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Ladle scooped creamy crockpot mac and cheese
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Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese

This extra creamy crockpot mac and cheese has to be one of the best mac and cheese recipes I make. It's super creamy and crazy easy to make!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword crockpot pasta, Mac and Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese, pasta recipes, slow cooker pasta
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 760kcal
Author Kathleen

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk, plus extra for thinning sauce
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 (11-ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes

Bread Crumb topping:

  • 2 tablespoons  butter
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Instructions

  • Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place pasta in a colander and rinse well in cold water; drain well. Add drained pasta to crockpot.
  • In a large mixing bowl stir together milk (2 1/2 cups), evaporated milk (12 ounces), condensed cheddar cheese soup (11 ounces), sour cream (1/2 cup), cheddar cheese (8 ounces), jack cheese (8 ounces), salt (1 teaspoon), black pepper (1/2 teaspoon), dry mustard (1/2 teaspoon), onion powder (1 teaspoon), nutmeg (1/8 teaspoon), and cayenne (1/8 teaspoon) until smooth. Pour over pasta and stir. Press down pasta, if need, to submerge as much as possible. Dot the top of the mixture with butter (1/4 cup).
  • Place cover on crockpot and cook on low for 1 hour. Remove lid and stir. Check pasta for doneness. If not done, cover and cook 1-2 hours more, as need, checking every 20-30 minutes, to reach the desired doneness of pasta. (Each slow cooker cooks at different temperatures!!)
  • Meanwhile, while mac and cheese are cooking, make the breadcrumb topping; Melt butter (2 tablespoons) in a large skillet. Add panko (2 cups), salt (1/4 teaspoon), pepper (1/4 teaspoon), and thyme leaves (1 teaspoon). Cook on medium, stirring frequently until crumbs are nicely toasted and crispy, Cool and stir in Parmesan (1/2 cup).
  • When mac and cheese are cooked, evenly sprinkle bread crumbs over top. Cover crockpot, set on keep warm for 5 minutes then Serve!

Notes

  1. Pasta: It's important that you use sturdy, high-quality pasta in this recipe such as Barilla. This pasta is made with Semolina flour. Semolina is high in gluten, which helps pasta keep its shape while cooking. Don't skip rinsing the pasta before cooking as it helps it from clumping and sticking in the finished dish.
  2. Cooking time: The exact cooking time will depend on your crockpot. That is why we give you a range. It can be done in as little as 1 hour but can easily take 3 hours. It's important if it is not done with al dente pasta after the first hour, you check it every 20-30 minutes so as not to overcook it!
  3. Evaporated Milk: Please don't skip the evaporated milk. It adds a thick richness that you won't achieve with regular milk and it holds up very well to crockpot cooking. Yes, the sauce includes both and both are needed to create this super creamy sauce!
  4. To Keep The Sauce Creamy: Stir in extra milk! As the pasta sits, it will release more and more starch and the sauce will thicken. Also, the pasta will absorb the sauce slightly. The easy way to fix this is to simply stir in extra milk and your sauce will return to its original super creamy texture.
  5. To Avoid Grainy Sauce - Use good quality Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. The cheap stuff can cause grittiness. Also, the anti-caking agent used in pre-shredded bagged cheese is a big culprit in grittiness. It's best to shred your own cheese!
  6. To Avoid Mushy Pasta - All crockpots cook at different temperatures. Older models typically cook at a higher temperature than the current models. When this recipe cooks too long or at too high a temperature, your pasta will become mushy!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 760kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 1271mg | Potassium: 651mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 1324IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 756mg | Iron: 2mg