Creamy Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese in Bowl
James And James / Getty Images
    3 hrs 40 mins
Ratings (16)

This easy slow cooker macaroni and cheese is convenient for many reasons. Not only does a crock pot free the oven up for other things — it's great for summer cooking because it doesn't add as much heat to the kitchen. And what could be more convenient for a potluck dinner or game day gathering? Just take the finished mac and cheese along to the party in the slow cooker and plug it in.

In this easy recipe. ​cooked macaroni is combined with shredded cheddar cheese, butter, and evaporated milk in this easy slow cooker version.

I've received many positive comments, including some suggestions for changes. One person recommended 1 1/2 teaspoons of dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and black pepper, along with 1 cup of sauteed onion and 1 clove of minced garlic.  See more tips and variation suggestions below the recipe instructions.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more to grease the slow cooker
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

How to Make It

  1. Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water following the package directions. Drain well.
  2. Generously butter the bottom and sides of the crockery insert of a 3 1/2 to 5-quart slow cooker.
  3. Toss hot macaroni in the slow cooker with the vegetable oil and then add all remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir gently to combine and then cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

6 to 8 servings.

Tips and Variations

  • Replace the elbow macaroni with small shells, rotini, ditalini, or mini penne pasta.
  • Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese With Ham or Bacon - Add 2 cups of diced cooked ham or 1/2 cup of diced cooked bacon to the macaroni along with the milk and remaining ingredients. Stir and continue with the recipe.
  • Potluck Advice - A reader suggested adding more evaporated milk if it will be sitting on low or warm for any length of time. This is especially important if you are taking it along to a potluck dinner or tailgating. To transport the hot dish, wrap the slow cooker in towels or a blanket to keep the dish hot. Keep in mind that the "danger zone" when harmful bacteria can grow is between the temperatures of 40 F and 140 F. 
  • Replace the sharp cheddar cheese with a combination, such as cheddar jack cheese, pepper jack, or a similar Mexican-style blend of cheeses. Another favorite cheese for this recipe is Velveeta. Dice 1 pound of Velveeta cheese or shred it before adding to the slow cooker and wait until the end of the cooking time to taste and add salt.
  • Use Creole or Cajun seasoning in place of the salt.
  • Freeze the macaroni and cheese in plastic freezer containers in serving-size portions. Thaw, warm in the microwave, and enjoy anytime!

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