101 Cooking For Two - Everyday Recipes for Two: Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese  from 101 Cooking For Two
Great taste, wonderful creamy texture in the easiest creamiest slow cooker mac and cheese you will ever see. You can make this tonight. No blue box for you.

Just put that uncooked macaroni in the crockpot. Yep, uncooked. Add some milk and spices. Cook. Then add cheese and in a few minutes you're done.  No can of soup needed. Serve FRESH today.

My previous slow cooker mac and cheese has been well received. It is consistently in the top 10 on a Google search and it made my top 10 recipes for last year. But still something bothered me and I keep experimenting to the point I feel like American Test Kitchen here. I have lost count but I'm in the high teens here.

So what bothered me so much... the precooking of the pasta, the effect of heat on the cheese making it separate some and last (and the real thorn in my paw) was that can of soup. I HATE recipes that call for highly processed this and that. I do them occasionally but really home cooking shouldn't be that way. You shouldn't need a can of soup or a package of mix to make something. And crock pot cooking seems to be the epicenter for this, cream of _____ soup is everywhere or the mandatory onion soup mix. Some recipes use 3-4 premade things. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY...

Rating
I never thought I would rate a mac and cheese a five, but this is it.

Notes: I went through a lot of trial and errors here. A lot of mac and cheese was eaten and a lot went down the sink as not worth of a reheat. They were OK but just not worthy... But the stove-top mac I did last month convinced me that I did not need to precook the macaroni, I just had to do it right.

First the heat. This must be done on low. This is NOT a recipe you should cook on high and cut the time in half. The cheese will be more likely to separate some and the macaroni will either be over or under cooked.

Second. American made shredded cheese that we all buy does not like long or high heat. It is more waxy then block cheese and it just wont take it. I'm sure a better cheese like a block of Cabot would do better but are you going for a $10 cheese for this? So the cheese should not cooked for long periods. Put it in near the end and let it melt and deliver its creamy goodness.

Third, a little fat is needed. I have only fat free milk usually. So since I was using that, I added a tablespoon of butter. That is enough fat to equal just over 2% milk. So if you use whole or 2% milk, you may not need the butter but I would keep it for taste. Or even leave it out with 0% for health reasons but the texture will suffer a little.

Feel free to vary the cheese type and spices to your taste. This is a "Crock Pot for Two" recipe. A double recipe would still be fine in my 3.5 qt. cooker or use a large crock pot for larger batches.

Update Feb. 9, 2013: Many are having issues ( and many are not) with liquid being left at the point of the pasta being al denta. My initial cookings had almost no liquid at this point. The variations could be due to the cooker or the pasta. While cookers vary a lot, I have corrected for that by picking the al denta point, not a specific time. The pasta is the remaining issue and I believe is the trouble maker here. I have adjusted the recipe to eliminate this extra liquid at the al dente point. Don't drain it in a strainer, just remove any free standing liquid, the liquid on the pasta should be enough.

Update August 26, 2013: It has been suggested to have a specific warning about type of pasta. Since the comment are getting a bit long, it is a good idea. Many failures seem to be related to whole wheat or other non-standard pasta. I don't believe these non-standard pastas are a good idea in this recipe. If you have made this with a non-standard pasta and did well, please post the brand and any specific modifications you did. 
 Things you already have. Opps... I left the salt out of the picture.
 Dump 2 cups milk, 1 cup standard (not whole wheat or other non-standard) macaroni, 1/2 t dry mustard, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t each of pepper, garlic powder and paprika, and l T butter into a smallish slow cooker. I used a 3.5 qt one. Mix well.
Cook on low. Stir well at 1 hour into the cooking. Cook another hour or so until pasta is al dente. Slow cookers vary some your time may vary some. DO NOT COOK BY TIME ONLY HERE.
When the pasta is al dente, drain any free fluid, add 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used sharp cheddar this time.
 Mix very well.
Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Macaroni and Cheese  from 101 Cooking For Two
 Continue on low until cooked to your taste. About 5-15 minutes.

Gone in 30 seconds

This is the crock pot after the meal. My wife scooped it all out into bowls within 30 seconds of her first bite. I think she liked it.



Uncooked Macaroni Crock Pot Mac and Cheese


Great taste, wonderful creamy texture in the easiest creamiest slow cooker mac and cheese you will ever see. You can make this tonight. No blue box for you. Just put that uncooked macaroni in the crock pot. Yep, uncooked. Add some milk and spices. Cook. Then add cheese and in a few minutes you're done..
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Standard Macaroni
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/4 t paprika
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 cup Cheese of your choice. I used sharp cheddar
Instructions
1)Dump 2 cups milk, 1 cup standard (not whole wheat or other non-standard) macaroni, 1/2 t dry mustard, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t each of pepper, garlic powder and paprika, and l T butter into a smallish slow cooker. I used a 3.5 qt one. Mix well.2) Cook on low. Stir well at 1 hour into the cooking. Cook another hour or so until pasta is al dente. Slow cookers vary some your time may vary some. DO NOT COOK BY TIME ONLY HERE. 3) When the pasta is al dente, drain any free fluid, add 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used sharp cheddar this time. Mix very well.4) Continue on low until cooked to your taste. About 5-15 minutes.
Details
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings (or two large servings)

Updated

May 5 2013

Dan Mikesell

Labels: , , , ,

62 Comments:

At January 13, 2013 at 5:55 PM , Blogger Stephanie Parker said...

going to give this a try tonight - looks delicious and EASY

 
At January 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM , Blogger Chris said...

Yeah, I have to give this one a try! Going to pin this.

 
At January 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I hope this works well for both of you. I love to simplify a recipe.

 
At January 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM , Blogger Sarah said...

Going to try this tonight! I ill probably have to hold myself back from adding more cheese though. 1 cup isn't a lot compared to my standard recipe.

 
At January 19, 2013 at 1:52 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

More cheese should be fine... I'm sure 1 1/2 should be fine. I'm not sure about 2 cups.

 
At January 27, 2013 at 8:57 AM , Blogger ln14k said...

Would the times be the same if I doubled or tripled the recipe in a larger crock pot?

 
At January 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I never cook that big but I believe it should be approximately the same. As I have said, slow cookers vary so the time is not exact. Check for an ah dente texture then add the cheese.

 
At January 30, 2013 at 5:15 PM , Blogger Alyson Ballew said...

Tried this with whole wheat macaroni as it's what we eat, and it didn't work. The elbows became mushy before the milk was absorbed.

 
At January 30, 2013 at 10:23 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Sorry it didn't work but not too surprising... To me whole wheat pastas are somewhat "a different animal". A lot of my cooking failure have been whole wheat pastas. I don't think I would even try my other crock pot mac and cheese with whole wheat. Not enough gluten in whole wheat to withstand this abuse

 
At February 3, 2013 at 11:51 PM , Blogger B KP said...

Why not just partially boil the pasta in water as normal, drain and add a lesser amount of milk and cheese at the end. I don't see the need for a crockpot with this type of recipe. I don't think it saves time as a crockpot is normally used for a meal to be ready when you come home from work. I very much dislike mushy pasta and I think this would be a hard one to get right since crockpots are so different, but boiling water is the same everywhere.

 
At February 4, 2013 at 12:09 AM , Blogger silverfox2951 said...

This is an excellent recipe for the crock pot. It saves me from having to clean two saucepans plus cleaning my cooktop if I had to boil the macaroni! Even better yet I used a liner in my crock pot so I only had to wash the lid. How much easier can you get!! Ya can't please everyone and it's not worth trying. Thank you for a delicious well tested recipe!!!!

 
At February 4, 2013 at 4:01 AM , Blogger Lorraine said...

is a 1.5 qt crockpot too small for your recipes? I'm so happy to have found your site!

 
At February 4, 2013 at 7:03 AM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

B KF- you are correct in many ways but this is another way and a bit simpler. It has great taste and texture if done correctly.
silverfox2951 - Thanks for the defense.
Lorraine - I believe it would be fine in 1.5 quart. A crock pot should not be more than 75% full. There is about 3 cups total material and the 1.5 quart is 6 cups.

 
At February 4, 2013 at 9:04 AM , Blogger t7135jt said...

you forgot to list the cheese in your ingredients.

 
At February 4, 2013 at 3:51 PM , Blogger V Joanne Heyob said...

Do you have a rendition of this for just the stove top and not a crockpot? Could you email me if you do?

 
At February 4, 2013 at 8:28 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

t7135jt - My bad and fixed.
V Joanne Heyob - Yes, my One Pot Stove Top Mac and Cheese on Dec 20 2012. It actually inspired the crock pot recipe. If that doesn't do it for you try Plain Chicken blog. See the blog roll. It is the go to blog for Mac and Cheese.

 
At February 5, 2013 at 1:10 PM , Blogger WaltersJ said...

I tried this today and the cheese clumped and never melted nice. I used the same brand shown in the picture. I wonder if it is because I quadrupled the recipe and had too much milk? It seems like it is too milky. Taste was excellent and luckily my diners ranged in ages from 1-5 and they loved it!!

 
At February 5, 2013 at 3:31 PM , Blogger tmelrose said...

How long would this take to cook if doubling the recipe?

 
At February 5, 2013 at 7:39 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

WaltersJ - Quadrupling is brave. What type of pasta did you use? It may be related to too much liquid left at the point of adding the cheese. Maybe the pasta didn't absorb it well... There is only a little free fluid left at that point usually.
tmelrose - I would cook it the same. But remember that you cook to a dente then add the cheese.

 
At February 9, 2013 at 5:03 PM , Blogger Meagan said...

Mine also turned out super milky and I had to drain it before adding the cheese. Going to attempt baking it for a while to see if that fixes it.

 
At February 9, 2013 at 6:56 PM , Blogger cmj said...

Mine was milky so I left in on low for another hour. Once the milk had absorbed the noodles were practically unrecognizable. I probably won't try this again. I think I'm gonna stick to cooking pasta dishes the normal way and keep my crock pot for other things.

 
At February 9, 2013 at 7:39 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

I did a double batch today at my daughters house. Different pasta and cooker. It also had almost a cup of free liquid when the pasta was done. I drained off about half but should have drained most of it before adding the cheese. Do Not continue to cook to try to get the liquid to absorb, you will have an over cooked mess. I'm adjusting the post to drain this excess liquid that I believe is due to variations in pasta and cookers.

 
At February 10, 2013 at 5:53 PM , Blogger tried it once said...

I tripled the recipe, had the same problem as most people, too much milk. which is weird because the ratio should uphold. Probably will not try this again, as I wasted a lot of milk and cheese :(

 
At February 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM , Blogger Maureen Fiorellini said...

This worked for me, I just added 30 minutes cooking time before adding the cheese because the milk was not completely absorbed. I think every crock pot is different and you just have to experiment until you get the right setting for yours. I love that this was a "mini" recipe, calling for only one cup of pasta. My family loved this. Normally I have one pot to boil the pasta, one for the cheese sauce and then one to serve. Thanks for posting this recipe.

 
At February 11, 2013 at 8:54 PM , Blogger Dr Dan said...

Thanks for the comment. Did the pasta over cook or was it al denta at the point you added the cheese? I'm more concerned about the texture of the pasta than all the milk going in the pasta. That is why I have added the instruction to eliminate any free fluid at that point.

 
At February 13, 2013 at 9:13 PM , Blogger ELizabeth said...

Strange. I can understand some people liking this dish but not me. Cooked on low until al dente and then drained off the left over fluid. Stirred in cheese and let it melt. The texture was weird. I like the store bought Mac & Cheese better.

 
At February 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM , Blogger Mindi said...

I tried this tonight and the overall dish was just ok. I apparently didn't drain off enough liquid, because it was still quite watery after adding the cheese and it had a watered down taste. But it was still edible and my son and I ate it. I used Anthony's Hidden Veggie Macaroni noodles and they were well done after 90 minutes. I also made a double batch in a 4-qt slow cooker. I would suggest to anyone who wants to try this recipe is to make the regular recipe (and don't double) the first time you try it. I would also make it as a side dish and not the main entree the first time in case it doesn't work out. I might try a single recipe again, maybe with a more traditional macaroni noodle.

 
At March 10, 2013 at 6:41 PM , Blogger Sue McMillen said...

Both my husband & I liked it! Wished I saved a bit of the drained milk to add back after adding cheese. Will definetly make this again!

 
At April 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM , Blogger Michelle Davis said...

I made this recipe the other night in my 1.5 quart crock pot and it turned out PERFECTLY! I am so happy to have to have found your site - thanks so much for the great recipe and step by step instructions. I just finished writing it out to add to my recipe box

 
At April 27, 2013 at 2:11 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the note. I'm glad it works in 1.5 qt.

 
At June 22, 2013 at 6:55 PM , Blogger CatheMarie said...

Okay fellow cooks, when DrDan says do not cook by time alone, he knows what he's talking about. My smallest crock pot is the average size with removable crock. My noodles were probably close to done at the one hour mark. I was busy not paying attention, read the instructions again went to check . . . Yep, sort of gluey. Okay, real gluey. Flavor is great. This is the type of Mac & Cheese I always wanted, but never knew how to make. Take care & you will have delicious gooey Mac & Cheese!

 
At June 22, 2013 at 7:23 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the note. I try to read all the comments before I do a recipe so hopefully they will pay attention to your experience.

 
At June 26, 2013 at 3:59 PM , Blogger Bonnie said...

It's in the crock pot right now :) Thanks so much for all your testing...my concerns about other recipes were exactly the same as yours--I can't wait to try it!

 
At June 26, 2013 at 9:06 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I just had to vent a little about the processed stuff... I hope it works for you.

 
At July 2, 2013 at 12:58 PM , Blogger Keodara April Vixaysack said...

Hello. I liked (and was very successful)with the other recipe for crock pot mac and cheese because of the use of the condensed cream of cheddar soup. I was unsuccessful with another crockpot mac and cheese recipe that did not call for cheddar cheese soup (and i think there was an egg involved). However I really like to convenience of not having to cook the pasta before hand. Has anyone tried the other recipe (http://www.101cookingfortwo.com/2012/08/creamy-crock-pot-mac-and-cheese.html#.UQc9SL8W2nk) with the uncooked pasta? Thankyou.

 
At July 2, 2013 at 7:53 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Yep I've tried it and it was not good. Now having said that, many of my early experiments were on cooked on high and and had the cheese added at the beginning. But I remember trying it on low just before publishing that recipe and it didn't work well. I think just not enough free liquid to cook and absorb into the pasta.

If I wanted to try uncooked macaroni but with that recipe, I would skip the sour cream, increase the milk to 1 1/2 cups then add everything but the shredded cheese including your uncooked macaroni. Cook on LOW until al dente and then remove any free liquid and add some cheese to finish. In other word, this recipe but sub the can of soup for 1/2 cup of milk.

If you try it, let me know.

 
At July 9, 2013 at 9:06 PM , Blogger Sheldaine said...

Great recipes! Got a 2 qt 'pot' today and can't wait to try some of those you've posted. I like the clear directions and pictures. THANKS!

BTW:

Second. American made shredded cheese that we all buy does not like long or high heat. It is more waxy then block cheese and it just wont take it. I'm sure a better cheese like a block of Cabot would do better but are you going for a $10 cheese for this? So the cheese should not cooked for long periods. Put it in near the end and let it melt and deliver it's creamy goodness.

*it's* should be *its* (it's = it is OR possession)

Update Feb. 9, 2013: Many are having issues ( and many are not) with liquid being left at the point of the pasta being al denta. My initial cookings had almost no liquid at this point. The variations could be due to the cooker or the pasta. While cookers vary a lot, I have correct for that by picking the al denta point, not a specific time. The pasta is the remaining issue and I believe is the trouble maker here. I have adjusted the recipe to eliminate this extra liquid at the al dente point. Don't drain it in a strainer, just remove any free standing liquid, the liquid on the pasta should be enough.

*correct* should be *corrected*

 
At July 9, 2013 at 9:31 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I'm so busted... You should not read any more recipes because there will be at least a could of ops in each. I'm a very poor proof reader. But really, thanks for the corrections.

On the the recipe, be sure to watch the fluid and post how it turns out.

 
At July 10, 2013 at 5:54 PM , Blogger Allison C said...

Made this tonight. It was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe so we would have plenty of leftovers for lunch. It was a lot like Stouffer's Mac n Cheese (which is one of my guilty pleasures)!

 
At July 13, 2013 at 5:17 PM , Blogger Jessica Mcclanahan said...

I just finished making this and it's amazing! Thanks for such a delicious recipe!

 
At July 14, 2013 at 9:07 AM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the comment...

 
At July 23, 2013 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Laura D said...

Hi, have you ever made this the day before and then reheated?

 
At July 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I have never tried it but it should reheat like any other mac and cheese.

 
At July 24, 2013 at 5:43 PM , Blogger Leilani Lee said...

Recipe worked well, but the macaroni cooked much quicker than I thought it would and so it was somewhat mushy by the time it was finished. I also added about 1/2 cup finely chopped onions. I drained off the extra liquid, added a bit of flour, warmed it briefly in a small skillet until it thickened, and then and put it back with the pasta. Will try again and not cook it quite so long. Wonderful on a hot day like today not having to fire up the oven!

 
At July 25, 2013 at 8:56 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

It does make you wonder a bit about recipes that call for precooked pasta and then cooks it another 2-4 hours... Glad it eventually worked for you. It is that old "your crock pot may vary" but once you work out your method you will be golden.

 
At August 7, 2013 at 8:00 PM , Blogger Jaime Heath said...

Thanks for the recipe! I tried it tonight. I enjoyed it, but the kids didn't so much.

The only thing is this would have to be a weekend/day off kind of recipe since it does require stirring and checking and only cooks for a short amount of time. (I work during the day, starting tomorrow, and kids go back to school on Monday).

Here's my blog post:

http://justaddlaughter.blogspot.com/2013/08/crock-pot-macaroni-and-cheese.html

 
At August 7, 2013 at 8:10 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Well at least you enjoyed it... You are correct the timing on this is not a weeknight for a working person recipe. Some attention is needed. I don't believe you can get a good crock pot mac and cheese without the attention. I really tried...

 
At August 17, 2013 at 12:20 PM , Blogger Meghan Beasley said...

I made this last week and it was definitely a winner. I'm glad that I read through the comments, because I went ahead and checked it several times to see if it was done. I don't normally do this because I live at altitude and I'm accustomed to it taking longer to cook pasta on the stove. I'm so glad I did! It ended up being done about thirty minutes before I thought it would be. My boyfriend, the self proclaimed "mac & cheese snob", loved it so it's definitely going in my rotation of recipes.

 
At August 18, 2013 at 4:43 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Well if "the snob" liked it, I'll take that as good. I'm glad people are reading the instructions and comments. It is so important to get the end point of the macaroni correct or it will be a total failure.

 
At August 26, 2013 at 6:21 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

So, I only read a couple reviews before starting this recipe and I didn't get down to the whole wheat pasta comments until after it was already in the crock pot. I put in about half whole wheat half "regular" pasta. I checked the noodles about an hour in and there is a big texture difference between the two. Perhaps a note in the recipe about avoiding whole wheat pasta with this cooking method is warranted. I hope the dish is still edible in another hour.

Also, I have made the other crock pot mac and cheese recipe from this site using whole wheat pasta and it worked fine.

 
At August 26, 2013 at 7:27 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

I think enough people do substitute that a specific warning in the recipe is a good idea... I'm going to suggest only standard pasta, no whole wheat and not gluten free. At least the other recipe did ok for you.

 
At August 26, 2013 at 8:11 PM , Blogger Michelle said...

I'm back. Despite using some whole wheat pasta, I still ended up with an edible dinner. I drained a lot of leftover liquid at about 90 minutes (doubled the recipe, which I didn't mention above, and had about 2 cups liquid that didn't absorb). I added the cheese in and then about a half cup of the liquid (which I had reserved) back in. I know this would have worked even better for me without the whole wheat pasta. The flavor was great. Here's hoping for perfection next time.

 
At August 26, 2013 at 9:06 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the report. Others reports with whole wheat were not good. It is the end point of the pasta cooking and the liquid that is important for success for my point of view. I would try the whole wheat thing but my wife now refuses to eat whole wheat pasta. I have done it to her to many times I think.

 
At September 9, 2013 at 9:12 PM , Blogger Shirley Gray said...

Made is Mac and cheese tonight, and it was excellent. I tripled the recipe and made sure to check it often and it was the best, thanks for a great recipe that I will use over and over again.

 
At September 9, 2013 at 9:32 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the report. I'm glad it worked tripled as long as the end points are watched.

 
At September 11, 2013 at 5:41 PM , Blogger Natalie said...

Made this tonight - used mini shells which were done at the 1 hour check time! (bonus!!) I had upped the garlic powder a bit, just because that is how I roll! Fantastic recipe - thanks so much for sharing!

 
At September 11, 2013 at 8:10 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the note

 
At September 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

I've made this several times. Somehow I've never noticed the note to drain any leftover liquid, so I've never done that and not planning on doing it on tonights since it's always been good.

Also, I've only used whole wheat noodles (as I would in any recipe) and never had any trouble. We usually buy Whole Foods brand but today I have Nature's Promise brand.

 
At September 21, 2013 at 8:52 PM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Thanks for the note and the brand you use. Others will take note and try it...

 
At October 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM , Blogger btmaxwell said...

Totally agree. The primary reason I am trying this right now (its cooking as I type) is the fact that it sounds SO easy. Love love love that I don't have to cook the pasta separately.

 
At October 6, 2013 at 8:35 PM , Blogger btmaxwell said...

I tried this recipe for several reasons. Like a lot of other people, I feel like I don't have a lot of time to cook (and since I dont particulary enjoy it, I don't make the time for it). Well what I LOVED about this recipe was that it called for very simple ingredients that I always have on hand. And, I loved that I didn't have to cook the noodles first.
I used Barilla White Fiber shells. I definitely had a lot of liquid left over, but I also added some diced red onion so perhaps that was why (that was my only modification). But I just drained some and it turned out great. I will most definitely make this again, I will just try a different pasta. It had great flavor, great texture, and was SO easy!! Thanks for sharing.

 
At October 7, 2013 at 6:59 AM , Blogger Dan Mikesell said...

Great. It is a recipe tor the "lazy" in all of us...

 

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