Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

Hey, y'all.  Remember how I said I would be posting better-for-you recipes for a while?

Well, the best laid plans ...

A few weeks ago (before the great diet challenge began), I made this great crock pot mac and cheese from my dear friend Bethany's recipe.  Wow.  It was really, really good.

While Bethany's version was relatively healthy (emphasis on the "relatively" - it's mac and cheese!), I decided I would try to slim down that recipe, by subbing pureed butternut squash for some of the dairy and cheese.  Another friend had once served mac and cheese with roasted butternut squash cubes in it, and it was awesome.  Using the squash as a substitute sounded like a great idea.  I found several recipes online, cobbled them together, and cooked.

Holy cow.  It was bad.  I mean mega-mega-bad.  So bad I ate about three bites and then dumped the rest of the pan.  Seriously ... that bad.

I was crushed (in part because it left me without a dinner plan at 8 o'clock in the evening).

But I learned something.  You can only cut so many corners.  Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet, eat the fatty cheese, and accept that it is good.

Thus, for your dining pleasure, I bring you Bethany's Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese*, in all it's dairy goodness.  Enjoy!

* Note that Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams has another Crock Pot Mac and Cheese recipe, posted in 2010.  This one's a little different.  Not necessarily better, just different.

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese

10 oz. elbow macaroni or mini penne, cooked 5 minutes in boiling, salted water

1 1/2 c. milk (2% or more)
2 eggs
1 - 12 oz cans evaporated milk (I used 2%)
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. salt

pinch black pepper
seasoning of choice
(I used 1 1/2 tsp. Penzey's Mural of Flavor, a salt-free general seasoning)

16 - 18 oz. shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar and mozzarella, but you can mix it up)
1/2 c. shredded parmesan

Whisk eggs and milk in a large measuring cup (or small bowl).  Add evaporated milk, melted butter, salt, pepper, and seasoning.  Whisk until combined.

Spray the inside of a crock pot with nonstick spray.  In slow-cooker, combine par-cooked macaroni with egg/milk mixture and shredded cheese (except for parmesan).  Sprinkle parmesan over top.  Cover and cook on low heat for 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Before cooking - not terribly appetizing, right?

After cooking - delish!


Wendy is the author of the Mysteries a la Mode. Visit her on the web or on Facebook. She also writes the Pet Boutique Mysteries under the name Annie Knox; you can follow Annie on Facebook, too!


  1. Oh Wendy, I love mac and cheese. And that photo makes me want it for breakfast! That's too bad about the squash--it sounded like such a good idea!

    Did you read the article in the New York Times yesterday about Paula Deen and her newly-announced type 2 diabetes? I guess she'll be trying to make some lighter dishes too....Lucy

  2. LOL- yes, I did hear about Paula. She's actually indicated that she has no intention of changing the way she cooks. (And my "Hey, y'all" was actually a little shout out to the queen of full-fat everything!)

  3. The grandsons would love this! Do you think I could add some ground beef to it?

  4. Thank you for the belly laugh this morning, Wendy. I can't tell you how often my brilliant ideas bomb. I know just how you feel. I have tried and tried to become friendly with butternut squash, but it's never quite what I hope it will be. Maybe I have to accept that it is what it is!

    Thanks for the Mac and Cheese crockpot recipe. I love using my crockpot!

    ~ Krista

  5. Funny I see this post today. My husband and I were just talking about me finding a good Mac and Cheese recipe to try in the crock. I have made it in the pressure cooker but never the crock. My pressure recipe is not recommended for stove or crock cooking.. go figure.

  6. CindyD ... I haven't cooked meat in so long that I would hesitate to say yea or nay on adding ground beef to the mac while it cooks. But I definitely think it would be good which ground beef or patties on the side. This is a more "southern" mac and cheese, with the eggs making a custard. I'm just not sure how the ground beef would work.

    Shawn, I'm glad to have posted at an opportune time. I know that Melissa Bourbon used this recipe in the oven. And I think you could have a lot of fun with the cheeses (smoked gouda? gruyere?).

    And Krista ... you and me both, girl. I put on a good show here, but "in real life" I am a bit of a bumbler in the kitchen. :)

  7. Now I have to buy a crock pot. Thanks for the recipe.