Special Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Box Grater remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!
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Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.
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Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef09/05/2019
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Highly requested from my readers, this mac and cheese is made entirely in the slow cooker! No boiling pasta, no making a cream sauce, and no standing over a hot stove. Perfectly creamy and packed with flavor, this dish is great to take to a potluck, have as a holiday side dish, or even a fun family dinner!
CROCKPOT MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
Here it is the recipe youve been asking for! Youve LOVED, and continue to love, my Baked Mac and Cheese recipe some of you have even won awards in cooking competitions using that recipe. But we all love a great slow cooker recipe, and Ive been busy developing the PERFECT crock pot mac and cheese recipe. One that yields an ultra creamy sauce, doesnt get too thick, and one that tastes every bit as delicious as the OG baked mac and cheese.
Find Tons Of Other Dreamy Cheesy Meals In Ree’s Bestselling Cookbooks
And stir together until its all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.
Now its time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt If youre sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way upand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.
BUTand this is importantbe careful not to UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.
*I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.
And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepperbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.
Now THATs what Im talkin about.
And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.
Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?
Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!
And stir the mixture together.
I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.
Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest
OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.
Kinda like this.
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Storing Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
The leftovers from this mac and cheese recipe need to be refrigerated. Let the leftovers cool completely, cover, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. For optimal texture, add enough milk to thin the sauce before packing up the leftovers, that way you can easily scoop out a portion to reheat, and the milk will meld into the cream sauce as it reheats.
The Best Homemade Sloppy Joes
The Chunky Chef10/24/2018
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Step away from the canned sauce and give these homemade sloppy joes a try! Theyre truly the best version of a childhood favorite!
As we head into the upcoming holiday season, Ive been thinking about family-friendly meals. You know, those meals that your kids always want to eat. In our house, this Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese is number one on our list with these sloppy joes being number 2! With two little ones myself, I know ALL too well how frustrating it is to cook a meal and have them promptly turn up their noses and say its gross. *facepalm*
Ive always been a fan of classic sloppy joes. Theres something so innately satisfying about the sweet and savory combination and messiness of it all! And I know you all love them too, since Ive been getting a lot of requests for sloppy joe recipes.
Ive made a LOT of sloppy joe recipes lately, trying to come up with the perfect one. Some were too sweet, others too spicy. Well guys, I finally got it. The perfect balance. This sloppy joe recipe is sweet, tangy, zesty and savory, with the perfect texture and consistency.
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Tips For The Best Macaroni And Cheese Youll Ever Eat
Feel like you may still need some help? If you have time, jump over to this post for the juicy details: 18 Secrets to the Richest, Creamiest Mac and Cheese Youll Ever Eat or focus on these tips:
Never stop stirring your milk once it hits the pan. If your skillet is too hot or you walk away and for a minute you could scorch the white sauce and it will curdle. It doesnt really hurt the taste, but it will look sort of clumpy. Some readers have called it grainy. It only takes 5 minutes. Just hang out and stir until that sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Use good cheese in your baked macaroni and cheese. That means avoiding bagged, pre-shredded cheeses because they contain cellulose that can in some cases cause your cheese not to melt as it should. -And speaking of cheese, you have so many options! My favorite is sharp cheddar and Swiss.
Do taste as you go. Taste your cheese sauce before you add your pasta. Is it bland? That can be because of the cheese you used or even the kind of salt you seasoned with. If it doesnt have enough flavor, add a pinch more salt, stir it in and taste it again until it suits you.
-Feel free to add more pasta if you want to. Some people say that this recipe doesnt have enough noodles in it, but Ive never had that problem. And yes, you should cook your pasta before adding it to the cheese sauce.
Can I Use Pre
Pre-shredded cheeses are mixed with either potato starch, powdered cellulose, and natamycin, or a combination of the three to prevent clumping. These agents have an impact on how the cheese melts. The best mac and cheese uses freshly shredded cheese as they melt better, but pre-shredded cheese can also be used in a pinch. The results may not be as velvety smooth, but itll still taste delicious.
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How To Measure Pasta For This Recipe
Sometimes a reader or two has had an issue with how much pasta this recipe needs. This recipe is written by volume and sometimes people think that since a cup is 8 ounces that they can simply use 12-16 ounces of pasta or go by the weight of the dry pasta written on the box.
Youll end up with problems if you do this. Please follow the volume instructions and measure your pasta dry in a measuring cup meant for dry items . Small pastas like ditalini or little wagon wheels can go up to about 2 cups and be fine in the recipe, and large ones like bow tie or cellentani can as well. If you will stick to elbow pasta until you get the hang of things youll be better off.
Ive made this recipe with every pasta shape on the market and if you will measure in cups, your recipe will be just right.
Avoiding A Grainy Mac And Cheese
The most common issue people face is a sauce thats grainy, gritty or lumpy. As weve seen, there are a few key things to remember to avoid this:
- Use clarified butter for your roux, or gently simmer off the water in normal butter first.
- Add the milk in small amounts, mixing each addition through before adding more.
- Use freshly grated cheese.
- Lower the heat before adding your cheese.
- Add cheese in small amounts, melting and mixing through each addition thoroughly before adding more.
- Stir constantly while making your roux, making your white sauce and adding your cheese.
Attention to these details will go a long way to ensuring your mac and cheese is smooth and creamy.
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How To Make Mac And Cheese:
This might take a little longer than boxed mac n cheese, but let me tell ya, the extra time and effort is SO worth it. Plus, most of the ingredients you need are ones you already have on hand, and the steps are simple.
PASTA. Begin by cooking pasta according to package directions, and set aside.
SAUCE. In a large saucepan, melt ½ c. butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Heat the mixture to a low boil until thickened. Remove from heat.
ASSEMBLE. Add the hot pasta to a greased 9×13 baking dish. Then, sprinkle 6 cups shredded cheese over the pasta . Pour the thickened cream sauce over the pasta and cheese. Let it sit until the cheese has melted and then stir together.
TOP & BAKE. Melt 2 TB butter over medium heat. Add in bread crumbs, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Pour over the mac and cheese. Bake at 325° for 14-15 minutes. Serve warm, and ENJOY!
CROCK POT VERSION
To make Mac n Cheese an even easier dish you can make it in a crock pot. Pour your pasta in first cover them with your sauces and cheese. Cook on Low for 2-3 hours. For our favorite crock pot mac and cheese .
Classic Homemade Mac and Cheese made with bite-size pasta, cheddar cheese, and a simple creamy sauce all baked to perfection in the oven. This recipe includes tips, tricks, and photos for making PERFECT baked mac and cheese.
Give Cottage Cheese A Try
When youre considering which cheeses to use for your extra creamy mac and cheese, you might want to consider adding in some cottage cheese. Itll make the sauce extra creamy and extra cheesy without complicating the overall flavor profile too much. Again, youll want some with a tiny bit of fat if possible for the creamiest, richest sauce, but if you cant swing cottage cheese with fat, the fat-free kind will work as well.
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The Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
Sharp Cheddar is my first choice for flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses. Mix it up and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepper jack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade cheese sauce.
This recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy AND it is optional. The addition of cheddar cheese soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something. I think its much better than Mac and cheese with Velveeta! Give it a try! .
From Bechamel To Mornay
Once your white sauce is ready to go, its time to add your cheese to make your cheese sauce.
Just like adding milk to your roux, you need to be careful when adding cheese to your bechamel sauce. A few tips will help with this process:
- Grate your own cheese from a block. Packaged grated, sliced or cubed cheese contains anti-caking agents to prevent the pieces from sticking together in the pack. These agents can interfere with how your cheese melts and lead to clumping or grittiness.
- Lower the temperature of your sauce before you add your cheese. Some authors reduce the heat and some take the pot off the heat, but they almost all take some action to ensure a lower temperature when the cheese goes in. This ensures the cheese heats evenly.
- Add your cheese gradually. Rather than dumping it all in at once, add your cheese in smaller amounts, like a half a cup at a time. Ensure the cheese is fully melted and integrated into the sauce before adding the next half cup. Like the tip above, this helps the cheese to heat evenly.
- Stir constantly to keep the cheese from cooling the sauce and clumping.
As youve probably guessed, making a roux-based cheese sauce for mac and cheese is not complicated, but it needs a gentle and patient hand. Take your time, and keep the heat down, and youll be well placed to create a beautifully creamy mornay sauce for your mac and cheese.
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Experimenting With Homemade Mac And Cheese
For me, boxed mac was the gateway drug that led to years of experimentation. Steps on my journey included:
- Adding different real cheeses to boxed mac .
- Toying with the ratio of milk, butter, cream, and salt in my own early recipes.
- And while my fellow teens were having a goth phase, I was having a Velveeta phase.
Im glad those days are history, because now that were grown-ups, we dont ever have to settle for anything less than the Creamiest Mac and Cheese ever again.
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Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef03/23/2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is ultra creamy and rich with a velvety smooth sauce! Ready in about 20 minutes, its always a family favorite. Perfectly cooked, every time, and no need to babysit the pasta, or even drain it! Made with no canned milk and no Velveeta.
This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food! Recipes like my Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa and Instant Pot Sausage Tortellini Soup are great for when you want an ultra-comforting family meal thats ready incredibly fast. This is one of my Pressure Cooker recipes youll definitely want in your recipe box!
INSTANT POT MAC AND CHEESE
Youve been asking for it, and Ive been working on it this is the Instant Pot Mac and Cheese that will make your mouth completely water, and have you reaching for seconds.
The lusciously creamy cheese sauce, enveloping every noodle so full of flavor, yet so simply made.
This mac and cheese is just as easy as making that macaroni in the blue box but is SO much better for you. No preservatives and other hard to pronounce ingredients. Just pure cheesy goodness!
When I was developing this recipe, I used cheeses that I found melted really well, and gave a good classic mac and cheese flavor, however, Ill also be detailing different cheeses you can use if you prefer another mixture.
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How To Make A Roux
First time making a roux? No problem! Check out this super simple tutorial:
Congrats, youve made your roux! This will give your mac the thick and creamy texture youre looking for.
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From Roux To Bechamel
Once youve made your roux, its time to add milk to make it into a basic white sauce. And for this step theres just one important thing to remember add your milk gradually.
If you dump all of the milk in at once, it can surround chunks of roux, which can turn into lumps. The best approach is to add a small amount of milk, stirring constantly. Then dont add more until that first splash of milk is fully combined with your roux. It will thicken up dramatically, but thats okay.
Then repeat the same step. Add some more milk, stirring constantly until its combined. And keep repeating this process until all your milk is combined, at which point youll have a nice smooth white sauce.
At this point you need to cook it gently until it thickens up. It takes time for the starch molecules to absorb the milk, so give it time. It may take five to ten minutes or more, but the result will be worth it.
Can I Freeze Macaroni And Cheese
I get asked that a lot and my answer is always no. As the pasta and cheese sauce sit, it will thicken and when you thaw it and bake it, the creamy consistency is just gone. Its thick and gloppy. Plus if you freeze it and its still a bit warm, water crystals will form and then thaw into your dish and could make it separate when you bake it. Besides, its so fast to make, theres not really a reason to freeze your macaroni and cheese.