Just put that uncooked macaroni in the crock pot. Yep, uncooked. Add some milk and spices. Cook. Then add cheese and in a few minutes you're done.
My previous slow cooker mac and cheese has been well received. It is consistently in the top 10 on a Google search and it made my top 10 recipes for last year. But still something bothered me and I keep experimenting to the point I feel like American Test Kitchen here. I have lost count but I'm in the high teens here.
So what bothered me so much... the precooking of the pasta, the effect of heat on the cheese making it separate some and last (and the real thorn in my paw) was that can of soup. I HATE recipes that call for highly processed this and that. I do them occasionally but really home cooking shouldn't be that way. You shouldn't need a can of soup or a package of mix to make something. And crock pot cooking seems to be the epicenter for this, cream of _____ soup is everywhere or the mandatory onion soup mix. Some recipes use 3-4 premade things. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY...
Notes: I went through a lot of trial and errors here. A lot of mac and cheese was eaten and a lot went down the sink as not worth of a reheat. They were OK but just not worthy... But the stove-top mac I did last month convinced me that I did not need to precook the macaroni, I just had to do it right.
First the heat. This must be done on low. This is NOT a recipe you should cook on high and cut the time in half. The cheese will be more likely to separate some and the macaroni will either be over or under cooked.
Second. American made shredded cheese that we all buy does not like long or high heat. It is more waxy then block cheese and it just wont take it. I'm sure a better cheese like a block of Cabot would do better but are you going for a $10 cheese for this? So the cheese should not cooked for long periods. Put it in near the end and let it melt and deliver it's creamy goodness.
Third, a little fat is needed. I have only fat free milk usually. So since I was using that, I added a tablespoon of butter. That is enough fat to equal just over 2% milk. So if you use whole or 2% milk, you may not need the butter but I would keep it for taste. Or even leave it out with 0% for health reasons but the texture will suffer a little.
Feel free to vary the cheese type and spices to your taste. This is a "Crock Pot for Two" recipe. A double recipe would still be fine in my 3.5 qt. cooker or use a large crock pot for larger batches.
Update Feb. 9, 2013: Many are having issues ( and many are not) with liquid being left at the point of the pasta being al denta. My initial cookings had almost no liquid at this point. The variations could be due to the cooker or the pasta. While cookers vary a lot, I have correct for that by picking the al denta point, not a specific time. The pasta is the remaining issue and I believe is the trouble maker here. I have adjusted the recipe to eliminate this extra liquid at the al dente point. Don't drain it in a strainer, just remove any free standing liquid, the liquid on the pasta should be enough.
Gone in 30 seconds
Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
Great taste, wonderful creamy texture in the easiest creamiest slow cooker mac and cheese you will ever see. You can make this tonight. No blue box for you. Just put that uncooked macaroni in the crock pot. Yep, uncooked. Add some milk and spices. Cook. Then add cheese and in a few minutes you're done..
- 1 cup Macaroni
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 t salt
- 1/2 t dry mustard
- 1/4 t black pepper
- 1/4 t garlic powder
- 1/4 t paprika
- 1 T butter
- 1 cup Cheese of your choice. I used sharp cheddar
1) Dump 2 cups milk, 1 cup macaroni, 1/2 t dry mustard, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t each of pepper, garlic powder and paprika, and l T butter into a smallish slow cooker. I used a 3.5 qt one. Mix well.2) Cook on low. Stir well at 1 hour into the cooking. Cook another hour or so until pasta is al dente. Slow cookers vary some you time may vary some. DO NOT COOK BY TIME ONLY HERE. 3) When the pasta is al dente, drain any free fluid, add 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used sharp cheddar this time. Mix very well.4) Continue on low until cooked to your taste. About 5-15 minutes.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings (or two large servings)