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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Michelle (The Ribbon Retreat) says
Yummy! We love Macaroni and Cheese at our house, and my family is going to be thrilled to try this delicious recipe. Thank you for sharing! PINNED!
Kristina and Millie says
ohhhh that does sound like the cheesiest macaroni and cheese ever! I loooovvvvvveeeee the crunchy bits but I might be able to wait the 4 hours for it....we will have to see. This is being added to my must make list!! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Jenny @ Honey and Birch says
I've tried a couple times to make mac and cheese in the slow cooker with no success. Can't wait to try this recipe out and see if I have better luck.
Patty Taylor says
i will definitely try this one for my church potluck
Emily Stanley says
Do you cook the Mac and cheese before putting it in the crock pot?
Nope. Everything goes in the Crockpot raw and uncooked.
I'm trying this for my son's bday party this weekend but am using the shell pasta. Would the cook time be the same? Also, I was going to try doubling this. I have a large crockpot. Do you think doubling it would work? Thanks!
Shells will work as long as the box is the right ounce weight. And I double it all the time, and it still turns out yummy!
If I am making this a side and not a main dish how any willit feed?
A lot. I'd say 15-20, if I had to guess.
I've been looking for something to make for my book club next week and this just made it to the top of the list. Anything with the word' cheesiest' in the title just makes me so excited!
Shelley Austin says
I make a crockpot mac and cheese recipe and just was looking at those posted on pinterest when I came upon yours but want you to know that the first recipe says 2 lbs elbow macaroni but when you click on "make it" it says 1 lb. My recipe calls for 1 and 1/2 lb so in yours which is correct? I don't have cream cheese in mine I'd like to try it. Mine has cheddar cheese soup.
Pinterest takes information off sites and puts it on theirs, so information from Pinterest can be inaccurate. The most accurate information is on the website where it was originally written. So for my recipe, 1 pound (16 ounces).
I made this at Easter for the first time and loved it. It's cooking right now for my night shift buddies while we work. I have doubled it both times. The only thing I did different this time is I stirred it at the 2 hour mark. Love it!!
Hello! What size crockpot do you use for the recipe as written?
Just a standard 6 quart.
Will it fit in 6 qt crockpot if I double the recipe?
It will fit but might require some skillful stirring so you don't spill. Lol
Cheddar cheese is shredded, how do I incorporate the cream cheese in with the other ingredients?
I just throw it in on top and mix it in about half way through.
Also, my crockpot is a 3 qt. Will your recipe work in a 3 quart?
Mine is a 6 quart, and I've never made it with a 3 quart. My initial thoughts are.... I'm not sure if it will fit. And if it does, the cooking time will likely be increased a little due to just the size difference.
I've decided to cut the recipe in half, to fit in my 3qr crockpot, and will moniter the time. Thank you for your reply. Happy Thanksgiving!
I halfed the recipe and it came out great! I ended up cutting the cream cheese in small cubes. The only thing I would add to your recipe would be to spray the crockpot with Pam before cooking.
Yes, a liner works great too! I'm glad it worked for you!
Mac and Cheese in the crock pot is a game changer! Thanks for this delicious recipe!
This seriously sounds and looks delish! I know what I'm making this weekend!
This recipe is so much easier than making it on the stove. It takes all the guess work out and it’s absolutely delicious! Thanks!
I loved it! So easy to make in my crock pot! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Oh my! I made this for dinner last night and it turned out perfect! So creamy and easy to do... definitely my new recipe for homemade Mac and Cheese!
Has anyone substituted the sour cream for Greek yogurt? I try not to buy sour cream and don’t currently have any in the fridge
Amanda Wren-Grimwood says
I have never thought to use the crockpot but this sounds like a great idea, Just imagine the cheesy smell in the kitchen!
Sara Welch says
Enjoyed this for dinner last night and it did not disappoint! Classic comfort food that is perfect for busy weeknights; easily, a new favorite dish!
Oh boy this is so creamy! I hate when mac and cheese is too dry but this recipe is far from it!
Jacqueline Debono says
I've never tried making mac n cheese in my slow cooker but it sounds likes a delicious idea.