A simple slow cooker version of a comfort food classic, this Crock Pot Mac and Cheese is creamy, buttery, and cheesy with tender macaroni noodles. It's hard not to love!
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese is our family's favorite mac and cheese. When I tell the kids we're having macaroni for dinner, they say, "But is it the good kind?"
This simple slow cooker version of a family favorite really is hard not to love. A creamy, buttery, cheesy sauce smothers warm and tender macaroni noodles. Pretty much just comfort food in a bowl.
And the great news is that it's so easy to make too. You can just throw all the ingredients right in the slow cooker, for a dinner or side dish that's low-effort and the kids will love.
This slow cooker mac and cheese is also great for holiday side dishes or potlucks because it doesn't take up precious real estate on the stove or in the oven.
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Variations
This recipe is a simple, easy, classic. There are lots of ways to add a little variety to it if you're in the mood for a little something different.
- Noodles - You can use different noodle shapes such as shells or cavatappi. You can also use gluten free noodles. Be aware that different size and shape noodles may alter cooking times slightly. Gluten free noodles typically take a little less time to cook. Shells will probably take about the same amount of time and macaroni elbows, but cavatappi will likely take a little longer as it's larger.
- Cheese - Using different types of cheese is a quick and yummy way to change things up. Try white cheddar, smoked cheddar, gouda, gruyere, mozzarella, or Monterey.
- Add-Ins - Stir in some cooked and crumbled bacon, sauteed onions and mushrooms, jalapenos, or red pepper flakes.
Can I Make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time?
Kind of. You can mix together the cheeses and milk ahead of time. Then add the pasta the last minute before cooking and dot the butter on top. The mac and cheese is best right after cooking for firmer noodles. When reheating, the noodles will get a little softer, since they will be cooking twice.
More Macaroni Recipes You'll Love
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese - A super quick version of our favorite slow cooker recipe. Try this one if you're in a time crunch!
- Swedish Meatball Mac and Cheese - adds the savory, creamy element of Swedish meatballs to classic mac and cheese for a cheesy, creamy, savory version!
- Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese - two kid favorites in one tasty recipe!
- Stovetop Mac and Cheese - a super creamy, no flour recipe that is sure to please!
- 68 Favorite, Unique Mac and Cheese Recipes - Check out this epic macaroni and cheese list for lots of new flavors and variations.
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
- 4 cups milk
- 1 cup sour cream
- 4 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ¼ cup butter sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse the uncooked pasta well in cold water and drain.
- Add uncooked pasta to crockpot along with milk, sour cream, and cheese. Stir to combine.
- Dot the top with sliced butter.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour. Remove lid and stir. If macaroni is done and cooked through, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. If macaroni is not done, you may need to cook for an additional 1-2 hours.
- Serve warm topped with MORE CHEESE.
- Cook time: Cook time will vary slightly depending on your specific slow cooker and its size. Smaller slow cookers will take a little longer. Also if you like your noodles more firm, your cook time will be shorter than if you like it very soft. Keep a close eye on it the first time you make it so that you figure out the perfect cook times for your slow cooker and taste buds.
- Cheese: As with all recipes where you're melting cheese, freshly grated cheese is best. Store bought is will work fine, but the texture will not be as creamy and smooth. Cheese is a fun thing to experiment with in mac and cheese. Try changing it up with different kinds, such as gouda, gruyere, or white cheddar.
- Serving size: 8 servings is if you're serving it as a main dish. If you'll be serving as a side, it will serve more like 12-16.
UPDATE INFO: This recipe was originally published in January 2015. It was updated with new pictures, video, and tips and republished in October 2021.
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