Homemade macaroni and cheese is a process. You need to make a cheese sauce while also cooking pasta in another pot. And you’ll almost definitely feel the need to make a buttery topping and bake it (even though it was already perfectly cheesy and saucy already). The amount of dishes is insane.
Enter: Crock-Pot Mac & Cheese. Everything—including the pasta!—cooks in a slow cooker. And in the end you have just ONE DISH to clean. Answer to your inevitable doubts and questions are below. (We were skeptical at first too!)
Does the pasta actually cook?
Yep! Until it’s perfectly al dente 😉. You just need to start checking after 2 hours, every 20 minutes or so. Pasta, if cooked too long, tends to get gummy if sits in a slow cooker for too long.
How does the sauce cook?
With the elbow noodles! The evaporated milk, whole milk, and cheeses slowly melt together into perfectly creamy sauce. You really only need to stir it once before serving.
Why evaporated milk?
About 60% of its water has been removed so it’s much more concentrated, making it creamy AF. Meaning it’s pretty perfect for mac and cheese.
Can I sub milk? Or what about cream?
We wouldn’t. There’s already a decent amount of milk in here anyways. If you only use milk, the sauce would be kinda watery and soup-like. It also wouldn’t be as rich. Heavy cream has wayyy more calories and fat and would take the decadence of macaroni and cheese to a whole new (and unnecessary) level. Just stick with the evaporated milk.
Can I use different cheeses?
Totally! You just want to choose one (or three) with good melting properties. Think: mozzarella, fontina, and Monterey Jack. And stick to 4 1/2 cups total.
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1/2 c. (1 stick) melted butter
4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
1/2 c. freshly grated grated Parmesan
2 (12-oz.) cans evaporated milk
2 c. whole milk
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Finely chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
- Combine macaroni, butter, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan, evaporated milk, whole milk, garlic powder, and paprika in a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook on high until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, 2 to 3 hours, checking after 2 hours, then every 20 minutes after.
- Garnish with chives before serving, if using.