This Slow Cooker Crockpot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food indulgence! This recipe is no boil, which means you can use uncooked pasta, allowing you to skip an extra step and save time. The dump-and-go dish comes together easily to create a creamy, cheesy masterpiece without using evaporated milk.
This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure here.
Why You Should Make This
It’s the ultimate hassle-free way to enjoy a classic Southern favorite—deliciously satisfying and irresistibly easy!
- Convenience: Using a slow cooker/Crockpot allows for hands-off cooking. You can simply dump in the ingredients, set the cooking time, and let the slow cooker do its job. This can be super useful if you have a busy schedule or if you’re hosting a gathering where you want to prepare food ahead of time.
- No boiling the pasta: You heard that right! No need to prep the pasta beforehand. Dump it right in.
- Easy serving for a crowd: This is a practical option when you’re serving a large group of people. Guests can serve themselves from the pot.
- Tender pasta: With this method, the macaroni in mac and cheese has more time to absorb the liquid and soften gradually. This usually results in a tender, well-cooked pasta texture.
Cons to Making it Using This Method
My baked macaroni and cheese is one of the most popular recipes on this website for a reason! In my opinion, nothing beats that top layer of crust using the baked method.
This method is not going to provide you a crispy, browned topping that you’d achieve with a traditional oven-baked, Southern soul food version. I have some tips below to help you achieve this if it’s what you’re looking for. Keep reading.
What Type of Pasta to Use
The most common choice is elbow pasta. Elbows are short, curved pasta tubes that are ideal for holding onto the cheesy sauce. I use elbows or cellentani pasta, also known as cavatappi. I would say I use cellentani the most often.
It has a unique spiral shape with ridges and provides plenty of nooks and crannies for the cheese sauce to cling to. The grooves on the surface of the pasta help trap and hold the sauce, ensuring that each bite is coated with cheesy goodness. This results in a more flavorful and satisfying mac and cheese experience.
Here are some more options:
What Type of Cheese to Use
I designed this recipe to be the most simple and quick way to make mac, so I only used sharp cheddar and mozzarella. I only added the mozzarella to give the dish a creamy texture and an amazing cheese pull. Mozzarella is the best for cheese pulls!
When you only use these two types of cheese, the dish will lack depth of flavor (in comparison to my normal mac and cheese). There’s a reason that recipe has 5 different flavors of cheese! Mixing it up means you get a variety of flavors fused together in one dish.
For a weeknight dinner, not having all of that is ok! If you plan to make this for the holidays or a crowd, I recommend you use a couple of cups of cheddar cheese along with a cup or two of any of the following:
- Gruyère: Known for its nutty and slightly sweet flavor. When melted, it becomes wonderfully creamy and adds immense flavor.
- Parmesan: Often used in combination with other cheeses. Its sharp and salty flavor adds complexity and depth to the dish.
- Muenster: Has a mild and buttery taste with a slight tang. It is not overly sharp and has a smooth and creamy texture.
- Romano: Has a strong, sharp, and tangy flavor. It is known for its salty taste, which adds a savory punch to dishes.
- Fontina: Has a mild, buttery flavor with nutty undertones. It is not overly sharp or overpowering and has a smooth, supple, and semi-soft texture.
How to Make Slow Cooker Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- In a slow cooker, combine pasta, heavy whipping cream, milk, unsalted butter, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese throughout.
- Place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook and stir halfway through.
Cook Time/How Long to Cook
The dish will need an hour and a half to two hours to cook. Every slow cooker cooks at varying speeds so if this is your first time making the dish you will need to monitor it if you want to avoid an overcooked dish with mushy pasta.
This is not a dish you should make in the morning and leave the house to go to work. You can start it once you’re home and hop in the shower!
Once the dish has cooked for an hour, open the pot and give everything a stir. From here you will cook it for an additional 30 minutes to an hour or however long it takes for the pasta to soften, the cheese to melt, and for the ingredients to become well combined. If you don’t stir it after an hour, some of your pasta will have areas that are stiff and hard.
I have 3 different slow cooker models, all Crockpot brand, and they are each a little different. One runs hotter than all of them. Keep this in mind.
How to Get a Crispy, Cheese Brown Top Crust
If you have an oven-safe slow cooker base, pop the cooked mac and cheese in the oven on Broil until the top begins to bubble and form a crust. If you don’t have an oven-safe dish, you will have to transfer it to one.
Buy Blocks of Cheese and Grate Instead of Bags of Pre-Shredded Cheese
If you have been around here long enough, you know I don’t recommend Velveeta (it’s a pasteurized process cheese product made to taste like real cheese) and I always recommend you grab blocks of cheese and grate them yourself. I use the shred blade on my food processor to save time with this process. Here’s why:
- Superior melting: Pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents, such as potato starch or cellulose, to prevent clumping and make it last longer in the store. These coatings interfere with the cheese’s ability to melt smoothly and affect the texture of your dishes. When you grate your cheese fresh, it doesn’t have these additives and preservatives, resulting in a more velvety and evenly melted cheese.
- Better flavor: Pre-shredded cheese is exposed to more surface area, which can cause it to dry out faster and lose some of its flavor. By grating your cheese just before using it, you retain the natural moisture and full flavor of the cheese.
Can You Make it Ahead?
Sure, if you want. I would not because it’s so easy to dump and go and it’s ready in less than 2 hours. The texture and flavor is not exactly the same as when it’s fresh.
You can store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered for 3-4 days.
I don’t recommend prepping the ingredients in advance to cook later. This will ruin the texture of the cheese. When cheese hits the air it starts to stiffen.
How to Reheat
The best way to reheat it is in the air fryer at 350 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until warm. You can also use the oven at the same temperature. Heat until warm. You can use the microwave, but it doesn’t result in the best texture in my opinion.
I enjoy freezing my leftovers and I reheat them in the air fryer (after defrosting in the fridge overnight first). When you reheat frozen dishes with dairy, there’s almost always some separation. If this bothers you, you may not enjoy freezing this recipe.
Pair With These Recipes
Slow Cooker Crockpot Ribs
Slow Cooker Crockpot Wings
Slow Cooker Crockpot Candied Sweet Potatoes
Slow Cooker Crockpot Collard Greens
Slow Cooker Crockpot Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes
Cajun Shrimp Boil
Slow Cooker Crockpot Cheesy Potatoes
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
Slow Cooker Crockpot Mac and Cheese with Uncooked Pasta
- 1 pound elbow macaroni or cellentani pasta
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups milk Whole milk or 2%.
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese I used sharp.
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- In a slow cooker (mine is 7quart), combine the pasta, heavy whipping cream, milk, unsalted butter, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine.1 pound elbow macaroni or cellentani pasta, 4 tablespoons butter, 2 cups milk, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- Sprinkle the shredded cheese throughout. Do not stir.3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on Low for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid and stir to combine the dish. (If you don't stir it halfway through, you will likely end up with areas of pasta that are stiff and aren't soft and tender.)
- Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook for an additional 30-60 minutes on Low until however long it takes for the pasta to soften, the cheese to melt, and for the ingredients to become well combined. Taste repeatedly and adjust the spices to suit your taste.Do not use the Warm setting once the dish is finished. You will risk mushy pasta.
- Cool before serving.