Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

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Bowl of Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese is super creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy! It comes together in 5 minutes, and it’s perfect for meal prep!

You know, when people ask you if you were stuck on an island, but you could have any food, what would it be? Mine is definitely macaroni and cheese. I once at it for 3 days straight. No joke!

This Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese is one of my all time favorite varieties of mac and cheese! It is super rich, creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy. It’s even easier than the boxed kind since you don’t even have to boil the pasta! Plus, it doesn’t require evaporated milk or a roux.

Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese is amazing as a full meal or as a side dish. Additionally, it’s great for meal prep. Since, all the ingredients are added to the slow cooker and forgotten, your hands (and pans) are free to work on other components for your meal prep.

It’d also be awesome to take to a pot luck, tailgate, or other gathering! Can you ever go wrong with macaroni and cheese?

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients

Forkful of Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

For this slow cooker macaroni and cheese, you will need three different cheeses, the pasta of your choice, and a few additional pantry ingredients.

Pasta

To make classic macaroni and cheese, I use elbow macaroni. Although, just about any pasta will work well in this recipe. For example, I’ve successfully used bowtie pasta, penne pasta, and cavatappi pasta. Although, I’ve never tried it, I’m sure you could also use whole wheat pasta.

Keep in mind though, the cooking time will vary depending on which pasta you choose.

Three Cheeses

There are three different cheeses used in this macaroni and cheese: cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and pepper jack cheese. It’s all about that cheese pull!

I love the hint of spice in this macaroni and cheese, but if you prefer less spice, feel free to substitute Monterey Jack cheese for the pepper jack cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese provides the classic cheesy flavor, and the cream cheese provides such a rich taste and creamy texture.

For the best melting results, grate your own cheese rather than buying pre-shredded cheese. Prepacked cheeses are coated with starches and other products to prevent the cheese from clumping. The flavor of these anti-clumping agents really detracts from the overall flavor of the dish. So, take a few extra minutes and grate your own cheese!

Milk, Heavy Cream, and Butter

Evaporated milk is not needed in this recipe. For best results, I recommend using whole dairy milk or 2% dairy milk. Although, I have used unsweetened almond milk to save on calories and fat. If you use almond milk, the final sauce may be thinner than if you use dairy milk.

Using heavy cream and butter in this recipe helps achieve the creamy and thick texture without a roux. Additionally, they provide richness and depth of flavor.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese Preparation

To make this easy three cheese slow cooker macaroni and cheese, gather your noodles, cream cheese, butter, milk, and seasonings. Next, add all these ingredients to the slow cooker, and mix until the pasta is covered in the liquid.

Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese in Slow Cooker

Then, cover the slow cooker, and cook the pasta on low for 30 minutes. Stir the pasta and sauce, and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes.

After an hour, check pasta for doneness (pasta should be very al dente but not crunchy). If pasta is not softened enough, cook pasta in additional 20 minute increments.

Finally, portion a big bowl, eat, and enjoy!

Cooking Tips:

Don’t cook the pasta on high! The sauce and pasta may overcook, burn, or cook unevenly.

The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. If the sauce is too thick, add additional milk to loosen the sauce. If the sauce is too thin, add more cheese to thicken the sauce.

To prevent the macaroni and cheese from drying out, add a small splash of milk before reheating leftovers.

For meal prep, portion the macaroni and cheese into containers, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons of milk, and refrigerate. The pasta will last for about 5 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Want More Recipes like Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese?

If you are a macaroni and cheese lover like I am, I know you’ll love this recipe!

I have a whole section on Pinterest dedicated to different types of macaroni and cheese. Be sure to follow me there to see all of them!

Or try my recipe for Instant Pot Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese! It is an inexpensive one pot meal that elevates an ordinary box of macaroni and cheese in about 30 minutes!

If you want to see more of my quick and easy slow cooker recipes, click here!

I also have lots of ideas for meal prep recipes, here.

Thank you for reading, and be sure to subscribe to never miss another recipe!

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese is super creamy, cheesy, and slightly spicy! It comes together in 5 minutes, and it’s perfect for meal prep!

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Cheese, Meal Prep, Meatless, Pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 432kcal
Author Clean Fingers Laynie

Ingredients

  • 1 lbs Pasta (elbow, bowtie, cavatappi) uncooked
  • 4 tbsp Butter cut into 1-tbsp pieces
  • 4 oz Cream Cheese cut into 1-oz pieces
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 3 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese freshly grated
  • 1 cup Pepper Jack cheese freshly grated

Instructions

  • Spray the inside of a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray, or line slow cooker with a protective liner. 
  • Add pasta, milk, heavy cream, salt and cayenne pepper to the slow cooker, and mix until the pasta is coated in liquid. Distribute the butter and cream cheese on top of the pasta and stir once more to incorporate all the ingredients. Smooth pasta down into an even layer.
  • Cook pasta for 30 minutes, stir pasta, and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes. Check pasta for doneness (pasta should be very al dente but not crunchy). If pasta is not softened enough, cook pasta in additional 20 minute increments.
  • Once the pasta is done, add cheddar cheese and pepper jack cheese to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover the mac and cheese and cook for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and it comes together to create a creamy cheese sauce. The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.

Notes

Estimated Nutrition (per serving):  Fat 29 g, Carbohydrate 25 g, Dietary Fiber g, Protein 15 g, Sodium 513 mg
 
*Cooking time will depend on type of pasta used.
**For a non-spicy version, substitute Monterey Jack cheese for the pepper jack cheese and/or leave out the cayenne pepper. 
***Add additional milk to thin the sauce or before storing leftovers.
 
–Recipe adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian.
Three Cheese Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese Process

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