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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.

wooden spoon scooping mac and cheese from a slow cooker

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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 bowl of mac and cheese on a cutting board

Ingredients

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 3 ingredient mac and cheese - cheese, milk, noodles

Tools found on Amazon to help you

  • 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.

How to make 3 Ingredient Mac and Cheese in the Slow Cooker

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

STEP ONE: First, add all ingredients to the slow cooker and stir well.

STEP TWO: Cover and cook on LOW for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once around 20 minutes in. Once noodles are tender, pasta is done.

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.

collage showing the process of making mac and cheese in the slow cooker

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese FAQs

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 minutes, if the noodles are tender enough, turn off the slow cooker as the sauce will thicken as it sits.

overhead shot of bowl of mac and cheese sprinkled with additional cheese

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).

Need more pasta recipes? Try these:

Macaroni and Cheese Flatbread
Baked Mac and Cheese
American Goulash
Creamy Bowtie Pasta

Click here for my entire collection of pasta recipes.

fork lifting a bit of mac and cheese from a bowl

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wooden spoon scooping mac and cheese from a slow cooker

3 Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Melissa Williams
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.
4.87 from 29 votes
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 48 mins
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
  • 4 ounces Velveeta cheese either cheese sauce or brick
  • 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. Cook for approximately 45 minutes, stirring once around the 20 minute mark.
  • Pasta should be tender. 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 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.

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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.

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