Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese boasts four types of cheese and is so easy, it just about cooks itself! Stir everything together, set it, and come back 1 to 2 hours later. This creamy crock pot mac and cheese is perfect for dinner or a potluck side.
This recipe was adapted from the original slow cooker mac and cheese on this site and from The Simple Kitchen Cookbook.
Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
This is absolutely one of my favorite ways to make this dish. I promise you — this recipe will change the way you make mac and cheese!
No more stirring by the stove or checking the oven, waiting for the sauce to thicken. This slow cooker mac and cheese is delicious and easy to make.
The best part? No crazy ingredients or methods or pre-boiling the pasta. Simply add everything to the slow cooker and wait for it to work its magic.
The secret to the ultimate creamy crock pot mac and cheese is four different types of cheese! Holy Yum!
There’s no shortage of dishes you can make in the crockpot. During the week, I love coming home to a hot meal that’s ready to eat.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Pasta – You can make creamy mac and cheese in the crock pot with elbow macaroni, small or medium shells, rotini, penne… Basically, any short pasta will work.
Personally, I like the shape and size of cellentani! Just be sure to start checking after 1 hour, as some noodle varieties will cook faster than others.
- Cheese – I like to use sharp cheddar, Gruyere, mozzarella, and cream cheese, but this creamy mac and cheese crock pot recipe is incredibly versatile!
- Milk and Heavy Cream – This combo helps to thicken the sauce while keeping it nice and creamy.
You can use all milk if you prefer, but all cream would be too thick.
- Seasonings – A little goes a long way in making the flavor that much more interesting! Paprika adds a little heat, while salt enhances everything.
Dijon mustard is optional but highly recommended. Feel free to swap with stone ground or yellow mustard, or ground mustard powder.
Tips for Making Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- Choose your cheese.
Use any combination you would like, or just one variety if that’s what you have on hand.
The key is to choose at least one variety that melts down really smooth and another that is aged for flavor.
You can also grate your own or use bagged shreds to save time — just know that freshly grated melts down smoother.
And no matter your cheese preferences, be sure to use the same total amount as specified in the recipe for the best consistency.
- Give it a stir.
No need to precook the pasta for creamy crock pot mac and cheese, though it’s important to stir everything a few times to ensure it all cooks evenly.
This also prevents the noodles from sticking to the bottom or sides and potentially burning.
- Make it your own!
If you want to add some protein, grilled chicken or smoked sausage are both excellent additions.
For a spicier kick, include some cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce. Swapping one of the cheeses for Pepper Jack would do it too!
Creamy Mac and Cheese Crock Pot FAQ
If you plan to hold slow cooker mac and cheese on warm, add extra milk as needed to keep the sauce nice and creamy.
When refrigerating leftovers, add enough milk to the pasta to thin out the sauce. It will scoop more easily, and the sauce will thicken back up when reheated.
As long as your slow cooker is large enough, you can easily double this creamy crockpot mac and cheese for large gatherings!
Or, get two separate batches going in two separate crocks. You could even change up some of the ingredients and see which one your guests like better!
You can probably guess how many cheeses are in 4 cheese mac and cheese! There are other recipes that use up to 5 different cheeses, but anything beyond that is probably too much.
The key is creating a good balance of gooey and creamy textures, plus a variety of flavors to keep things interesting.
Storing and Reheating 4 Cheese Mac and Cheese
Once cooled, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container.,
Reheat creamy crockpot mac and cheese in the microwave or on the stove over low heat until warmed through.
Stir frequently and add a splash or two of milk or cream to get the cheese sauce nice and creamy again.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Mac and Cheese Recipes
Extra Creamy Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound cellentani pasta, also known as cavatappi, uncooked
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 1-tbsp pieces
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-oz pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup fresh shredded Gruyere cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- fresh Italian parsley, for garnish
- Pour the uncooked pasta onto the bottom of your slow cooker. I love my 6-quart for this recipe. Scatter the butter and cream cheese pieces over the pasta. Sprinkle the salt, paprika and mustard over the top and pour the milk and cream into the slow cooker. Stir to combine everything and smooth the pasta into one even layer coated in sauce.
- Cover and cook on low for 1 to 2 hours, until the pasta is chewy (not quite crunchy, but very al dente). Your cook time will vary if you use a different pasta, so start with 1 hour and adjust from there.
- Stir once halfway through the cook time and be sure to smooth the pasta into one layer so it is well coated with the sauce.
- Once the pasta is ready, sprinkle on the cheddar, Gruyere and mozzarella cheeses and stir to combine. The cheese will melt into the sauce to create the most luxurious creamy cheese sauce. Cover the mac and cheese and cook for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and it comes together.
- Stir before serving and garnish with fresh parsley.
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.
Originally published May 2018, updated and republished November 2023
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