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3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

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There are only 3 ingredients in this easy, no boil Mac and Cheese and it’s made in the slow cooker! No butter or flour but full of creamy, cheesy flavor that only takes minutes to prep.

spoon lifting a scoop of mac & cheese from a slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Velveeta Mac and Cheese

I’m a bit of a mac and cheese connoisseur – I have stovetop mac and cheese, twisted mac and cheese, my husband’s secret ingredient macaroni & cheese, mac and cheese in a mug…I could keep going. But this is my first mac and cheese made with only 3 ingredients. And right in the crockpot!

I’ve heard some people are unsuccessful when adding uncooked noodles to the slow cooker, but if you do it right, you’ll get perfectly cooked noodles that are entirely hands off to prepare.

This macaroni and cheese is perfect as a weeknight side dish (you could even sprinkle on some crisp bacon) or to serve to a crowd on game day or for a party.

overhead shot of a bowl of mac & cheese sprinkled with pepper.

Below are the ingredients with helpful tips and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the recipe card with full details and measurements.

  • Elbow Macaroni – Uncooked macaroni noodles. Other similar sized shapes can be used but I have not tested with whole grain or the veggie varieties of pasta.
  • Cheddar Cheese – White or yellow sharp cheddar cheese, preferably shredded from the block. Pre-shredded bags of cheese are convenient, but they have anti-caking agents added to them (have you noticed they sometimes look powdery?) and it keeps them from melting smoothly. They’ll work, but you’ll notice a difference in quality and flavor when you shred it yourself.
  • Velveeta Cheese – People have strong feelings (either love or hate) about Velveeta because it’s a processed cheese product. I rarely use it so I don’t mind adding it here. It melts really well and adds to the creaminess. You can use the cheese sauce or the brick.
  • Milk – I use 2% milk.
  • Salt – A teaspoon of salt.

Like I said, you only need a few ingredients and you’ll be on your way to creamy, cheesy goodness.

overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make slow cooker mac & cheese.
  • Slow Cooker – This is my slow cooker of choice – it is a 6 quart. I have had & used it for years. I love that it switches itself to WARM after the designated cook time. Super helpful for long days.
  • Box Grater – If you are grating your own cheese (you know that’s my recommendation!), I just use a box grater.
  • Silicone Spatulas – I have a large spatula collection and I love these silicone ones because they’re one piece (easy to clean) and they’re heat safe.

The best part of this recipe (other than the taste!) is that it only takes minutes to make and is very hands-off.

  1. STEP ONE: First, add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well.
milk pouring into a slow cooker with cheese & noodles.
  1. STEP TWO: Cover and cook on LOW, stirring every 15-20 minutes. Once noodles are tender, pasta is done. Every slow cooker runs differently so your cook time will likely vary from mine – I had perfect noodles at an hour & 15 minutes.

Note that the sauce will thicken as it sits so even if it seems too creamy (wet), as long as the noodles are soft, it is done.

Stir before serving.

Every slow cooker runs differently. Times given are a general recommendation and should be tested in your own slow cooker and adjusted as needed.

overhead shot of slow cooker mac & cheese in black crockpot.

Can I put uncooked pasta in the slow cooker?

Yes, you can! That’s one of the best things about this recipe. You put the uncooked noodles straight into the crockpot, no boiling, and while cooking, they softens up to the perfect texture. So easy!

Can I use evaporated milk?

Yes, though I used 2% milk in this recipe, you can also use evaporated milk, whole milk, or even low-fat milk in mac and cheese.

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy?

To keep your mac and cheese creamy, make sure you don’t overcook the noodles because they’ll turn to mush. As I mentioned above, even if the sauce looks too loose after 45-60 minutes, if the noodles are tender enough, turn off the slow cooker as the sauce will thicken as it sits.

spoon lifting a scoop of mac & cheese from a crockpot.

How can I spice up my mac and cheese?

To give your macaroni and cheese a kick, you can add seasonings like red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, chili, onion, or even garlic powder. Another option is to use pepper jack cheese instead of cheddar.

What is Velveeta? Are there any alternatives?

Velveeta is a “processed cheese product” that is orange, has a soft, springy texture and mild flavor. I don’t use it very often but because it melts so well, it is great in mac and cheese and dips, like Rotel Dip.

In terms of flavor, it is closest to American Cheese. If you’d prefer not to use it, shredded American Cheese can be used, or add some cream cheese for added creaminess.

How to store leftovers

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat in the microwave.

What to serve with mac and cheese

Mac and cheese can either be a side dish or the star of the show. It pairs well with honey bourbon chicken, meatloaf, hot dog chili, steak bites, or even just grilled chicken (our go-to).

spoon lifting a bite of mac & cheese.

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Click here for my entire collection of pasta recipes.

spoon lifting a scoop of mac & cheese from a slow cooker.

3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
There are only 3 ingredients in this easy, no boil Mac and Cheese and it's made in the slow cooker! No butter or flour but full of creamy, cheesy flavor that only takes minutes to prep.
4.73 from 93 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 3 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 475 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese shredded, approx. 1.5 cups
  • 4 ounces Velveeta cheese either cubed brick or cheese sauce
  • 3 cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • To a 4-6 quart slow cooker, add the uncooked noodles, cheeses, milk, and salt. Stir well.
  • Cover and set the slow cooker to LOW. Stir every 15-20 minutes until noodles are tender. Every slow cooker runs differently so your cook time may vary from mine, but mine was done right around 1 hour 15 minutes.
  • Pasta should be tender. Keep in mind that the sauce may be thin but it will thicken as it sits.
  • Stir before serving.

Notes

  • Orange or white cheddar cheese works. You can also use evaporated milk, whole milk, or even low fat milk. 
  • Velveeta cheese sauce or brick works. If you prefer to not use Velveeta, shredded American cheese can be substituted.
  • Slow cookers vary. If your pasta is not tender after 45-60 minutes, give it additional time but don’t overcook. Sauce will thicken as it sets.
  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 475kcalCarbohydrates: 61gProtein: 24gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 923mgPotassium: 414mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 590IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 469mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Tried this recipe? Tag me!Mention @melissa_pplates or tag #persnicketyplates!

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Originally published October 1, 2021; photos updated January 16, 2024.

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fork lifting a bit of mac and cheese from a bowl
wooden spoon scooping mac and cheese from a slow cooker
collage showing the process of making mac and cheese in the slow cooker


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  1. Jennie says

    5 stars
    Yet another winner! My Mac N Cheese kid devoured it. And his twin sister ate it too, she usually turns her nose up to it. Creamy and rich. A keeper.

  2. Cynthia says

    It takes more than 45 minutes to cook the macaroni and cheese in the slow cooker.

    • Melissa Williams says

      It works in my slow cooker. Did you see this note in the recipe card?
      “Slow cookers vary. If your pasta is not tender after 45 minutes, give it additional time but don’t overcook. Sauce will thicken as it sets.

  3. Belsue says

    1 star
    Unfortunately, this didn’t work for me. I did a double batch and neither the cheddar or Velveeta was melted by the 45 minute mark in the crockpot. Pasta ended up simultaneously mushy and chalky and was swimming in a sauce that never thickened. I wanted it to work as an additional easy side dish at Christmas, but it just ended up being a waste of ingredients.

    • Melissa Williams says

      I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Doubling things in the crockpot is not as simple as it sounds so that threw everything off.

  4. Debbie says

    5 stars
    I am taking this to the church luncheon on Sunday. If it even makes it that far because it looks delicious lol. If I double the recipe do I have to cook it longer?

    • Melissa Williams says

      I don’t recommend doubling this one. If you have two slow cookers, I’d make two batches.

  5. Lori says

    5 stars
    Super easy. If you double it, it takes about twice as long. I also used 12 oz less milk and it turned out perfectly!

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