Mac and cheese is the ultimate in comfort food. Crockpots are the ultimate cooking convenience (to me anyway)…why the heck not combine the two? Because when you do...you get this Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole! Super easy deliciousness that'll please everyone...
But I wanted to take it a step further. I wanted a one pot mac and cheese meal. One-pot meals are all the rage right now. And (again) why the heck not? They're easier, faster and there's so much LESS clean up. But there's just something about mac and cheese in the slow cooker. It's creamier, gooier and takes comfort food to a whole new level.
I must say...this turned out pretty darn well too!
Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni
In This Article (click headings to jump)
- 1 Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni
- 2 Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole
You don’t babysit this recipe. You just pre-cook the meat and toss everything in. AND, You can even do that a month ahead of time and freeze it if you want.
Notes About Crock Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni
The pasta really is better if you precook it for just a couple minutes. It's something about the starch I guess.
BUT there are some brands that work better than others. So if you spend a little more on the pasta, it still works out with no pre-cooking.
Gluten-free pastas are an option many of us have to use these days. Sadly, me included as of last year. And the gluten-free pastas are great for gluten intolerant folks. But they DON'T work for this recipe.
Gluten-free pastas are made (somehow) with beans or other legumes. And not much else besides water. They won't hold up in this recipe.
Okay, this is a bit odd. But originally when I tested this recipe I had the seasonings set as they are now in the printable.
Then I got told the flavors were too strong. So I notched down the seasonings.
THEN the comments started rolling in that it was bland, didn't taste like a cheeseburger. Blah, blah...and no disrespect to the folks that stated those opinions. I agreed.
SO, I recently re-updated the recipe with the stronger amounts of seasonings. Therefore, if you read the comments down below about it being bland, you might NOT want to up the spice content...I already did that in the printable.
Just fyi on all that. Enjoy the recipe, comments and suggestions are always welcome!
Crockpot Cheeseburger Macaroni Casserole
- 1 pound macaroni uncooked BUT it IS better if you cooked it a couple of minutes
- 3 cups milk
- ½ stick butter melted
- 1 package cream cheese softened and cut into small chunks
- 3 cups shredded cheddar
- 1 pound precooked ground beef
- 1 cups shredded mozzarella optional
- 3 ribs celery diced optional
- 1 bell pepper diced optional
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar optional, but adds a nice punch
- 3 tsp smoked paprika less if you prefer a milder flavor
- 3 tsp garlic powder less if you prefer a milder flavor
- salt & pepper to taste
- Mix milk, butter, and vinegar. Add paprika, garlic powder, and salt & pepper. Stir well. set aside.
- Butter the crockpot insert well. Add pasta, ground beef, diced cream cheese, ½ of each shredded cheese, celery & bell pepper. Toss to combine.
- Pour the milk sauce over the top. Top with remaining shredded cheeses. Cover & cook on low for 4 to 6 hrs. High 2 ½-3.
- Brown the ground beef using the saute function. Drain excess grease.
- Add remaining ingredients except for the shredded cheeses.
- Lock the lid and close the pressure valve. Set to manual, high for half the cook time of your noodles. Natural release 5 minutes then quick release.
- Open the instant pot and add half the shredded cheeses. Mix well. Top with remaining cheese and close lid. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.
- Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Brown your ground beef over medium-high heat.
- Drain pasta. Add remaining ingredients, holding out half the shredded cheeses. Mix well.
- Cover and allow to rest 20 minutes. Note: If your pasta was cooled completely, you may need a bit of heat to melt the cream cheese. Use VERY low heat and stir constantly.
- Top with remaining cheese and allow to set about 5 minutes for the cheeses to melt.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Follow steps 1 and 2 of stovetop directions. Combine ingredients and pour into a well-greased 9x13 baking dish.
- Top with remaining cheeses and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions BUT for only half the time indicated. Drain and set aside.
- In a large freezer bag, combine the cooked meat, pasta, vegetables, cream cheese, and 1/2 the cheeses.
- Use a sandwich bag for the last of the cheese.
- In a quart-sized bag, combine the liquid ingredients and the spices. Place the sandwich bag and the quart-sized bag inside the larger bag with the pasta-meat-vegetable mixture.
- Defrost in the refrigerator overnight before proceeding with cooking directions shown above.
Here are a couple of seasoning options. Just delete the paprika and go a little lighter on the garlic powder...
• 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons ranch seasoning mix
• 1 tablespoon taco seasoning or keep the paprika and go with a little less taco seasoning
• 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
Want to make it a complete meal?
• Add 1 to 2 cups of defrosted, frozen peas and carrots in step #3, cover, and allow it to cook another 30 minutes or so.
• If you're going for the taco seasoning then frozen or canned corn would work great! Add a can of black beans too! These could get tossed in during step #1 without issue.
• If you'd rather do Italian then broccoli, cauliflower or Italian green beans would work great!
Recipe calls for macaroni but the picture looks a lot like egg noodles. ??
I am forgetting the exact kind...rotini maybe? They are a regular noodle, not an egg noodle. I think egg noodles would fall apart too quick. You're welcome to try them though. Best of luck 🙂
Stacey O'Brien says
Why is this recipe called cheeseburger macaroni and call for a pound of macaroni noodles if rotini noodles were used? That’s my confusion.
Basically, for simplicity. Macaroni and rotini are made from the same ingredients. Exactly. Rotini cooks in 8 to 12 minutes. Macaroni cooks in 9 to 12 minutes. So are interchangeable in most recipes. I (and most people I have ever known) tend to keep macaroni in the cabinet. Quick, easy and most likely can be made with what's in the pantry...no other reason 🙂
Tim von Baker says
I'm going to try it with spaetzle
Ok so I would NOT put my noodles in the crock pot with the other ingredients...I would add them in at the end after being cooked...otherwise pasta is way over cooked...otherwise it is tasty.
That is a great option. I've done it many times that way as well.
Judith Davis says
What is the weight on the cream cheese package.
Would this recipe work without the cream cheese?
It would taste a bit different but I don't see why not. You might want to add a bit of cream or milk, but it wouldn't need much.
I made this dish tonight. Very easy to put together. I boiled the noodles first for 3 mins and let it cook in crock pot for 5 hrs. Good but after the first couple of bites it became blah, no taste to it. Definitely going to make again but I believe I'm going to season the beef with toca seasoning or some kind to give more of a flavor. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
That sounds like a great addition to the recipe. Garlic and onion will also add a good flavor as well. Either the produce or the seasoning. Great idea with the taco seasoning too!
A little buttermilk will give mac n cheese a xip you are looking for
That's an excellent idea. Just be careful when you add the buttermilk to the slow cooker. Cooked too long I've seen it finish the curdling process. It's not pretty.
Thx you are right, likely add at the end, it doesnt get too hot and disapate, but if not using in crock pot and baking in the pven, it will work out okay.
YOU are quite right too KellySue. And I didn't think about adding it at the end. It would be delicious. Thank you!
I feel like I forgot a ingredient it kinda blah to me.
Oh no! I am so sorry. I actually had someone else say that last week on the Facebook page. So I tried it again. AND I THINK it might depend on the ground beef honestly. But no matter...you can always add some garlic and onion (or powders). Either/both would help.
I tried this today, but I used gluten free rotini noodles. It was disgusting and stunk up my entire house. After Reading the comments, I’m left to assume it was the GF noodles.
I'm so sorry it didn't work for you. I've recently swapped over to gluten-free pasta as well. Sadly, it does NOT cook even close to regular pasta. I'll be working with more gluten-free recipes shortly. Try to hang tight...maybe I can find a brand that'll work for us both.
This is in my crockpot right now. I tasted it before I closed the lid and it was delicious. I did add some salt, pepper, and minced onion, but only because my kids aren't too terribly picky. I can't want to dig into this before a busy night of cheer with my girls!
I'm so glad you liked it 🙂
There is nothing on step 4 a I don't know whig to do on step 4.
That was an error. There isn't a step 4. Well, there isn't a step 5. I must have hit return too many times and missed it during editing. Thank you for calling it to attention. It's fixed 🙂
Yummy. I browned the burger with onions and green pepper and I added sweet corn. So next time I will only cook it on low for 4 hours, add 1 more cup of milk and add the uncooked noodles an hour before done. It got a little dry, that’s why I would add more milk. I did 3 cups of cheddar and 1 cup of mozzarella. Would definitely make again.
This turned out delicious for us. Here’s what I did, first off I did not add any of the extras like the peppers or any of that bc my husband is pretty picky. I did add some garlic towards the end of browning my hamburger along with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. I also added 4 cups of milk instead of 3 suggested by another review I read. Instead of the store bought shredded cheddar I bought a 1lb block of sharp cheddar and shredded it myself which made about 4 cups. I added 3 of that to my crockpot along with the meat, cream cheese, butter and milk. Turned on low for 2 hours then I boiled the rotini for about 3 mins then drained and added to crockpot and cooked for another 2 hours. The last 20 mins I added another 1/2 cup of milk along with 1/2 cup of sour cream, stirred real good then put that remaining cup of shredded cheddar all over the top put the lid on and 20 mins later it was delicious! We paired it with some garlic roasted cauliflower, bread and butter and a side salad. My whole family loved it! Thanks for sharing this recipe:)
Thank you! I'm glad you all enjoy it. Delicious sounding variation there too!
I see that it says the mozzarella is optional.... but I'm confused if its saying to add the mozzarella with everything else at the same time, or to add it later to put on top?
At the end, after it's cooked. Stir well (but gently) and add the mozerella then. You can stir it in or add it to the top. Or a little of both.
I'm not really sure what in the world happens each time I've made this. I actually buttered the insert this time (forgot the last two) and it STILL burned. It was definitely on low, because I always double check. Also, 1/2 tsp for just two seasonings doesn't do much. Should it be TBSP instead of just Tsp? I had to use hot sauce to help with the flavor.
I am so sorry it burned (again) Chelsea. It's very possible your slow cooker just runs hotter than mine. OR your lid allows for a lot more evaporation than mine. Either one is very possible. I've had slow cookers that fell into both those categories in the past. I've never found any rhyme or reason as to why they do either. It's just a normal thing for them to vary slightly. Then you add in multiple manufacturers too and there are even more variables.
If you'd like to try again...I will tell you what I would try. I'm not saying this will work, I'm saying it's what I'd try myself to SEE if it would work. 1. Add 1/2 cup water to the milk when prepping the recipe and check it at the 4 hour mark. 2. If you think its the lid (like it doesn't sit totally flush) you could skip the extra water and place a piece of foil between the crockpot base and the lid.
Best of luck. You're welcome to let me know if either of those works if you'd like.
PS: I AGREE on the seasonings! I cut them back when I got complaints about it being too strong. But you are the third person that feels the same way. I'm upping them back to the original amounts 🙂
Your list of ingredients list cheddar cheese but I don't see anywhere in the instructions when you add the cheddar, only mozzarella. Am I missing something?
Nope. I missed it, not you. Thanks for letting me know. I updated the recipe.
Julie Cocos says
I am trying to follow the recipe to make some freezer meals with this, however I am not seeing in the freezer instructions what package or when I combine the cooked hamburger? Am I just missing it somewhere? I have read the recipe 5 times now and still am not seeing when doing the freezer meal prep option where or what package to put the meat in. Thanks!
Sorry, sorry...it belongs in step #2. I will update the recipe. Thanks for letting me know 🙂