This easy Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese is the creamiest, cheesiest, most addicting mac & cheese you’ll ever make! No boiling or layering is required, and the slow cooker takes care of all the hard work. Gluten-free and can easily be made grain-free, dairy-free and vegan with just a few simple swaps.
Updated July 2021
Easy Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
Craving some hearty comfort foods but don’t feel like turning on your oven? This Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese is so incredibly simple and made entirely in the slow cooker. There’s nothing more comforting than a bowl of classic macaroni and cheese in the fall but it’s also perfect in the summer when you don’t want to heat up the house! The Crock Pot cooks it up super creamy and comforting!
Every good mac and cheese recipe calls for at least two different kinds of cheeses. This one uses 3. That’s right – this is some seriously cheesy stuff. You’re gonna love every bite! Plus, it’s gluten-free and can easily be made grain-free, dairy-free and vegan with just a few simple swaps.
Don’t have a crock pot? Check out our other macaroni and cheese recipes like this One Pot Macaroni and Cheese, Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese, Instant Pot Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese and Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese.
Why You’ll Love this Slow Cooker Recipe
Since this is a no-boil, one-pot macaroni and cheese recipe, you aren’t left with an extra dirty dish from cooking the pasta. Plus, it leaves your stovetop free for munchies to serve on the side! You can cook up a mouthwatering dinner just by pressing a couple buttons. Who wouldn’t love that?
What You’ll Need
This gluten-free mac and cheese may be classic in spirit, but it’s certainly not your average recipe! It’s packed with ingredients that ensure ultra creamy, extra cheesy deliciousness and can be made grain-free, dairy-free and vegan with just a few simple swaps which I have listed below.
- Uncooked Gluten-Free Cavatappi Pasta: These corkscrew-shaped noodles cook wonderfully in the Crock Pot without getting mushy. Gluten-Free Cellentani is also a good choice. Elbow macaroni is not ideal for this recipe, but if it’s your only option, adjust the liquid depending on how hot your slow cooker runs. For a grain-free option, we love these ones from Jovial. Use regular Cavatappi pasta or Cellentani if not gluten-free or grain-free.
- Unsalted Butter: Cubed. Sub with vegan butter for dairy-free. We like Miyokos.
- Half & Half: You can also use a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. Sub with plant-based creamer for dairy-free. We like Nutpods.
- Sour Cream: This is a must for ultimate creaminess! Use vegan sour cream or coconut cream for dairy-free.
- Salt & Pepper: To taste.
- Dry Ground Mustard: This will enhance all of the flavors and elevate the dish.
- Garlic Powder: For depth of flavor.
- Cayenne Pepper: To taste.
- Worcestershire Sauce: You’ll need 2 teaspoons.
- Evaporated Milk: More can be added if the mixture is too thick. Sub with unsweetened creamy plant-based milk for dairy-free. Sub with unsweetened creamy plant-based milk for dairy-free. We like Malk Organics.
- Fresh Parsley: Chopped, for garnish.
- Toasted Gluten-free Panko Crumbs: Optional, for garnish. Sub with crushed pork rinds or grain-free bread crumbs as needed.
The Best Cheese for the creamiest Mac and Cheese – with dairy-free options
- Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup: Use a canned version or make your own! If you’re not a fan of cheddar cheese soup, you can swap it out with something like cream cheese or Velveeta, but I can’t guarantee the texture will remain the same. For a dairy-free version, use cashew queso based cheese like Siete for dairy-free. or make your own.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: Plus more for the topping, shredded. Use vegan cheddar for dairy-free. We like Violife Cheddar.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Or Monterey Jack, shredded. Use vegan mozzarella for dairy-free. We like Violife Mozzarella.
- Provolone Cheese: This optional cheese adds extra gooeyness. Use vegan Provolone for dairy-free – we like Violife.
How to Make Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese
This mac and cheese needs no babysitting. You just have to check up on it every once in a while until you like what you see. Let’s get into it!
- Grease Slow Cooker: Start off by lightly coating a 5-6-quart slow cooker with non-stick spray.
- Add Pasta & Butter: Add the pasta to the slow cooker and dot it with the cubed butter.
- Add Remaining Ingredients: Add the cheddar cheese soup, half and half, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and evaporated milk.
- Stir: Stir to combine, making sure that the pasta is covered in as much liquid as possible.
- Cook: Cover and cook on low heat for about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours, depending on your slow cooker. Mine was done in 90 minutes. Check the pasta every 30 minutes and stir gently until it’s tender and the liquid is thick and creamy.
- Add Cheese & Adjust Consistency: Top with provolone cheese, if using, and the remaining shredded cheddar cheese. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed. Turn off the slow cooker and cover it for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
- Garnish & Serve: Serve immediately with fresh chopped parsley and toasted panko crumbs, if desired.
Tips for Success
Before you get cooking, be sure to check out these important tips and tricks. Bon appetit!
- Grate Your Own Cheese: Use a grater to shred fresh cheese rather than using pre-shredded varieties. Pre-shredded cheese has a chemical in it to prevent the cheese from clumping in the packaging. That chemical also keeps the cheese from melting well.
- Gently Stir & Keep Watch: Be sure to keep your eye on this dish and stir it every half hour so the pasta cooks evenly. Just for reference, my macaroni and cheese was perfectly al dente around 90 minutes in a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Don’t Leave it Sitting in the Crock Pot: If you’re not serving the entire batch at once, scoop everything out of the Crock Pot and transfer it to a casserole dish. This prevents the mac & cheese from overcooking and drying out.
- Make It Your Own: Want to sub another kind of cheese for the provolone or use your go-to combination of seasonings? You do you! Don’t be afraid to play around with the recipe and create your dream macaroni and cheese.
I could list a thousand dishes that go great with this mac and cheese. The following are a few of my favorites!
- Serve with Broccoli Salad: This fresh and healthy Broccoli Salad is the ultimate accompaniment to creamy mac and cheese. It’s self care and comfort food wrapped into one satisfying dinner.
- Pair with Homemade Bread: There’s something about macaroni and cheese plus fresh bread that equals bliss. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of getting Panera’s mac & cheese with a baguette! If that sounds tasty to you, then you’re really gonna love this homemade macaroni and cheese alongside my fluffy Keto Bread.
- Serve with Ribs: Planning for a potluck? Everyone will go crazy for these Apple Honey BBQ Baby Back Ribs(LINK), served with none other than this crock pot mac and cheese. So much yum!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Cooled macaroni and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat it on low, either over the stove or in the slow cooker. Add more milk as needed for a creamier consistency.
Can I Freeze Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese?
Yes – this recipe is great for meal prepping! If you want to freeze your mac and cheese, I recommend doing so with individual portions. Place each one in a freezer-safe container or airtight bag. Reheat them as needed after thawing them out in the fridge.
More Crockpot Recipes
Don’t you just love cooking with your Crock Pot? You’ll love it even more once you try these easy recipes!
This easy Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese is the creamiest, cheesiest, most addicting mac & cheese you'll ever make! No boiling or layering is required, and the slow cooker takes care of all the hard work.
- 2 1/2 cups uncooked dry Gluten-Free Cavatappi pasta , Gluten-Free Cellentani is also a good choice. Elbow macaroni is not ideal for this recipe, but if it's your only option, adjust the liquid depending on how hot your slow cooker runs. For a grain-free option, we love these ones from Jovial. Use regular Cavatappi pasta or Cellentani if not gluten-free or grain-free.
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter , cubed. Sub with vegan butter for dairy-free. We like Miyokos.
- 10 oz condensed cheddar cheese soup , sub with cashew queso (homemade or Siete) for dairy-free.
- 1 1/2 cups half and half or 3/4 cup whole milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream (plus more to thin out as needed). Sub with unsweetened plant-based creamer for dairy-free. We like Nutpods.
- 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese , plus extra ½ cup reserved for topping. Use vegan cheddar for dairy-free. We like Violife Cheddar.
- 4 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese or Monterey Jack. Use vegan cheddar for dairy-free. We like Violife Mozzarella.
- ½ cup sour cream , use vegan sour cream or coconut cream for dairy-free.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 8 oz evaporated milk (plus more as needed if the mixture is too thick). Sub with unsweetened creamy plant-based milk for dairy-free. We like Malk Organics.
- 2 slices Provolone cheese optional - for extra gooeyness. Use vegan Provolone for dairy-free - we like Violife
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Toasted gluten-free panko crumbs OR crushed pork rinds or grain-free bread crumbs for garnish (optional)
Spray a 5-6-quart slow cooker with non-stick spray.
Add the dry pasta to the slow cooker. Dot with cubed butter then stir in the condensed cheddar cheese soup, half and half, shredded cheddar, shredded Mozzarella, sour cream, salt, black pepper, mustard, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire and evaporated milk.
- Stir to combine, making sure that the pasta is covered in as much liquid as possible.
- Cover and cook on low heat (about 1½ - 2½ hours but total time will vary according to your slow cooker - mine was done at 90 minutes). Check pasta after 30 minutes and stir. Cover and continue cooking. Check and GENTLY stir sides every 30 minutes until pasta is tender and liquid is thick and creamy. Top with Provolone cheese and remaining ½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed. Turn off slow cooker and cover for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with freshly chopped parsley and toasted gluten-free panko crumbs, if desired.
Transfer any remaining pasta from the slow cooker into a separate casserole dish or pot. If any pasta is left in the slow cooker, even when it's off, it will continue to cook and dry out.