Mac and Cheese with Cream Cheese is made in a slow cooker with THREE cheeses! This recipe makes the cheesiest comfort food meal ever!
If macaroni and cheese is one of your favorite meals, you’re in the right place, because it is one of our favorite comfort foods too!
One pot meals are always a winner in my book, and using a crock pot just takes that to the next level. Every ooey, gooey bite of this slow cooker mac and cheese creates an explosion of flavor in your mouth!
When life is hectic, there’s nothing better than tossing a handful of ingredients into a pot. Flip a switch and come back a few hours later to a hot, delicious meal, ready to eat.
Mac and Cheese with Cream Cheese
This is our daughter’s favorite recipe, and she has been making it herself since she was 7 years old. I guess this is the best testimonial you could have – Crockpot macaroni and cheese with cream cheese is a kid-friendly favorite, and the recipe is easy enough for a picky 7 year old to make!
Cream cheese and white cheddar are a bit tangy, while freshly grated Pepper Jack adds enough heat to make it interesting. Plus, because it cooks right in the creamy sauce, corkscrew pasta soaks up all of that fantastic cheesy, saucy goodness!
The best thing about this mac and cheese recipe is the short prep time – it takes just 5 minutes! Oh, and it cooks to creamy, heavenly goodness in only 2 hours!!
I’ve got another easy crock pot mac and cheese recipe made with Gruyere and mozzarella, plus a few extra spices for plenty of bold flavor.
Or, try another one – mac and cheese with cream cheese, PLUS bacon and fresh chiles! I think that dish tastes just like a jalapeño popper!
Be sure to watch the video! You’ll find it in the recipe card, at the bottom of this post.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Cream cheese – Using cream cheese in mac and cheese helps add another layer of flavor to the cheese sauce. Also, it acts as a thickener, helping the sauce stick to the ridges of the noodles.
- Other cheeses
This cream cheese mac and cheese also has 2 other cheeses, medium sharp white cheddar and pepper jack. When I make it for a potluck dish or when I know kids will be eating with us, I often swap the pepper jack out and use Colby jack instead.
- Pasta – We use cellentani, otherwise known as corkscrew pasta, for this creamy mac and cheese.
If you want a substitute, any type of small pasta with ridges on it works well. Good options are penne, ziti, rigatoni, or even elbow macaroni would be fine.
- Cayenne pepper – There is only a pinch of cayenne in this dish, just enough spicy heat to wake up your taste buds. If you’re sensitive to spicy foods, feel free to leave it out.
Helpful Recipe Tips
- Cook to al dente.
The initial cooking time will vary based on the type of noodle you use. If possible, start checking the noodles at the 1 hour mark.
When the pasta is no longer crunchy has a slight bite to it, you’re ready for the next step.
- How to keep it creamy.
The three cheese sauce does thicken as it cools, which can sometimes make it a bit dry and difficult to scoop.
If you plan on keeping the crockpot mac n cheese in the slow cooker, use the “warm” setting, and stir in a little extra milk before everyone digs in.
Why didn’t the cream cheese melt completely?
First, be sure that you’ve added all of the ingredients in the correct amounts. The cream cheese will melt as the other liquids heat up.
Also, it helps to stir the ingredients really well when you first add them to the crock pot. If you would like, you can even stir the macaroni and cheese once or twice during the cooking time.
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Crockpot Cream Cheese Mac and Cheese FAQ
It can be tricky to convert crockpot recipes to an electric pressure cooker.
We haven’t tried making crock pot mac and cheese with cream cheese in the IP, but you are more than welcome to experiment.
If you do, please let us know how it turns out!
For a recipe that definitely works, I recommend my Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. It is very rich and creamy, and it’s ready in under 15 minutes.
A lot depends on your flavor preference, but it helps to use cheeses that melt well.
Cheddar, pepper jack, and cream cheese are perfect in a creamy mac and cheese recipe, and the combination tastes scrumptious.
If you want a different flavor altogether, try cheeses like Gruyere, smoked gouda, or Fontina! All of them melt really well and add a more sophisticated flavor.
Prep Ahead Instructions
There’s not much to do in advance for this recipe, except maybe grate the cheeses. However, we do sometimes make 3 cheese mac and cheese to portion out for lunches during the week.
KITCHEN HACK – Reheating Mac and Cheese
Storing and Reheating Cream Cheese Mac and Cheese
Once cool, you can refrigerate the leftovers for 3 to 5 days in an airtight container.
Use the same trick of adding extra milk as noted above, or simply add the liquid before reheating.
Or, for individual portions, reheat in the microwave or on the stove top until creamy and warmed through.
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours.
Other Easy Mac n Cheese Recipes
Crockpot Mac and Cheese with Cream Cheese + Video
- 1 pound cellentani (corkscrew) pasta, uncooked, or other small pasta shape
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into tablespoon-sized pieces
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1 ounce pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese, I use sharp cheddar
- 1 cup freshly shredded pepper jack cheese
- Pour the uncooked pasta onto the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Scatter the butter and cream cheese pieces over the pasta.
- Sprinkle the salt and cayenne pepper 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 or different size crockpot, 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 and pepper Jack cheeses and stir to combine. Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes. The cheeses will melt into the sauce to create the most luxurious creamy cheese sauce.
- Stir before serving. Enjoy!
- I love the flavor in this recipe, but when I am preparing it for a crowd I substitute Colby Jack cheese for the Pepper Jack. It gives it a great flavor, but it isn’t overly spicy for sensitive palates.
- The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools. If you plan to hold the mac and cheese in the slow cooker on warm, add extra milk as needed to keep the sauce nice and creamy.
- Also, if you are going to refrigerate it to eat later, add enough milk to the pasta to thin out the sauce before refrigerating. That way when you pull it out, it will scoop easily and the mac and cheese will warm up perfectly in the microwave or on the stove top. We do this every week and portion it out for easy lunches.
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 October 2017, updated and republished April 2022
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