December 1, 2014

Southern-Style Crock Pot Macaroni & Cheese

Mama called me the week before Thanksgiving and said she wanted us to try a slow cooker mac & cheese recipe on Thanksgiving to free up some real estate in the oven.

I wasn’t overly thrilled at the thought because the one and only time I’d ever tried a recipe for it, it was a total flop. And you can’t go screwing around with something as important as macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving!

But I tend to do what my mama says. So I had to figure this thing out.

Southern-style baked macaroni and cheese uses eggs and sets up a little like a quiche. The edges get all golden brown and crusty and the center stays soft and melty. I figured as long as I used parboiled noodles and added more liquid, all I’d need to do was use my usual seasonings and things should work!

But it was Thanksgiving! I was still having some major reservations about trying something new on The Big Day but went with it anyway. And it was a total hit! It cooked up almost exactly like my traditional mac and cheese and tasted perfect!

I’ll be using this recipe a lot going forward! Especially in the summer when I don’t want to turn the oven on! Plus this will travel perfectly so it’ll be great for pot-lucks and tailgating. Woo-hoo! I’m so glad Mama made me suggested that I try it!

Southern-Style Crock Pot Macaroni & Cheese! Just like Mama's but made in a slow cooker!

Southern-Style Crock Pot Macaroni & Cheese
12 ounces (2 heaping cups) uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
16 ounces cheddar cheese*, shredded and divided (about 4 cups)

Boil noodles in liberally salted water for 5 minutes then drain well. Do not cook noodles longer than 5 minutes.

While noodles are cooking, combine evaporated milk, milk, sour cream, eggs, salt, mustard, white pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl and mix well.

Add parboiled noodles, melted butter and 3/4 of the shredded cheese to the milk mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Spray the inside of a medium-large crock pot (approximately 4-qt size) with cooking spray then pour macaroni mixture into crock pot. Top with remaining cheese. Cover and cook on low for 3 hours or until set in the center and golden brown around the edges.

*Mama bought extra sharp cheddar which I don’t know that I’d necessarily recommend for this. The sharper the cheddar, the less creamy it is. I have a feeling when I make this again with regular or mild cheddar things will be much creamier!


PRINTABLE RECIPE


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38 comments:

  1. Pinning! I haven't had a lick of luck with slow cooker mac and cheese but this looks so yummy. You're Mama is a smart cookie. Can't wait to try this.

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  2. I didn't know that sharper cheese would be less creamy. I'll have to remember this.

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  3. crockpots seem to be so secretive about what size they are! Would it matter very much if mine is
    too small or too large? I have two but couldn't tell you the sizes.

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    1. I'd use a gallon of water to help me figure out the sizes. If it fits a gallon of water it's 4 quarts, a half a gallon is 2 qts., etc. I hope that helps!

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  4. real southern mac & chs is not creamy, it almost looks curdled but is soooooo good.

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  5. Just finished eating this mac and cheese. I followed the recipe exactly. I'm sorry, but although it tastes very good, the recipe curdled. I used sargento cheddar (a variety of cheddars). I'm going to stick to making a bechamel sauce in the future. I'm glad it tastes good though! Maybe it was the combo of the cheddar and the temperature of the slow cooker. Cooked on low though.

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    1. If you're used to a bechamel sauce then you probably wouldn't like this. Southern-style does finish with sort of a curdle (you can see it in the photo). It isn't a smooth and creamy sauce, but more of a broken custard. I'm sorry you didn't like it :(

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    2. Did you have to cook the tripled recipe any longer than the stated time?

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  6. This looks so good! I have tried macaroni and cheese a thousand different ways, but my texture is almost always bit off - like it was ever so slightly gritty. The taste is always great, but the texture issue is driving me nuts. I read somewhere that if I cooled the white sauce prior to adding the cheese it would not be gritty. Have you ever had a problem with that, and if so, how did you fix it?

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    1. I can't say I've ever had one turn out gritty... hmmmm. I'll have to think about that. You can't cook the sauce of a Southern style (milk and eggs) macaroni and cheese because it will thicken too much to be stirred into the pasta. Are you cooking Southern style or a bechamel based?

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  7. We made this as a side dish for a huge Christmas party this past weekend (90+ people). I tripled the recipe and it was gone in under 10 minutes. Did not change a thing (well...maybe added a little more cheese than it called for). WONDERFUL! I have sent several people to your site for the recipe! Thanks, this will be in heavy rotation at our house and future parties!

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    1. Good to know! I am making this for our office party tomorrow. Thanks for the post Anonymous!

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  8. I make my mac and cheese in the crock pot all the time . . . I use colby jack and a little bit of gruyere in my cheese blend. It's delish. If I am feeling really festive I add a little nutmeg! Try it!

    Karen B

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  9. We are having a Mexican themed party and I was wondering if adding browned and drained chorizo would ruin the dish.

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  10. Thanks, Mandy. I might give it a try.
    Merry Christmas!

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  11. Can this be cooked in the oven in a 9X13 pan? If so, what temperature and how long do you recommend?

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    1. I haven't tried it but I think it would work just fine. I'd cook uncovered at 350 for about 45 minutes. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks so much! Can't wait to make it!!

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  13. I have a crock pot mac and cheese recipe from Southern Living that I have used and used. It is so easy and sooo good. It uses sharp cheddar and Italian three-cheese blend, which makes it really creamy. My recipe does not have butter, and I'm a huge butter fan, so I may try adding that in, as well as the sour cream. Your recipe sounds divine.

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  14. FYI...I followed your recommendation for cooking it in the oven. I cooked it @ 350 for 45-50 minutes and it turned out perfectly! Thank you!

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  15. Mandy, this recipe is FABULOUS!!!! I have used it twice now and it's been a big hit both times!!! I love that it's so simple, easy, and delicious. I followed the recipe exactly the first time and the second I used sharp cheddar with a touch of Parmesan....superb!

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  16. How many servings does this make??? trying to figure out if I should double for Easter dinner??? Thanks!

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  17. This was delicious...however...with MY experience, twice....the melted butter was too much. Drain the mac (and be sure to use HEAPING 2 cups, or 3 cups), pour into
    the greased crock pot and pour enough melted butter over noodles to cover....half a stick is way too much and ends up setting on top when you take the lid off. 2 tbsp is enough.

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    1. I forgot...4 hours is more like it. Borden has an 8oz pkg of shredded triple cheddar and then an 8 oz pkg of mild cheddar. OMG, so yum.

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  18. This looks great. I was curious if I could pop it in the oven to develop a crust or that would be discouraged with this particular recipe.

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  19. Ever since I found this recipe I've been fantasizing about it. I made it today in the oven following your guidelines and it worked a treat. I used three types of cheese (8oz colby, 4oz 36month aged cheddar, 4oz good parmesan) and the combo was amazing. The only thing I wasn't a fan of was the curdley texture, but I was aware of that prior to making it - on the plus side it meant I didn't gorge on mac and cheese :)
    Love your blog, the captions on the kids drawings had me giggling!

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  20. Hello! Can this be doubled in a 6 quart crock pot? Do I need to add time? Thanks!

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  21. I have a five quart crock. Will that work? Probably shorten the cook time a bit?

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  22. I'll start off saying that I'm a born and bred southern lady who married a born and bred Yankee from western New York (country, not city). Needless to say, he doesn't always get why we southerners make certain dishes the way we do. (He's still reeling over the last time he tried boiled peanuts.) But not too long ago, I was having company over and tried (for the first time) your green beans and potatoes recipe alongside this macaroni and cheese recipe as sides for the traditional country fried chicken. All I can say is that my (very picky) Yankee husband went back for seconds on both. And thirds for THIS macaroni and cheese dish! Congratulations - you have done the impossible!

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  23. I make the recipe my Mom made for years...I am not sure it will work in the crockpot......she also added (next to the top layer) a can or drained stewed tomatoes & she sprinkled cinnamon on the top...it makes an awesome "crust" and the cinnamon flavor cooks out & you do not taste it at all! I will try & post how it is :)

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  24. Can I cook this for an hour and a half on high in the crockpot?

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Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy

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