Monday, October 24, 2011

Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese

Oh, macaroni & cheese (going forward referred to as "macncheez"), I love you so.  You bring me memories of childhood, of warm food on cold days, on being one of the few things I was comfortably able to cook when I was first on my own.  There are so many options, and whether you prefer stovetop, oven, from a box, or using only all-natural ingredients, none of them are wrong.  Ever.

Enter my crockpot obsession!  I originally found this recipe on Pinterest, but I changed quite a bit of it, so I don't know if you really want to call it the same recipe.  I'm linking to it anyway, since it was my original inspiration to try this. 

Since we're not talking about a huge hunk of meat, this is not an ideal recipe to put in a slow cooker and leave for 8-10 hours.  Mine was pretty happily done in 3, 3.5 hours.

Collect your ingredients!
2 and 1/2 cup of whole milk (plus a little more for any "extras")
2 tbsp butter, softened (room temperature, or melted)
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheese (whatever YOU want, pick your faves! I picked cheddar and Monterey Jack, and wish I had played it a little bit bolder. Next time)
8 oz elbow macaroni
Spices (Pepper, and I also used Penzeys Northwood Seasoning)
Other? (here's your chance to add tomato, or bacon, or broccoli, or ham, or...)
Parmesan cheese to cover the top

Before we go much further, let's talk about par cooking your noodles.  I decided to be REALLY CRAZY and dumped 8 oz of raw, dry macaroni into my crockpot, and it came out great.  Not quite al dente, but certainly not gooey.  It seemed odd to boil my pasta before I cooked it for 3 hours, so I didn't.  And yes, I'm one of those Americans that uses "pasta" and "noodles" interchangeably.  I just think they're both really fantastic words.  ;)  Anyway, if you prefer your noodles to be really soft, feel free to par cook.  If you're lazy like me, or like a less squishy noodle, save washing the extra pot and throw them in raw.

OK!  Add your milk, butter, egg, and salt to the crock (no heat at this point) and whisk that until it's all completely combined.  If you used room temperature (non-melted) butter, you'll have to whisk a little more vigorously, but you can do it!  Next, add in you cheese and macaroni, stirring everything together.  When you add your pepper and/or any other spices, it'll look like this:

Also, look how pretty my new crockpot is!
Try to push as much of that macaroni to be as level with the liquid level as possible, especially if you're working with raw mac.  If that's proving to be impossible, add a little more milk, but it shouldn't be drowning in liquid.  Remember with crockpots, the liquid doesn't go anywhere!

I then shaved some parmesan to create a thin layer over the top, and started off by turning my heat to high for about 20 minutes - just until I heard the pot start to rumble, and I then turned it to low for another 3 hours.  I was rewarded with a very flavorful version of one of my all time favorite meals.



  1. That's it. Despite our teeny, tiny kitchen, we need a crockpot!!!!

  2. I am making this for dinner! This looks delicious, thanks for posting.

  3. I would like to add - second day reheated crockpot macncheez is also DELICIOUS.

  4. You are my hero! I woke up this morning feeling miserable - I have a head cold, had to rip back my sweater and cast on again, and my work is on strike so I have to move in the next couple of months - and here you are, giving me a recipe for the ultimate comfort food with virtually no effort. I bow to you, madam. Your kung fu is strong.

  5. Caryl, I'm so glad I could provide a little bit of sunshine for you! Thank you for the lovely comment, it really made me smile. :D