Monday, October 10, 2011

{The Best, Easiest} Crockpot Mac & Cheese

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When fall arrives, I'm ready to dig out my crockpot.

I could use it in the summer more, but we do almost all of our meals on the grill in the summer and warm, heavy, comfort foods - which are what crockpots are known for - just aren't really on the menu.

But, come fall - I am all about my crockpot.

Many years ago (six to be exact), when we were still living in Maryland, my friend, Karleen brought a crockpot full of macaroni and cheese to our small group meeting. "Huh?", I remember thinking. "Macaroni and Cheese in a crockpot. Whodathunkit?"

I put a little on my plate, walked through the line, sat down, and tasted it.

And, then did what ANY REASONABLE person who's ever had this dish will do:

I CAMPED OUT BY THE MAC & CHEESE CROCKPOT AND DIDN'T MOVE UNTIL I COULDN'T STUFF ANY MORE OF IT INTO MY FACE!

Because I am very ladylike and so on and so forth.

I have thought about this recipe many times over the years, and finally - a few weeks ago, I emailed Karleen.

I asked her if she even remembered the recipe and if she still had it and if she'd share it with me and I secretly prayed that she was not one of those folks that is all "secret family recipe" and such and won't share their favorites and I'd be devastated that the only time I EVER got to eat this Mac & Cheese was when it sent me into an overindulgent coma for the entirety of our small group meeting and I had to be carried out by my husband all the while dragging the crockpot behind me by its cord.

Karleen is delightfully gracious and wonderful - and she wrote back: "Sarah! Of course I'll share it. I know it by heart."

So, today - I'm sharing with you Karleen's recipe for Crockpot Mac & Cheese. It is SO easy, that if you can boil pasta, you can make it.

REALLY. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS BOIL PASTA! That's it.

One more thing: I have many, many crockpot recipes that take all day long. I love those - for when I'm prepared and can throw everything together in the morning or if I'm heading out for the day. BUT, I am so disorganized most days that I often don't think about dinner until the afternoon. This recipe takes only four hours in the crockpot!

So, you can put it on at two o'clock and dinner with be ready at six!

I serve it with Homemade Applesauce that I pull from the freezer and if I'm motivated, steam some broccoli.

Here's a quick peek at how to put it together:

Cube 16 ounces of Colby cheese and 16 ounces of Monterey Jack. (I used four (8-ounce) blocks of Colby Jack when I took these photos, but used separate blocks of Colby and Monterey Jack on Saturday night. It tasted the same to me both ways.) Also, cube 16 ounces of Velveeta cheese - which helps give it its creaminess.


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In a lightly greased crockpot, layer cooked elbow macaroni, butter, cubed Monterey Jack and Colby cheeses, Velveeta, and salt and pepper.


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Repeat and top with macaroni.


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Once macaroni and cheeses are layered, top with 16 ounces of milk. (I used whole once and 2% another time. Worked great with either.)


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Cook on low for 4 hours, stirring once mid-way.

And, when it's finished, you have an ENTIRE crockpot full of creamy, delicious Macaroni and Cheese.

It is truly out of this world.


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Since we could never eat a whole crockpot full in one night, I put the leftovers in a foil pan, covered it and put it in the freezer for dinner another night!

BAM! Another two-dinner recipe with only one night of work.

If you can call it that.

Try this one. I know you'll love it, too.

{The Best, Easiest} Crockpot Mac & Cheese

16 ounces cooked macaroni
16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
16 ounces Colby cheese, cubed
16 ounces Velvetta (cubed)
1 stick of butter, cut into slices
16 ounces milk
salt & pepper, to taste

Spray crockpot lightly with cooking spray. Layer 1/3 of the macaroni in bottom. Layer half of cheese, butter, salt & pepper. Repeat, ending with last 1/3 of macaroni on top. Pour milk over mixture.

Cook on low for about 4 hours and stir about mid-way.

*A very small amount of the Mac & Cheese with stick to the edges and get browned. I LOVE this part - it's like the topping on a baked mac & cheese - so I scrape it off and stir it in. You can leave it on the edges if you prefer.

*This will truly feed a large group, so if it's just the two of you, I'd halve the recipe. Just reduce the cooking time by half, too.

34 comments:

  1. 2 problems here in england. first, no colby jack cheese. second, no velveeta cheese...hmmm =)

    though i just made the pioneer womans mac and cheese and loved it too!!

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  2. This made me smile. Totally remember that night. And also totally asked her for that recipe a week later.

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  3. Sarah, just curious about what crockpot you have. I have a stainless Rival that's not very old but the high setting literally boils everything, and the low setting taks longer than normal to me. I'm disappointed as my old crockpot cooked correctly on the high/low settings. Thanks for the help!

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  4. Will be trying this one out! This is the kind of meal I like to do as an evening meal to a holiday lunch.

    I can't make mac & cheese without seasoned salt though (thanks PW), but I'm sure it will be awesome!

    Can't wait!

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  5. WOW!!! I want it now!!! So hungry, thanks!! haha!!

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  6. Hi, Jenni. I, too, have Rival's stainless one. I haven't had much trouble with it on the high setting (I think it gets just hot enough), but I do notice that the low setting does seem to not get quite hot enough. Let me know if you find one that you like better!

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  7. Oh sorry I missed seeing this earlier. So glad you enjoy(ed) it!
    :) Karleen

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  8. I made this for Christmas Eve and it was DELISH!!!! Thank you for posting this! Yummm!!!! Was hoping for leftovers but everyone cleared me out of it!

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  9. can you do it on high for 2 hours? will that work?

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  10. Can I use shredded cheese instead of the CUBED Monterey Jack/Colby? I have everything else for the recipe, I just don't want to make a trip to the store when I already have shredded cheese on hand...

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    1. Hi, Cheryl. You can use shredded cheese. :)

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  11. Was wondering if you had ever tried it without first cooking the noodles. I have made a few other dishes with uncooked noodles and wondered if this would work.

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  12. Just a thought- I made this today and I feel like you could use at least another 8oz of noodles- maybe more. Even when I was buying the ingredients, I felt like 16oz of noodles seemed like way too little when you're literally using 48oz of cheese as well as all of that milk and butter. And now that it is cooking, it's looking very thin and liquid-y. Tastes good, though:-)

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  13. @Lisa Marie, thanks for posting. I will buy extra noodles just Incase. Making this for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

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  14. I'm not sure if I missed something, but do you cook the macaroni first or not? Can't wait to try this recipe! Thanks so much!

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  15. sounds great! gonna try it! Could I use light butter?? thx!

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  16. I just turned my crockpot on to enjoy this for the Super Bowl today... I hope it turns out as delicious as it looks!!

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  17. Can you use Unsweetened Almond milk instead of regular milk?

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  18. I made this today and it didn't turn out as I had wished. I fallowed the recipe but mine turned out mealy. It had good flavor but was hard to eat cause of the texture.

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  19. If you use pre-shredded cheese, it can have an impact - the stuff is treated so it doesn't stick, and that can often translate to a mealy texture when you melt it... Best to shred your own cheese if you will be baking with it...

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  20. Also, those of you who had it turn out soupy - I made this today, and was in such a rush I forgot to put in the milk. Seriously. I am just cleaning up from the meal, and it was great! A bit thick, but I actually don't mind - it was a hit. I even added some dried jalepeno flakes for a little extra flavour, and next time I make it (and believe me, there WILL be a next time) I will add a tablespoon or two of dried mustard to kick the flavour up a notch. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

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  21. Have you prepared it ahead of time and frozen it?

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  22. So no one has answered about do we cook the noodles first or just throw them in dry?

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    1. She includes in the post to boil the pasta first. It's just hidden instead of laid out in the recipe part.

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. Would this take longer if I make it the night before and start cold? It sounds amazing. Thanks!!

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  25. Hey I love this recipe! It even tastes delicious baked after it's been frozen...maybe even better! So, I know that this recipe calls for cooking the noodles but has anyone tried it without? Maybe to extend the time? I would really love it if I could put it in at 7 a.m. and eat it at noon without stirring. (Not boiling the noodles would be a plus too haha.) Thanks!

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  26. I really want to try this recipe, but there is no mention of how many ounces of mac to boil. Please repond.

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  27. I really want to try this recipe, but there is no mention of how many ounces of mac to boil. Please repond.

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    1. Hi, Nora - the recipe states 16 ounces. Hope you enjoy it.

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  28. What size crock pot is this?? I have two different sizes

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