Thanksgiving side dish #3. Slow Cooker Mac n Cheese is what’s cooking at my house!
Everyone in my family loves Mac n Cheese but everyone also loves their own version of Mac n Cheese. My husband loves Baked Macaroni and Cheese. The ingredients are not hugely different from this one, but it’s cooked different. My Mother loves her Mac n Cheese so saucy that you would want to eat it with a spoon. While my sister, Teresa, has made this slow cooker version for a gazillion years. I love all of the above and not sure I have a favorite amongst these. They are equally delicious and cheesy and that’s what important. Some day I will watch my Mom make her saucy one and post it. It’s comfort food at it’s finest!
Today, however, I’m here to share my sister’s version of her Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese. It’s super easy and you can pour it into a standard 5 quart size slow cooker and let it cook on it’s own while you’re tending to other important matters, like hanging out with your family and friends during the Holiday season!
Here’s how Teresa makes it.
Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
To get started, go ahead and boil 8 ounces of elbow macaroni in salty water according to package instructions except boil them for 8 minutes. The macaroni will continue cooking in the slow cooker and if you boil them for the full amount of time, they may get mushy. We don’t want mushy macaroni, now do we?
Drain in a colander, but don’t rinse. Set aside.
In a Very Large bowl, pour the evaporated milk and 2% milk into the melted butter and whisk.
Then whisk in both of the eggs, salt and pepper.
Add the 2 – 8 ounce bags of the shredded cheeses. Stir to combine.
Let’s talk a little about cheese here. You can use your favorite cheddar, (Mild, medium, sharp or extra sharp), as well as other cheeses such as Monterrey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby Jack or even 4 Cheese Mexican. I happen to love sharp and extra sharp cheddar and I used an 8 ounce package here along with an 8 ounce package of 4 cheese Mexican because it adds a little creaminess. It really just depends on what I have on hand.
This is why you need a very large bowl! Now, add the macaroni.
Mix well to make sure the milk mixture flows into every tunnel of those elbow macaronis. Let stand while you prep the slow cooker.
Ok, let’s talk a little about prepping that slow cooker. There is a ton of cheese here and depending on your slow cooker, it can stick to the sides and even get a little crispy. Not all slow cookers are created equal, meaning the low setting on one may be hotter than the low setting on another. I happen to know that mine cooks hotter, so I know I need to take a few extra measures to prevent the outside from getting more done than the inside. So, here are two options.
The first option is to spray the inside of the slow cooker very well with cooking oil just before you pour in the mac n cheese mixture.
The second option: You can purchase slow cooker liners from your grocery stores or even Walmart and Target. Usually located where the plastic wraps, aluminum foil and zip top baggies are. They are super handy because you put it into your slow cooker first, then pour the mac n cheese mixture into the liner. This prevents the cheese from sticking to the stoneware of the slow cooker. I would however advise that you still spray the inside of that liner with cooking oil for safe measure.
I chose to spray the inside of my slow cooker with cooking oil and poured in the mac n cheese mixture.
Cover with the lid and set the temperature to the low setting.
Let cook for about an hour and stir. The outside will cook faster than the inside, so you’ll want to make sure things are cooking evenly. Then stir every 30 minutes to prevent that outside from getting too done and crispy.
It will take anywhere between 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours to cook. When the milk has been absorbed and the cheese is melted, it’s done.
Since I happen to love things extra cheesy, I added 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top. This isn’t part of Teresa’s original recipe, but you know me, I can’t leave well enough alone! Then turn off the slow cooker (it’s already done), and place the lid back on to allow the cheese to melt quickly. Trust me, there’s plenty of heat there.
See how that’s all melt-y and gooey looking? Oh, it tastes every bit as good as it looks!!
Now you can just dig that big ole’ spoon in there and get a nice big helping for your plate. Or bowl!
I can make a meal on just this with a cake of buttered cornbread and be perfectly content!
And you know what we like to do? Sprinkle a healthy amount of red pepper flakes on top for a little zing.
Zing is good.
For the other Thanksgiving sides I’m posting this year, click on these links:
How do you like your Mac n Cheese?
Here’s the printer friendly recipe.