visit my virtual recipe box for more simple, delicious, family friendly, recipes!

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13 comments

  1. Julie Spady

    01/21/2015

    i just put this in the crock pot. BUT no condensed milk. Or the ingredients to make any. Soooo….hopefully just milk will work. Any suggestions? Powdered buttermilk? Sourcream?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’d just go with all milk – maybe a little butter if you want things to be creamier in the end. Hope it tastes yummy 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. April Williams

    10/29/2014

    Andrea,
    Thank you for this recipe. I just tried it today and I LOVE it! I added garlic to mine but that because we are garlic freaks.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for letting me know April! Glad it worked for you 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Julie

    10/21/2014

    I always have a box of dry milk in the pantry for emergency…like I’m too lazy to run out. I’m going to try this next Monday (my slow cooker day / dance class night) with the powdered milk & water to see how that goes. This looks really good.
    I was wondering also about it being on High or Low??

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Julie, I’ve used the powdered milk before and it turns out just fine. I’d suggest mixing the powdered milk with water first, and then adding it to the slow cooker.

    And I just double checked my post — it does say “low” for cooking (I thought I was losing my mind after 2 people asked!)

    [Reply]

  4. Tammy @ SkipperClan

    10/21/2014

    May be a silly question but, did you cook it on high or low when you put it on for the afternoon? Thanks, this looks great for potlucks 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Tammy — I think it says it in the post, but it’s on low. I have a pretty hot slow cooker though (I only cooked mine for 3 hours but I said 3-5 in the post)
    Hope you like it!

    [Reply]

    Tammy @ SkipperClan Reply:

    Thanks! I swear I read it four times looking for just low/high…maybe a side effect of limiting my caffeine lately 🙂

    [Reply]

  5. Jill

    10/21/2014

    Have you ever tried this with whole wheat pasta? Would the cooking time and/or amount of liquid change?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Nope, never tried it but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work though. There’s only one way to find out… 🙂

    Also, keep in mind you can always add a bit more liquid part of the way through cooking (or even after it’s cooked) if it seems to dry.

    [Reply]

  6. Trudy

    10/21/2014

    I wonder if you could substitute another can of evaporated milk for the 1.5 cup of milk? Also, this is close to my regular mac and cheese recipe, except it uses eggs and butter. I am definately going to try this…..looks great.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m sure you could substitute more evaporated milk — maybe a small taste change but not much. Try it!

    [Reply]