A creamy, tasty mac and cheese recipe that is ultra-simple, and this will become your favorite comfort food recipe. As easy as boiling water, it is a delicious alternative to the blue box.
😊Why you should make this crock pot mac and cheese
- An extra creamy and tasty mac and cheese that even kids will love.
- And good enough to make my "in-house mac and cheese expert" go back for seconds.
- Very easy to make. If you can boil water, you can make this recipe.
- It uses ingredients that you can keep in stock to make this recipe when you want.
- It makes only 4 servings in a 3-quart crock pot with a double-size 8-serving recipe fitting in a 6-quart or larger crock pot.
- Cooks to an endpoint to avoid overcooking.
This is basically a Paula Deen recipe without eggs with some simplification. It is extraordinarily creamy with great texture, and if you can boil water, you can do this recipe.
👨🍳How to make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- Cook pasta in boiling water for ⅔ of the minimum time listed on the package, then drain.
- In a 3-quart or larger crock pot, combine milk, sour cream, cheese, butter, salt, pepper, dry mustard, cheddar cheese soup, and cayenne pepper (optional).
- Mix in the cooked pasta.
- Cook on low for about 2 hours. Stir about every 30 minutes to mix and check the pasta.
- It's done when you are getting some browned cheese on the side of the pot and some light browning of some of the pasta on the edge. And the macaroni is tender. About 2 hours.
- Pasta—Traditional elbow macaroni is suggested. Use a standard commercial pasta and undertook it. The non-standard, thin, or gluten-free pastes will cook unpredictably and are not suggested.
- Milk—Any fat level. Or substitute the same volume of evaporated milk or half and half.
- Sour Cream—Do not use fat-free. Substitute cream cheese if you want.
- Cheese—American cheese like Velveeta cheese melts well and is creamy. Sharp cheddar cheese adds a lot of flavors. I like a combination. Other possible cheeses are Muenster, Gouda, or Gruyere.
- Cheddar cheese soup—mostly for thickening and creaminess.
- Pantry ingredients—butter, dry mustard, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional)
- Optional additions— crumble-up cooked bacon or frozen broccoli
Usually about 2 hours in the crock pot. It is done when it starts to get some browning along the edge, and the pasta is tender. A bit undercooked is better than overcooked and burnt.
If cooking this recipe as written in a large crock pot, it may also cook a bit faster.
Use dijon or yellow mustard. Use triple the volume.
Not for this recipe, although the pasta is undercooked before adding to the crock pot to prevent overcooking the pasta.
If you want to use uncooked pasta, see Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese.
It is the best and creamiest when cooked. It will always lose the texture of stored.
You can cook the pasta ahead and store refrigerated for a day or two.
Some cheaper shredded cheese has a lot of anti-caking agents, so it will become grainy. Buy deli chunks of cheese and shred yourself. I do find brand-name cheese works better than generic.
Another solution is to use half Velveeta cheese and add that early and then add any shredded cheese a few minutes before stopping cooking.
Leftover storage and reheating
Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To reheat leftovers, add a bit of milk and reheat in the microwave, on the stovetop, or covered with foil in the oven.
Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Start with a pan of boiling water over high heat for the pasta.
Once the water is boiling, add 2 cups (about 8 oz) of elbow macaroni and cook for about ⅔ of the minimum time, then drain.
Combine in a 3 quart or larger crock pot: 1 cup milk, ½ cup sour cream, 2 ½ cups cheese, 4 tablespoons butter cut into several pieces, ½ teaspoon each of table salt, black pepper, and dry mustard, and one can (10 ¾ oz) cheddar cheese soup. For a touch of heat, add the option of ¼ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper.
Mix the pasta into the crock pot—turn on low.
Stir the pot about 30 minutes into cooking when the butter is melted. Continue to stir about every 30 minutes to check the pasta for overcooking.
It's done when the pasta is tender—about 2 hours. You should be getting some browned cheese on the side of the pot and some light browning of some of the pasta on the edge.
Creamy Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups pasta - About 8 oz.
- 1 cup milk - or condensed milk or half&half
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 ½ cup shredded cheese - your choice
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 10 ¾ oz cheddar cheese soup
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper - optional
- Start with a pan of boiling water over high heat for the pasta.
- Once the water is boiling, add 2 cups (about 8 oz) of elbow macaroni and cook for about ⅔ of the minimum time, then drain.
- Combine in a 3 quart or larger crock pot: 1 cup milk, ½ cup sour cream, 2 ½ cups cheese, 4 tablespoons butter cut into several pieces, ½ teaspoon each of table salt, black pepper, and dry mustard, and one can (10 ¾ oz) cheddar cheese soup. For a touch of heat, add the option of ¼ teaspoon of Cayenne pepper.
- Mix the pasta into the crock pot—turn it on low.
- Stir the pot about 30 minutes into cooking when the butter is melted. Continue to stir about every 30 minutes to check the pasta for overcooking.
- It's done when the pasta is tender—about 2 hours. You should be getting some browned cheese on the side of the pot and some light browning of some of the pasta on the edge.
Your Own Private Notes
- This fits nicely in a 3-quart crock pot. A double recipe will need a 6-quart or bigger crock pot.
- A good-quality standard elbow macaroni works best here. Cook it to al dente or a bit less before adding it to the crock pot. You can use other pasta, and they may or may not work.
- Use the cheese you like, but generic, cheap, or outdated cheese can separate. More discussion on cheese issues are in the post.
- If you like cream cheese, you can substitute it for sour cream. Don’t use fat-free versions of either of them.
- Be sure to stir a few times while cooking to watch the pasta.
- The serving size is about 1 ½ cups.
- Good in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and frozen for about 3 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Originally Published August 14, 2012. Updated with expanded discussion and options. Photos have been refreshed, and a table of contents added to help navigation.
Recipe sounds good. I plan to make it for our family reunion this upcoming weekend. I was looking for a recipe that I could make in a crock pot and put together in our room at the lodge for a carry in meal. I will be using gluten free macaroni.
Do you have any "gluten free" recipes?
I don't cook gluten free but most of my recipes are meat... And gluten free products can frequently be substituted as you know in many of the other recipes. I have no experience with gluten free pasta and think I should try it just for experience some day.
Thanks for the note.
I had the best lobster Mac and Cheese at a restaurant in Santa Monica, CA where I live and keep dreaming about it! What do you think Dr. Dan? I have a feeling you have cooked lobster tails before!
Please email me your updated version (minus the cheddar cheese soup) and if you devise a lobster-Mac version!
Go LA Kings!
I have never really been a lobster type guy and my wife is not a big fan. So no lobster mac at this time. The updated version is at https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/easiest-and-greatest-crock-pot-creamy/
Thanks for the note and good luck finding a lobster version.
Do you cover the crock pot while cooking for 2hrs? Thank you
Delicious. I quadrupled the recipe for my son's 3rd birthday party. It was ALL GONE!! Everyone loved it. NO EGGS!! :) Thanks for the recipe. I'm making this for my daughter's 1st birthday in March now. :)
The eggs make a more "custard" texture which is not what my wife and I like. Thanks for the comment.
I used your recipe at our New Years dinner for the family (8 people) and everyone was pleased. Last week I tried the new version and could not get the texture of the noodles quite right, they were gummy- for lack of a better word. Saturday I made this recipe for my daughters Engagement Party (50 folks, 6 x recipe and added 1/2 cup dried noodles per batch when boiling, made 2 batches in each crock pot, 2 hrs cook time) and it turned out perfect! Everyone there raved over the mac and cheese and wanted your recipe. The only thing I did not double per crock pot was the cayenne, because I knew some would think it too spicy. It was wonderful to spend a few minutes boiling noodles and dumping a few things in the crock pots and not having to worry about it for 2 hours. I used the crock pot liners that reynolds has out now and cleanup was a breeze.
Thanks for the work you put into your recipes!!
I just did an experiment this morning working on a new version. I did not precook the pasta and it worked fine. (not the same recipe) This has failed for me before. I think the "but" here seems to be this time I didn't add the cheese until near the end after the pasta was done.
My previous tries of not precooking were with the cheese going in at the start. I think the cheese way over cooked by the time the pasta was reasonable.
Also I don't really like using things like the soup in this. That will be gone in the new version.
FYI I used uncooked elbow macaroni instead of cooking the pasta. Turned out great!!
Thanks for the hint... I think I will just leave the egg out.
the egg needs to be tempered in for it to mesh well with the ingredients. if the egg overcooks it will have a pasty feel to it.
you have to temper the egg in. Ive done it with the egg with my own variation and it works.
Ah, you validated my suspicion about eggs in the mac and cheese. Thank you! I made a recipe with eggs and really didn't like it at all. Next try is your recipe/the Paula Dean recipe. Thanks.
Your recipes are AMAZING!! My fiance and I love them!
I have tried your mac and cheese and shredded chicken recipes and they were AWESOME!!!! I look forward to trying more :)
I have to keep this one in mind because our go to recipe for mac and cheese is labor intensive and messes up a boatload of pans.