Slow Cooker Four Cheese Mac and Cheese — Damn Delicious

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Slow Cooker Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

The BEST mac and cheese EVER. No boil. No stress. Everything gets thrown right in. Even the uncooked noodles.

Am I the only one with Thanksgiving on my mind already?

To be honest, I have actually been thinking about Thanksgiving since March.

So, October is not early, at all.

Mac and cheese is not a seasonal item.

And I would much rather make it in a slow cooker.

It’s one pot. No boil. And no stress.

You literally throw everything you need right in – the uncooked macaroni, the cheeses, the milk and your spices.

Stir around the halfway mark, and add more cheese prior to serving.

It’s creamy. It’s cheesy. And it actually keeps!

Slow Cooker Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

Yield: 8-10 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

The BEST mac and cheese EVER. No boil. No stress. Everything gets thrown right in. Even the uncooked noodles.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 2 cups grated American cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Place macaroni, 1 cup cheddar cheese, American cheese, cream cheese and Parmesan into a 4-qt slow cooker.
  2. Stir in milk, evaporated milk, Dijon, paprika and onion powder, making sure the macaroni is submerged as much as possible; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 90 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, stirring every hour until tender and creamy.* Uncover and stir in remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese until melted, about 2-3 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed.
  4. Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.

*A brand new 4-qt Crock-Pot was used for multiple recipe testing. Results and time can vary by brand, size and longevity of your slow cooker.

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132 comments

I’m new to slow cookers (I have just bought my first one!), you are posting this yummy recipe at the best moment possible for me 😀
I had never thought of cooking macaroni in a slow cooker, but this looks great so I must give a try!
Thanks!!

I made this for Christmas and it literally turned to mush. DO NOT waste your time money and the hard work of cows:( seriously what a disappointment.

I made this in a 6 quart slow cooker and it came out perfect. Wish I’d made two batches!

I am about to make this in a 6 quart cooker and I’m trying to figure out how long it needs On low. What worked for you?

The first time we made this it turned out perfect! I had the mac n cheese in the slow cooker for almost 3 hours. Tonight I tried to rush things and 90 minutes was way too short (in my slow cooker). Definitely needs at least 2 hours. I tried rushing it by cooking it on high but it didn’t result in the deliciousness we experienced the first time we made it.

I just made this today and it also turned to mush. I am equally disappointed too. I did exactly what was in the recipe.

Oh how I wish I had heeded your advice! I have tried MANY of Chungah’s recipes and loved them all, until this one. It was awful, terrible, so bad that it could not be salvaged and went directly into the garbage can. I followed the directions exactly but it ended up soupy with mushy noodles. The flavor was not good either. Such a sad waste of so much good, expensive cheese.

This looks incredible! Perfect for fall!

Paige… Do NOT waste your time with this recipe! I am a great cook but made this recipe for this years Christmas Celebration. I was never so unhappy! This recipe separated and does NOT look anything like the posted Picture! Do yourself a HUGE time saver and find a better Macaroni & Cheese Recipe OR just go to KFC… it’s better than this one!

BrownEyedGirl, what a bummer! But this should not separate at all. Did you follow the recipe exactly as written? I have made this mac and cheese at least 10 times now, and the images shot here is exactly how it came out. Even the instructional video shows the same outcome.

I have this twice and it was delicious both time. I have not had a bad experience with any of your recipes. Great as always.

You must have not followed the recipe. I’ve made it a couple of times and it comes out exactly like the picture. It’s always a hit every time I make it. It’s delicious! Give it another try, you will definitely change your mind. 🙂

What are your thoughts on fat free rather than whole milk?

I recommend using whole milk.

Because, with 3 pounds of cheese, fat free milk is going o make a big difference…!

3 #? Leave math to the professionals! LOL

Can I substitute cheddar for the American cheese?

A mild cheddar, colby or one of the milder goudas would be a great substitute.

Yum! Can this be frozen?

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself. Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

I freeze leftover mac and cheese all the time for lunches and it turns out great!

Thank you! Your recipes never fail and I can’t wait to try this one!

Can this be made without evaporated milk?

Yes, you can substitute milk.

Looks yummy! I agree Mac and Cheese is NOT seasonal and my family and I could eat it daily LOL I use my crock pot for all kinds of things and in fact just bought a second one! I’ll be making this the weekend!

Will this recipe work in a larger crock pot?

Yes, of course, but cooking time may have to be reduced as needed.

Can this recipe be used in the IstantPot?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

Ohhhh I have tried a few slow cooker mac n cbeese recipes with little success.
You havent failed me yet so I am going it a try.

I’m not a big American cheese fan. Do you think I could substitute a another cheese?

A mild cheddar, colby or one of the milder goudas would be a great substitute.

Is evaporated milk a must or can you substitute with more regular milk?

You can substitute!

Looks great, want to make this tomorrow! What is American cheese? (I’m from Canada sorry!) And how long would it keep in the slow cooker without getting mushy? Thanks!

It is a very mild, processed cheese. You can read more about it here:

You can keep this on warm in the slow cooker for at least a few hours!

Precook the macaroni noodles or put them in uncooked? Thnx!

Hanson for this great recipe! I can’t wait to try it. I have a quick question, though. Can I just use regular 2% milk instead of whole milk? Not sure if it would make that much of a difference.

What is american cheese?

It is a very mild, processed cheese. You can read more about it here:

Have been looking for a recipe. This is the imitation crab meat and a creamy sauce together baked. We get it at a Chinese buffet. It has the sweet crab taste with the creamy sauce bake together and so good. Asked a waitress what is the sauce, she said mayo. Don’t know if that is right or not. Maybe you have seen this dish. Thank you for your time and any info you may have. Cindy

Can you easily double this recipe? would you just adjust the cook time accordingly?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

Do not double this. It turned into a thick pile of mush. Gross!

Slow cooker recipes can be finicky when doubled without the proper equipment/appropriate size of crockpot. I hope you get to try the recipe as written – it’s the best! 🙂

Can I skip the Dijon mustard and still have it come out yummy? My family will tolerate mustard but not dijon mustard. Any substitutes?

BTW, love, love, love your recipes. I have your cookbook and I make a Damn Delicious recipe 1-2 times a week. Thanks for sharing your gift.

Yes, you can omit!

If you didn’t tell them it’s in there, I’d bet money they wouldn’t know. It just adds another level of flavor depth.

I wonder how this would be without the cream cheese? Or if a can of cheese soup could be used instead?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

Could I possibly use Half and Half instead of canned milk?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications.

Don’t use half and half. I made this tonight and used it and it came out waaaaaaaay too thick. Trying to figure out how to save my meal….

Is it freezable ?
There are only two of us, but it looks amazing. Want !

Unfortunately, I cannot answer this with certainty as I have never tried freezing this myself. Please use your best judgment for freezing and reheating.

What is a substitute for American cheese for those of us living elsewhere? I haven’t ever seen that before.

A mild cheddar, colby or one of the milder goudas would be a great substitute.

Made this but added a stick of butter 🙂 Delish.

What do you consider American cheese?

It is a very mild, processed cheese. You can read more about it here:

Can you use a crockpot? I don’t know the difference between the two. Appreciate your help. Looks delicious

Yes you absolutely can.

Crock-Pot is simply the brand name of a slow cooker. 🙂

Grated american cheese? Is that like Velveeta? 🙂

Velveeta is the brand name of a processed cheese product having a taste that is identified as a type of American cheese, but with a softer and smoother texture than cheese.

What is American cheese? Is that processed cheese? Is there a brand name you can recommend? I am in Canada, so it is not something I am familiar with. Thanks!

It is a very mild, processed cheese. You can read more about it here:

Gratef american cheese? Not sure what that is? Is it velveeta??

It is a very mild, processed cheese. You can read more about it here:

It didn’t come out well. I followed directions and my family wouldn’t eat it. It was more like Alfredo. Oh well, I will try again sometime if I get around to it.

This did not come out well at all for me. Macaroni cooked well but Very pasty consistency did not taste cheesy really at all. I usually love your recipes.

I’m sorry that this recipe did not turn out the way you had imagined. I only post recipes that have been successfully tested and retested.

But with a little bit more information, we can troubleshoot what went wrong to have a successful turnaround next time. Did you follow the recipe exactly as written without any substitutions?

I had the same issue. The pasta cooked well and the flavor was good, but my cheese sauce was like a thick paste. I added almost another full cup of milk to try and thin it out but it did not work.

I tried this last night and mine was gluey pastey as well. I believe I cooked it too long. Recipe should say don’t cook longer than 2 hour 30 minutes. Also it was very thick and had very little cheese flavor. Needed lots of pepper to even try to eat it. This is the first “miss” I’ve had from a recipe from here. The only change to the recipe was mine cooked longer because we were not ready for dinner yet at the 2 hour 3o minute mark, probably should have turned it to warm from there….

Linda, I am so sorry this recipe did not turn out for you. However, the recipe specifically indicates to cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Did you use bagged shredded cheese? That has cellulose added to it to keep it from clumping. It will absorb a lot of moisture depending on how much cellulose is in there. Can make it feel grainy or pasty. Think cornstarch? It does the same thing.

Came here to say the same thing Kate. You have to shred the cheese yourself, not purchase pre-shredded.

Yes except I used colby jack in place of American cheese.
It might be a personal preferance texture on my part. Thanks for your reply.

Made this last night. We ended up ordering pizza.

I made this recipe yesterday to go with our Texas BBQ. We had smoked beef brisket with baked beans and coleslaw. I thought this Mac and cheese would be perfect. I followed your exact instructions. I consider myself an accomplished home cook. Maybe my brand new slow cooker cooks hotter than yours, but even on low, in 90 minutes, the pasta was too done. At that time I added my second cup of the cheddar and let it melt in. There was no way it could have gone longer. The taste was a disappointment. It did not have enough cheesey flavor. I felt it tasted too milky. I let it cook for 15 more minutes and when I went to stir it, the pasta just mushed. It was mush Mac and cheese. I even added more black pepper during to process trying to enchance the flavor. I have tried other recipes by you and they have turned out nicely but this was terrible. I had to toss it out. I was not about to serve it to my company. I am sorry to leave a bad review, but I am not the only one who had problems with this recipe.

How much does this feed? Could you double the recipe for a group?

This recipe yields 8-10 servings.

You cook the noodles INSIDE the slow cooker and they don’t get mushy? BE STILL MY BEATING HEART! I think I just died and went to heaven. Pinning this amazing looking recipe for later!

I cook your recipes frequently and this one did not turn out well. It was a big thick clump of pasta and cheese. We had to throw it out.

We had the same result. Good thing there were other side dishes for Thanksgiving!

Ditto here – at the two hour mark the pasta was like mush and we had to throw the whole thing out

Does this come out grainy? So many are not smooth and creamy so I have been skeptical in trying others

It’s smooth and creamy! 🙂

It definitely turned out super grainy, and tasted of flour.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with many of the other reviewers. I normally love your recipes and followed this recipe exactly and ended up with a mushy pasta and mild cheesy alfredo. Back to the stovetop.

Me too. One giant clump of mac and cheese. But it did have nice taste.

I just made this tonight following the recipe

I just made this pasta tonight following the recipe EXACTLY. The taste was very good but the pasta was extremely overcooked. I had to dispose of the whole pot. Chungah, since the taste was good and since so many have this same problem perhaps this recipe should be reworked. I was wondering how the sauce alone in the crockpot would be without the added starch from the pasta. If that worked you could just pour the sauce over stove prepared al dente pasta and still avoid the roux process. Just a thought. I do love your one pot garlic parm pasta!

Kerri, thank you so much for your feedback. This recipe has gone through extensive recipe testing and tweaks and we are doing our best to keep everyone and their tummies happy! 🙂

I am doing my best to be a good fiance but this recipe has ruined my dinner streak! He says it’s like mortar and we could use it to cement tiles. I’ve not had a fail on this site yet. In fact, I made a different recipe last week for dinner guests. Thank God I tested this on just my fiance. We had a good laugh…but this recipe is one and DONE. : (

This was my first time trying out any of your recipes. Based off the feedback in the comments I chose to use cavatappi noodles because it’s larger than the normal elbow noodles. With the change, I didn’t experience the same issues of the pasta falling apart or becoming overly mushy. The pasta is a little chewy but cooked. I omitted the last cup of cheese as I thought it would make it would makes it tough, even with adding in more milk.

I cooked for 2 hours and 15 minutes in my Hamilton beach stay and go crockpot.

I didn’t add in the chives, I’m serving this to a bunch of toddlers and their parents.

Overall I think a change to heavier pasta will help. Also it’s very important to mix everything before starting the crockpot and follow those directions of mixing every hour to cook evenly. I would recommend maybe providing the brand of crockpot you are using and that could be the difference maker or testing this is multiple brands of crockpots to see if it comes out the same.

I followed the recipe, but doubled it – it turned out great except way more sauce than noodles..fixed that by making another box of noodles and throwing it in. 🙂

Thought I’d add my two cents…made this twice with cavatappi, once in a 13 year old slow cooker and once in a new pressure cooker on the slow cooker setting on low. First time in old slow cooker, the pasta came out great, no problems with recommended time. The second in the newer slow cooker came out very mushy even after setting it to the keep warm setting after 1 hour and 15 minutes. By my estimate I think the the pasta was done in 1 hour and I should have cut all heat at that point. I think Chungah should definitely note these possible discrepancies in cooking time due to different types of slow cookers. I will make again but probably in the old slow cooker.

I read the comments and was worried this might turn out (except all your recipes are always so amazing so the reviews confused me). It turned out so good! I will say I did use 2% instead of whole milk and even replaced the evaporated milk (just didn’t want to get an extra thing). It’s so good! Thank you again!

I used medium shells and extra cheese. I tried gournay cheese with shallots and chives with the cream cheese and Colby. Let it for proper time and had no problems. Was not mushy or pasty. Very good flavors

Does the macaroni need to be cooked before putting it in the slow cooker?

yes was wondering if you had to put in mustard.

It is added in step #2:

Stir in milk, evaporated milk, Dijon, paprika and onion powder, making sure the macaroni is submerged as much as possible; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

If I use a 5 qt. slow cooker, would the cooking time be more or less than for the 4 qt.?

Yes, it will be less.

Excited to make this for a company pot luck tomorrow!

Quick questions – Can I use a Gruyere & Swiss mix as an alternative to the American cheese?

Also, will the recipe be compromised if I use a crock pot liner bag?

Unfortunately, without further recipe testing, I cannot answer with certainty. As always, please use your best judgment regarding substitutions and modifications. Sorry, Jenn!

What do u think of subing pepprjack for American to add a kick?

Just tried this recipe and it did not come out well. Followed the directions exactly and ended up with a macaroni paste. The cheese flavor was there but the sauce was very grainy and thick and the noodles turned to mush.

This recipe is 5 stars all the way! Made it for 2 Thanksgiving dinners and it was delicious. Used crock pot liner to make clean up easier and had no problems. My only suggestion–don’t leave it in slow cooker too long on warm! Pasta basically disintegrates into the cheese. Super easy and yummy!

Love your recipes but this was not good! The pasta turned to mush and it was waaaay too cheesy (never thought I would ever utter those words). Had to throw it all away.

Just tried this recipe, despite the number of bad comments. I thought if I followed the recipe exactly it would be fine. I’m only two hours into the two and a half hour cook time, and the noodles are already overcooked. The entire thing is impossible to stir because all the noodles on the edges of the pot get stuck and tear in half. The sauce has barely thickened. I have an overcooked, gluey mess at my disposal.
Thanks, but no thanks. I’m going to scrounge together what I can and start over on the stove top, where macaroni belongs.

I wish I’d read the comments first. Noodles overcooked, sauce not thickened. Followe the recipe exactly. Very disappointed. Had never had a bad recipe from this site until now.

I made this n was not impressed had a weird texture to it even adding more n more milk with seasonings can’t say I would make it again….

I have to say, this was a horrible recipe. I have made a few of your recipes that turned out good, but this one was horrible. I followed the instructions perfectly, and decided that I wanted to slow cook the Mac n cheese for 2 hours, since that was in the recommended time range. It was supposed to be for a potluck Christmas party. I stirred on time. When I was done, the result was a goopy, floury, disgusting result. It was overloaded with cheese and sauce, there wasn’t enough macaroni to soak it all up. The “cheese” tasted like flour. The macaroni had been sitting in the warm mixture for so long it was soggy. It resembled cottage cheese, dyed yellow, with some macaroni thrown in. I don’t know how you got the photo you have on your website, but mine looked nothing like that, and I followed the instructions exactly. I ended up throwing out the entire pot of goop because it wasn’t edible. I had to scrounge for a last minute option for the potluck. I wasted $20 buying ingredients for this recipe, which went straight in the trash. I’ve never been more disappointed with a recipe I found online.

I am so sorry that you had such a terrible experience. This recipe has been tested extensively with my team, and the images here are actually taken with the recipe created exactly as written!

What kind of slow cooker did you use? Also, the time range is from 90 min to 2 hr 30 min. Cooking time can vary quite a bit between slow cooker brands!

I made this tonight in my huge crockpot – I wish I had read the comments first cause it must cook hotter and faster cause it was a big pot full of mush after about an hour and 3/4. I checked it at an hour and was pleased with how it was coming along but when I checked it the second time, not so much. We ordered pizza. BUT I am going to try again.

I am in Canada so American cheese (is that even real cheese) was out, I had Swiss so used it and the flavour was good but next time I am going to try Edam or Gouda – and of course reduce the cooking time!

Tried it, didn’t like it. Not boiling the noodles sounds good on the surface but it adds to the starchy glop that is the end product. Avoid.

I made this in a 6 quart slow cooker for a family gathering and it came out perfect! Disappeared quickly and was enjoyed by toddlers, teens and adults. In the 6 quart it only took about 90 minutes. As it sat for a little bit on warm while the rest of the meal came together, I ended up mixing in a little more milk to keep it creamy. I may try doubling it sometime and will report back to let you know how it goes! Great recipe, thanks!

I used velveeta as my American cheese. I grated all cheeses myself and followed the recipe as is. It turned out delicious and creamy. Thank you!

Mine came out way to liquidy 🙁 I followed the recipe exactly, minus the Dijon mustard.

I made the recipe for a faculty luncheon today, and it came out perfect after 2 hours. I used a very old Rival crockpot I’ve had since the late 1980’s and cooked it on low. I followed the recipe exactly except I subbed a Colby/Monterrey Jack blend cheese for the American cheese, since I don’t like it. Be sure to sure to stir it every so often so it doesn’t stick to the crock pot.

The cheese sauce was delicious but I have to say, the consistency of the pasta was Damn Disgusting! I had my doubts before I made this and I was correct, cooking pasta in sauce is not the way to go. The pasta was pasty and chewy. No one quite knew what they were eating. I am a well -seasoned cook and I followed the recipe exactly. Next time I will make a sauce with the ingredients above (different quantity of liquid) on the stove and stir it into pre-cooked pasta and finish it in the oven.

Unfortunately, my family did not like this recipe at all. The noodles turned to mush and it just didn’t taste good and I made it exactly as the directions said. Definitely will not be making this again.

This unfortunately wasn’t successful for me. It seemed too cheesy (which I didn’t know was possible) and didn’t keep well. Way too rich for my taste. My boyfriend agreed and had to pick up something else for dinner.

I made this yesterday for 4th of July in 2 different batches. Based on the comments I was a little nervous that everything was going to be mushy. So I made 1 batch exactly according to the directions above and then the other batch I made exactly the same way as well except I cooked the macaroni at the very last minute just in pot of water and added the noodles to the melted cheese sauce in the crock pot. Everything tasted the same but the batch where I added the noodles at the end did hold up better and just mixed better. Initially when I added the noodles it was very soupy, but after a minute or 2 of stirring everything thickened up perfectly and I added the 2nd cup of sharp cheese at that point. I started the 2nd batch about an hour later than the 1st batch as well since I was basically just melting the cheeses in the crock pot. Everyone loved the 2nd batch and that was gone quickly.

Amazing ! I have to try this ASAP!

Come join me in my culinary adventures where we’ll be using simple, fresh ingredients and transforming them into sophisticated and elegant meals for the everyday home cook.

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