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.
It uses ingredients that you can keep in stock to make this recipe when you want.
Pasta—elbow macaroni or similar
Milk and sour cream
Cheese—cheddar, American cheese
Cheddar cheese soup
Pantry ingredients—butter, dry mustard, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional)
Table of Contents (scroll for more)
Featured comment from Angela:
"Delicious…Everyone loved it. NO EGGS!! :) Thanks for the recipe."
It is an extra creamy, tasty mac and cheese that even kids will love. And it's good enough to make my "in-house mac and cheese expert" go back for seconds.
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 get some browned cheese on the pot's side and some light browning of some of the pasta on the edge. And the macaroni is tender—about 2 hours.
This is a summary of the steps and ingredients. See the recipe card or the step-by-step photo instructions below for complete instructions.
⏰How long to cook mac and cheese in the crock pot
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.
Make it right every time
For the pasta, traditional elbow macaroni is suggested. Use a standard commercial pasta and undercook it. The non-standard, thin, or gluten-free pastes will cook unpredictably and are not suggested.
Any milk will work. Or for more creaminess, use same volume of evaporated milk or half and half.
Do not use fat-free sour cream. If you like, substitute cream cheese.
The cheese choice is wide open. American cheese like Velveeta cheese melts well and is creamy. Sharp cheddar cheese adds a lot of flavor. I like a combination. Other possible cheeses are Muenster, Gouda, or Gruyere.
Don't skip the cheddar cheese soup. It is primarily for thickening and creaminess.
Optional additions— crumble-up cooked bacon or frozen broccoli
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.
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 its texture if stored.
You can cook the pasta and refrigerate it for a day or two.
Some cheaper shredded cheese has a lot of anti-caking agents, so it may become grainy. Buy deli chunks of cheese and shred yourself. I do find brand-name cheese works better than generic.
Another solution is to add half of the Velveeta cheese early and then add any shredded cheese a few minutes before stopping cooking.
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
Have you tried this recipe, or have a question? Join the community discussion in the comments.
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, 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—and 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.
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.