Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese with Ham is a dump-and-set recipe which means you don’t need to pre-cook your noodles or make a roux for a cheese sauce. Everything gets added at once and then the slow cooker does the work to make this the cheesiest mac you’ve ever had. Toss in leftover ham and make it a comfort food meal your entire family will love!
There is one thing that this slow cooker mac and cheese recipe has that the others don’t and that’s the combination of simplicity and the addition of salty, smoky ham bits in every bite.
The ham gives your mac and cheese extra flavor, but it’s also a great way to reduce waste by using any leftover ham you’ve got in the fridge!
Why you’ll love Mac and Cheese with Ham
Ultra Easy – I can’t think of an easier way to serve dinner on busy weeknights. Dump the ingredients in, let it cook for a couple of hours, stir every once in a while, and one of your favorite meals is served.
Gooey and Cheesy – The results are tender noodles smothered in creamy melty cheese and loads of flavorful ham bits too! Talk about enjoying a big bowl of comfort!
Make Ahead & Freezer Friendly – It can be made in advance by about a day or so, and then reheated when you’re ready to serve it. It also freezes well, so make a big batch!
Classic Dish – This cheesy macaroni is a really great recipe to make the whole family happy. I mean, cheese and noodles are basically my kids favorite things.
Equipment you’ll need
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe, why you need them, and possible substitutions. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card with measurements.
- Diced Ham – Use leftover chunks of ham from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner (like my hot honey peach ham or orange honey ham) or go out and grab a ham steak and dice it up.
- Uncooked Elbow Macaroni – I like using elbow macaroni just because it’s the classic choice for mac and cheese, but you can swap it with another type of pasta, just use a small noodle.
- Whole Milk – This liquid helps to make it saucy but not runny. Using whole milk has enough fat to create a rich creamy sauce.
- Evaporated Milk – Does the job of the whole milk with even more thickness. They do a great job of balancing the whole thick and creamy consistency.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – Shred your own cheese from a wedge or block of cheddar because it’ll melt much easier than if you were to use pre-shredded cheese. The anti-clumping powder prevents melting, which is the opposite of how you want the cheese in your mac and cheese to be! Other options you could try – white cheddar cheese or even smoked cheddar cheese for wonderful flavor.
- Velveeta cheese – This, dear friends, is sometimes a must! It’s a processed cheese that we all know and love and it adds a world a difference to the consistency and richness of the cheese sauce.
- Unsalted butter – Once melted, it makes the sauce velvety smooth.
- Seasoning – Salt, pepper, and ground mustard.
How to make Mac and Cheese with Ham
This section shows you how to make this recipe, with process photos showing the steps to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Step One: Add the diced ham, noodles, both milks, 3 cups of cheddar cheese (reserve 1 cup for the topping), cubed Velveeta, cubed butter, and seasoning into the basin of the slow cooker that’s been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
- Step Two: Cover and cook on low for 2.5-3 hours until the noodles are tender. Stir about every 30 minutes just to make sure the edges aren’t burning.
- Step Three: When there are about 30 minutes left in the total cooking time, remove the lid and sprinkle in the remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese on top. Put the lid back on and allow the cheese to melt.
- Step Four: Once ready, turn off the heat and serve immediately as a side dish or as a main meal!
What to serve with Mac and Cheese with Ham
It’s a hearty and filling (hello, carbs!) dish all on its own, so if you’re serving it as a main, all you need on the side is a fresh tossed salad or some steamed veggies (broccoli florets are the perfect pairing).
When I serve it as a side dish, I’ll usually have it with crockpot BBQ chicken or Easy boneless chicken wings. Some other sides to complete the meal could be anything from slow cooker corn on the cob to coleslaw to jazzed up baked beans.
You can’t go wrong, mac and cheese with ham goes with everything!
Tips & Suggestions 🧀
- You’ll notice there is no option to cook on low OR high and that’s because you should only cook it on low. High heat will cause it to burn.
- The noodles use the cheese sauce to cook by absorbing the liquid. The longer they sit in the sauce, the thicker it will become.
- If you’re not ready to serve it immediately, you might find stirring in warm milk and mixing helps when it comes time to serve.
- Add some garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper for a little extra seasoning if you’d like.
- To get the familiar golden brown top, feel free to transfer the mac and cheese with ham to a casserole dish and place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
- If it’s going under the broiler anyway, you might as well add a buttery Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs topping as well!
- Yes, this recipe works with bacon as well!
How to reheat and store Mac and Cheese with Ham
How to store leftovers
Keep any leftovers stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
How long will slow cooker mac and cheese last in the fridge?
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, enjoy them for up to 3 days.
Can I freeze homemade mac and cheese?
Absolutely! For up to 3 months, in fact. Thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat before serving.
How to reheat it
If it’s a small serving, I wouldn’t worry about using a large appliance. The microwave will do just fine.
To reheat a bigger batch, you can slowly warm it up again in the crock pot, or use the stovetop over medium-low heat.
You may notice some separation and that’s totally fine. A splash of warm milk can help with that.
For sure. You’ll need to use more Dijon than you would ground mustard. The rule is, for every teaspoon of dry mustard you’ll need a Tablespoon of Dijon.
You don’t. That’s the beauty of this recipe! Some of you may prefer to and that’s ok. Just be sure to cook them just until al dente because they will continue to cook in the slow cooker.
That’s OK, use heavy cream instead. Try not to go the opposite route and use milk with a lower fat content. It works, but it’ll leave you with a sauce that isn’t as rich.
You can use diced chicken, turkey, bacon, Italian sausage, or even ground beef. As long as any meat you put in is already cooked. Yay for creating less waste and using leftovers!
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese with Ham
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