Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

by Tricia H on December 23, 2010

This ranks up there with premium comfort food. A great side for a New Year’s Day meal. OK, I confess. We even have this easy recipe as the main course on busy weeknights or for Sunday dinner. It’s a dressier version of the boxed kind. Homemade macaroni and cheese for the seven of us.

A highly requested family favorite!

Slow Cooker Macaroni & Cheese | 5DollarDinners.com

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Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Yield – 4-6 servings

Preparation Time – 20 minutes

Cooking Time – 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb elbow macaroni, cooked
  • non-stick cooking spray
  • 12 oz evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten (I leave this out and it still tastes yummy!)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar

Directions

  1. Coat the crock pot with non-stick spray.
  2. Add all ingredients, saving 1 cup of cheese.
  3. Cook on low 4-5 hours.
  4. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese over top a few minutes before serving.

Confession: It’s hard for me to remember to stop at 2 pm in the afternoon and boil macaroni noodles. I’ve found if I boil the noodles at lunch time, as I do in Make Supper at Lunch - or even the night before while making supper – it makes it so easy to toss these ingredients in the slow cooker at the right time. The point is to boil the noodles for crock pot macaroni and cheese while I am already cooking and making a mess anyway.

Anyone else confess to feeding their crew mac and cheese as a main course? What’s your variation of this favorite?

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

Heidi December 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Yummy! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

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Jenny December 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Sounds wonderful. We do have macaroni and cheese as our main dish once in awhile, and everybody loves it. Its one of those handful of meals that I know everyone will eat and enjoy. Its still a fairly nutritious (if a little high calorie) meal. I just make sure to have a veggie or fruit and a salad with it, and we are good to go. Will be trying this one out over the break. Thanks for posting.

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Kristy @momhatescooking December 23, 2010 at 8:51 pm

I can’t wait to try this one. I love macc and cheese by itself! Plus, I always cook dinner at lunch at least most days so this works out well.

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Larissa December 23, 2010 at 9:01 pm

We cook M&C on it’s own sometimes. Having a diabetic child we have learned a few “new-to-us “things about food. For us anyways, this is great along with some fruit and veggies for dinner. We are concerned with the carb numbers for eveything as well as eating a variety of food groups. The cheese is a good substitute for a meat. Serve it with pride and feel good about making this version over a boxed version (we still do that on rough days…lol). I look forward to trying it in the slow cooker next time…will probably reduce the amount of times the boxed version shows it face!

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Tanya Cosby December 23, 2010 at 10:58 pm

We love mac & cheese. When I serve it as a main course, I usually add some ham or chicken and a vegetable (like peas or chopped broccoli), that way it makes a complete meal by itself.

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Annette Yu December 24, 2010 at 12:13 am

We love to make mac-n-cheese & add some imitation lobster chunks. The sweet flavor of the lobster works so well with the salty flavor of the cheese. I’m sure you can use real lobster, but my husband is allergic to seafood so we use the fake stuff. Yummy!

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Jessica December 27, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Annette, adding the imitation lobster sounds so good!

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Sharon December 24, 2010 at 2:16 am

Add a little bit of ground round cooked with chopped onions and you have cheeseburger macaroni.

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Annmarie W. December 24, 2010 at 7:13 am

I made crockpot mac ‘n cheese the other day…but also added in chicken & some frozen broccoli…

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Tricia December 24, 2010 at 7:52 am

Oh boy! All these variations sound delicious. Larissa, I have a friend with diabetic children and have learned much from her about carbs. This truly is one of the most requested meals/side dishes I serve to my family. It’s filling and gone in a flash!

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Kylie- Cheap Single Chick December 24, 2010 at 9:32 am

I love Mac and Cheese. I do all sorts of variations. Here’s my version of a veggie chili mac and cheese: http://cheapsinglechick.blogspot.com/2010/11/frugal-impromptu-meal.html

Haven’t tried it in the crock pot, though. Gonna have to try that one! I have some other pastas (like pasta and meatballs) and had pretty good luck putting in the pasta uncooked and letting it soak up the sauce (with a little bit of water) and cooking IN the crock pot. Have you ever tried doing the recipe with the macaroni uncooked? If so, what a timesaver!

Love your site!

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Claire December 24, 2010 at 10:00 am

I have had the hardes time finding a recipe for mac n cheese in the crockpot. I use it every Sunday, so when we come home from church we have a meal waiting for us. I have tried mac n cheese before and it has never turned out good. I am looking forward to making this one soon. We did just have it for dinner last night. It is the one meal my 6 children eat 2nds of.

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Tricia December 24, 2010 at 11:07 am

Kylie – I might have to try sticking the noodles in without cooking them sometime. I make crock pot lasagna that way and the noodles are soft and delicious after about 3 hours. I think cooking the noodles before hand makes this version even softer and creamier. All that cheese, the milk! I make this recipe without the egg because of one with allergies. It turns out well every time!

Claire! A woman after my own heart. We use the crock pot every Sunday too. It’s the way to go – the Sunday dinner link at top leads to “Fast Food for Slow Sundays” with a host of other slow cooker recipes we use for Sunday lunch. Always looking for more slow cooker recipes :)

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PAMELA COSGROVE December 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I grew up in a family of four girls. We did not have a lot of money and there were many nights that my dad (who did most of the cooking), would make a box of Kraft Mac and cheese and a frozen vegetable, and that with some bread and butter was dinner. But in spite of having it repeatedly, to this day, mac and cheese is my favorite comfort food.

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Jenilee December 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm

I am going to try this with rice noodles so it is Gluten Free! Thanks for the easy recipe and yes, I serve it for dinner! with veggies or beef hot dogs. yum!

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Tricia December 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Pamela – smiling about your fond memories of mac and cheese around the table. I’m so enjoying all the nice family times (and the new suggestions) y’all are sharing.

Jenilee – come sit by me! Rice noodles and gluten free – we traveled that road for several years when my middle child had a gluten sensitivity. We could chat allergies and special diet I’m sure! Now I have one with egg allergy and two nut allergic and there’s still plenty they can eat – like this yummy comfort food!

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shirley December 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Tried the crock pot mac and cheese…..it was a HIT. I will make it like that from now on!

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Pam December 27, 2010 at 6:20 am

My mom made a mac N cheese supper quite often! She, and I, make it as directed (on the box!), add ground beef cooked w/an onion (or ground turkey, browned), a can of condensed cream of tomato soup, shredded cheddar. No need to bake it you don’t want, just mix it all together! Serve w/salad and biscuits or bread & butter, and you’re good to go!

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Melissa December 27, 2010 at 10:22 am

What size crock-pot???

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SHARONA December 27, 2010 at 10:33 am

for gluten free version, do not boil pasta beforehand, or you will have mush and cheese! Been there, done that!

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Tricia December 27, 2010 at 10:33 am

Shirley! So glad you all liked it. Thanks for stopping back by to let me know :) Pam – sounds delicious with tomato! All these different variations are wonderful and I can’t wait to try them.

Melissa – great question. I have made this before in one of those smallish crock pots. It barely fits. But sometimes I need my big one to work on cooking something else at the same time.

Heidi had asked me if I had ever doubled this. My sweet in-laws gave me a 6 qt crock last year for Christmas (oval http://tinyurl.com/23lt4k8). I make it in there and it spreads out nicely. It makes that much with just one regular box of mac and cheese. There would be plenty of room to double it in that crock pot.

So… really the smallest or the biggest work well!

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Linda December 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Dump everything in a ricecooker (do not cook the noodles) and it turns out fine.

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Ashley Woolf January 9, 2011 at 2:50 pm

How long does it take in the rice cooker??

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Jessica December 27, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I think this recipe looks so yummy I’m adding it to my blog for Menu Plan Monday! I’ll also be adding imitation crab or lobster that Annette mentioned. Yuuuuummy!

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georgi December 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

this looks great and we will be trying it in a couple of days. I always serve it without meat, but add a salad and veggies to round it out.

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Diane December 28, 2010 at 3:01 pm

This recipe looks wonderful! I especially love macaroni and cheese with egg in it (which is rather odd, since I abhor eggs, but hey! such mysteries are what makes life interesting, right?)

And in return for your egg-y mac and cheese recipe, I shall offer you my own crockpot mac and cheese recipe which does not require pre-cooking the macaroni. That’s right you can use the raw pasta and it turns out sooo yummy too:-D

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Diane December 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm

OOOPS! Silly me, I forgot to include the link to my recipe (which I suppose demonstrates why I shall never make it as a big-tyme-blogger-girl)

Oh yeah.. link! Here ya go: http://tomatosoupcake.blogspot.com/2008/07/best-and-easiest.html

Enjoy!

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Tricia December 29, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Linda – thank for the rice cooker tip! Jessica, I love Annette’s idea of the imitation lobster too. Oh Diane! Thank you very much. Clicking over now…

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Laura M. December 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Just made this tonight and it was great. It worked out perfect for my daughter who just had her wisdom teeth out because it was nice and soft. Thanks!

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theresa December 30, 2010 at 2:53 am

My grandmother used to put cut up hot dogs in our box mac and cheese. Probably would work in the crock pot, too.

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Charlie January 9, 2011 at 12:50 pm

WOW – this looks super easy. I bought an expensive slow cooker (I’m a cookware packrat/junkie) and thought it would sit in my pantry unused. The recipes that came with it were not really for me, but an easy Macaroni and Cheese is every single guys gourmet dish! This is great and I’ll try this out today. If I remember, I’ll take some pictures and e-mail them to you or will send them to another blog that I visit and maybe you can link to them there.

Charlie

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Tricia January 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Laura- aw…so glad it was a comfort to your daughter. Theresa – I’ve added cut up hot dog to the boxed version for lunch but not to this. I bet my children would love it! We had this slow cooker mac and cheese around Christmas and when the in-laws came over for New Years Day meal. We just don’t get tired of it. Charlie – Let me know how you like it. I’m sure it’s good in any kind of slow cooker – even a fancy one :)

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Frank Perkins January 11, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Every time I make mac and cheese all I can think of is “Boy, I wish this cooked for another 4 hours”. Thanks for the recipe!

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Josephine February 28, 2011 at 9:37 pm

very yummy had it for dinner tonite. we all kept going up for seconds.

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Jessica March 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm

So I made this tonight and it turned out awful. It looked like curdled milk. And I followed the directions exactly. Will stick with my classic in the oven mac n cheese next time.

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Tricia March 11, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Jessica – I am so sorry for the disappointment. Yours is the first I’ve ever heard to do that. I wonder if it has something to do with your slow cooker?

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The Marketeer March 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Sounds tasty! And a lot better than your typically nuclear orange boxed Macaroni product from Kraft or Velveeta. I will have to try it, and find my slow cooker, and remember to go to the store.

Hmm..

If you’d like to benefit from my “admittedly” obsessive delving into the world of finance, swing by:
http://theweeklymarketeer.blogspot.com/

Cheers! The “hungry” Marketeer.

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melissa a. b. April 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

i have been saving this recipe for when i needed a quick meal (or a mac n cheese fix). today was the day. i threw in all the ingredients, plus added some broccoli, chick peas (i know, sounds weird, but i love them!) and diced chicken. got all ready to turn on the crockpot and did a double take at the recipe. i didn’t realize that the pasta had to be pre-cooked. ugh! i took my chances, googling ‘uncooked pasta in crockpot’ (and coming up with doomsday results)… i checked it after 3 hrs, and tho it is a little mushy/overcooked, it is still delicious! just thought i’d let you know– it was not a total FAILURE! thanks for the recipe!! :)

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Jackie Brown September 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm

I can’t wait to try this for our mission meal for the homeless. How many would you say this serves?

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Tricia H September 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Jackie! Oh it thrilled me to know you’ll be serving this up in such a fashion! This comfortably feeds our family of 7. So…I’d say 6 adults? But, as a side item it will go a bit further. That’s enjoying it as the main course :) Let me know how it goes. ~Tricia

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Melanie September 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Erin, I thought you had a dairy allergy in the house (we do)? I never make mac n cheese for everyone else because I haven’t found a decent substitute for our dairy allergic child. I do miss it though! Ideas?

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 6, 2011 at 7:39 am

We do Melanie. I’ve tried making a dairy free version…and the only cheese that comes close is Daiya…but it’s still not “the same.” This is one of Tricia’s recipes that she shared on the site.

Erin

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Shari September 8, 2011 at 5:50 am

I like to throw in some little smokies or cut up kielbasa in it….you can also throw in hot dogs or cut up ham……..then all you have to do is add a veggie and some sweet corn bread..mmmmmmmm….good homestyle country supper :)

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Tricia @ Hodgepodge September 26, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Sounds great Shari!

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Jessica September 26, 2011 at 5:09 am

Just made this last night has a side for dinner. It was great and now we have so much leftover that it’s going to be a meal for this week. Thanks so much…First time I have made Mac and Cheese and it didn’t come from a box. So much healthier for my family.

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Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom September 26, 2011 at 11:41 am

Awesome…after a few batches of homemade, you won’t go back to the box! ;)

Glad you enjoyed it!

Erin

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Tricia September 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Jessica, I so appreciate you stopping back by to let me know you enjoyed it. This really is an all-time favorite at our house. We have it at least twice a month – so easy to make.

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Nickie October 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I just put my macaroni and cheese in the crock pot a couple of hours ago and it tastes good but the cheese is chunky. I followed the recipe exactly, is that how it’s supposed to be? Maybe I need to just let it cook longer?

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Tricia October 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Nickie – it is definitely more of a ‘casserole’ mac and cheese. Not smooth and creamy like your boxed variety. When you put the last bit of cheese on top – right before it finishes cooking – it will give a smooth appearance. Yum!

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Nickie October 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I think it’s fine the way it is, but my kids are all about how the food looks before they even try it! Hopefully when I add the rest of the cheese it will look a little better! Thanks!

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Tricia October 4, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I hear ya! We just say that it is ‘supreme’ or ‘special’ macaroni and cheese. Sometimes the name wins over the look of the dish. Plus trying a bite… :)

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Wendy October 27, 2011 at 3:11 am

Mac n cheese has always been a main course in my family. But, there was one time that I made so much of it that it was drying out from being reheated, so I added a can of stewed tomatoes to it and it turned out really well. There was enough mac n cheese that the stewed tomatoes didn’t dominate, but added flavor and moisture that was missing.

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Tricia October 27, 2011 at 9:07 am

Sounds delicious Wendy!

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Jenny November 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

Can someone tell me what size box of macaroni = 1/2 lb. cooked. (I’m thinking 8oz box, but I am not sure)

Also, if we were doubling the recipe would we double all ingredients?

Thanks for your help!!

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Tricia November 20, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Yes, Jenny, the 8 oz box. And yes, to doubling all ingredients. Enjoy!

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Ann January 17, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I can’t wait to try this. I am pretty much hopeless in the kitchen, so my husband does all or most of the cookiing, but I can handle this! And we eat mac & cheese as a main course alot, specially when we’re running around like crazy and just want some ‘comfort’ food.

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Myra March 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I love this recipe and make it quite often, specially for the holidays as it is a complete hit at our family gatherings. I was wondering if I double the recipe would I also double the cooking time as well?

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Tricia March 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Myra – I double it often and do not double the cooking time. It turns out beautifully!

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LB June 29, 2012 at 7:32 pm

My hint is – don’t use too much macaroni!I had a14 oz box and forgot to divide it up, so it ended up soaking up all of the liquid. It tastes pretty good, but it is not creamy at all. We also sprinkled some breadcrumbs on top :)

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Brenda August 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

We ALWAYS add some crumbled up, crispy bacon to our mac and cheese. Been doing this for years. Our grandkids wouldn’t think of eating it without the bacon.

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Carolyn Apperley August 22, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Is it possible to put the size crockpot needed on each recipe? Thank you.

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BILL September 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

IF THESE RECIPES ARE ALL THAT GOOD THEN WHY DON’T PEOPLE PUT A PRINT BUTTON ON THE RECIPES SO PEOPLE CAN PRINT THESE OFF FOR THEIR FAMILIES?

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Pat Troyka September 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

We love my friend’s one-dish-meal version. One family size package of M&C, 1 softened 8 oz pkg of cream cheese, 1 6 oz pkg salmon, 1 16 oz pkg frozen mixed vegetables. Cook mac and veggies according to mac package directions. Drain. Melt cream cheese and butter in the milk called for on the mac package. Stir in salmon and mix well. Stir in mac, veggies and the cheese packet from the mac&cheese. Make sure it’s all mixed together well. You can either serve it from there, or put it in a casserole dish, top with chip crumbs and shredded cheese, and bake at 350 F for 30 min.
You can substitute tuna, shredded (or cubed) chicken or turkey for the salmon.

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