Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese from 101 Cooking For TwoGreat 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.  No can of soup needed. Serve FRESH today.

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 pre-made things. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY…

Rating

rating system 5

I never thought I would rate a mac and cheese a five, but this is it.

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 pre-cook 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 its 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 corrected 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.

Update August 26, 2013: It has been suggested to have a specific warning about type of pasta. Since the comment are getting a bit long, it is a good idea. Many failures seem to be related to whole wheat or other non-standard pasta. I don’t believe these non-standard pastas are a good idea in this recipe. If you have made this with a non-standard pasta and did well, please post the brand and any specific modifications you did. 

Whole Wheat report: See comment by Katie January 18 2014 for whole wheat pasta technique.

ingredients for crock pot mac and cheese

Things you already have. Opps… I left the salt out of the picture.

add everything but cheese to crock pot

Dump 2 cups milk, 1 cup standard (not whole wheat or other non-standard) 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.

adding the cheese

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 your time may vary some. DO NOT COOK BY TIME ONLY HERE.

When the pasta is al dente, drain any free fluid, add 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used sharp cheddar this time.

mix cheese in well

Mix very well.

Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese  from 101 Cooking For Two

Continue on low until cooked to your taste. About 5-15 minutes.

cleaned out crock pot

This is the crock pot after the meal. My wife scooped it all out into bowls within 30 seconds of her first bite. I think she liked it.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Great taste, wonderful creamy texture in the easiest creamiest slow cooker mac and cheese you will ever see.
Author:
Recipe type: Comfort Food, Crock Pot
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 small servings or 2 large
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Standard Macaroni
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ t salt
  • ½ t dry mustard
  • ¼ t black pepper
  • ¼ t garlic powder
  • ¼ t paprika
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 cup Cheese of your choice. I used sharp cheddar
Instructions
  1. Dump 2 cups milk, 1 cup standard (not whole wheat or other non-standard) macaroni, ½ t dry mustard, ½ t salt, ¼ 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 your 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.
Notes
Please read the post! There are a few traps in this technique.

Updated
September 3 2014

 

Comments

    • Gail says

      I made this today, added cooked, chopped bacon and a little bread crumbs (Italian), and it was soooo good! Doubling up this recipe for next time. TY

  1. Sarah says

    Going to try this tonight! I ill probably have to hold myself back from adding more cheese though. 1 cup isn’t a lot compared to my standard recipe.

  2. says

    I never cook that big but I believe it should be approximately the same. As I have said, slow cookers vary so the time is not exact. Check for an ah dente texture then add the cheese.

  3. says

    Sorry it didn’t work but not too surprising… To me whole wheat pastas are somewhat “a different animal”. A lot of my cooking failure have been whole wheat pastas. I don’t think I would even try my other crock pot mac and cheese with whole wheat. Not enough gluten in whole wheat to withstand this abuse

    • Leathersoup says

      Another way to deal with the extra milk is to sprinkle some flour over the mixture and stir it in. Sort of a backwards roux. It thickens the milk up and when you add the cheese and mix everything up it will become a nice cheesy sauce. Of course the amount of flour is going to depend on how much milk is still left. It works though.

    • says

      Thanks for the suggestions. I have never had good luck thickening in a slow cooker with flour. To the point of just removing the liquid to the stove top in all my recipes. I think my cookers is a little bit lower temp and it just has not worked for me.
      Thanks for the comment
      DrDan

  4. says

    Why not just partially boil the pasta in water as normal, drain and add a lesser amount of milk and cheese at the end. I don’t see the need for a crockpot with this type of recipe. I don’t think it saves time as a crockpot is normally used for a meal to be ready when you come home from work. I very much dislike mushy pasta and I think this would be a hard one to get right since crockpots are so different, but boiling water is the same everywhere.

  5. says

    This is an excellent recipe for the crock pot. It saves me from having to clean two saucepans plus cleaning my cooktop if I had to boil the macaroni! Even better yet I used a liner in my crock pot so I only had to wash the lid. How much easier can you get!! Ya can’t please everyone and it’s not worth trying. Thank you for a delicious well tested recipe!!!!

    • btmaxwell says

      Totally agree. The primary reason I am trying this right now (its cooking as I type) is the fact that it sounds SO easy. Love love love that I don’t have to cook the pasta separately.

  6. says

    B KF- you are correct in many ways but this is another way and a bit simpler. It has great taste and texture if done correctly.
    silverfox2951 – Thanks for the defense.
    Lorraine – I believe it would be fine in 1.5 quart. A crock pot should not be more than 75% full. There is about 3 cups total material and the 1.5 quart is 6 cups.

  7. V Joanne Heyob says

    Do you have a rendition of this for just the stove top and not a crockpot? Could you email me if you do?

  8. says

    t7135jt – My bad and fixed.
    V Joanne Heyob – Yes, my One Pot Stove Top Mac and Cheese on Dec 20 2012. It actually inspired the crock pot recipe. If that doesn’t do it for you try Plain Chicken blog. See the blog roll. It is the go to blog for Mac and Cheese.

  9. says

    I tried this today and the cheese clumped and never melted nice. I used the same brand shown in the picture. I wonder if it is because I quadrupled the recipe and had too much milk? It seems like it is too milky. Taste was excellent and luckily my diners ranged in ages from 1-5 and they loved it!!

  10. says

    WaltersJ – Quadrupling is brave. What type of pasta did you use? It may be related to too much liquid left at the point of adding the cheese. Maybe the pasta didn’t absorb it well… There is only a little free fluid left at that point usually.
    tmelrose – I would cook it the same. But remember that you cook to a dente then add the cheese.

  11. says

    Mine also turned out super milky and I had to drain it before adding the cheese. Going to attempt baking it for a while to see if that fixes it.

  12. says

    Mine was milky so I left in on low for another hour. Once the milk had absorbed the noodles were practically unrecognizable. I probably won’t try this again. I think I’m gonna stick to cooking pasta dishes the normal way and keep my crock pot for other things.

  13. says

    I did a double batch today at my daughters house. Different pasta and cooker. It also had almost a cup of free liquid when the pasta was done. I drained off about half but should have drained most of it before adding the cheese. Do Not continue to cook to try to get the liquid to absorb, you will have an over cooked mess. I’m adjusting the post to drain this excess liquid that I believe is due to variations in pasta and cookers.

  14. says

    I tripled the recipe, had the same problem as most people, too much milk. which is weird because the ratio should uphold. Probably will not try this again, as I wasted a lot of milk and cheese :(

  15. says

    This worked for me, I just added 30 minutes cooking time before adding the cheese because the milk was not completely absorbed. I think every crock pot is different and you just have to experiment until you get the right setting for yours. I love that this was a “mini” recipe, calling for only one cup of pasta. My family loved this. Normally I have one pot to boil the pasta, one for the cheese sauce and then one to serve. Thanks for posting this recipe.

  16. says

    Thanks for the comment. Did the pasta over cook or was it al denta at the point you added the cheese? I’m more concerned about the texture of the pasta than all the milk going in the pasta. That is why I have added the instruction to eliminate any free fluid at that point.

  17. says

    Strange. I can understand some people liking this dish but not me. Cooked on low until al dente and then drained off the left over fluid. Stirred in cheese and let it melt. The texture was weird. I like the store bought Mac & Cheese better.

  18. Mindi says

    I tried this tonight and the overall dish was just ok. I apparently didn’t drain off enough liquid, because it was still quite watery after adding the cheese and it had a watered down taste. But it was still edible and my son and I ate it. I used Anthony’s Hidden Veggie Macaroni noodles and they were well done after 90 minutes. I also made a double batch in a 4-qt slow cooker. I would suggest to anyone who wants to try this recipe is to make the regular recipe (and don’t double) the first time you try it. I would also make it as a side dish and not the main entree the first time in case it doesn’t work out. I might try a single recipe again, maybe with a more traditional macaroni noodle.

  19. says

    I made this recipe the other night in my 1.5 quart crock pot and it turned out PERFECTLY! I am so happy to have to have found your site – thanks so much for the great recipe and step by step instructions. I just finished writing it out to add to my recipe box

  20. says

    Okay fellow cooks, when DrDan says do not cook by time alone, he knows what he’s talking about. My smallest crock pot is the average size with removable crock. My noodles were probably close to done at the one hour mark. I was busy not paying attention, read the instructions again went to check . . . Yep, sort of gluey. Okay, real gluey. Flavor is great. This is the type of Mac & Cheese I always wanted, but never knew how to make. Take care & you will have delicious gooey Mac & Cheese!

  21. says

    It’s in the crock pot right now :) Thanks so much for all your testing…my concerns about other recipes were exactly the same as yours–I can’t wait to try it!

  22. says

    Hello. I liked (and was very successful)with the other recipe for crock pot mac and cheese because of the use of the condensed cream of cheddar soup. I was unsuccessful with another crockpot mac and cheese recipe that did not call for cheddar cheese soup (and i think there was an egg involved). However I really like to convenience of not having to cook the pasta before hand. Has anyone tried the other recipe (http://www.101cookingfortwo.com/2012/08/creamy-crock-pot-mac-and-cheese.html#.UQc9SL8W2nk) with the uncooked pasta? Thankyou.

  23. says

    Yep I’ve tried it and it was not good. Now having said that, many of my early experiments were on cooked on high and and had the cheese added at the beginning. But I remember trying it on low just before publishing that recipe and it didn’t work well. I think just not enough free liquid to cook and absorb into the pasta.

    If I wanted to try uncooked macaroni but with that recipe, I would skip the sour cream, increase the milk to 1 1/2 cups then add everything but the shredded cheese including your uncooked macaroni. Cook on LOW until al dente and then remove any free liquid and add some cheese to finish. In other word, this recipe but sub the can of soup for 1/2 cup of milk.

    If you try it, let me know.

  24. says

    Great recipes! Got a 2 qt ‘pot’ today and can’t wait to try some of those you’ve posted. I like the clear directions and pictures. THANKS!

    BTW:

    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.

    *it’s* should be *its* (it’s = it is OR possession)

    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.

    *correct* should be *corrected*

    • says

      I’m so busted… You should not read any more recipes because there will be at least a could of ops in each. I’m a very poor proof reader. But really, thanks for the corrections.

      On the the recipe, be sure to watch the fluid and post how it turns out.

    • Katie says

      I just made this tonight. It was DELICIOUS, but I wasted a ton of milk… I ended up having to drain more than half of it out before putting the cheese in. Will not use as much next time.

    • says

      There is a little trial and error for your pasta and the crock pot involved here. As you will see with the comments, some people have no extra liquid and some do. Get to know your situation and cut back the milk if it seems appropriate.
      Thanks for the note
      DrDan

  25. says

    Made this tonight. It was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe so we would have plenty of leftovers for lunch. It was a lot like Stouffer’s Mac n Cheese (which is one of my guilty pleasures)!

  26. says

    Recipe worked well, but the macaroni cooked much quicker than I thought it would and so it was somewhat mushy by the time it was finished. I also added about 1/2 cup finely chopped onions. I drained off the extra liquid, added a bit of flour, warmed it briefly in a small skillet until it thickened, and then and put it back with the pasta. Will try again and not cook it quite so long. Wonderful on a hot day like today not having to fire up the oven!

  27. says

    It does make you wonder a bit about recipes that call for precooked pasta and then cooks it another 2-4 hours… Glad it eventually worked for you. It is that old “your crock pot may vary” but once you work out your method you will be golden.

  28. says

    Well at least you enjoyed it… You are correct the timing on this is not a weeknight for a working person recipe. Some attention is needed. I don’t believe you can get a good crock pot mac and cheese without the attention. I really tried…

  29. says

    I made this last week and it was definitely a winner. I’m glad that I read through the comments, because I went ahead and checked it several times to see if it was done. I don’t normally do this because I live at altitude and I’m accustomed to it taking longer to cook pasta on the stove. I’m so glad I did! It ended up being done about thirty minutes before I thought it would be. My boyfriend, the self proclaimed “mac & cheese snob”, loved it so it’s definitely going in my rotation of recipes.

    • says

      Well if “the snob” liked it, I’ll take that as good. I’m glad people are reading the instructions and comments. It is so important to get the end point of the macaroni correct or it will be a total failure.

  30. says

    So, I only read a couple reviews before starting this recipe and I didn’t get down to the whole wheat pasta comments until after it was already in the crock pot. I put in about half whole wheat half “regular” pasta. I checked the noodles about an hour in and there is a big texture difference between the two. Perhaps a note in the recipe about avoiding whole wheat pasta with this cooking method is warranted. I hope the dish is still edible in another hour.

    Also, I have made the other crock pot mac and cheese recipe from this site using whole wheat pasta and it worked fine.

  31. says

    I think enough people do substitute that a specific warning in the recipe is a good idea… I’m going to suggest only standard pasta, no whole wheat and not gluten free. At least the other recipe did ok for you.

    • says

      I’m back. Despite using some whole wheat pasta, I still ended up with an edible dinner. I drained a lot of leftover liquid at about 90 minutes (doubled the recipe, which I didn’t mention above, and had about 2 cups liquid that didn’t absorb). I added the cheese in and then about a half cup of the liquid (which I had reserved) back in. I know this would have worked even better for me without the whole wheat pasta. The flavor was great. Here’s hoping for perfection next time.

  32. says

    Thanks for the report. Others reports with whole wheat were not good. It is the end point of the pasta cooking and the liquid that is important for success for my point of view. I would try the whole wheat thing but my wife now refuses to eat whole wheat pasta. I have done it to her to many times I think.

  33. says

    Made is Mac and cheese tonight, and it was excellent. I tripled the recipe and made sure to check it often and it was the best, thanks for a great recipe that I will use over and over again.

  34. says

    Made this tonight – used mini shells which were done at the 1 hour check time! (bonus!!) I had upped the garlic powder a bit, just because that is how I roll! Fantastic recipe – thanks so much for sharing!

  35. Unknown says

    I’ve made this several times. Somehow I’ve never noticed the note to drain any leftover liquid, so I’ve never done that and not planning on doing it on tonights since it’s always been good.

    Also, I’ve only used whole wheat noodles (as I would in any recipe) and never had any trouble. We usually buy Whole Foods brand but today I have Nature’s Promise brand.

  36. btmaxwell says

    I tried this recipe for several reasons. Like a lot of other people, I feel like I don’t have a lot of time to cook (and since I dont particulary enjoy it, I don’t make the time for it). Well what I LOVED about this recipe was that it called for very simple ingredients that I always have on hand. And, I loved that I didn’t have to cook the noodles first.
    I used Barilla White Fiber shells. I definitely had a lot of liquid left over, but I also added some diced red onion so perhaps that was why (that was my only modification). But I just drained some and it turned out great. I will most definitely make this again, I will just try a different pasta. It had great flavor, great texture, and was SO easy!! Thanks for sharing.

  37. Vli says

    I doubled this and used wheat penne. Cooked the noodles in the milk and spices for 1 3/4 hours on high – watch carefully for noodles to get to texture you prefer. Added 6 cups of cheese and 8 ounces of sour cream. Left it on warm for four hours before serving. Rich, cheesy and delicious!

    • says

      If you read all the comments (there are getting to be a lot) several people early on had trouble with double batches. That was BEFORE I put the recommendation in about removing the extra liquid if any when the pasta was al denta. I think the double batch left more fluid and people either left it or tried to “cook it out” by over cooking to mush. I would just double everything and be sure to drain the liquid if any at the proper point. Please report back if you do this…
      Dan

    • Hazel says

      For folks who want “bigger” or “double” the portions, here is my feedback.
      I also wanted to double your original recipe listed above, however, based on the comments about having too much liquid, I only doubled the macaroni, and not the milk. Turned out great!
      I just had to switch from low to warm so as not to burn through the liquid too fast.

  38. says

    LOVE this bold recipe! I’ve never thought to use a slow cooker to make mac and cheese – especially with uncooked macaroni! From looking at your pictures, it looks like a real crowd pleaser.

  39. SQUIRRELLY says

    I have not tried this as we don’t eat much macaroni & cheese, but I have a suggestion about the cheese sauce. Somewhere I read that using a processed cheese, such as Velveeta prevents the sauce breaking (curdling). Using this info, I have tried making cheese sauce with processed milk – evaporated milk – and regular, cheaper cheese. Works great

  40. Jeanie says

    I am looking for recipe for my grandkids and this one was easy and fun. definitely had to drain liquids before adding cheese and I was at home in the country and blizzarding so couldn’t make it to the store so used velvetta cut up instead of the shredded cheese that I didn’t have. worked just time. thank you

  41. Joann Herr says

    Thank you so much for this recipe! We are truck drivers. The crock pot is our only cooking device, so we can’t pre-cook the noodles. It’s difficult to get into most grocery stores with a big rig, and running low on supplies (tiny fridge and not much storage) I was having a hard time coming up with dinner. Due to the low supplies, I had to do a lot of modification and this still worked great. I wanted to share in case it would help your future experiments.

    I made a large batch, using a full box of pasta, so increased everything. I was out of milk. Instead I mixed about 4 c water with 8 oz sour cream and 2 Tbs butter. This worked, but I will warn you, it really multiplies the “sharp” of your cheese. Thankfully, we love a good sharp cheese, but even so, I made a few last minute adjustments. I used minced garlic in a jar instead of powdered, and also substituted gulden’s mustard for the powdered. I couldn’t think of anything to use for paprika, so had to omit it. I was looking for more of a meal, so also added 2 cans of tuna and a can of peas. After tasting, I added a second can of peas to tone down the sharp a little. I had a decent block of meunster that I cubed and added at the beginning (about 6-7 oz) but took your advice and added the last 4 oz of shredded sharp cheddar in the last half hour. The only problem we had was we cook as we drive, then I time it to be ready when we stop. We were delayed about an hour. I turned it down to warm for the last hour, but it got a bit mushy. Still tasty, just lost the texture it had right as it finished. Next time I’ll take it out of the crock and reheat in the microwave.

    I wanted to pass along an idea I’ve been using. I normally start with some sort of roast with carrots, onion, potato, maybe a few extras like mushrooms. We have that for dinner. Then I pick the bones and / or break up the meat and save the rest for something like soup the next day. Uncooked pasta has worked quite well, as long as I remember a few simple things. Heat the rest up first, get it to simmer a little if you can. When you add the pasta, stir well to make sure it’s well coated with liquid and you don’t get pasta lumps. Then take a utensil and push the pasta down so it’s covered by at least 1/4 inch liquid. Add more liquid here if you absolutely have to, but keep in mind, it lowers the temp drastically. Try to add the pasta quickly and get the lid back on for the same reason. The pasta I have used would be al dente in about 9 -12 minutes stove top, in the crock, it takes roughly an hour, sometimes I put it back on for another 15 minutes. This has worked wonderfully for everything from a very liquid soup like chicken corn soup to something much thicker like chicken cacciatore. I have only done this with “standard” pastas, so I do not know how it would work with wheat or gluten-free.

    Thanks again for your hard work. You obviously came up with a very versatile recipe if I could abuse it that badly on the first try :-)

    • says

      Thanks for probably the most interesting comment I’ve seen in a while. You’re doing great with all the limitations you face. I have never though of the truckers cooking in crock pots in the truck.

      I’m doing more uncooked pasta dishes. I just did a ziti this really good but may be too complicated for “truck cooking” but I have a really good crock pot pizza casserole that I will publish after Christmas. But you may get too much pizza on the road anyways.

      Have a great holiday and be safe

      DrDan

    • Joann Herr says

      Keep ‘em coming :-) Generally, a complicated recipe just means that it’s the meal I make right after we go shopping so I don’t have to store a lot of stuff. Or it means I get to be creative. Thankfully, my crockpot has been quite forgiving, the only recipe I’m still not happy with is a good apple pulled pork, but I’ve only tried twice, I’ll figure it out. And thanks to the crock pot, we only get pizza when I’m feeling lazy. We use about 1/4 of the canned food we used to as well.

  42. ninicooks4one says

    I read all your comment section in the hopes of finding a question I have, and I guess I am the only one with this question. I have a regular sized crock pot, it is actually a very old one, which is rectangular in shape and the pan is metal, the lid is plastic. It makes fantastic pot roast. I just put a cut of beef chuck shoulder pot roast boneless in the pan, and add a package of Lipton’s onion soup. No water. You may cook on low if you’re not in a hurry, or even on the higher temperature, if you want to have it ready sooner. It will still take about 3 hours to get ready on the higher temperature. You need to be careful, though, because the juice it produces might dry out. I usually scoop out the gravy from the pot and thicken it with one Tablespoon of flour, and also I like to add half a package of gravy mix, if you have gravy lovers in the family. Thought I’d contribute to your recipes. Now, going back to my original question, will a bigger pan work for your mac’n’cheese recipe? I don’t want to double it, since I am alone. I am afraid of cooking this and the pan being too big. I am not sure of the size of this pan, probably 4 qts…

  43. says

    I use a 3.5 qt. so if it is 4 qt or so, just go for it and watch the end point. Even if it is in the 6 qt range, I would still try it since the recipe depends on getting the end point right, it should work. At most you will loose about $2 in materials. Once you determine the time for your pot, future cooking’s should be easy

    • ninicoooks4one says

      Oh, I am so glad you got my comment, I had already given up because I got an error message on my side!!! Thanks for your reply, I guess with a bigger pan I won’t have the extra liquid problem… I will try it for sure, I need to get better at cooking just for two, because I end up not eating all the leftovers, as it gets tiring eating it all on your own. But it seems so hard to cook smaller portions, you always think it won’t turn out right…. BTW… I tried your oven baked filet mignon. It was yummy, although I over did it on the salt mix. Loved the mix also. I had an odd shaped end piece of mignon of about 8 oz size. I live by Sam’s… I will be looking more for the mignon that is marked down. Now that I have a go to reliable recipe. I get tired of eating the cheaper cuts because they just don’t taste right. I wonder how your filet mignon recipe would do if I tried it on a outside skirt steak? I love those too, and I usually end up burning it if only pan fried.

    • says

      I almost always get my filets at Sam’s. I’m frequently there about 8 AM and the previous days are marked down. There is nothing like filet. We rarely do skirt steak and my wife is the cook then, I did not grow up with it so I don’t think of it. It is a total different thing but I suspect the technique might be similar after a good marinade.

  44. Carol Harris says

    Hey, great recipe, I always change things, and I did here too…. but what you have works, people just need to quit worrying and do what you have to do. You know humidity, altitude and many other factors will change a recipe a bit. I merely cooked the milk and pasta on high til it got hot, cut it to low and did not worry about the excess milk, it just made the “cheese” cheesier… LOL I love playing around with recipes and did like this one a lot… thanks…. :)

    • says

      I also have a hard time doing a “straight” cook… it is just to tempting to change things. Very much like where this recipe came from to begin with. I just “knew” the pasta should be able to be cooked in the milk and that the cheese was being destroyed by over cooking. In defense of the “to much liquid” people, I did a double recipe on my daughters crock pot and way too much liquid was left. That was the first time I drained and I left to much. I was way too watery and not very creamy. I want creamy…
      Thanks for the comment
      Happy Holidays
      DrDan

    • says

      Sorry it didn’t work for you. The only suggestion I have is that the pasta is probably the issue. Too much powder on it or just the type of pasta. Try rinsing it or a different pasta.

      Early in my experiments for this recipe, if I over cooked the pasta it was a bit pasty.

      DrDan

  45. Katie says

    WHOLE WHEAT TIPS –
    I used whole wheat pasta and I absolutely loved this recipe! I doubled the recipe. I actually used original (not vanilla!) unsweetened almond milk instead of the milk too since that’s what I drink. My husband loved the mac too and it’s one of our favorite recipes now! After I’ve cooked it for the first hour on low and stirred it, I only leave it in there for another 1/2 hour instead of hour before draining. I think that’s the trick when it comes to making this with whole wheat, or for those of you who’ve had this become mushy. Like it says in the instructions, don’t go just on time, but check to see if it’s al dente. For me, that was at only 1/2 hour. Also, don’t completely drain out all the milk because you’ll need a little bit to mix with the cheese and make it creamy.
    This is such an easy way to make mac&cheese, and so much healthier than whatever chemicals are in the box. I love that I can use whole wheat and almond milk too (and no weird cheese powder). I add some cut up hot dogs to it for mac&dogs (a family tradition) then steam some veggies or serve with a salad and you have a very kid friendly dinner in no time. :)

    • says

      GREAT REPORT… For you whole wheat people, you now have detailed instructions. You are so right about the al dente end point. I still get complaints about this recipe when people cook by time alone or “cook off” extra liquid.

      Again a great comment that will help others.

      DrDan
      PS I’m editing the report to point down to your comment for whole wheat people.

  46. Katie says

    One more thing- Even though after the first hour and 1/2 of the second hour my whole wheat pasta was al dente, there was a lot of milk left. Part of this might be because I doubled the recipe. Don’t wait for all the milk to be absorbed because the whole wheat pasta will just get mushy. Once it’s al dente, just drain drain it and move onto the next step. If you’re doubling the recipe, you don’t really need to double the milk. I think it works well using just enough to cover the noodles. That way, you don’t feel like you’re wasting a bunch of milk if you have to dump a lot out.

  47. Jeanie says

    Hi! I am looking forward to making this tonight or tomorrow! Wanting to add frozen broccoli to it. Any suggestions on how to add this in? Cook broccoli in crockpot or boil it and add in as final step?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Ummm. I suspect both would work. But I suspect the add at the end is safer to not over cook the veggie. Give one a try a come back and report if you would please

      DrDan

  48. Amber Olson says

    Wanting to make this right now, for dinner but want to put Kielbasa in it and not sure when.. during the pasta cooking step or after the past has cooked?

    • says

      I would put it in with the pasta. You want it to cook some. If put in the with the cheese, it might not even get hot. The paste may take a little longer to cook due to the increased mass but you are cooking to an endpoint NOT time.
      DrDan

  49. Meshya says

    I would love to make this for my husband who is lactose intolerant. I would use lactose-free milk and Cabot cheese since it is 100% lactose free. I’m just wondering if you had a recommendation on using a block of Cabot cheese. Could I cube it put it in from the start, or shred it still add it at the end? You mentioned Cabot in your post so I thought you might have a better idea then me. Thanks.

    • says

      A lact-aid (lactose free) milk should be fine. I mentioned Cabot just as an example of a high quality cheese (I do love Cabot’s though) I was implying that a good quality cheese might tolerate the abuse of prolonged crock pot cooking better than the cheaper mass market cheese you usually see me and others use.

      I have never tried it and would not abuse my Cabot cheese that way. Most “eating” cheeses should not have prolonged crock pot cooking but mozzarella and a few others tolerate heat. Also as a doctor with lots of lactose intolerant patients, I tell patients the harder the cheese, the less lactose. I’m not sure if Cabot is 100% lactose free but it may be close. But I’m a little off topic here. I definitely would still add the cheese at the end.

      I may sacrifice some Cabot’s just to try it…naw… I will just eat the Cabot’s.

      DrDan

    • Meshya says

      Thanks! Cabot’s website claims they are 100% lactose free…. but who knows! All I know is that my husband loves it and it doesn’t destroy his digestive tract :)

    • says

      I would believe Cabot’s about the lactose. But some other hard cheeses are probably very close to 100% lactose free.
      DrDan

  50. Diane Manuel says

    I liked the sound of this recipe from the start and plan to try it soon. As I am also lactose intolerant, I plan to use lactose free milk and a lactose free cheese such as Go-Veggie. I (and I am sure many others) would love to see a Lactose Free category on your website.

    • says

      Your adjustments seem fine. Lactose free is not that hard usually but of course you know that. I haven’t done much lactose free other than some dairy free due to my son’s milk allergy. Most of those would be lactose free since I usually do soy as the substitute.
      Thanks for the note
      DrDan

  51. says

    My understanding, and I don’t remember where I read, or heard, it, is that pre-shredded cheese is coated with something – I guess to keep the shreds from sticking together. This is the reason, supposedly, that it doesn’t melt as well as freshly shredded cheese.

    I’m going to try your recipe since my son loves Mac and Cheese. I may have to try out my old Amish Mac ‘n Cheese recipe, in the Crock Pot. It is made with uncooked pasts and is slow baked in the oven. It has only 4 ingredients – butter, uncooked macaroni, shredded cheese, and milk. I add sauteed garlic and some salt to it, also.

    Thanks for the inspiration. Your recipe may become my go to.

    • says

      I think it is just more waxy to begin with but with this recipe, any hard cheese should work since you just basically melt it in at the end so you can’t damage it. It is long cooking of cheese that sames to make it separate.
      Thanks for the note.
      DrDan

  52. Joyce Berry says

    Sounds good..Can I use Cracker Barrel chunk cheese cut into pieces since I do not have a shredder.. Thanks

    • says

      I would think so… I have never had/used Cracker Barrel cheese. As long as it melts reasonable well I would use it. The chunks should melt and may take a little more mixing…
      Let us know how it worked.
      DrDan

  53. Andrea says

    With a few easy changes this is a great baby food recipe! I used orzo and added an extra 1/2 cup of milk to make more sauce. Did not add dry mustard (didn’t have any) or paprika but it was still tasty. My 13 month old son inhaled it! Orzo was just a little overlooked after one hour (perfect for baby food). I cooked this in my rice cooker which also has slow cooker function. But it heats up much faster and retains more steam than a crock pot, which might explain the fast cooking time along with the tiny pasta. This will be a regular for sure! And so easy to add some diced or puréed veggies, shredded meat…now the wheels are turning! Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Quite some modifications… I don’t know a rice cooker could do that. The crock pot is very slow getting up to temp and of course the small pasta would cook faster. With the additions you are suggesting, you could have endless variety for the little dude…
      Thanks for the ideas.
      DrDan

  54. says

    This actually worked quite well using a corn-based gluten-free orzo with pepper jack and seriously sharp cabot (probably more than 1 c total). Also cooked diced zucchini and broccoli, cooked separately. I heated the milk (2 c), added pasta after it was steaming (1 cup, probably about 7 or 8 oz) and some marjoram, then stirred every 15 minutes or so. The pasta cooked for about an hour, then I added cheese, and turned off the heat; cooked veg and mixed together. No butter, just because I didn’t get it out.

    I find that corn based pastas are tolerate more than rice-based pastas, so that may be why it worked despite being GF.

    • says

      Thanks for the comments Stephanie. Nice discussion of possible modifications.
      DrDan
      Note to readers: Check out Stephanie’s blog Sustainable Cooking for One. I highly recommend her take on the SNAP program – the second article on the home page.

  55. Pat says

    Great recipe. Tried it yesterday and will definitely make again. Easy. Love your site and looking at your recipes. Thanks

  56. Heather says

    Excited to give this one a try! All the homemade mac and cheese recipes seem to use flour as a thickening base and I’ve only tried a couple before decided to give up on homemade mac and cheese forever. They always turn out gritty and without a very strong cheese flavor. Was happy to see this one didn’t have any flour, and it looks great!

  57. says

    I made this last week to try out my new crockpot. Made 1.5 of the recipe in a 2-quart crockpot, and it fit perfectly. The times were as specified, but I did have quite a bit of leftover liquid. Anyway, it was so good! My only complains is that the servings (3) were a little small; I’m sure calorie-wise they’re full meals, but they don’t pack a lot of volume. We may or may not have had to order ice cream afterwards :P

  58. brandy says

    I loved this recipe and it worked great! My son has a milk protein allergy. I used soy milk and DAIYA (dairy, lactose,casein, gluten and soy free cheese) I added half of the cheese with the pasta then added the rest at the end. I quadrupled the recipe and used have whole wheat macaroni and half whit rotini( cause that’s what I had) . I had no extra liquid and everyone loved it.

  59. Chrissy says

    Awesome! I made a variation of this tonight. I used a whole 16oz package of macaroni, which measured out to 3.5 cups of pasta. I multiplied everything the recipe by 3.5. After 1 hour when I stirred the pasta, milk, and spices, I added some frozen broccoli florets and cubes of ham (refrigerated, not frozen). After 30 minutes more, I thought the pasta tasted done, and I poured out tons of extra liquid (from both too much milk and the frozen broccoli, I would guess). I left just a little liquid in. I shredded a 8oz block of sharp cheddar,and stirred that in along with the remainder of a package of shredded italian cheese we had in the fridge. After 20-30 minutes, it was warm, creamy, cheesy, and delicious! With leftovers for tomorrow. Thank you! And I love that it was all stuff we already had, no canned soups or heavy cream, etc.

    • says

      The key is the liquid. Especially when increasing the recipe, it seems to be critical to get rid of most of it. Outside of that it seem that a lot of variations have been done.
      That can of soup in the last version (and it seems mandatory in crock pot recipes of any type) just had to go.
      Thanks for the note and rating.
      DrDan

  60. Caroline says

    I made this last night and it was AMAZING. I ended up using 2 cups milk, 2 cups pasta, and kept everything else the same. After an hour, just a tiny bit of milk was left, but as I stirred in the cheese and let it sit about a half an hour longer, it turned out to be the perfect texture and consistency. Thank you!

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